Common Discusses His Silver Screen Dreams

Ryan Dombal reports:
As more and more hip-hop stars jump off the platinum train in search of mega-million opening weekends and inevitably awkward sex scenes, it's become increasingly clear that the rapper-turned-actor transition can be both fruitful (Mos Def, Tupac, Will Smith) and rotten (50 Cent, Bow Wow, Vanilla Ice).

So when Common dropped off Kanye West's white hot "Touch the Sky" tour to shoot a film a few months back, fan trepidation was understandable. Thankfully, his upcoming flick isn't exactly Roll Bounce 2: Keep 'Em Bouncin'. As the Chicago MC recently told Pitchfork, Smoking Aces-- directed by Narc's Joe Carnahan-- is a "dark comedy/ drama/ action movie based on a magician who becomes a mob guy who's wanted by everybody." Kind of like if David Copperfield and The Godfather had a kid and named Aces.

Alongside thespians including Jeremy Piven, Ray Liotta, Ben Affleck, and, uh, Ryan Reynolds, Com plays the magician/ mob guy's right hand man, Sir Ivy, who he described as "a warrior--that quiet killer." And, before you can say Soul Plane, the first-time film star is quick to spit out his assumed silver-spoon big-screen trajectory. "I went to two auditions for this, it's not like I was just given the role," he said. "They want the movie to have credibility. I came in as a new actor, not as a hip-hop artist trying to be an actor."

Drawing inspiration from award-season heavies like Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, and Sean Penn, as well as films including The Usual Suspects, City of God, and Don't Be A Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood ("I like when the Muslim dude is like, 'Black princess, queen of the Nile, sister of the earth...tap that white girl over there for me'"), the distinguished MC generally feels happy with his debut performance.

Though there was one slight dilemma: "At one point, something happens to my eye in the movie so they needed me to wink my left eye and keep my right eye open...but I couldn't do it. Everybody else on the set could-- even in the crew." Tinky Winky jokes aside, Smoking Aces is set to burn big this summer.

While he's currently reading more scripts in hopes of landing another major role, Chi-town's finest isn't planning on hanging up his mic anytime soon. Banking once again on the peerless production prowess of Be brothers Kanye West and J Dilla, Common is tentatively aiming for a fall release for his next album, Finding Forever. And there's another bulletproof beat master on his wishlist: Dr. Dre. The pairing may not be as unlikely as you think-- both artists reside under the same Universal Music Group mega-umbrella. "I'm going to try to pull that label hook up eventually," said the rapper.

Hip-hop fans can also look out for a new Dilla-produced Common track called "So Far to Go", featuring r&b's own Howard Hughes, D'Angelo. "We did a remix for 'Go' but it ended up being a brand new song," explained Com. "It's a sexy type of song...we may put it on a re-release of Be or a soundtrack." A soundtrack to Smoking Aces, possibly? Sounds synergys-tastic!