Go see Morris in “The Call” y’all! BOSSIP had a chance to see an early screening of the new Halle Berry/Morris Chestnut psychological thriller “The Call,” which also stars Abigail Breslin, and we were fortunate enough to have a chance to chat with the actor (who is still fine as FAWK btw) in person during a promotional visit. Born in Cerritos, California, the athletic actor grew up playing sports and attended college at Cal State Los Angeles before entering the film business in 1990 with a small role in “Freddy’s Nightmares.” This led him to a memorable co-starring role as high school football player, Ricky Baker, in director John Singleton’s acclaimed “Boyz n the Hood,” a part that brought the actor into mainstream Hollywood stardom.
Check out our interview below:
BOSSIP: We haven’t seen you in a role like this before, what attracted you to play Officer Phillips in “The Call”?
This was my first psychological thriller. They called me, my manager said there’s this movie about a 911 operator and I said well ‘how interesting can that be?’ He said, ‘Halle Berry is playing the lead’ and I said ‘Oh yea that is interesting.’ Then I started reading the script. One of the hardest things for me was maintaining that relationship where she’s in the call center and I’m in the field. That was very challenging. The guy who plays the villain was really into character. We had a couple mishaps on the set.
It was really difficult because every single time that 90% of the time when I’m supposed to be talking to her it’s really a dude reading her lines. It was just the circumstances. We were filming a lot of night shoots and there were so many things going on with the production and there was one scene where I had to talk her down and I couldn’t even hear that clearly, there was so much going on.
BOSSIP: How does it feel to get it on with Halle Berry?
We didn’t actually get it on. It was a kiss. I think in the sequel we gotta ramp it up a little bit. It was one of those things, I had only met her one other time. It was 4 am we were shooting the scene, it was when we were in the house. It was kind of interesting because we didn’t know each other. We only had two scenes together, so it was difficult to have that chemistry but hopefully it worked out.
BOSSIP: How did you prepare to play a police officer?
I went on a ride along, it was interesting. When you’re in L.A. doing a ride along in certain parts of town, it definitely gets interesting. I was shooting with David Otunga and he’s kind of a big guy so we were getting a little cramped in the back and I told him he could take the front.
We were driving around and it started getting dark. I said so you guys bulletproof these cars right? He said yeah, only in the front. I told David next time I get the front.
BOSSIP: You’ve managed to maintain a very down to earth persona and seem to stay out of the limelight, how difficult was that?
I attribute that to my parents, the way they raised me. I never made my life the industry. It’s always been a part of my life. A lot of time people start working in Hollywood and their whole life becomes the industry. Everyone has their ups and downs. On the way up everybody is around and everybody goes on the way down. I’ve had the same friends most of my life. Two of my closest friends I’ve known since second grade. When I had my ups they’re like, ‘Fool you ain’t nobody!’ And when I’ve had my downs they had my back.
BOSSIP: “Boys N The Hood” was released over 20 years ago — but you still look just as good! What’s your secret?
To be honest, the industry I’m in. It’s hard to work out all the time, but when I’m not working I can’t see myself not working out because I have no excuse. I’m not working a 9-5 where I can’t get to the gym. People working 40-50 hours a week at a desk job who get to the gym, I really commend them because it’s a tough thing. I have days when I don’t want to be there but it’s part of work for me. I’m extremely low maintenance. My publicist gets mad at me for some of the stuff I do. She wants me to tweet, but I don’t go anywhere to tweet. She gets mad at me .
So what’s up with the Best Man 2?
We are going to start shooting the Best Man 2 at the end of March. It will be out in November. The whole cast is back and this movie, I think by reading the script I think will be better than the first one because this movie is going to take you through a lot. People are going to have their ups and people are going to have their downs. I think people are going to cry. I think movies that take you through the whole gamut of emotions – if you see a movie and you laugh and you cry and go through the full spectrum that’s great. And I think we do that with this one.
How often do people call you Ricky?
When I’m in the public, every day somebody calls me Ricky. The only reason it doesn’t bother me is because when I think back to that point in my life you start out in the industry and you want to be recognized for something. It’s like please, I’m trying to get work. I wish there was something people could recognize me for so I could get a job. And then bam! It happens, and it was the start of my career so how can I be mad at something like that? I’m appreciative of it. The only thing is sometimes people think they’re really original when they’re not. I heard the same thing over and over “Hey I got a lottery ticket!” They think it’s the first time I’ve heard it. It’s something that’s out there that’s touched a lot of people. People remember it to this day. I know people who’ve done movies a year ago that nobody is talking about so to have done a movie 20 years ago and people still talk about and still has an impact, I’m just fortunate to be a part of it.
BOSSIP: Viola Davis recently said that she would never play a maid again. Is there any role you would turn down to avoid a stereotype?
When I think about certain roles, I think about her role in the movie she played in and it was a great career defining role. I think about Terrence Howard playing a pimp and got nominated for an Academy Award, Jamie Foxx in Django. I think it just depends on the context and the role. If she was playing a maid and there was nothing redeeming about the character I would have a problem. At the time that Boyz N The Hood came out that genre was hot, the defining role of my career was in a gang movie. When people ask what kind of roles I will or won’t play it’s all about the role in the context of the movie.
And there you have it guys! Make sure to go see “The Call” on Friday, March 15.
Upcoming theatrical releases for Morris Chestnut include “Identity Thief” (Melissa McCarthy and Jason Batemen) and “Kick-A** 2” (Jim Carrey) and the highly anticipated sequel to his starring role in “The Best Man.” Television-wise he stars in the new season of Showtime’s critically-acclaimed “Nurse Jackie.”
Photo Credit: Sony Pictures