CTHSP: Coming from a music and dance background, what made you take an action role in a film like this?
CS: Um, it was more about what let them give me the role than opposed to actually taking a role. That’s the progression. You want to graduate with each film you do. Something different. Something you haven’t done before and something that’s going to progress the catalog or portfolio in which we call our movie resume. So it was definitely a step in the right direction, I think. I’m guessing that’s still yet to be determined.
CM: So did you audition for it?
CM: So it was offered?
NU: If you weren’t in the entertainment industry right now, what do you think you’d be doing?
CS: I’d be doing sports. Sports analysis for sure. For sure.
NU: How do you know?
CS: Because I just love sports. All I do, honestly, is just watch movies and SportsCenter. That’s it. That’s what goes into my brain. I’m just letting you guys know. Movies. Sports. SportsCenter. Sports. Movies. SportsCenter. CNN on occasion.
NU: When something big happens.
CS: Yeah, I kinda try to stay away from it but yeah. But I would definitely be doing sports broadcasting or something.
CTHSP: I know you won a [Young Hollywood Award] for Hollywood action star recently.
CS: Yeah. I had no idea what that meant. It was like, “What does this mean, guys?”
CM: For your future roles.
CS: Yeah, it’s like I haven’t even had an action movie out yet. Does this mean I’m the next Wesley Snipes? Passenger 57? I dunno. But yeah, I did win that.
CTHSP: So it was unexpected for you?
CS: Unexpected and random and awkward. And cool. All at the same time. But definitely awkward.
NU: What advice do you have for people who want to get into the entertainment business?
CS: Run! Run like mad.
CM: Run away?
NU: Is it taxing on you?
CS: It’s taxing. My main advice, seriously, would be like, don’t seek fame, seek artistic integrity. If you do that, fame will come. But don’t do this to seek fame or influence. Do it because you love the craft, and you won’t be let down. But if you’re seeking some kind of fame or some kind of monetary compensation for whatever you think you deserve, you’re in the wrong business.
CM: So considering Death at a Funeral as you working towards that artistic integrity, how did you get that?
CS: Same thing. They just called me.
CM: So you didn’t audition then?
CS: I haven’t auditioned for a movie in a long time.
CM: That’s gotta feel good.
CS: It’s a blessing. But it’s kind of an oxymoron because you work your whole career and you just wanna work, you just wanna work. And you’re auditioning; “Oh, I gotta get the callback!” And then you get to a point where you’re turning down movies, where you’re saying no. Which is like “Why?” I never thought I’d be saying no to a movie. But I guess at a certain point it’s more important what you say no to than what you say yes to. Kinda makes your career.
CM: So it’s also like earning it, too, then? And feeling good about it when you get the role.
CS: Yeah. But at this point they send you scripts, you read them, and you’re like, “Do I want to do this movie?” And you’re like, “Yeah, I think I want to do this movie.” And you go from there. And not every--some movies you have to campaign for. It’s not necessarily auditioning but you campaign. You go to dinner with the director and you go sit down to see if your reputation precedes you and at a certain point people know you can act. You know what I mean? But it’s about, “Can I work with this person?” So it’s like, sit down with the director, sit down with the filmmakers and the producers and whatever and you find out if you’re right.
CTHSP: So what kind of characteristics helped you make the decision to accept Armored? Or was it just kind of because it was such a big opportunity?
CS: Well first of all, this part was written for a white actor and that was important for me. Is that her? [(Phone receives message] That was important for me to explore. And I wanted to be challenged. I didn’t want to just do traditional urban genre movies. I want to do just movies and roles that were just roles instead of “This is a black guy.” So that really attracted me to the project and that’s what made me really go after it.
CM: So with Death at a Funeral then, who are you playing exactly? Is there a direct counterpart to the English version or is it completely…
CS: Did you see the English version?
CS: I play the brother with the narcotics. I freak out a lot. They kind of embellished my role a lot more than what it was in the British version. My sister’s fiance gets high off of drugs that he took from my apartment that he thought was Valium but wasn’t Valium. James Marsden plays that part.
CM: Really? Interesting. So would it be Zoe Saldana who is playing your sister?
CS: My sister. Yes. Which is awkward because then we’re like badasses in The Losers. The complete opposite.
CM: Yeah, there’s absolutely no information on Death at a Funeral online yet so like, the cast names aren’t up yet.
CS: Yeah, I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of information out yet. [To Zoe Saldana on the phone] I see you read it, loser. Why don’t you call me?
NU: I hate that about BBM.
CS: Yeah. She’s so wack.
NU: So after people see Armored, what message do you want the audience to come away with?
CS: Um, I want them to see me in a different light. That I can carry a movie. That I can be out in front of a movie. And I hope that they see good acting. Quality acting from every person in the cast. I think everyone in the cast was phenomenal.
CTHSP: Of all the movies you’ve been in, which was your favorite and why?
CS: The Losers, so far. It was just badass.
CM: Can you talk about that movie a little? There’s not much known about it. But it sounds a little like The A-Team.
CS: It does. But it’s better. We’re like black ops agents that get set up by the CIA and left for dead in Bolivia and we like, basically wage war against the CIA to get our identities back and our lives back. It’s pretty intense. Pretty action-packed. It’s like Bourne Identity meets Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys. It’s fun.
CM: So what is your role in it?
CS: I play the role of Pooch, one of the Losers, and he’s like a vehicle specialist. Each one of them have their super specialty. But they’re all like super badasses. Shoot ‘em up. Lot of guns. I think I blew my eardrums out. I shot so many guns and grenade launchers and flew helicopters and crashed helicopters.
NU: Did you do all your own stunts?
CS: Not in The Losers because there is some pretty dangerous stuff. But in Armored I pretty much did everything.
CTHSP: Does your background in dancing and choreography help with that?
CS: Yeah. It does. Agility. Knowing your body is important.
NU: Do you have a role model, even if it’s not one in the entertainment industry?
CS: Um, a role model? Who have I looked to that inspired me? Quite a few people. Sammy Davis, Jr. is one. I think he’s incredibly talented. James Dean. I love his swagger. I think James Dean is the quintessential movie star. For a man, if you want to see what swagger is, and true brooding swag, James Dean was definitely it. [Checks phone] Oh, I think I got her. I got her guys. I’m gonna have you guys say hi. This is her. I think I’ve got her guys. I’ve been waiting to get her. [Phone rings on speaker phone]
Zoe Saldana (on phone): What are you doing?
CS: I’m here at a roundtable with three college students doing interviews and I love you. You’re my sister. They asked me about you.
ZS: I love you! Tell them “What’s up?!”
CS: You guys say hi to Zoe.
NU: Hey Zoe!
CM: Hey Zoe!
ZS: Hi, guys!
CS: We were talking about Death at a Funeral and Losers and I just had to say, “I love you.”
CM: And we love Star Trek!
ZS: Did you tell them that for now on we have it in our contract that we’re going to work together on every film that we do, forever and ever?
CS: Yeah. Which is gonna get awkward at some point. Wah wah wah. Okay. I love you. I’ll call you later.
ZS: Okay. Bye baby.
CS: Bye. That’s my girl. That’s like one of my best friends now.
CM: Did you just meet on Death at a Funeral?
CS: We met before that and we knew each other. But we got tight on Death at a Funeral and then as soon as we wrapped Death at a Funeral we went to Puerto Rico and that’s when we all—me, her, and Chris Evans—we were like joined at the hip.
CM: So you worked with Sylvian White on Stomp the Yard and The Losers. So are you doing Stomp the Yard 2? I’ve heard these rumors.
CS: I’m producing it. Producing.
CM: So the rumors on the acting in it is more rumor?
CS: That’s rumor. DJ’s dead! No. I don’t know if you guys saw Fame but Colinns Pennie—he was in Prom Night and he was in Fame—I think he’s gonna be the new lead guy. We’re gonna let that guy get some shine and possibly DJ might come in in the end. But we’re just going to attack it from a producer standpoint.
NU: I actually read that if you could be in any fraternity you would want to be in Alpha.
NU: I love it. A lot of my best friends are Alphas. Do you have any plans on actually doing it?
CS: I don’t know. Hopefully. [mimics deep-voiced fratboy holler] I don’t know. We’ll see.
CM: So what was it like working with Chris Rock?
CS: Chris Rock. I mean, [impersonating Chris Rock] it’s Chris Rock. Honest. I’m telling you. It’s Chris Rock. It’s what you get. What you get. What you get. He’s great. Intelligent, brilliant man. Hilarious. Yeah, Chris Rock, Martin [Lawrence] and Tracey Morgan.
CM: And also: Neil Labute?
CM: Okay, because, have you seen The Wicker Man? I love that movie, because it’s so wonderful, but I just had to ask: How is he like as a director?
CS: He’s crazy. He’s zany. And he’s an actor’s director. He really, really, really is. And each one of his pieces are different in such a vast way so you really can’t get a gauge. But all his pieces are very clever, thought-provoking, and he’s a good storyteller. And he’s an amazing playwright and stage director as well. He did a great job with Death at a Funeral. I think it’s gonna be—people are gonna be freakin’ stupid. They’re gonna think, “What is this movie? What IS this movie?”