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Chris Rock Talks About His New "Black" Film, Working w/Tyler Perry + The Eddie Murphy Movie That Should Be The Model For Black Films

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by Cynthia Reid
January 25, 2012 11:35 AM
4 Comments
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Chris Rock pic

Chris Rock sat down with Vibe Magazine for an interview recently (he's also the guest editor for the mag this month) and gave some revealing updates on his current projects, his thoughts on working with Tyler Perry, what he considers the correct way to do a black movie and much more.

Here are a few excerpts from the interview:

So let’s talk about the movies that you’re making. Are you working on anything?

Right now, I’m working on a movie, What to Expect When You’re Expecting. It stars J-Lo. Is that based on the books? It’s kinda based on the title of the books.

What made you decide to do it?

I read the script, and the script was good. The part was good. I’m a guy in the movie, a single father that’s actually into it. It’s like, I hate movies where guys, they see a diaper and they start crying and, you know, they get the baby’s milk all over them. The stumbling-dad movies. I hate them.  So when I read that part, I was like, “I’ll do that.” I’m hands-on with my own kids anyway. I do the job.

What about films you’re working on from a producer/ writer standpoint?

I got this movie about this Black family going on a ski trip. I’m trying to get that ready soon, because you can only film it in the winter.

Is it a fish-out-of-water story?

We’re still working on it. I don’t feel like doing a movie that would be the Hollywood version of Black people skiing. A brother going down the mountain with bacon strips on his sneakers.

Your Broadway show, The Motherfucker With the Hat, what was it like, and why did you decide to go that route?

It was great. [The show] got extended. It’s been an amazing experience. I decided to do it because I just wanted to say that I did everything. That I made the most of the opportunity that I have in front of me, just being who I am. I just want more people to see me act, like really act. Sometimes when you do comedy, that can be a little formulaic, and it’s hard for really good directors to see that you can act. Like you can really, really convey emotion. And people come out and see you in the theater, and they’re like, “Oh, this guy can really do it.” I definitely will do it again.

Broadway is the place where you can spot celebs in the audience on any given night. Who came by to see your show?

Tarantino, Scorcese, Puffy, Kanye, Jay-Z, Steve Martin. Every big director. They all come out when I do stand-up. I just feel supported. I feel like I’m a member of this acting community. Maybe I didn’t feel that before. I just felt like a comic. But now I feel like a real member of the acting and theater community.

What about Eddie Murphy?

Ed, I haven’t seen Ed in a while. I probably still watch Delirious two or three times a year. Ed ain’t doing stand-up anymore. So if you’re 25, you’re like, “That’s the guy from Nutty Professor or Dr. Doolittle.” I’m not even saying kids. I mean, 25-year-olds.

Coming to America is my favorite movie of all time.

It’s on my top list. It’s probably the best Eddie Murphy performance in a movie. His acting is very underrated in that movie. The story is just so great. The supporting characters, everything feels right in that movie. It’s real Black, but it’s for everybody. It’s the blueprint. It’s like, this is how you do a Black movie.

What makes it a “Black” movie?

It’s real Black. But Eddie Murphy has this thing where he can cross over without [selling out]. What is Blacker than John Amos with two daughters in Queens? Just the character, an African prince. That shit is really Black, but the way they executed it was brilliant. Nutty Professor is another one. What’s Blacker than that family at the table? But at the same time, you have the family dynamic. They emphasized that there’s all these different characters in the family. That’s how real families are. We got loud people, quiet people and we’re all kinda all in it together. Nutty Professor is the Blackest movie I’ve ever seen in my life. But Eddie Murphy, he’s like an old-time performer. It’s all about satisfying multiple groups of people. Eddie is from a time where we only had nine or 15 channels on TV. And if you came up in that show business, you couldn’t be like some of these niche performers. You really had to make everybody laugh. It’s not enough to be good in the ’hood. If there’s only nine channels, there are no hood channels; so many people are going to be seeing me. All that to say is Eddie Murphy is from that era, and so am I.

We had this conversation before, and you’re really passionate about this topic.

I try to reach as many people as I can with what I do. When you’re making a movie, you can’t just try to fill a void. You ultimately have to tell a story. That still has to be the first thing you wanna do. ’Cause when it’s not, the audience at large feels it. And they want stories. Hey, I’m getting ready to do What to Expect. A white woman wrote the script. I want more Black movies. I wish that [Black] women would get involved in the production and the writing and directing of more of them. That’s what I wish. For Black movies anyway.

So you think there’s a space for the Black female writer right now? Like, the female Tyler Perry?

I think there’s an absolute space for it. I think there’s a need for it. Tyler Perry makes movies for women. I wouldn’t even say the female Tyler Perry. The real Tyler Perry. Not that there is anything wrong with him making the movies. Even he’ll probably tell you, you know a woman should probably be doing this. But he’s doing it, and he’s doing a great job at it.

Would you ever be in a Tyler Perry movie?

Hey, everything I get, I read the script. A lot of times I tell my agent to take the front page off the script. So I’m not prejudiced by who wrote it, especially when I’m reading a bunch of scripts, I don’t want the front page.

Yeah, but when you get to the page and there’s a heavyset grandmother coming down the stairs with a frying pan, then you may have a hint who wrote it. Speaking of which, that was a big thing, where Black comedians were being criticized for dressing up like women. How do you feel about that?

I mean, hey, lots of comedians dress up like women, not just Black. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book. Men in drag.

But it seems to be more of an issue with Black comics, no?

There was Mrs. Doubtfire. Sandler’s next movie is Jack and Jill. He plays his brother and sister. [The Black community] doesn’t have that many movies, so if there’s only four Black movies in a year and two of them star Black men in dresses, I could see how that would upset some people. But that’s a job for some people. Tyler Perry is great in a dress, but I don’t want to see Denzel or Will Smith in a dress. And I don’t think we’re in any danger of seeing that.

You can read the complete interview HERE.

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4 Comments

  • Taz | January 25, 2012 11:35 PMReply

    Chris Rocks' comment about Black women getting more involved does not bother me because there has not been much movement from Black women since about 2007......and nothing at the level of Tyler Perry. I think that was the point because we can name many female filmmakers. We can't forget that the name of the game is you are as good as the last thing you have done. So yes, Kasi Lemmons and others would be 'invisible' right now.

  • Earl | January 25, 2012 4:18 PMReply

    http://BlackInternetMovieDatabase
    Check out most every black film ever made.

  • David | January 25, 2012 1:45 PMReply

    I wonder if CR has ever read Armond White's excoriation of Coming to America as the worst form of decontextualized caricature.

  • Kia | January 25, 2012 1:03 PMReply

    I enjoyed reading Chris' responses. He just seemed to keep it neutral, no picking sides. I agree with his point about Coming to America--it's universal. Every type of human is represented there and it's damn hilarious! One comment bothers me... "I wish black woman would get more involved in the producing, writing and directing of "black" films". Hey Chris, there are plenty--ever heard of Pariah? And one was at Sundance with you: Ava Duvernay. It frightens me to hear this... are black filmmakers/writers/producers that invisible? Smh.

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