Common is running a little late for his interview. But he's a musician, right? That's to be expected.
"No man, I'm an actor, man. I'm an actor," he says, laughing.
And so he is. Those tentative first steps in front
of a movie camera in films from "Smokin' Aces" to "Date Night" have
been replaced by his first starring role, paired up with
"As my daughter says, 'Daddy, when are you gonna stop playing the BAD guy?'
"I wanted to break free of the sorts of roles that
Common, 38, grew up on
"I want to be as free as the spirits of those who left
"I'm talking Malcolm, Coltrane, my man Yusef
"Through death through conception
"New breath and resurrection."
But as his musical fame grew to include a couple of Grammys and a featured slot in
"I worked with an assistant coach for the Nets so that it felt natural when I got out on the court. Don't want to look like I've got no game."
Common has been in hits ("Date Night" is the
surprise of the spring) and prestige pictures ("American Gangster").
He'd love to move into more serious and varied roles. Playing the late
"She made this journey from hip hop to TV to movies and excelled in all of them," Common says. "Working with her is learning from the best. I plan to be the biggest movie star and greatest actor out there. And I plan to continue making music, hopefully music that moves and inspires people. I want to continue to do both because both are what I believe I was put here to do."
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