Ben Drew — aka British rap-R&B sensation Plan B, who hits The City today — calls his co-starring role as a hooligan in the vengeance flick “Harry Brown” with Michael Caine “the proudest moment of my life.”
He even had influence on the script.
“The dialogue wasn’t really accurate, representative of how kids were talking. So I came in there and gave them what they wanted, which was realism. That part was always my part, and I took it,” Drew says.
The appearance — as a teenage thug who harasses the wrong elderly chap, Caine’s ex-military character Harry Brown — follows Drew’s breakout big-screen performance in the British hit “Adulthood” and precedes his upcoming action picture “The Sweeney,” which teams him with the legendary Ray Winstone.
“I never got the chance to ask Michael for any advice, because our only scenes together were me firing a gun at him, or vice-versa,” Drew says. “And he was a really nice guy. But in terms of actors, Ray is my idol. So now I’m going from street kid to policeman — I’m actually going to play a copper!”
The irony is not lost on ex-truant Drew, who hails from a roughneck “Harry Brown”-ish area of London called Forest Gate.
The first lesson he learned: “If somebody upsets you, you use your fists.”
“In school,” Drew says, “I’d have older boys push me around, but I was of those kids who said, ‘No, to hell with this!’ And as soon as I stood up to them, it didn’t matter that I was half the size of them. They’d leave me alone. That’s how I survived.”
His aggression eventually led to some serious anger-management therapy.
Raised on a diet of vintage soul, Drew discovered Eminem and was inspired to create his Plan B persona with the rhyme-spitting 2006 bow “Who Needs Actions When You Got Words.”
But last year, he surprised everyone with “The Defamation of Strickland Banks,” a Motown-smooth concept album about a singer who’s wrongly imprisoned.
Drew already has finished its story-paralleling hip-hop follow-up, “The Ballad of Bel Marsh.” He also just directed “Ill Manors,” a docudrama based on his own hardscrabble childhood.
Hanging out in polite showbiz society hasn’t been easy for Drew, who performs in classy suits.
“People see the way I dress and hear my accent and vocabulary and judge me straightaway, like, ‘This is just some ignorant kid from a council estate!’” he says. “And at school, I’d just hit that person, smack him in the mouth. But now? I’ll just laugh and walk away.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Popscene, Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., San Francisco
When: 10 p.m. today
Contact: (415) 861-2011, www.snagtickets.com