Common is a veteran when it comes to rapping, but his movie career is just beginning. In 2007, he shirked his reputation as a lyrical Casanova by starring in his first movie, Smokin Aces, where he played ruthless assassin. He fell into a pattern of playing tough guy characters in his subsequent films (Wanted, Terminator Salvation) but on May 14, his first lead role takes him back into the realm of debonair, as Scott McKnight, Queen Latifah’s love interest in Just Wright.
Just Wright tells the story of Leslie Wright (Queen Latifah) a physical therapist who gets her dream job working with NBA All-Star Scott McKnight. All is going well until Leslie falls for Scott who is infatuated by Leslie's cousin Morgan (Paula Patton), a gold digger who has her sights set on being an NBA trophy wife.
It’s a complicated love triangle but Common’s real life is anything but difficult. He’s a productive actor and musician who never stops working. VIBE caught up with him to find out how he dealt with a love triangle in real life and to get an update about his forthcoming album, The Believer. ⎯Starrene Rhett
VIBE: This is a different type of role for you. What attracted you to the script?
Common: When I read the script, I thought the material was quality and it had heart. The story felt so universal that I wanted to do it.
There’s a scene in the movie where you hit it off with Leslie Wright at a gas station when she helps you pump gas into your car. McKnight’s character invited her to his house party that weekend but has something like that ever happened to you in real life?
I definitely meet cool people in my course of doing every day things in life. Some people strike you and you feel familiar with them. That’s what the dynamic was between Leslie and Scott McKinght. With me, I may invite them to a show or something because I have met cool people [and] sometimes you just feel like hooking people up. But it’s rare that you might invite somebody to you home, but who knows, crazier things have happened.
Have you ever been in a situation like in the movie where you were dating someone but the dynamic shifted and you ended up falling for their close friend or relative?
Yeah. I dated a girl who⎯we didn’t have sex but we had our own intimate moments but eventually me and her cousin started liking each other and ended up having more of a dating experience.
How can someone avoid a sticky situation like that?
My advice would be if it’s real then all parties involved have to be honest with everyone. It would be difficult for me to be with someone if it’s one of my good buddies and they’re really feeling her. In that case I won’t even see her in that way. But let’s just say that nothing really transpired and you and that person have a real chemistry, then you have to just tell your friend. Honesty is key.
What are some qualities of Leslie Wright that remind you of Serena?
A strong woman⎯mentally strong; fun person; funny; a softness about her that you wouldn’t necessarily think that she has. But the more you get to know her you would see that she is a gentle woman.
You dropped a mixtape inspired by Just Wright but what’s going on with The Believer?
It’s still in the beginning stages because I’ve been working on other projects but The Believer is an important project and idea [and] I’m ready to get it going. I have some songs for it now. I’ve been working with No ID and Kanye West to conceptualize things. We’ve been working on and off so it’s coming along. I think I’ll have it ready to come out in the fall. This will be my ninth studio album, which is a blessing.
Are you working with Kanye on his album as well?
Nah. I been around Kanye for what he’s been working on but I haven’t worked on it. He can produce, write, he does it all so he doesn’t need much help. I like when we’re around each other creating because I think we inspire each other. Kanye is definitely going to come with something powerful and I’m definitely coming with something that’s powerful and soulful, just the essence of what hip-hop feels like, just good music.