Chris Rock isn’t just talented, he’s damn smart. You don’t go from stand up to your own HBO special to hit movies (“Down to Earth,” “The Longest Yard”) to hosting the Oscars to producing critically acclaimed TV shows (“Everybody Hates Chris”) on just making people laugh. The 45-year-old quadruple threat (if not more) shepherded “Death of a Funeral,” an American remake of Frank Oz’s British comedy from a few years ago that opens in theaters today and you can argue it was his creative input that convinced Screen Gems to jump on board.
Speaking to Rock is always fun because even after all his time in the industry his candid personality has hardly softened. You don’t get any publicity talking points with Rock. So, chatting about “Funeral,” this writer found it intriguing that Rock didn’t direct the film himself after his impressive debut “I Think I Love My Wife.” In fact, many fans and a good number of his peers (including Quentin Tarantino it seems) have been wondering when Rock will step behind the camera again. Rock insists that he will bring his voice to the director’s chair soon, but felt he couldn’t handle the visuals for “Funeral’s” contained story which takes place almost completely within one big house (his “Nurse Betty” director Neil LaBute came on board instead). Again, you can’t fault Rock for being honest.
Most intriguing, however, was Rock riffing on how quickly his old “Saturday Night Live” buddy Adam Sandler can get a movie made. It’s no secret that Sandler has been the gold mine at Sony Pictures for the better part of a decade and has semi-free reign with the studio’s management. So, when one picture fell apart a few years ago, Sandler and his producing partner literally pulled a remake of “The Last Yard” out of their backpockets and got it greenlit in three weeks (that’s not a misprint). That’s real power people and no one was complaining when it made $158 million the following year (except critics of course). Rock and Sandler reunite onscreen in “Grown Ups” later this summer.
You can view this candid conversation with Rock embedded within this page or for a larger version, click here.
“Death at a Funeral” is now playing nationwide.