The comedy Think Like A Man, out in theaters on April 20th, is about a group of friends who have their love lives shaken up, after the women they are pursuing buy Steve Harvey’s best-selling book (that the film is inspired by) and start taking his advice to heart. When they realize that they have been betrayed by one of their own, they conspire to use the book’s teachings to turn the tables. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Romany Malco and Gabrielle Union.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Jerry Ferrara talked about what drew him to Think Like A Man, how he could relate to playing the slacker, that there’s something for everyone in the film, and how much improvising went on during shooting. He also talked about how the Entourage movie is definitely still in the works (show creator Doug Ellin is currently writing it), what it was like to be a part of such a huge film as Battleship (in theaters on May 18th) and who he plays in the film, his upcoming horror-thriller 7500 (scheduled for release on August 31st), the directors he’d love to work with, and that his goals in this business are longevity and respect. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
JERRY FERRARA: At the risk of sounding obvious, it is definitely a combination of those things. It always starts with the story and the script. I read it and, in my opinion, I thought it was different than most traditional romantic comedies. I loved the ensemble element. And then, there was the constant back and forth, where you would get the man’s point of view, and then you would jump into the woman’s point of view. It was a good observation on how you could take one issue for a couple, and how the man views it and how the woman views it are completely different. If they just communicated a little better, they would be on the same page. But, everyone struggles with communicating, whether it’s their own insecurity or whatever, even with someone you’ve been with for years. And then, I loved when Tim Story, the director, came on to direct it. I’ve always respected his work. It just went from there. Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Gabrielle Union and Taraji Henson are all very, very talented people. I’d be a fool not to take this opportunity. It was a different kind of role than anything I’ve really gotten the chance to do.
When you’re playing a character who’s described as “the slacker,” do you see him that way, or do you find the ways that you can relate to him?
FERRARA: I can definitely relate to slacking. I have been a slacker. I’m still a slacker, in a lot of ways. I’m not necessarily as advanced in slacking as this particular character was, but the greatest thing about slackers is that they’re the only ones who don’t know they’re a slacker. I approached Entourage in that regard, too. With this, it wasn’t so much that he knew he was a slacker. He liked the way things were and he didn’t want to change, which is his own fear of having to grow up. It was kind of like Peter Pan syndrome. He wanted to stay a kid forever, and the bottom line is that you can’t.
Had you been familiar with Steve Harvey’s best-selling book, prior to doing this?
FERRARA: I had heard of the book before the movie came around, but I did not read it. I chalked it up to an advice book for women, on dating men, so I really didn’t see the point for me to read it. I also was very curious when I heard there was a script for it. I wondered, “How do you take an advice/self-help book and make it into a movie?” That got my attention right away. I was curious. It’s not that I wasn’t optimistic, or I thought the script was going to be bad, I just couldn’t really grasp how they were going to make it a movie. And then, I read the script and was like, “Okay, that’s how!” They did it. They broke down certain parts of the book and basically took all of the advice and rules that Steve Harvey had and put them right in there. It worked, for me.
FERRARA: Yeah, I think that’s some of the things the movie does best. To me, it does a lot of things really well. A lot of people have asked about Gabrielle and I, the interracial relationship and whether that was an issue, but I hadn’t even thought about it like that. Nowhere in the script was it like, “Jeremy, 30s, white.” There was never anything about race. Also, there are so many different variations of different kinds of relationships. Each storyline is a part of the book. Everyone has a chance to relate to that. If you’re a woman and you don’t relate to the non-commiter, that I play, maybe you relate to dealing with the player that Romany [Malco] plays. There’s enough in there that everyone will find a common ground.
How much of what’s in the film was on the page and how much of it came from you guys improvising?
FERRARA: There were some great improvs. Anytime you have a cast like this, with Kevin Hart, who is one of the funniest people walking the face of the earth, why would you just say, “Hey, stick to the lines in the script. If you have any ideas, we’re not open to that.” The guy has been succeeding on such a high level, comedically. That being said, the script was really funny. It wasn’t like, “Hey, let’s just improv this whole scene.” The script was really, really well written. David [Newman] did a great job. We stuck to the page, but if we saw an opportunity for something, Tim Story would let us have a free take or two to play around, after we laid one down, as is. Some of the stuff was great and made it in, and some of the stuff maybe was better as scripted.
FERRARA: Being that it was an ensemble, what it taught me was that chemistry is so important. If you’re not buying the fact that we’re friends for 25 years, with Entourage, then you’re not buying anything we’re doing. Same with this movie. If you’re not buying that Gabrielle and I have been in a nine-year relationship, and that Michael Ealy’s character doesn’t have a job and yet his friends don’t look at him any differently, then you’re not buying anything we’re doing. And chemistry is something that you can’t really practice for and get good at. It either happens or it doesn’t. My approach, similar to with Entourage, has always been to make the other guy look good. You get your coverage and your take and your close-up, but I always try to turn it on, even more, when it’s on the other person, to give them as much as I possibly can. I want to put them in a position to succeed. An ensemble works when everyone has the best chance to succeed, but it doesn’t always happen like that, sadly enough.
Are you still hoping for an Entourage movie, at some point?
FERRARA: Yeah, that’s definitely the plan. That’s always been the plan. I know that Doug Ellin, the creator of the show, is writing the script. He’s the only person for that job. Once that’s ready, that’s very much in the plan.
How was the experience of getting to be a part of such a huge-budget movie as Battleship?
FERRARA: Exactly what I was hoping it would be. I have an acting bucket list of things I want to do. Think Like A Man fell into that category. I wanted to do that kind of relationship movie, and see if we could do it a little different than normal. Battleship is just as big as you could imagine, for an action film. It’s everything you could think of, and more. It’s a whole different kind of acting. I now have a whole new appreciation for the action star. I’m not saying that I even have that big of a role in the movie because I don’t, but it’s a whole different job and a whole different kind of acting. I can see how some people are great at it, and that’s why they’re action stars. Bruce Willis had a very good part of his career doing Die Hard. It’s a whole different style, work ethic and everything. It was just cool to see something that big come to life.
FERRARA: I have so much to say about Pete Berg. I had become friendly with him before Battleship. He actually did a cameo on Entourage. I really respect him. I love what he’s done with his career, from acting to writing, directing and producing. How do you even direct a movie of that size? You’re in charge of every facet of what you see. The sick thing is, watching him work when I was there, he knew everything that was going on and he just made it look easy. I know it’s not easy, but he made it look real easy. He’s the kind of guy that I don’t think he does anything, if he’s not passionate about it.
Who are you playing in the film and how does your character fit into the story?
FERRARA: There are three ships in the movie that are the heroes, and I’m the junior officer on deck, on Alexander Skarsgard’s ship. Basically, we’re all going through this crazy action stuff. I didn’t have detailed character points, more than just the immediate, which is that I’m on the ship and there’s some crazy stuff going on. To even put that Navy uniform on, it was awesome.
FERRARA: I recently got to knock another film on my bucket list off and do a psychological horror-thrilled, called Flight 7500, which all takes place on a plane. Two things I’m afraid of most, in life, are flying and horror movies, and I’ve tackled both of those. I just want to do different stuff, of course, but stuff that’s inspiring. I know it sounds very typical to say, but the best part of being an actor, and the reason why I think a lot of actors do it, is that it’s always changing. You get to play so many things that it’s like you’ve had so many different careers. You’re like, “In this movie, I was a cop. In this movie, I was in the Navy. In this movie, I was the slacker stoner.” You get to live out many of these professions. I just want to continue to evolve. My one goal in this business is just longevity and respect, and that’s something I’ll always have to work toward.
Are you pleasantly surprised by the fact that people seem to be so open to you playing so many different types of characters since Entourage, instead of typecasting you as only one type?
FERRARA: Yes and no. There’s a part of me that understands the whole concept of typecasting. You were on this show for eight years and people got to know you as this, so how are you going to do something else? I understand that, and I welcome that challenge. I really do. I like to be the underdog. I’ve always been the underdog. But, I think that all the rules are different. Twenty years ago, for sure, but even 10 years ago, that was very true. But, if you look around at the landscape of affairs right now, you have people who have only done movies, for their whole career, jumping into television, and you have people who have only done television, doing movies. You have people who have a hit show on the air and a number one movie at the box office, at the same time. I think that all the rules are different, so that’s why I’m not fully surprised. But, I also still welcome the challenge. If anyone thinks that I can only do that, well then, get ready to be wrong.
Would you like to do more television and get to explore a character more long-term, along with doing films where it’s more self-contained?
FERRARA: There are good points to both. I think that there’s a way to do both. There’s something great about playing one character for eight years. The way that the character can evolve is like playing a different character, time and time again. But, there are moments where you play a character for a certain amount of time that it can get stale. The best of both worlds is where I stand. I’m not one of those guys that’s like, “Oh, I did a television show. I’m not doing TV anymore.” I think you’re foolish to even say something like that.
Is there a director that you would love to work with?
FERRARA: Obviously, there are the legends of the game, for years and years, like [Steven] Spielberg and [Martin] Scorsese. I’m a big fan of Dito Montiel, who did A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints. He’s one of my favorite directors out there. I think he’s awesome, and I would love to see how he works. There’s just so many. It’s a really good time for directors right now.