Common Explains Why He Keeps Getting Cast As A ‘Gangster’ In Movie Roles

On this week’s episode of People’s Party With Talib Kweli, the host is joined by fellow rapper and activist Common for in-depth discussion on his near-three-decade career in hip-hop — a career that overlaps with Kweli’s own — and their friend and collaborator Kanye West’s bid for the US Presidency. Clocking in at two hours long, the conversation covers a lot of ground as the two rap vets catch up and speak on a diverse array of hot-button issues, including his recent reveal that he was abused as a child.

One lighter subject that comes up, though, is Common’s tendency to get typecast in “tough guy” roles in his film career, which has included appearances in action films like Wanted, Suicide Squad, Smokin’ Aces, and John Wick: Chapter 2. Common is a famously nice guy in real life, so the contrast to his growing resume of playing scowling heavies makes for a delightful topic.

“Initially… I didn’t wanna be Rashid on screen,” Common admits. “If I have to play a chef, I like to learn how to cook… The first roles I was able to get were gangster dudes, but I wanted to do that.” However, he says, “Then I got cast in a couple more… the first five or six movies I did, I was holding a gun in each one. At a certain point I was like, ‘I gotta do something different,’ but the truth of the matter is I did want to play dark and different characters to start it off. And let’s face it: Hollywood, at a certain point, they just see ‘Black, he can play the gangster.’ We are consistently breaking down those ideas and concepts of them not really seeing Black people as different types of people.”

Watch the full episode of People’s Party With Talib Kweli featuring Common above.

People’s Party is a weekly interview show hosted by Talib Kweli with big-name guests exploring hip-hop, culture, and politics. Subscribe via Apple, Spotify, or YouTube.