He's a hip-hop star, a Grammy nominee and recently served as the face of a clothing chain's national ad campaign. Factor in a rapidly developing movie presence, and it becomes all the more obvious that the career path of Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr. is anything but Common.
"I've been pursuing an acting career, because I love the art of acting," the cool and contemplative "Smokin' Aces" star grinned recently (see "Alicia Keys Kills — Literally — In Film Debut, 'Smokin' Aces' "). Now he's about to take his art a step further: Common revealed for the first time that he'll soon be playing opposite a smokin'-hot Hollywood A-lister. "I'm about to do this film called 'Wanted,' which is starring Angelina Jolie," he said.
Common recently signed on to the currently filming drama, based on the ultra-violent comic book of the same name and directed by Russian "Night Watch"/"Day Watch" visionary Timur Bekmambetov. "[It's also got] Morgan Freeman and James McAvoy, who was also part of 'The Last King of Scotland' with Forest Whitaker. And man, this movie is very exciting to even be talking about.
"My character in 'Wanted' is called the Gunsmith," Common disclosed. "I'm basically this dude that's a master at shooting guns. I'm training this gentleman that's coming in, who really has certain abilities but doesn't know it; I'm training him on how to be what he should be."
(Common's a busy man this year: Check out this report from the set of "The Game," the first single from his new album Finding Forever, which comes out in July: "Common, Kanye Kick It Old-School In Clip For 'The Game.' ")
For those unfamiliar with the Top Cow comic by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones, "Wanted" tells the story of a mama's boy named Wesley Gibson (McAvoy) who discovers that his recently deceased father was a top-notch supervillain. Discovering his own Jason Bourne-like skills at murder and mayhem, the newly empowered antihero sets out to become the next great bad guy under the tutelage of the Fox (Jolie), a Catwoman-like jewel thief. Freeman will play Sloan, a figure in the covert organization who recruits Gibson. The six-issue comic is considered by many to be the "Watchmen" of villain tales, based largely on its mid-'80s setting and characters loosely based on icons like Lex Luthor, the Joker and Mr. Mxyzptlk.
Calling himself a big fan of comic book movies, Common said he can't wait to hop on a plane within the next few days and take the long flight to the set of the big-budget flick. "I'm starting to film 'Wanted' next week," he revealed. "I'm filming in Prague, and I'm excited because I ain't never been to Prague.
"First of all, they've got Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman in it," he continued excitedly. "But then the story is based on this comic book, so it's all this excitement and action going on. And the director? Man, I ain't never seen no director like this dude!"
Going from a Russian to a Ridley, Common also gave his fans a taste of what they can expect from "American Gangster," the crime drama from "Gladiator" director Ridley Scott that hits theaters November 2 (see "T.I. To Star With Oscar Favorites Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe").
"That's starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, also T.I. and the RZA is in it," he said of the flick, the script to which has been described as "Donnie Brasco" meets "Scarface." "I play Turner Lucas, who is one of Frank Lucas' brothers. Frank Lucas is a real-life character who Denzel plays; he's a brother from North Carolina who moved up to Harlem [New York] and became this big-time hustler and was very low-key with it. He became one of the biggest heroin importers, bringing it in through Vietnam government planes and also through the bodies of dead soldiers in their caskets."
Dramatizing the true story of the '70s drug kingpin, Common said that when he was on the set months ago it was like one giant acting class. "Russell Crowe's character is this detective who has his conflicts," he said of the Oscar winner. "[He and Denzel's character] conflict, but at the same time they connect. ... I'm geeked about 'American Gangster.' To be a part of it, and then to be there with T.I. and RZA? I seen the RZA with his afro out, and I was like, 'Man, he look so '70s!' "
Common revealed that the three amigos will be pooling their musical skills for the project as well. "We're most definitely going to do something for the soundtrack," he said. "Hank Shocklee, he scored some of the movie and is producing some of the soundtrack. [He'll produce] something for the soundtrack with me, T.I. and RZA."
A larger-than-life personality whose spiritual sobriety fueled an impressive "Aces" acting debut, Common admitted that most of his Hollywood blessings have been a mix of skill and pure luck — but it doesn't matter how he gets there, as long as he's going in the right direction. "I went in to audition for one role, and Ridley Scott was like, 'We like him, but he's not right for that role,' so then I went and auditioned for another," he grinned. "Then they chose me for a role that I didn't audition for!
"But hey," he added. "It was like, 'I'm just glad to be in here.' "
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