Common made strides in the music industry to go from prodigious MC to Grammy-winning star and now the Chicago native is hoping to make a similar breakthrough as an actor in “Just Wright,” the romantic comedy produced by Queen Latifah. The role finds Common serving as a leading man, a first for him in his brief time as a thespian.
According to Common, he immediately realized the difference between being a marquee player versus the supporting roles he usually helmed, which allowed him enough down time drop albums in consecutive years, 2007′s Finding Forever and 2008′s Universal Mind Control.
“When you’re in a leading role you’re pretty much working every day; every day you gotta be on your game,” he told Us1magazine. “So there’s pressures, but I like those pressures and challenges I live for those things. I always had a vision of me being a a leading man.
“There’s a difference, man,” Common continued. ” ‘Cause I remember, specifically, my first [role] doing ‘Smoking Aces’ I got there at, like, 6 in the morning I was sitting in the trailer and I wasn’t thinking about listening to music, ’cause I wanted to stay focused. I was just sitting there focused and then they called lunch at 12 and I thought, ‘Dang, they ain’t doing the scene yet?’ And then we went back and then it was 5 o’clock and they told me they didn’t need me for the day and I’d been zoning in the whole time! Then they said, ‘We don’t need you for the day.’ So I’m getting changed and 20 minutes later they come back, ‘Hurry up, get into the scene.’ That let me know it’s a roller coaster in this thing and you just got to be prepared. But as a leading man, you there, boom, you gotta be working every day.”
In “Just Wright,” due May 14, Common stars opposite of Queen Latifah as basketball superstar Scott McKnight. Latifah is in charge of rehabbing the injured McKnight, but during the experience the two develop feelings for each other; McKnight, however, is engaged to Latifah’s athlete-chasing friend played by Paula Patton. Latifah, who is one of the producers of the film, said during the process of tweaking the scripts she realized they were writing the role for Common.
Despite his thin resume in Hollywood, Latifah said Common had the pedigree the play the part.
“There was a short list of people that we had in mind for this role, but as the character started to get a little tight and we knew what we needed I was like, ‘This guy is sort of like Common, knowing him as a friend,’ ” Latifah told Us1magazine. “But he had never played a leading role before and he hadn’t been tested on this level. I just had a conversion with him and he felt like he really could do it.