Recent Academy Award winner Common plays super assassin Andrew Price in Run All Night out Friday.
Read what he had to say about his new film below:
Your character had a fiery experience.
Common: Yeah, I don’t know why they do that to me. I guess they don’t like my face sometimes, so they do me like that, but this was fun. This movie was like … even having that burn at a certain point, it gave juice to the character. It made me want to go at Liam Neeson’s character even more because he was the person who did it, so it’s like okay, I’m really going to get this guy. All that helped in building the character, but unfortunately it definitely takes a couple of extra hours in the makeup chair though.
We don’t get much of a back story on your character. Can you talk about that?
Common: It was a conflict going on between my character and Jimmy from the past. It really wasn’t written in the script, but we had to come up with that back story that Jimmy’s team did something, but I couldn’t take them out, but he had did something to some guys that I knew. I really didn’t have a liking for him. As you see, Price doesn’t really like too many people. It doesn’t feel like that, right?
How do you prepare for this type of role? It was so evil and so angry and you know we were thinking about you from Selma, then you’re going to Mr. Price. How do you mentally prepare for that, man?
Common: For me that’s the joy of acting. You get to go and do characters. You might play a pastor at one point that’s conflicted, and you may play a science teacher, you may play this dude Price that’s like a relentless assassin that’s the super villain. Then you get to play James Bevel, a civil rights leader. That’s the joy of acting and how I go there is I work as I continue to study and grow. Working with my coach and at the same token these dark characters you figure out, how do you get there. We all have dark and light in us too and at the same token I do research and work with the directors. I worked with Jaume and we talked about what type of villain would this be. We didn’t want the stock villain. We didn’t want stereotypical killer. This guy’s a high-tech assassin. He’s wearing those glasses, and his trench coat, and a little sweater. Looked kind of preppy, almost nerdy in a way, which is cool. I love that about the character, but then inside of them you’ve got to find out what’s in the mind of someone who’s willing to murder this many people and take a joy in it. One thing that’s not in the movie that was written in the script was that you first find him at a S&M club. That automatically informed … They just cut that actual part, but it was like a S&M room. It was kind of crazy filming that. That was the first scene I filmed.
You didn’t get lost in there, did you?
Common: No, I got out of there and I was like this is a little something. It was something, man.
Can you think about shooting those large scale action scenes?
Common: First of all, one thing you get used to is anytime you’re in a movie with the word night in it, you know you’re shooting throughout the night every night, right. We would shoot these late nights. The action would be a lot of fun, but you just had to get used to being on the schedule of starting at eight at night and shooting until the morning. With that being said, those things were a lot of fun because there was a lot of fight scenes in it and then choreography, and you’re chasing people and going through the buildings. Turning the lights off and we were in the projects too, so it felt real authentic. I love getting that. One thing I really love about Run All Night is that you feel like New York is a character. You feel New York, the grittier part of New York, and the rawness of New York. It adds to the story. Sometimes when you see movies and it’s supposed to be New York and they shoot it in Toronto or somewhere else you don’t really get the truth of New York. With this you really feel the truth. Everything feels authentic. The relationships between the father and son, and these best friends that now have to go at each other. Even Price with his robotic style … He still feels authentic, you know?
Your interactions with Liam are pretty much wordless. Their exchange is more bullets than words and when they yell cut did you guys sort of laugh about what you were doing?
Common: Yeah, when they yell cut we would talk about theater and talk about all type of stuff. We were just having fun, really. I would also learn from him too. He was telling me different things and showing me different tricks and I was like, “Wow, this is really good. I’m learning from the best.”
What kind of tricks?
Common: I can’t give away the tricks. He is one of the greatest action actors we got. He’s a legend. I got to take that and use that … tricks to deal with fighting and those things. Dealing with the acting, yeah.
Well, Liam has had a personal stuntman for years.
Common: Yeah, exactly. Ultimately, he knows exactly what to do, he knows how to do it well, with excellence. That’s why when we watch those movies you at least appreciate what he’s doing. You appreciate the fighting. I say at least because it’s like some of the action movies that you see it is primarily fighting and things like that. The one great thing about Run All Night is you get the fight, you get the action, but you really get a story, you get some emotion. You get a good film.
Late 2000’s you were attached to possibly a big superhero role playing John Stewart Green Lantern. Any chance that now the way things are going that opportunity might come back around?
Common: I would love to be John Stewart and play Green Lantern. That was one of those things where I was so excited because we rarely see African-American superheroes or people of color as a superhero. I think it would be great for the world to see and for people to see that for Hollywood to put that out there too. Just for the world to see, just for the kids to be able to see, for all nationalities to see a person of color as a superhero too. Plus, it’s just fun, man. Even the pre production of getting to go, and studying the Green Lantern. John Stewart’s from Detroit, so he was this guy that was really for the community and I really related to that. He used his powers to help people in the community and I was like, “Man, I’m going to be John Stewart. Green Lantern.” Unfortunately, it didn’t happen at that time, but maybe the possibility that it could. I would love to.
That was a crazy cast. George Miller who has a huge film coming out now. It was you, Armie Hammer, DJ Cotrona, Grace Palmer, a lot of people that flourished.
Common: Yeah, we were in Australia … I actually tried on the Green Lantern outfit.
How’d you look? Green is your color?
Common: Green is my color. Green and black.
This has been a great year for you with Selma and the Academy Award win, does it get any better?
Common: Yeah, I feel like it can get better. I mean, first of all I’m super grateful for winning an academy award and golden globes, to be able to perform at those places and be a part of Selma. Now I feel like it gets better by going to do better work. Going to keep getting better as an actor. Get better as an artist. Aligning myself with films at that high level, or television shows that are at that high level, then going out and garnering more work.
What do you have lined up?
Common: Well, some new films that I’m looking at right now … looks like some new film projects I’ll be doing soon and also a television project that I’m producing that is a great lead character for me. I can’t really discuss any of them until we lock it in, but it’s feeling good. I got some good opportunities out there.
You’re the rare kind of artist who may be in a position in their lifetime to actually get EGOT. Do you have that as a personal goal?
Common: I definitely would want to EGOT.
You got a EGO now?
Common: I didn’t get to EGO yet because I didn’t get an Emmy yet, but I’ll take an ego and then get to the EGOTs. I’m definitely looking in my trajectory, I want to do Broadway and like I said, I’m doing a television project that hopefully will be high quality enough to garner that type of attention but yeah, I want that.
Where are you thematically in your music right now?
Common: I’m really enthused to write music now. I feel more free and more powerful than I ever have as far as writing music. With that being said, some of my inspiration is to write music that’s obviously going to move the world and also write music that may be accompanied with other things like a film project. Not even just writing for a movie that’s produced, but say I write an album and we do a film based around that. I’m thinking about music in different ways, not just saying, “Okay, I’m going to release an album.” I’m like I might do these eight songs and it’s accompanied by a short film and we write a book and then we put it on Broadway. Those are things that’s inspired me to keep creating music.
Do you think that’s where the music industry is heading generally? It’s not about albums anymore.
Common: I think music artists definitely have understood that you have to have something besides just an album. You’re not going to be able to survive off just album sales. You hope to be well rounded enough to go out and perform, be a great performer, and do shows, but then you also have to have other ideas and other creations. The music is going to get you paid, but only so much. There is a way to make a living off of it and if it’s what you love to do then I encourage artists to keep pursuing it. Just find ways to diversify and created more commerce, but make the best music possible.