An Interview with Morris Chestnut
Growing up there were a lot of ‘staple films’ in the black community that depicted different views of the black community in America, sometimes favorable and other times more stereotypical, but as a community we embraced these films as hallmarks of black cinema. Some of these movies include Love and Basketball starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan, The Wood starring Omar Epps, Richard T. Jones, and Taye Diggs, Friday starring Chris Tucker, Ice Cube, and Nia Long , Boyz N The Hood and The Best Man both starring Morris Chestnut.
“Starting off in the industry everyone is looking for work, and we all want to recognized from something,” started Chestnut. “Boyz in the Hood was the start of my career and I am fortunate to have been apart of it.”
Morris Chestnut was born in Cerritos, California, and growing up he had aspirations of becoming a professional athlete. He went on the study finance and play sports at Cal State Los Angeles, where he eventually got his start in the business in 1990. Twelve years after the premier of Boyz in the Hood, Morris Chestnut has gone on to star in over 10 films including The Brothers, Not Easily Broken, and newly released Think Like a Man. On March 15, 2013 Morris Chestnut is releasing a thriller with co-star Halle Berry entitled, The Call.
“This is my first role a police officer and my first suspense thriller,” said Chestnut. “When I first heard of the roll and I knew it was about a police officer I wasn’t very interested, then I heard I would be co-staring with Halle Berry and then I became very interested.”
In The Call, Morris Chestnut plays Officer Phillips, who is the boyfriend of 9-1-1 operator Jordan Turner, played by Halle Berry. Together Chestnut and Halle Berry search for a teenage kidnap victim played by Abigail Breslin. Breslin was kidnapped by a serial killer who Halle Berry had spoken to previously, and throughout them movie her main concern is finding this man. Chestnut serves as her support system throughout the whole movie, while the two are simultaneously creating a love affair between each other,
“This was my first time playing this type of role, so I did police ride alongs in LA to prepare for the role,” explained Chestnut. “It was kind of interesting, because when you are in LA doing ride alongs it can be sketchy. [One night] we were riding around and I was sitting in the back. It was getting dark and I asked if the cars were bulletproof and the police officer said of course, but only in the front. I told my partner, David Otunga, next time you’re sitting in the back.”
In addition to his role as Officer Phillips in The Call, Chestnut has been working diligently on two new films.
“Best Man 2, the Sequel filming starts in March, and should be in theaters by November 2013, so it’s a quick turnaround,” said Chestnut. “The old cast is back and after reading the script, I have to say I think its going to be better than the first one.”
The Best Man, which originally premiered in 1999, is about the struggle between friendship, loyalty, and love centered around Harper’s, played by Taye Diggs, book being published and Lance’s, played by Chestnut, marriage. The sequel promises to expand on these relationships, focusing around the Christmas holiday.
“It has ups and downs and lot of surprises. I think a movie that takes you through a lot of emotions is great,” said Chestnut.
When Chestnut isn’t working he finds himself working out, relaxing at home, or making appearances and giving back to people in need.
“I donate to a lot causes, and I make some appearances in places, but I don’t feel the need to bring a camera with me all the time,” said Chestnut. “My publicist gets on me sometimes about how under the radar I am, and she urges me to tweet a lot, but in all honesty I have nothing to tweet about.”
Morris Chestnut is easily branded as one of the hardest working men in the industry today, and has been since he first emerged in the early 1990s. When asked what advice he had for those people who are trying to get in the industry now he said.
“The industry is tough right now, and if you’re being taught to have a stable career then I can’t say I disagree with that. I want my son to get a degree and go on to be a doctor or lawyer or something, but if you want to go into the industry there is always a way.”