The debonair Morris Chestnut first captivated audiences with his portrayal of Ricky in John Singleton’s classic film, “Boyz n the Hood”. Since then, Chestnut has been a leading man in numerous films, including the recent thriller “A Perfect Guy” alongside Sanaa Lathan and Michael Ealy. Though the 46-year old actor’s most notable roles have been in films, he also has also appeared in major television series including “Nurse Jackie” and “American Horror Story”. Fox’s new medical dramedy “Rosewood” will show a very different side of the generally more serious actor. Chestnut will star as Dr. Beaumont Rosewood Jr., a private pathologist with a penchant for finding clues about the dead and who might be hiding some very serious secrets of his own.
Chestnut recently sat down to talk about his new show at a screening of the pilot episode. Here is what he told Shadow and Act.
On Becoming Dr. Beaumont Rosewood Jr.:
It was tough. I pretty much prepared on a case-by-case basis depending on what they had me do. We have technical advisors and doctors on the set to advise me on the best way to do procedures, and give me information on certain aspects of doing autopsies. My character is definitely flawed from a heath standpoint. He has certain things that he can’t do because of his heath issues, and that’s one thing that I love about the character because nobody’s perfect. He’s not a superhero. He tries to do right by people, he tries to do right in life, and he tries to do by women.
On Working With Lorraine Toussaint:
She’s a great actress. She came to the show a little bit late, but she’s definitely a welcome addition. She’s incredible. I love doing scenes with her because she’s so emotional and it adds so much depth to the show.
On Rosewood’s Closeness to Death:
That’s one of the aspects of the character that I love. He treats each day like it’s his last day. He knows his days are numbered, but he tries to instill optimism in everyone he touches and everyone he comes across on a daily basis. He enjoys life, and he wants others to enjoy life and have fun. You have to savor every moment and don’t take things for granted.
On Character Development:
Watching the character grow I think, is the fun part about a television show. All of the characters are going to grow and develop. That’s why I like to hear what people have to say about the show, because it’s not like a movie. Once we do a movie and it’s done, it’s out there and nothing is going to change. With this, if it’s something that you guys liked, or something you didn’t like that you want to see then let me know. Our writers are very receptive and you guys are our audience and we make this type of entertainment for you. That’s why I’m always open to hearing what you have to say.
On the Recent Change in Hollywood for Black Actors:
I think it’s great. With “Empire” doing as well as it’s doing, it’s open up the doors for us to have other types of entertainment out there, and different types of shows. Hollywood listens to people. People always ask me if Hollywood is Black or white. It’s really green. If people are watching, they’re going to provide you guys with more entertainment. You guys have much more of a voice then you make think, so if you don’t watch then Hollywood will stop making and producing these types of shows.
On Showing a Different Side of Morris Chestnut:
This role came at a point when I definitely wanted to do something diffident. I had done “The Best Man Holiday”, where I was sad and crying, and then I was working on a movie in New Orleans where it was really an emotional character (That movie will be out in April). So, when they presented this to me it was like man, I can go to work and have fun instead of going to work and being emotional. The timing was just right. I hadn’t really hadn’t had crazy fun in a role since “Two Can Play That Game”, and that was like over ten years ago and I wanted to get back to having fun. I’ll go back to the serious stuff; I’ll go back and forth in movies and things like that, but you have to have versatility.
On Television vs. Film:
I think television is definitely more receptive now [to Black actors], and I think you’re going to see actors who would normally do films in television now, because that’s where the great material is. But, the film industry is changing in the sense that they’re making less mid-level films. They’re either making huge blockbuster franchise films or they’re making low budget films, so a lot of great material is in TV right now.
On the Name Rosewood:
Well Rosewood is the name of the character on the show, there is no relation to the incident (The 1923 Florida Massacre, where a white mob murdered a number of Black residents and then destroyed their town) whatsoever even though our show does take place in Miami Florida. It’s strictly the name of the character, so it’s completely different. I like to have every project in and of itself, but I understand that that is moment in our history that is not forgotten.
Advice For Up and Coming Actors:
My whole thing is to just stud, and go to acting classes. A lot of times people see the result of the industry, they think, “I want to be in a movie or I want to be on a TV show”, but they don’t really go through what they need to go through to get there. So I would say just work hard at your craft. I also don’t try to impose what I’ve been through in the industry on people.
On Chemistry with the Cast of “Rosewood”:
It’s fun working with a lot of actors. I think every actor on our show is definitely a high caliber actor, so it’s been a great experience.
On Working With Co-star Jaina Lee Ortiz:
I love working with Jaina. As a matter of fact, when we started working together it was like riding a bike. Our chemistry was just there from the beginning, and we got along great. She’s a very very talented actress.
Watch the series premiere of “Rosewood” September 23rd on FOX right before the season premiere of “Empire”.
Aramide A Tinubu has her Master’s in Film Studies from Columbia University. She wrote her thesis on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema. She’s a cinephile, bookworm, blogger, and NYU + Columbia University alum. You can read her blog at: www.chocolategirlinthecity.com or tweet her @midnightrami