Chris Rock ‘shines’ alongside J.B. Smoove in ‘Top Five’
Comedian and actor Chris Rock has taken to the internet and print media recently to discuss the issues of black fame, the inclusion of black females in film and television and even political events plaguing the news. His new film “Top Five” was written and directed by himself and reflects his life in the sense that he’s a comedian wanting to do some serious work.
The film has been receiving large praise after the Toronto International Film Festival. Co-starring in the film is J.B. Smoove, a comedian and lifelong friend of Rock.
“You know you can’t help as an actor, as a comedic actor to actually think about what it would be like to go to the next level. And the next level is… changing your style, by doing a dramatic role,” Smoove said.
Rock started off with comedy specials and some time on SNL and it wasn’t before long that he broke into the movie business. However, he was still predominately doing comedy.
“You know I think what it is, is in the case of Andre Allen (Rock’s character in the film)… you can change your jokes, you can change a lot of things about yourself, but you keep your character. It doesn’t matter what role you play as long as your character shines through,” Smoove said.
Working with Rock in a directorial role was different, Smoove said, but Rock maintained his personality both as the film’s talent and the set’s leader.
“You have – it’s almost like (the roles) have to mirror each other. He has to not only be in the scene, but when he’s not in the scene, he has to picture himself in the scene. So you know for him, he has to remember his energy. He has to remember – he has to use his eye, his ear – his ears and his vision all at the same time,” Smoove said.
Another challenge that Rock faced as a director was striking a balance between sticking to the script and letting the talent improvise scenes.
“I think he has to allow you to (improvise),” Smoove said. “He has allowed you to do that as a good director and as a good – great comic… All the comedians who are in this movie, when you have people like that there’s no way you can have them come on there. You can’t handcuff them.”
If you ever watch the behind-the-scenes features in any comedy film, the actors and actresses always discuss how much fun they had when they began to digress. Improve works because it’s an observation.
“I think this movie right here is great because you know when I’ve been previously casted in different movies, I played the crazy, over the top J.B., you know? Which is great. People love my physicality. They love my boldness, my directness,” Smoove said. “So, the good thing about this film is Chris cast me in this movie not as the over the top J.B. In this movie, I’m actually really, really acting more like as an actor as opposed to the over the top J.B.”
“Top Five” openened nationwide on Dec. 12.