Common Interview STREET KINGS

     April 6, 2008

Opening this Friday is the new David Ayer film “Street Kings.” If David’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he previously wrote and directed “Harsh Times,” and he also wrote “Training Day.”

While some filmmakers love to switch genres after every movie, David has once again made a film that deals with the LAPD. Here’s the synopsis:

Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) is a veteran LAPD cop who finds life difficult to navigate after the death of his wife. When evidence implicates him in the execution of his former partner, Detective Terrance Washington (Terry Crews), Ludlow sets out on a quest to find the real murderers responsible and bring them to justice. With the help of a young Robbery Homicide Detective (Chris Evans), the two team up to tackle the diverse communities of Los Angeles. Forest Whitaker plays Captain Wander, Ludlow’s supervisor, whose duties include keeping him within the confines of the law and out of the clutches of Internal Affairs Captain Biggs (Hugh Laurie).

To help promote the film, I recently participated in roundtable interviews with most of the cast. I’ve already posted the Chris Evans and Cedric the Entertainer interviews, up now is Common.

During our allotted time, Common talked about all the movies he’s involved with and we of course talked music. And for those looking for any “Justice League” info…. we discuss his possible involvement.

As always, you can either read the transcript below or listen to the audio of the interview as an MP3 by clicking here. Finally, here’s a link to the movie clips we posted for “Street Kings.” Again, “Street Kings” opens this Friday at theaters everywhere.

Question: Is this something you wanted to get into? Obviously ‘Smokin’ Aces’ was kind of the start. Is this now what you really want to focus on? This dark look separate from…?

Common: I just definitely want to act, I want to be able to pursue my acting career. I take it very seriously and I’m passionate about, as passionate as I am about music. Being that it’s new for me, it’s even more exciting right now to make and create. I see such a long journey so that’s how I feel about acting. I initially felt like I wanted to play a dark role because people always see Common as positive. I wanted to take on roles that would be away from the image of Common. On the same token there are people who don’t even know who Common is, who are getting to see these movies. That was cool for them to get to see me in this way, but I never just want to do one thing. I never want to be a one type actor, so I’m looking forward to doing something else, whether it’s a super hero, or banker, or something different. Maybe a priest, whatever it may be, I just want to show a wide range as an actor too.

Question: You were good at the gangster type roles. I wondered when I saw you in the film and you got blasted away I screamed. I was totally bummed way out, wanted you to survive to the end, like in ‘Smokin’ Aces’. I wondered what you thought about it when you read the script and found out?

Common: I just feel like it’s almost like the way you look at it in singing. If you get a verse on somebody’s song you got to make the best of that time. For me it was just about making the best of the time. Really, when you come in and you are part of an ensemble, you are doing a film, you are part of a team so you just do your best as that team member. Whether you the point guard, the biggest passer, or the scorer you just do what your job is to do. I wanted to go in there and be the best Coates I could be.

Question: You are also in this summer’s ‘Wanted’, which is a creepy movie for Universal.

Common: Yeah, it was.

Question: Can you talk about that a little bit and do you also play with a lot of guns in that one?

Common: Yeah, that’s funny because my daughter already asked me ‘When you going to play a good guy?’ I try to tell her that its not all guys you see with guns are bad. That is one thing and two we all got good and bad in us anyway.

Question: Have you ever shot a gun before?

Common: Yeah, I’ve shot a gun but not out at somebody. Only in these films. ‘Wanted’ is something I’m very excited about. We just did some re-shoots for it the other day. I was looking and thinking this is going to be a powerful movie. I got to see some of the footage and it looks incredible, the look. Everything about it is new and fresh, like the story line, the visuals, and the combination of people. It’s Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, James McAvoy, and myself, and some international actors. Everything about it just felt fresh and I’m very proud. I haven’t seen the whole film but I’m excited to see it. I think it’s going to have an impact. I can feel the energy of it, when my friends see that trailer they be like ‘Man, we can’t wait to see that ‘Wanted’ it’s going to be incredible.’ They say ‘We can’t wait to see that movie with Angelina Jolie.’

Question: What surprised you about working with Angelina? She’s a huge star but you got to actually know her as a real person.

Common: I was just impressed at how real and honest she was. She has a good heart and she’s a good person. Like I said, the honestly, within this industry you meet a lot of people that say certain things to you like ‘Yeah, I’ll call you.’ You know they don’t mean it, but everything she was saying she meant and she acted upon. I could tell her heart is really into helping this world. It seemed like her first love is for taking care of her children and her life. She of course is an artist but I could feel like she is an activist man. She is an activist at heart and I really like that about her. You never know, when you see people out from a distance you are like ‘Okay, they are doing work, I’m seeing it on TV, but are they doing it from the heart? Do they do it because they really feel it?’ If you look at people in history I think she will be a person in history that is going down as making a movement as far as making change in this world. That’s one of the biggest things to me that I want to do as an artist. When you get that platform, man, why not use it to give back to people, people abroad, people where you live. It’s important to give back. And we had fun. Brad Pitt was out there and the family. It was just a good family atmosphere with all the actors, not just Angelina, it was like Morgan Freeman was warm and cool. His birthday was while we were out there so we celebrated his 70th birthday. James McAvoy, I love him as an actor, he was cool people. Great experience for me.

Question: You talked about being serious about acting. When you originally started pursuing the show business career did you have acting in mind or is it something that kind of happened?

Common: No, I definitely had acting in mind. I was always a movie goer and fan of movies. It became something I chose to do because I was feeling stunted as an artist. Being in hip-hop, at one point I was trying to do things and was ridiculed for trying it. Whether people see it as good or bad, trying something new was not accepted in hip hop at a certain point. I was looking for another way to express myself artistically. I started trying to play instruments and that wasn’t it for me. I went to acting class and I really loved the whole feeling I got. I was excited about going to the next class, and the next class.

Question: Where did you study?

Common: I studied in New York and the teacher is named Greta Seacat, she actually would go back and forth to New York and LA. I was able to study in both places. I continue to study. I feel like anything you do artistically you should be constantly growing. Life is probably one of the biggest catalysts for growing but you have to be in tune to life. With me being a new actor I’m learning all these different things. For me to keep going to class is essential for me.

Question: You mentioned your daughter hasn’t really been able to see your stuff. Is that one of the reasons you are interested in ‘Justice League’ and being Green Lantern?

Common: Obviously to be a part of something like ‘Justice League’ would be incredible. My daughter played Wonder Woman for Halloween. For her to see her dad playing in a film with other super heroes and have to be a black man and be a super hero for other children of all colors to see, black, white, and other nationalities would be a beautiful thing. Of course I would love to be a part of it, I can’t really talk about it because we don’t, but the thought of being a part of something like that is incredible. I got to see unfortunately, or fortunately I’ve let my daughter see things. She’s seen my first movie ‘Smokin’ Aces’ she wanted to see it. I was there for her to see it, she came to the premiere and my mother was there too. She Okayed it and we were all there to take it in.

Question: How old is your daughter?

Common: She’s 10 years old. I’m not one of those parents trying to hide her from everything. I’m more there to dialogue with her.

Question: There are a number of actors who protest working with what they regard as rap stars. The feel like you guys haven’t paid your dues. Have you heard people saying things like that?

Common: Yeah, I’ve definitely heard comments. For me, I understand as an actor how you could feel like you have paid your dues and worked hard in this field. Some people come in and get acting jobs off their name. I think that any rap artist would feel the same way. When certain athletes were rapping they wasn’t all like ‘Yeah, he deserved his contract.’ Some of them were just laughing like ‘What is he doing? We know why he got a record contract.’ Any field it’s just about coming in and being true and good at what you do. I always knew I would have to approach my acting career as a new actor. Meaning, if I could get in on a meeting because my name was Common, cool. But I haven’t gotten any acting gigs because I’m Common. I’ve auditioned for every role I’ve gotten. I’ll be happy one day to be able to tell you all ‘Hey, I just got offered this role.’ At this point I’ve been paying my dues and approaching as a new actor. When I initially started the name Common hadn’t been out there enough even for anybody to say ‘We just going to select Common because he’s Common.’ I wasn’t that popular of an artist for them to even approach it like that.

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Question: Do you feel like any of the roles have helped broaden your music career?

Common: I would definitely say that ‘Smokin’ Aces’ first of all when I walk through the airport its different people now they know me. The hip-hop community it could be like… At certain points you would have very specific people, that would be older, that would know of Common. Now it’s a whole new genre of people. I got a lot of love for caring Alicia Keyes. That up’d my game a whole lot. I definitely see the difference in being in a film. A film that gets out there too, because even the small role I had in ‘American Gangster’ I noticed how many people. there have been days when I’ve been on the street and older people be like ‘Yo, there go Common.’ I’m like ‘Damn, they know who I am.’ It’s a good feeling because you want to reach all generations and all colors. To me, love, art, all those things are colorless and ageless.

Question: One of your biggest fans is Jeremy Piven.

Common: My God, I love him.

Question: He’s been singing your praises for a while. Are you still tight?

Common: Yeah, I just ran into him at the airport. That’s just my guy. From the first day on, when we met, it was just a natural chemistry. We just clicked, two Chicago cats, and since then it ain’t like ‘Okay, we worked together. Peace.’ It’s been like ‘You want to come hang?’ Talking serious talk, or I may do some studying with his mom who is an acting coach. It’s a real friendship and good bond.

Question: What about ‘Entourage’? Are you going to stop in at any point?

Common: That would be cool, you know. Definitely, if it’s the right thing. For me everything is about the right role. I want to be a part of quality things in the right roles.

Question: He’s got some musical skills. Are you going to collaborate?

Common: Yeah, you know we definitely planned on doing some stuff. We hadn’t said we would record but some live stuff we can get into.

Question: Do you know what your next movie project is? I heard you are not on contract for ‘League’ so are you free to do something else?

Common: Yeah, I’m free to do some things. We are just looking for the right project with the right roles for me. I’m reading scripts and then going in on these auditions really.

Question: With a character like Green Lantern, there really have been, still to this day, so few black super heroes. He is one that started out white. Is that something as a kid you were into? Were you searching for those kinds of characters to inspire you?

Common: Unconsciously and subconsciously it’s always good to see people that look like you being heralded too, being acknowledged. You definitely looked for that so maybe that’s why were drawn to ‘The Cosby Show’ and ‘Fat Albert’ because you do need that. You need other nationalities and your own too. They are people that look like you who are being acknowledged. I probably didn’t know I was looking for that as a kid, but I was. It’s good man. I’m glad they are choosing to put a character like Green Lantern out there and have multiracial super heroes. That’s a beautiful thing.

Question: Happy Belated Birthday. What did you do to celebrate?

Common: I was in Australia doing a show, man, you know working on my birthday. I guess a lot of us do that, I enjoyed it, and we had a good time. It was like 100 degrees out there and we were on the beach, drinking Sangria, and then we did a show.

Question: In that order?

Common: Basically, yeah. [Laughs]

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