Chris Rock: “It’s hard to make silly movies when you’re older, you look ridiculous”

Following the Covid emergency, between March and May 2020 Saturday Night Live it remained active but did not receive a face-to-face audience or broadcast itself from its usual studio. The return to the “traditional” format of the show that once catapulted comedy figures such as John Belushi, Amy Poehler and Bill Murray only took place on October 3, for the premiere of its 46th season.

The afternoon before that redebut, news was revealed that would be unavoidable for any live program and irresistible for any comedian worth his salt: then-President Donald Trump had tested positive for coronavirus and was hospitalized, after minimizing the risks of the disease since the beginning of the health crisis.

“My heart goes out to Covid,” Chris Rock, a prodigal son of space at the beginning of the 90s, said at the beginning in his opening monologue, summoned as host for that night. Then he joked about the sanitary protocols and series of tests the team had to undergo: “I haven’t had so much on my nose since I shared a dressing room with Chris Farley.” Somewhat more seriously, he also developed his idea of ​​how confinement was a period in which the links between people were examined and how that should affect the relationship of Americans with the government of the day. “There are more rules in a game show than running for president,” he shot.

In the run-up to a new movie premiere, Rock doesn’t talk about Trump or politics so directly. It does look at the most recent turbulent period, though. “This last year has been quite scary (laughs). A global pandemic, people die around you. It’s not funny, but it’s absolutely terrifying. Spray disinfectant on the boxes before opening them. That was pretty scary. So I would say that 2020 has been the scariest year of my life ”, he exposes in a virtual conversation with a group of journalists, in which he participates Worship.

Before the Covid disrupted the calendar, the 56-year-old actor and comedian had a season of changes contemplated, possibly the result of personal and professional introspection. Of course nothing went according to plan. First quarantine caught him facing the final stretch of filming the fourth cycle of Fargo, his first dramatic and stable role on television. A few days later, the closing of the cinemas led to the cancellation of the premiere date of Spiral: The Game of Fear, set for May 2020 in North America.

Like almost everything in this time of uncertainty, the pieces were accommodated, he was able to finish the recordings of the series inspired by the Coen brothers film – which premiered in October in Chile on OnDirecCTV – and the horror film finally arrived in US theaters a year after budget (it is already on the billboard in Chilean cinemas). Chris Rock was able to show the world a doublet of roles that are far from his appearances in comedies with Adam Sandler, Saturday Night Live or his successful stand-up specials with which he has become an institution of humor in the United States.

“Does it require special discipline? Yes a little bit. It’s about the movie or the show, it’s not about me in particular. Sometimes you can’t be funny. Sometimes you have to really act out the drama of the scene. On Spiral I never make fun of the film. I am funny, but I am funny like the character. And I think that is important. I can’t act like I’m a comedian in a horror movie. It is important that he is a policeman with a sense of humor in a horror film ”, he explains. “In any office you would find a funny guy, no matter what the job is. So I have to be that guy from the office. “

That protagonist, a detective known as Zeke, must solve the police puzzle around a series of brutal murders, in pairs with his newest partner (Max Minghella) and another more veteran (Samuel L. Jackson). As the title suggests, the feature film takes place in the same universe as the films of The game of fear (or Saw), the franchise that started in 2004 and this year surpassed $ 1 billion in worldwide theatrical collection.

The story of the new film – a sort of reboot that does not omit the previous installments – was born at the initiative of Rock himself, an avowed fan of the saga who appealed to find a complex balance. As a man of comedy who owes himself to the respectable, he notes, “There is no reason why you want to do exactly the same as the others. But at the same time, you respect the fans, because they are the only reason you are here. ” And he adds: “I think there are elements that fans of The game of fear they will definitely like and appreciate them. At the same time, there are elements that will make it accessible to people who don’t even watch horror movies ”.

-How important was it that you be allowed to add humor to this story?

I was a fan of the franchise The game of fear. I said to myself and a friend of mine: what would one of these look like if you played with humor? Humor is the only reason I wanted to do it. If I had to take everything seriously, it would be boring for me. But I thought, there has been no humor in any of these, in any horror movie there is hardly any humor. So I thought, maybe this could be interesting. And I think it’s quite interesting.

In that sense, he also details a self-imposed rule during the creative process: “You don’t want to be funny in a sense that undermines the fear of the film. That was what we thought. If we had one The game of fear not to scare, it would be disrespectful to fans of the original franchise. ” Similarly, a Chris Rock movie without at least a hint of humor would likely be a hoax. Bad or bad, he is the man who once called comedy “fair” compared to other artistic disciplines. “It’s not like music, where you can hire Timbaland and he gives you a beat and a song, and even though you can’t sing, it’s a hit,” he said in 2014.

Amid scenes that make a nod to sadism and the gore typical of the saga that began 17 years ago, the reflection that the new film installs on racism and the rottenness of institutions also becomes valuable. An addition that – because the film was finished before the pandemic – was not born motivated by the force that the Black Lives Matter took, after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May last year, at the hands of the police officer Derek Chauvin , recently sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison.

“This movie has nothing to do with last year’s protests and everything to do with last year’s protests. It’s almost a shame that the movie is so relevant in that regard. I don’t mean, oh, we’re so lucky. That would be in bad taste. Is rare. I’ve been to movies that are works of art predating their time, which sucks. So this is one of the few times that I arrive on time with something. It feels like a great responsibility. But I think we did well, “he says.

Between 2003 and 2014, Chris Rock served as director of three fiction feature films, the most recent, Top five (2014), a comedy about an actor who reflects on his career in the midst of a shift towards dramatic roles. The fourth film, as he has told, is already written.

But he could have reached that number earlier, taking over the leadership behind the scenes of Spiral. “At first, I was going to direct it. And then when I realized the responsibility involved FargoI said, okay, I don’t want to be on the set of Fargo editing a movie. I thought: Fargo it’s going to take all my concentration, ”he explains. Later they were by Darren Lynn Bousman, director who had made three of the previous tapes in the saga.

-Had a dramatic role in Fargo, recently worked with David O. Russell on an upcoming movie and is releasing this horror film. Do you think you are living a new era in your career?

I think I am in my 50s fully. And I think as you get older, even when you do comedy, it has to have a dramatic undertone. It’s hard to make really silly movies when you’re older, you look ridiculous in wigs and things like that. I’m taking on some roles that I probably couldn’t get before. And I like. People always say, Hollywood discriminates so much because of people’s age, but if you look really good, it doesn’t. So I am lucky to benefit from that.

For now, he is content to define himself as a kind of addition to a film that people go to see for the scares and the pleasure of witnessing the horror on screen. “I love the traps in the story of The game of fear”, He maintains. “I think cheating is the star. That is what I think. You have Sam Jackson, you have me, but I think the traps are the real stars. “

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Chris Rock: “It’s hard to make silly movies when you’re older, you look ridiculous”