Chris Rock on writing, directing, and starring in the comedy about cheating
Chris Rock just knows how to make us laugh - and he does it once again in I Think I Love My Wife. He and Louis C.K. wrote the screenplay five years ago and have been tweaking it ever since; Chris also directs and stars alongside Gina Torres and Kerry Washington.
He's married to Gina, but is bored after eight years of marriage - and no sex. That's when Kerry walks into his life, a vixen with only one thing on her mind - sex. Throughout the film, Chris is forced to make the decision whether to stay with his wife or cheat with Kerry.
In a very candid interview, Chris sat down with Movieweb to talk about I Think I Love My Wife:
How did you come up with this film?
Chris Rock: Um, I wanted to have a departure; I wanted to be a grown up in a movie. No one was every going to cast me in a part like this, it was never going to happen; I really wanted to play a grown man and I still wanted it to be really funny. There is like this thought that if you do something mature it's not going to be as funny as the gross out stuff. And I was like, 'No man, we are going to play a grown man and it's going to be real funny with grown man problems.' So, that's why.
Did your character cheat in this movie?
Chris Rock: Does my character cheat in this movie? It's weird, there are eight different degrees of murder, but only one degree of cheating. Is that right? Did he kill somebody - is it manslaughter? Is it aggravated manslaughter? What is it? Or is it just 'cheatin's cheatin', no matter what? He didn't cheat! You watched the movie, did he cheat?
There are emotional affairs.
Chris Rock: Emotional affairs, those are the only real affairs; those are the real ones.
Why do you think he was attracted to Nikki (Kerry Washington)?
Chris Rock: She's a breathe of fresh air, she's new; we all want new, we scour the earth for new.
What happens in a relationship today, how do you get past it?
Chris Rock: What happens in life? It's not just relationships, think about it as life; people say, 'Why is he bored with her?' Because he's a human being, that's why; same way his wife is bored with him. That is marriage - anything that's supposed to be forever, your going to get bored with it. And there is nothing wrong with it, so don't take it personal; if you are with somebody for ten years and they are not bored with you? Then something is wrong with them.
You've definitely grown as a director since Head Of State; what did you do differently?
Chris Rock: That movie I was kind of cocky; I had done a movie before that, actually with Kerry, Bad Company. I wasn't really satisfied with it, and I kind of did it for the wrong reasons; I was like, 'I'll do the movie myself, I don't need y'all.' You can't direct a movie with that attitude, like 'I'm gonna show everybody in high school that I'm cool.' That's not how you direct a movie; this one, I came in with a much more humble place. I sat down with my cameraman and we really went through the whole script and we just drove around New York and said, 'How beautiful can we make this city look?' And, 'How great can we make Kerry look? How great can we make Gina look?' We really got into it, more so than Head Of State. Head Of State lives and dies on the jokes; if the jokes aren't working, the movie ain't working. This is a story and when you don't like the jokes the story is carrying, the acting is tight and the camera is moving all the time. Head Of State is shot like a play; just walk in a room and everybody just does what they do, it was just time to get better.
Are you liking this directing thing?
Chris Rock: I am feeling it a little bit yeah; I just directed a video for the Red Hot Chili Peppers recently.
How did that come about?
Chris Rock: They called me up, I'm friends with Rick Rubin and talked to him and told him how much I loved the Pepper's album. There was a particular song, Hump de Bump, that I really liked and he told Anthony and Anthony asked me if I would direct the video. I said, 'Sure, as long as you agree to be the only white people in the video.' And they said, 'Sure.' So, it comes out this week on MTV, VH1 and that stuff.
Do you like the shock value? Who wrote the line, 'Are you still fucking your black wife?'
Chris Rock: I wrote that line; it's what she would say, it's what you would say. I know that girl, I'm in show business, I grew up on the road; I've been a comedian for almost 22 years, I've met Nikki Tru a bunch of times.
Do you think people will go to this movie and think Nikki has done nothing wrong?
Chris Rock: Nikki hasn't really done - she's just Nikki. Brenda (Gina Torres) could have been Nikki if she didn't meet Richard of if she went the wrong way and Nikki could have been Brenda if she just married some other. It's all choices and where you end up at; we are all the same, it's just a journey. I don't think Nikki is necessarily the villain; she is just doing what she does. I didn't write it as a villain; sometimes the villain is just doing their job. And Nikki is just, 'Hey, I'm here, you're here; I'm hot, I know you. It's not like we don't know each other.'
What are you working on next?
Chris Rock: I got a couple [scripts]; I gotta go dust them off and see what's there. This movie is such a jump for me that I don't want to go backwards; I kind of like where I'm at artistically. I think I'm in a new zone or a zone that a lot of brothers don't get to go into, so I'd like to stay here for a minute.
How is Bee Movie going?
Chris Rock:Bee Movie is pretty good; Jerry don't play that, Jerry is thorough, man. I play a mosquito; it's kind of cool, I feel a little bit like Shrek. It's not a whole new technology - it's a little better than Shrek.
When he asked you to do the trailer did you think you were doing voices?
Chris Rock: No, he told me what it was, but he actually told me Spielberg was going to be in it and when I get there, there is no Spielberg. So, he kind of owes me, I don't know how; I'm just gonna hold on to that chip and just figure out when I get to cash it in.
Are you going to go back to stand up?
Chris Rock: Hopefully this year, just a tour right now; I like it, I love it.
Do you love topical stuff or political things you want to chat about?
Chris Rock: Oh, I got to figure it out, it's a good time; I write an act, I do it and then I wait for it to get a little stale and then I stop. I hate to be out there and then you have to wait a few years for the world to change.
You don't have to wait for Chris in I Think I Love My Wife; the comedy opens March 16th, rated R.