From ‘Boyz in the Hood’ to LAPD

Courtesy of Sony Pictures

It would be difficult for an actor with a filmography as impressive as Morris Chestnut to remain humble, but for Chestnut, humility is effortless. With a film for almost every year since 1991’s “Boyz n the Hood,” Chestnut is one of the industry’s hardest working actors. I had the pleasure of joining a round table interview with the hardest working man in showbiz himself to discuss his upcoming film with legendary actress Halle Berry, “The Call.” In “The Call,” Chestnut plays the boyfriend of a 911 operator –Halle Berry– who’s out to save a young girl from a kidnapping.

The Signal: Your filmography is none other than impressive. I knew of a number of your films but when when I did my research and I saw that you had a film for every single year since 1991…

Morris Chestnut: [interrupts] Oh, [nods] Yes. have I?

TS: Yes! With the exception of the years 2000 and 2006, that was impressive. I wasn’t aware of that and I feel it’s really understated. I’m branding you “the hardest working man in showbiz.”

Chestnut: Oh wow, thank you, thank you [laughs]

TS: With such an extensive role catalog, why this role in “The Call”?

Chestnut: This actually was like my first suspense thriller, psychological thriller that I was involved in. But they called me and my manager sent me the script and was like you know “Here’s this movie about a 911 operator.” I was like [groans] “how interesting can that be?” He said “Halle Berry’s playing the lead.” I said, “Oh yes that it is interesting!” [laughs]. I said, “Ok, ok, I like it now.” So then, I read it and I thought one of the interesting things would be maintaining that relationship with her while she’s in the call center and I’m in the field. That was very challenging and just being involved in a thriller. And the guy who plays the killer [laughs], he’s really, really into character so it was interesting being around characters like that.

TS: So you’ve done your share of acting and if you wanted to, you could hang it up right now and be good.

Chestnut: [nods] Yes.

TS: What about directing, producing, taking on any other position in the industry? I may be ignorant of something you’ve already done…

Chestnut: As far as directing no. It takes a unique person to be a director because what happens when you’re a director is the audience sees the movie for the first time but each time a director watch’s it, he has to act like it’s the first time he’s seen it and I don’t have an eye for that. As far as producing is  concerned, yes I’m involved in putting a few things together. That’s probably the next level.

Chestnut on his preparation
for this role:

I went on a ride along with police officers which was kind of interesting you know because when you’re in LA, in certain parts of town, it can be kind of sketchy and so that was interesting. I worked with David Otunga who plays my partner in the movie and he’s a big dude, he’s a wrestler, so the back was kind of cramped. So I said, “Listen you take the front and I got the back.” So I got in the back and I was sitting there and I was talking to the officer and it was getting kind of dark and I knowpeople have guns so I asked, “So, you guys bulletproof these cars right?” She said yes but only the front, though. So I was like, “Yo Dave, next time you gotta get in the back bro. I got shot gun!”

Chestnut on kissing Halle Barry:

[laughs] Well, we didn’t actually get it on, it was a kiss [laughs]. I think in the sequel we’re going to ramp it up a little bit. No, no. I’m playing. That was the second time I’d met her. I’d on met her
once before that. It was kind of interesting because we didn’t know each other and I wanted to make sure everything was comfortable so it worked out.”