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By James Lamar Bolden Sentinel Contributing Writer
It is essential for entertainers to become triple threats in terms of having substance enough to be mainstream in every endeavor whether it be film, music or fashion. The new era of hip hop is breading young men and women that are intellectually sound as well as in need for an even more creative outlet than just a hot 16 on an album. Acting for an artist is not a trend and for young thespians like Rashid Lynn J.R. (better know as “Common”), it is more of an outlet for creativity. Perhaps, that’s why Common has sounded the alarm in Hollywood that he’s ready for his close-up, and Hollywood is hanging out the welcome sign to Common bigtime.
His latest film opens this weekend, is the new fantasy action adventure, “Wanted.” This film has a star-studded cast, starring Academy Award winners Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman. “Wanted” is destined to be a smash hit at the box office come this weekend.
Kill one to save a thousand. That is the premise for the movie. Based on Mark Millar’s comic book series consisting of six issues, it’s about a fraternity of assassins in a world where villains have secretly taken control of the world. “Wanted” in 2008 has been resurrected into an action-thriller that combines two worlds with violence similar to such movies as “Pulp Fiction” and “Reservoir Dogs” with a storyline similar to that of Robin Hood. After I previewed the movie I had a chance to interview Common and this is what he had to say.
“It was a lot of learning and fun, I was honored to be able to work with people that have won Oscars,” said Common. Angelina is an incredible woman. She’s talented, beautiful and doing a lot for the world. Morgan Freeman is a guru, one of the greatest actors ever.”
Common, who is a Chicago native, debuted in 1992 with the album Can I Borrow A Dollar? He began his acting career in 2003 appearing on various sitcoms before taking it to the big screen appearing in movies such as, “Smoking Aces,” “Street Kings” and “American Gangster,” which were all big budget films. When asked about being in another big budget film and working with director Timur Beckmambetor, he said, “I always approach the work that I’m doing as like, Man! Is it going to be quality work? Whether it’s big budget or independent. Is the script good? Is it going to be a good role for me? Who is in it?”
Common insists Timur Beckmambetor was one of the most spontaneous directors he’s ever met. “Timur is a very creative, smart dude. He’s very spontaneous and was able to freestyle on set,” Common said.
Prior to his acting career, Common is a Grammy Award winner who is well known as one of the more famous voices in hip-hop’s new renaissance era
The two-time Grammy winner plays a Gunsmith... This is quite ironic being that he is best known for his cool, calm, and collected lyrics. “The Gunsmith eventually became this dude who was really like a warrior but he was calm, like a samurai,” he says.
As the Gunsmith in the movie, Common was required to endure extensive amounts of gun training, but this wasn’t anything new for him, “It definitely took a lot of training, admits Common. “I did weapons training before in movies like ‘Smoking Aces’ and ‘Street Kings,’ but to be a Gunsmith you have to know how to take apart and fix guns. The Gunsmith in ‘Wanted’ was putting designs on guns and making guns with gadgets and it took a lot of work.”
It’s no surprise that he strives to polish his talent by approaching roles that are undeniably opposite of his personality. “It is the opposite,” Common elaborates as he sits on the bed eating a power bar. “I’m not really a gun totting dude. I’m trying to spread love and enjoy myself. That’s what I like as an actor you want to get the opportunity to be an actor. I don’t want to play myself. Anytime I see a role I’m doing, I don’t want to see me. If I see me I’m mad.”
The long tradition of singers and musicians forgoing acting career has met with mixed results. But in Commons case, I think I sense a little longevity in the making. Set to appear in Terminator 4, scheduled for release in 2009, he slowly but surely making the well needed evolution from hip hop to cinema, and he’s quite successful might I add. This type of transition opens so many doors to different realms of entertainment. There’s only one way for hip hop artist Common to go, and that’s to the top. Academy Award winner Common, I think that has a nice ring to it.