Chris Rock wrote, directed and starred in “Top Five,” which hits theaters today.
The film also stars Rosario Dawson, Gabrielle Union, Cedric The Entertainer, J.B. Smoove, Tracy Morgan, Kevin Hart, Anders Holm, Jay Pharaoh, Michael Che, Sherri Shepherd and Leslie Jones. “Top Five” is produced by Scott Rudin and Eli Bush. Its Co-Producers are Shawn “Jay Z” Carter and Kanye West. The Executive Music Producer is Questlove.
In the film, Rock plays Andre Allen a New York City comedian-turned-film star, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist (Rosario Dawson) forces him to confront the comedy career—and the past—that he’s left behind. Read what he had to say about the film below:
How has hip-hop influenced you?
Chris Rock: Even my style of just being a comedian, I probably stole more from KRS-One and Ice Cube than I have most comedians you know what I mean? I’ve taken as much KRS-One as much as I have Richard Pryor – so LL, a little Run, a little DMC. So those are the guys I grew up watching and that’s the kind of style I’ve always tried to emulate.
How did the “Top Five” scene come about where everyone discusses their favorite rappers. What inspired that scene?
Chris Rock: You know what? It’s weird, because on the script it was like “argue about rap music.” I don’t know, it might have been Tracy Morgan, it might have been Cedric The Entertainer, it just came out like, “OK, my top five is … ” Once one person did a top five, everybody started doing a top five until we get to Leslie and her top five starts to Ice-T, not that Ice-T shouldn’t be on someone’s top five, but when you’re in the New York projects and somebody says Ice-T, it’s like “What? Are we in Compton? We’re not in Compton, we’re in Harlem.”
Speak about working with Rosario Dawson.
Chris Rock: I loved working with Rosario. First of all, she’s just amazing to look at, you never get bored with it. Normally you do a movie, and by week two you’re like “to hell with her.” With Rosario you’re like “god damn look at this …” everyday. She’s really passionate about what she believes in artistically, politically, and she’s just a great great person.
Jay Z and Kanye West served as producers on “Top Five.” Can you speak about their role?
Chris Rock: It’s hard to get all that music. Once they’re involved, it’s so much easier to get the music because music, especially rap, and samples and clearances, it’s the hardest. It’s amazing that there’s any rap music in movies today because there’s so much, the clearance issues are just insane, so I needed them to help me get the music out of the way.
And what was it like working with Kanye West?
Chris Rock: Kanye, he beat my ass. He is a taskmaster, but he wants it the way he wants it, so we tried to give it to him.
Can you speak about what it was like working with Questlove on the music?
Chris Rock: We have been friends for a long time and we have been trying to work on something and this came together. It finally came together.
The film is a tribute to New York. What do you love about this city?
Chris Rock: I just love New York. New York has energy, it has culture, New York is very diverse. There’s not a better place in the world.
What was it like to have such an amazing, star-studded cast?
Chris Rock: It’s just great to have my friends around. It was a great time. We always have a great time.
DMX has a hilarious cameo. How did that come about?
Chris Rock: It just came out of my head to tell you the truth. I’m there thinking like “Okay, my character is in jail … who could he meet in jail?” “The Hangover” already did Mike Tyson so “Ahh! DMX.” So we called him and he showed up, we played him the song a few times and he knocked it out.
Can you share the challenges of writing, directing and starring in the film?
Chris Rock: I don’t look at it too much like separate things, I look at it like I did a movie. And in order for me to do a movie I got to all of these jobs and the biggest job is writing the movie, nothing exists without writing the movie, the rest of it you could hire people to do more or less, but I didn’t want to hire people to do it because it would have been different, but the hardest part is writing the movie.
Angie Martinez, Ed Lover, Miss Info, Jayson Rodriguez, Datwon Thomas and Shaheem Reid participated in an entertaining roundtable with Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson where they all discussed their “Top Five” favorite rappers. Check it out below: