In LUV, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival a year ago and comes out in theaters Jan. 18, Common plays a man both tough and tender.
As Vincent, the reformed ex-con former drug dealer uncle of 11-year-old Baltimore orphan Woody, played by Michael Rainey Jr., Common navigates the ghosts of a past filled with crime and violence, with Woody coming along for the ride.
Check out this exclusive clip from the film, below, in which the rapper-actor and Rainey Jr. – wearing spiffy suits – visit Danny Glover’s character, a meeting both laugh-filled and intense. Glover, at one point, jokingly calls Woody “little Barack.” EW talked to Common about working with Glover and Rainey Jr., made even more special since he doesn’t have a son himself, what it’s like to watch violence on-screen, and his excitement about continuing AMC’s Hell on Wheels with Anson Mount for a third season.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was it like working with a boy, playing a father type figure?
COMMON: Working with Michael Rainey Jr. I felt it was a gift. He is so talented, and is very very special. I keep reminded, working with him, how free you should be as an artist and an actor, and having fun, as a child should be. The fact I don’t have a son, it was great to be in his presense. It was a true bonding experience. He’s one of the kids that could be a great movie star for generations to come.
How about Danny Glover? He’s such an acting vet, so respected.
On the other end of the pole, one of the great actors of our time, Danny Glover. Danny Glover was so natural to the role. Everything he was doing, it wasn’t a push. You always appreciate it as an actor. When it’s natural, it feels more true to life.
Talk about your character, Vincent, and his quest to stay out of trouble.
I play Vincent, who is Woody’s uncle. I basically am just being released from prison. I’m really trying to lead the straight life, and have a business. He takes his nephew out for a day and how to handle business and be a better man. Sudden issues happen that draw him back to the street life, that an 11-year-old should never experience. It’s a tough story. It definitely has its drama to it, and a real good point at the end of the day. This is part of the cycle we see going on with inner city kids who don’t have good father figures, and get attached to certain ways of life.
What male figures did you look up to growing up?
I looked up to my god brother, and so many people in my neighborhood, whether they were gangbangers or not. My god brother, I loved him and respected him, and his father. I did have some male figures I looked up to. And though I didn’t grow up with my father, I looked up to him too.
What about watching violence on-screen? Is that hard to digest?
When you go through scenes and you see the kid crying, you feel it really hard, and you feel it when you go home and it’s still with you sometimes. With Hell on Wheels, I need something to do something right after that’s calming, like a basketball game or a movie I would never usually see, like Wreck-It Ralph, ha!
Season 3 of Hell on Wheels has been confirmed. You have a great push-pull with co-star Anson Mount. You guys both have major chutzpah.
I love Anson. He’s a good dude. We have a great connection. Our connection is similar to our characters. I love him, man. We’re not false around each other. There’s no small talk. It’s a good bond.
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