When Kerry Washington told Chris Rock she wanted to play the flesh-flaunting home wrecker Nikki in I Think I Love My Wife (March 16), ”he laughed at me,” she recalls. He thought the Bronx-born beauty was better suited for the role of Brenda, his nurturing spouse. That was until Rock saw her play a sultry lesbian in Spike Lee’s She Hate Me (2004). By then, though, Washington had her own doubts. ”I got nervous because he was directing,” she says, adding, ”Head of State is not my favorite movie in the world.” Now, after working with Rock, she’s on a roll.
On Chris Rock, the actor ”Before this, I never thought of Chris as an actor. He really made an effort this time around. He hired one of the best acting coaches in the business and worked hard.”
On Alicia Masters, the character she reprises in this summer’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer ”The studio was looking for white actresses. I approached them and said, ‘Would you be willing to open this up?’ Now, when you watch the Fantastic Four cartoon, Alicia Masters is black. That’s huge.”
On becoming a sex symbol ”[I Think I Love My Wife’s Nikki] has nothing to do with Kerry Washington. That’s Kerry Washington with silicone stuck in her bra, smoking cigarettes and talking in a deep voice.”
On going to Africa to shoot The Last King of Scotland ”There’s this idea that as an African American you’re supposed to get off the plane in Africa and feel like you’re home. And — to be totally honest with you — I was terrified that I wasn’t going to have that response. I was like, ‘I don’t want to be a bad black person.”’ So what happened when she got there? ”I fell in love. I totally fell in love.”