*To watch some the celebrities that we enjoyed as young adults mature into
full-fledged entertainers is a sight to see. We’ve been witnessing Queen Latifah on the big and small screen for quite sometime and have been loving her music since before “Ladies First.”
Common has been dropping conscious lyrics and waging artistic war against gangster rappers for the souls of the masses for well over a decade. Honestly, his transition to film has been a bit more a surprise.
EURweb.com was on the scene for the New York City press junket for “Just Wright,” starring Latifah and Common in the lead roles. It’s a crowd-pleaser as far as we’re concerned. We asked Chicago’s Common why he felt the two meshed so well on the screen.
“I definitely felt that (Hip-Hop) helped us understand each other a little bit more,” Common told reporters. “But I really think Latifah and I had a special connection. Some things are just God given and I feel like we both have a certain sincerity about us and we both understand each other beyond Hip-Hop. There’s certain things she’s interested in and I’m interested in and she’s just a beautiful person and it’s hard to not connect with Latifah. I just wanted to make sure that I could come in a good creative place and just be natural with it.”
In Hollywood, most entertainers gush over their co-stars while the cameras and recorders are rolling even if they can’t stand the site of one another in reality. But Common says he’s been feeling the love before Hollywood. Heck, before he even had a deal.
“I was here from Chicago, me and my guys. We were (in New York) for a new
music seminar and I had the name Common Sense at the time. We were
walking around and we saw a lot of different Hip-Hop artists that we saw on TV and we had a video camera at the time. We were like ‘Man, that’s KRS-One and that’s Monie Luv’ and then we came across Queen Latifah and we asked would she say something on camera and she did.
“She was very nice and cool. She was one of the only artists that did it and I remember it from that day and I still have the video tape. It was one of those moments. And I had already admired her from “Princess of the Posse” and “Ladies First” and to see her come from the sweet individual she was then to being even sweeter now? She’s just a beautiful woman.”
Common has the hood in his blood. He has Chicago in his blood to be more
specific and most kids in Chicago love basketball and dreamed of NBA glory. Common says he was no different. In fact, he says “Just Wright” helped two of his dreams manifest.
“I grew up playing ball. I loved playing basketball. My dream was to be in the NBA when I was young so this movie was like a dream come true because I really thought I was in the NBA for the 2 months I was doing this movie and to be a leading man in the film. I got to have 2 dreams in one.”
OK, he did a movie about basketball. But does that mean he truly has game? We’ll let him answer that one.
“All the basketball scenes in the movie are me. I wanted it to be that way for many reasons. For one, I wanted people to see my character and believe that he was a basketball player and I knew, for most guys, when they see guys playing basketball (on film) it needs to look real. And, thank God, I’ve played my whole life so it was like preparation for this.”
Though Common considers “Just Wright” a shining moment in his basketball career, he was candid enough to remind reporters of a career low-light as well that took place on national television.
“I was in the celebrity NBA All-Star game two years ago. It was like 5 seconds left and I got the rebound and I was turning around to shoot it to win the game and my shot got blocked by this girl. So, after that happened and the buzzer went off, I just put my face in my shirt and my friends started texting me and saying ‘Don’t ever say you’re from Chicago no more!’ It was a WNBA player, and she was boisterous too. I saw her downstairs in the parking garage and she was like ‘You need to work on your jumper.’
That was an embarrassing moment. That was the lowest point in my hoop career. This movie was like my redemption. Now I’m like ‘Look at this 3-pointer I’m hittin’ on D-Wade right here.
“When D-Wade came to me and was like ‘I’ve seen a lot of basketball movies
and you’re bringing it the realest right now’ my ego got kind of got swollen up at that point. In my mind they were coming full defense, but they weren’t really coming at me. There was also a part in the script that I kept scoring on Dwight Howard and one time he just batted the ball into the stands as if to say ‘In real life I’ll serve you.'”
Although Common seems to be tooting his own horn, and if you got to score on NBA All-Stars you would too, Queen Latifah tells EURweb.com that she actually had to convince him to be more cocky in the film.
“There’s certain scenes where I’m like ‘Man, you’re Common. Girls throw
themselves at you! Be that dude!” Sometimes I would just gas him up like that because he’s so humble. I’m like ‘man, f-that! You Common! Girls love you!’ You gotta be that dude sometimes and then you can turn back in to the other guy. I would gas him up sometimes but he didn’t really need gassing because he’s so kind and sometimes he’s gotta be just a little bit cocky. He really thinks he’s in the league now.”
Speaking of basketball, anybody who’s is a fan of The Queen knows of her love of the game. She’s appeared in a few celebrity basketball games herself and, being from Jersey? C’mon son! You know girls from New Jersey can ball!
“I did have the great fortune of playing on championship basketball teams when I was in high school. For me, loving basketball and being a part of a basketball team taught me a lot about being a team player. What’s the difference between playing basketball and making a movie? Well, you gotta get 150 people to work towards the same direction. You can’t do that by being a despot. You gotta make everybody feel like they’re part of this whole effort. You have to keep everyone motivated, or you can do it the booty way, but I’m not that person.”
“Then there’s the other aspect of playing basketball and that’s composure.
My coach always drilled that into me. We were a winning team. We were like the Tennessee of Irvington, New Jersey when I was in high school. You go through pressure situations but if you keep it together you can get through them.”
“Just Wright” has been a labor of love for Queen Latifah and you have to love something if you’re going to wait as long as she did for it to get made. Six long years, and a couple instances in which a yes slowly turned to a no.
“This film actually got green-lit twice at Disney. Then it was a budget thing, then it was regime change. Things would fall through, we’d go back, things would fall through then we’d go back again. Then we took it to Fox Searchlight and they were like we get it. But then it was a budget thing again. I was like we gotta hurry up and make this move before I’m not sexy enough to make said movie. We got it done. We shot it last summer.”
And, fortunately for us, Queen Latifah has plenty enough sexy to pull it off. The chemistry between the actors as very good, as we’ve stated before. But you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about when you see the kiss. You’ll know ‘the kiss’ when you see it. What did she have to say about it?
“Ummmm, the kiss was right. It was just right! It was juuuust right.”
OK, we supposed we can’t always get an in depth answer, so a straight answer will have to do.
“Just Wright,” from Fox Searchlight opens this weekend in theaters nationwide. Starring Queen Latifah, Common, Paula Patton, Pam Grier and James A Pickens Jr., it’s more than just entertaining and is definitely worth a watch.