CS chats with Common about Barbershop: The Next Cut, Suicide Squad and John Wick: Chapter 2
Boasting a Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this weekend’s Barbershop: The Next Cut welcomes to the neighborhood real-life Chicago native Common. In the film, Common plays Rashad, the new husband of Eve’s returning franchise character, Terri. Although he works in the barbershop owned by Ice Cube‘s Calvin, Rashad is far from the only thing that has changed for the Barbershop crew. In the latest film, arriving more than ten years after the last entry, a major part of the focus is on America’s gun crisis and its disastrous effect on south Chicago.
Sitting down with ComingSoon.net, Common explained why having an entertaining movie with a message is exactly what he wants to do as an actor and teases two exciting upcoming roles. He’s set to play Monster T in August’s Suicide Squad before taking on Keanu Reeves in next year’s John Wick: Chapter Two.
CS: It was surprising to sit down for “The Next Cut” and find a film that ended up being so progressive and socially aware. Was that part of what drew you in?
Common: Man, lemme tell you. I really loved it, too. I’m happy to say that. When we were doing it, I felt like I was having a lot of fun, but I was thinking, “How is all this going to mix and come together?” It was so many different styles of comedy. The weight that it had with it. The heart. I turned out to be what I love from movies. I like movies that I’m entertained by, but also ones that make me feel inspired to do something. For me, that was one of the major reasons I wanted to be a part of it, because it has such a powerful message. I’m from Chicago and I think that Chicago is a representation of many cities in America that are dealing with the problems of violence and lack of fatherhood and some of the inner-city struggles. Chicago is a depiction of that in this story, too. Now we’re able to go out into those communities and actually do things while we’re doing the press junket. People leave the movie, too, thinking, “Man, let’s do something with our community.” That’s the win-win of making films and art. Where you can touch people, but they’re still entertained.
CS: It’s also an interesting message to deliver with a franchise, because having a previous film, it’s much easier to see how things have changed.
Common: I think that what the “Barbershop” franchise has done is be able to keep up. The films are true conversations that are going on in the world. Just like barbershops and beauty shops in the world. The franchise has done that since the beginning, but this time, it addressed a real situation that is truly relevant to Chicago life and many cities in America.
CS: There’s also now equal voices from men and women in the shop, which doesn’t even have anything to do with the plot. It’s just something that happened and the story moves on from there.
Common: I love it and I think it’s really great. I think that, without even trying, this movie shows what we can accomplish when it comes to filmmaking in Hollywood as far as being diverse. It just happened and we kept moving on. We didn’t say, “Now, we’re bringing females into this play” or “now we’ve got a brother of Indian descent in this play.” No. It just felt natural. I think it’s great to see that equality. Women are part of this film and it’s not a forced issue or a big deal. It’s natural. Our world is this. We have males and females in this world and homosexuality and different backgrounds of spirituality. I’m happy that this movie is as funny as it is and has the hear that it has.
CS: What was it like to enter a world where you’re arriving for the first time but are acting against a lot of people that have had these characters for so many years?
Common: I felt enthused and inspired. This was a world that was new to me, point blank. It wasn’t exactly easy, but it felt like the world welcomed me. The Barbershop welcomed me. Ice Cube welcomed me and Cedric welcomed me. Malcolm, the great director, made everybody feel like we were important. I didn’t feel like I needed to try and fill a space that was missing. I just felt like I was part of a new movement of the barbershop. It was fun more than it was difficult.
CS: How do you go about picking the films that you pick? Quite often, they’re very different in tone.
Common: I like variety. First and foremost, I ask, “Is it really quality? What qualities in it do I really love?” I felt like there were qualities of “Barbershop” I loved when I read the script. Our two writers, Tracy [Oliver] and Kenya [Barris] did a really great job of telling a heartfelt story that felt relevant to today’s social climate and, specifically, the city I’m from. Then my character was dealing with real issue of being a father and being busy. Also just being a black man in the world, striving to survive and take care of his family. That’s a character that I felt like I could bring something to, even within the scope of a comedy. When I look at something like “Suicide Squad,” I’m like, “Hell yeah, I want to be a part of it!” It’s David Ayer, Will Smith, Viola Davis, Jared Leto. I’m playing opposite the Joker! And, of course, I read the script and loved it. When I read these things and get inspired, that’s what makes me want to be a part of the film. Sometimes that inspiration can come from the script and sometimes it comes from the actual team that it is. Meaning the director and the actors that are part of it. Sometimes, the producers. That’s how I pick things. I try to use my creative instinct. I’m very happy that I did “Barbershop.”
CS: It’s great to see you finally come to the DC Universe, though, after having nearly played Green Lantern in George Miller’s “Justice League” years ago.
Common: This character I’m playing in “Suicide Squad” has much less of a role, though, than Green Lantern. I’m grateful to be in it, but this character is a smaller role.
CS: Are you a big comic book fan?
Common: I don’t read a lot of comics, but when I come across cool comic characters, I get pulled in. I really love Green Lantern. I used to love Aquaman when I was younger. I was even into Superman, too. I get attracted to a comic when I see a cool character.
CS: What’s it like taking on John Wick in the upcoming sequel? It doesn’t seem like going up against that guy is going to go well for anyone.
Common: I take on John Wick and I take him on strong! I’ll let you know that. The character I play in “John Wick 2” is definitely not a pushover. He’s there to rival John Wick. He is definitely someone who will battle till the end with John Wick.
CS: What’s a dream project for you?
Common: A dream project would be to be a leading man in a drama film that’s really well written and that has a A-class director like Kathryn Bigelow or Ava DuVernay or Quentin Tarantino or Steve McQueen. Just have it be a real character that I can dig into. I just worked on a film that I feel was pretty dreamy for me. It’s called “A Happening of Monumental Proportions,” directed by Judy Greer. It’s really a comedy, but it’s a dramedy. It’s in the spirit of “Juno” or “Sideways” or “Little Miss Sunshine.” God willing, it ends up being of that greatness, but it’s definitely written in kind of an Alexander Payne way. I just finished it Thursday. It was a dream to be working with Judy, the way she was as a director. We had some good people come in. Jennifer Garner is in it. Katie Holmes is in it. Allison Janney and Bradley Whitford, too.
CS: How does a project like that come your way?
Common: It started with the script. My agent sent me the script. As soon as I saw “A Happening of Monumental Proportions,” I thought, “This is great. I need to read this.” Then I read it and I was so happy they thought of me for the role. The role wasn’t written for a particular color, but I really dug into the character. I’m just growing my beard back because the character is so different from me. I want to play all sorts of roles. My dream role is many roles. Playing in drama, playing in action films and even comedies that have something to them. Something that’s a great story. I love “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” I love “Coming to America.” I just like good films.