Arts and CultureLooking For Arts & Culture Exclusives? Get Your Cheeky Card!
In the new movie Just Wright opening May 14th, Common stars as a professional basketball player torn between two women, Queen Latifah and Paula Patton. On the red carpet for the Chicago screening, Common hugged fans, posed for pictures, and chatted with CheekyChicago about his first leading role.
Cheeky: You’re back in your hometown – where you do like to eat here?
Common: I like Joe’s Stone Crab and I’m about to go check out Sunda. I also like Gino’s East pizza.
Cheeky: This was your first romantic lead…did you have any discomfort with the sex scenes or did that come easily?
Common: Nah, I just made sure that Queen Latifah was feeling comfortable and that she was in a good place. When I’m working on a project and doing something that deals with acting, I’m just in it. If it’s a scene with sex, I’m in it. If it’s a scene that’s violent, I’m in it. That’s what acting takes.
Cheeky: You were a Bulls intern, is that right?
Common: Nah, I was a ball boy for the Bulls!
Cheeky: Okay, I’m sorry…so based on that experience, how was it actually being on the court and portraying a real basketball player?
Common: I don’t look at it as a portrayal. I was a basketball player – I am a basketball player. I’m just telling you my mentality; I was out there like “yeah, I’m an NBA basketball player.”
Cheeky: You’re taking on more film roles. How do you feel about your acting career?
Common: This is something I really take seriously – the acting. I believe in what I do. I put as much energy and effort into my acting career as I would anything else I do. I love it and I’m grateful to be here.
New Jersey Nets player Bobby Simmons helped Common prepare for his role as an NBA star. During an interview with CheekyChicago, he shared his top spot for steak, Common’s on-court ability, and why he wants to be a moviestar too.
Cheeky: Where’s your favorite place to eat in Chicago?
Bobby Simmons: Ruth’s Chris. I like the steaks and there are a lot of things they’ll specially make for me.
Cheeky: How did Common do portraying a professional basketball player?
BS: He did a good job. I called him Scott McKnight (Common’s character in the film) because we were in acting mode. But he did a great job. He put in the hard work, the time, and really, really practiced.
Cheeky: Was Common naturally talented on the court?
BS: He was naturally good. He worked at it. He had played before so it wasn’t like he was doing anything he hadn’t done before. But, yeah, he was a natural.
Cheeky: Were you actually training him to get ready for this film and look believable on camera?
BS: He trained with some guys that work with the Nets and I happened to be a part of it. It was a great challenge for me to see how hard you have to work to fulfill leading roles. It’s a commitment.
Cheeky: Would you be interested in acting down the line?
BS: Most definitely!
Cheeky: Romantic comedies? Dramas? What do you think?
BS: All of the above! I’m gonna have to get an acting coach.
Cheeky: Maybe Common can give you some tips?
BS: I’m pulling his chain a little bit asking him how it feels to be put in certain situations. He said it’s about being creative and if you love change, it works out.
On the night of the Chicago premiere, the theater was filled with athletes supporting the film. Here are their picks for Chicago’s best dining spots.
CheekyChicago: What’s your favorite place to eat when you’re in town?
Otis Wilson, retired Bears player: A lot of them! Catch 35, Joe’s, Phil Stefani – I like to eat! Jerry Kleiner – all of his places.
Matt Forte, Bears player: I like to go to a lot of places, but usually around the Viagra Triangle. Gibson’s, Carmine’s, Tavern on Rush. And if the weather’s nice, you can sit outside.