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Moris Chestnut is known for his iconic roles such as Ricky in “Boyz n the Hood” and Lance in “The Best Man” and “The Best Man Holiday.”
However, the actor is now taking on a new role as a producer. Morris Chestnut is one of the producers of the film Spell and his work on the film is the beginning of the next chapter of his career. The Knockturnal spoke with him about his new position as a producer, the film Spell, and what fans can expect to see next from him.
The Knockturnal: Many people know you from your roles in Boyz n the Hood, the Best Man, and other iconic Black films. What was it like working as a producer for spells?
Morris Chestnut: It was great, it was a great opportunity for me. This was something that I wanted. I started this project when there was nothing on the page. Everything else that I’ve been involved in within my career there was already a script and the studio had already bought it. This was something that had came about because Gordon Gray a producer on the film he gave me a script I read it, it was a good script but it wasn’t something I was interested in being involved with at that time and then my manager and I had a concept we talked to Gordon about Gordon responded to it and we started meeting with writers Kurt Wimmer who ultimately ended up writing Spell had a great pitch and Kurt is an extremely colorful person with a bright and sharp mind quick. So, Kurt came in and we told him the concept, he added a few things, and then we have Spell.
The Knockturnal: How do you feel working as a producer will influence your work in front of the camera?
Morris: Seeing projects from beginning to end. It gives me a better understanding of what people go through when they come up and when they get to the production of a project. I can say that most projects I’ve been involved with they’ve kind of already been sold. I’ve sold a couple of them but there was already something there. Now, this aspect of taking something from the beginning in shaping the character-shaping the world because sometimes it is much harder to do when a project is already done the writer’s already sold it the studio already loves it and then here us actors come in and say well we like the moon being full but we want it half. So it’s just little things like that it felt good to be able to shape a project from the beginning.
The Knockturnal: As a producer how do you feel Spell has evolved from the initial idea to the film audiences will see?
Morris: Spell its evolved. When we had the meeting with Kurt I have to say it’s pretty there are some things in the film that when we came up with the concept my manager and I and we met with Gordon and he responded we started meeting writers so we already had a basic fundamental concept of what we wanted the film to be when we met with Kurt he was adding this he was adding that adding the hoodoo over the voodoo. He added a lot of nice touches, of course, he wrote it and he turned it around fairly quickly and when he did that you know we had some notes as you do with a collaborative effort somethings are gonna make it in and then some things aren’t. The film has evolved into a good place there are some things that I wanted in or changed that part but a part of the collaborative process and I think ultimately we have a good project that people are going to be entertained by so that’s great.
The Knockturnal: Did you learn anything about Hoodoo or root healing by working on this project?
Morris: A little bit not much. It was a world that I was not that familiar with and Kurt he’s like an encyclopedia. I don’t know if you know what an encyclopedia is? Some long time ago we used to have to look things up. Kurt, he’s very knowledgeable on it and those are the types of things that I have a little bit of knowledge about but I don’t get too close or too deep.
The Knockturnal: Speaking of iconic Black films, one of the stars of this movie is Loretta Devine. What was it like being able to work with her on this project?
Morris: One of the things I wanted to do on this project that I wasn’t able to because of my schedule was that I wanted to be an onset producer with the project. Once, this project started at least four or five years ago now, and by the time we got it sold and had the green light I was already on another project so I didn’t get the chance to go out and be on set and work with the actors and just be there in a different capacity than I normally was, unfortunately.
The Knockturnal: Loretta stars in this film with Omari Hardwick who many of us know from the show power what was it like seeing Omari transition from depicting Ghost to playing Marq in this film.
Morris: It was good. I was looking forward to seeing what he was going to do with it and how he was going to approach it. I think people will enjoy him in the role. I know a lot of people love Power and he has a huge fan base so it was good to see him make the transition.
The Knockturnal: What was one of your favorite aspects of producing this film?
Morris: Just taking it from its inception I mean you know what I feel good about is that this project is not even coming out in theaters or on streaming or anything without my manager and I talking to Gordon about our idea without my manager and I’s concept about what we wanted to do this film or this feature film doesn’t exist so that’s one of my favorite points about it.
The Knockturnal: What do you hope audiences will gain from this project?
Morris: I just hope that audiences will be entertained I know that sometimes with films or with projects there are messages that we want people to get and messages that you know agendas people have and I think you know with this particular film at this particular time in the world I just hope that it’s escapism to where we can get away for a minute from everything we have going on in the world and just be entertained. That’s what I hope.
The Knockturnal: With you mentioning escapism do you feel like entertainment or film, in general, has that power especially in 2020?
Morris: Most definitely yeah most definitely. I think that when I say without an agenda I think that sometimes people create entertainment to push an agenda. I just feel there are times when I watch sports or when I go watch a movie or tv I just want to have an escape. I’ve had a busy day here I’ve been dealing with this and dealing with that and I just want to escape I don’t want to think about everything I’ve been thinking about for the whole week so now I don’t wanna think about what I’ve been thinking about since 2020 since a lot has been happening. So I hope that this is the type of film where people can escape for two hours and just enjoy the film.
The Knockturnal: Do you see yourself wearing the producer hat in the near future?
Morris: Without a doubt, that’s what I want to do more than anything. It’s hard as an actor for being in front of the camera it’s hard for people to take you seriously behind the camera because you know actors get these vanity titles “hey okay we’ll put your name as a producer just star in the movie don’t say anything do your work and we’ll give you the producer title” but I want to make a film from beginning to end without being in front of a camera two seconds and being the onset producer that’s my goal and this brings me one step closer to it.
We sat down with Morris Chestnut and Cassandra Freeman during a round table discussion about their respective roles in the FBI in a new TV drama, The Enemy Within. The stakes are high in this series as Will Keaton (Morris Chestnut) and Jaquelyn Pettigrew (Cassandra Freeman) set out to capture a terrorist named Tal.
Morris Chestnut is taking a break from the small screen and returning to the big screen this Friday when he joins Regina Hall and newcomer Jaz Sinclair in the upcoming thriller “When the Bough Breaks”.
New thriller/drama starring Morris Chestnut and Regina Hall coming to the big screen in September.