Chris Rock directs, stars in and co-writes with Louis C.K. I Think I Love My Wife about Richard Cooper (Chris Rock), a middle-aged man who gets tempted to cheat on his wife, Brenda (Gina Torres), by his sexy ex-girlfriend, Nikki (Kerry Washington). Steve Buscemi plays his philandering boss, George. Besides hosting the Academy Awards in 2006, Chris Rock has previously directed Head of State and starred in Down to Earth, CB4, the TV show Everybody Hates Chris and lent his voice to Madagascar and the upcoming Bee Movie. I had the privalege to interview him.
Fox Searchlight Pictures will release I Think I Love My Wife on March 16th, 2007.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Why was I Think I Love My Wife important for you to make?
CR: You have a finite amount of time in front of the camera, especially in movies. It was really important to me that when all of it was said and done, I had a movie that I felt really represented what I do. I didnít think I had one [before I Think I Love My Wife]. I donít think I had a movie that was on the level of my stand-up or the T.V. show or the other things Iíve done. I like the movies Iíve done before, but I kinda went into them with a marketing head. I thought about selling them before I thought about doing them. This movie is just me. Iím able to work white-and-blackóI do an HBO Special at the Apollo and then I cover the Republican Convention. Thatís just me. I havenít had a movie that showed that side of me. My goal was to make a funny Adrian Lyne movie. [He] makes movies that are so uncomfortable and so provocative and they just have you talking for hours after the movieís overónot about the movie; about the issues. [He] does that better than anyone else.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What was it like to remake Chloe in the Afternoon?
CR: It seems like a joke at first, but when you really look at the original Chloe in the Afternoon and you think about my stand-up, they kinda go together. Itís kinda where Iím at in my life and [for] Louie, too. Louieís been married 10 years [and] Iíve been married 10 years. We both have 2 daughters. We both live in the suburbs. So, it seemed like a perfect match.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What did you change from the original film?
CR: We made it a comedy; [the original film] is not really a comedy. We really beefed up the wife part. In the original, you see her twice in the whole movie.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How did you go about casting all the fine actors?
CR: There are some people [who] when you see their face or hear their name, you just assume that the movieís going to be mediocre. So, I absolutely refuse to cast any of those peopleóthe usual black suspects. I know that Iím a hater, so what? After I eliminated them, I started casting. [In the past] Iíve always cast for comedic abilities. This time, I was determined to cast for dramatic ability and just trusted that weíd get the comedy out of the dramatic situations as opposed to a sitcom.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How did you end up casting Steve Buscemi?
CR: I wrote [the part] for him. In most movies, the womanizer guy is usually this hunky guy. But in real life, the guy that does all the cheating is a guy with a lot of personally and no conscience at all. Thatís what it takes to pull that off. Heís just a great actor and heís really funny without forcing it.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How was the writing process different from the process of writing your past movies?
CR: I wrote the other movies in 90 days and worked on the drafts throughout production. I worked on this script for 3 years, maybe a little longer. In the 3 years, I ripped pages to shreds [and] I had a read-through every 6 months. Kerry [Washington] did a read-through or two. The character of Nicky is white in one draft. It just evolved. Iím normally really guarded with scripts, [but] Alexander Paine read it and gave me some notes and Frank Oz gave me some notes and Terry Zwigoff and [even] Will Smith. They would call me all the time for jokes, so I used my resources this time.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Do you think movies should have an ending with closure?
CR: Every movie you see now, they test [screen] it to death and [the ending] is so tightly wrapped up. Think of how many great movies where you just donít know [exactly what will happen to the characters]. I donít know whatís going to happen to their sex life. Itís really about appreciating who you have moreso than dramatic changes are going to make things better.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How do you think I Think I Love My Wife will perform in the box office?
CR: I have no business sense of this movie. I just know that the movieís cheap and [the production company] will make their money back which will allow me to make another movie. I think the movie is resonating with people because itís not a business plan. The reason why art sucks so much [these days] is because everyoneís a businessman and nobodyís an artist. Everyone is thinking about marketing more than theyíre thinking about making something that really comes from the heart.