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Chris Rock is a Busy Man

Updated: Jul 22, 2021

Chris Rock session for "Madagascar"

Chris Rock session for “Madagascar”



By Brad Balfour

However busy actor-comedian Chris Rock is, he never gets so worn out that he can’t crack a joke. And he has enough excuses to be exhausted, having both summer blockbusters, The Longest Yard and Madagascar, coming out on the same Memorial Day weekend. Yet Rock, one of the most popular international stars to transcend both comedy clubs and Saturday Night Live, has had both his own show and achieved the status of a star who can carry a movie-especially if it’s a good one. Rock has gone a long way from Brooklyn and yet still lives there with his wife and two kids.

What do you think about having both movies out on the same weekend–will this be the biggest weekend for one actor ever?

Hopefully everyone will see Madagascar in the morning and see The Longest Yard at night. Yeah, it will be biggest weekend until the new Will Smith film comes out [laughs].

Chris Rock, Burt Reynolds and Adam Sandler in "The Longest Yard."

Chris Rock, Burt Reynolds and Adam Sandler in “The Longest Yard.”

And what’s the difference between the two?

They’re very similar except in The Longest Yard, I actually had to wear pants. I’m a guy, I get hired, and I ask: what do you need me to do? I’m like a fix it man. I don’t ask any questions. It’s like, “Okay, huh, what? I’m a zebra? Okay. I’m a zebra. What’s a zebra to say? Okay, I’m going to say it. You like that? I’ll do it again if you need me to do it again.” Higher, lower. Jeffrey [Katzenberg] directed me in a couple of scenes. I do whatever they tell me to do and then I go do The Longest Yard. Huh? I’m in jail? All right. Whatcha’ need?

Are you a fan of the original The Longest Yard [Adam Sandler stars in the same role in this remake as Burt Reynolds did in the original]?

I liked the original a lot.

What did you think about the role of Marty, the restless zebra?

My character Marty is a zebra that wants to get out of the zoo and go live in the wild. He bores very easy and, as a guy who wanted to get out of Brooklyn immediately as a child, the same thing that takes him out of the zoo, took me out of Brooklyn. So he gets the other animals to leave the zoo; and they realize “hmmmn, we are zoo animals…  We got to get outa here!”

What did it take to get into your inner zebra?

How’d I get into my zebra? [jokingly] I didn’t even know it was a zebra until yesterday! I thought it was a muskrat. Jeffrey [Katzenberg-head of Dreamworks] cut it.

Even though you don’t really act together, this is a great cast.

So I get to star with Ben Stiller, the Jude Law of comedy. He’s in everything, every comedy–and they are funny. I loved Dodgeball; I liked the Polly movie. That was great, And there’s David Schwimmer—who’s one of the Friends and is friendly to everybody. He gives a big hug and Jada Pinkett Smith who is a great actress in Collateral and is married to Will Smith. And myself. They wanted David Chapelle instead of me! It was originally Dave Chapelle laughs]!

Bob Sapp, Dalip Singh, Adam Sandler and Chris Rock in "The Longest Yard."

Bob Sapp, Dalip Singh, Adam Sandler and Chris Rock in “The Longest Yard.”

Was it weird not working with the rest of the cast?

As a comedian, I am used to working alone, so it was no problem doing this.

What did you think when you saw your scenes?

It’s weird anytime you hear your voice coming back. It’s like “Do I sound like That?” And then it’s like “You’re a zebra, do I look like that as a zebra?” I don’t like that as a zebra what a weird fight to have with somebody. I’m a handsome zebra dammit! I like the dance scene “Move It, Move It” And I liked the scene when Alex [the lion played by Ben Stiller] does his big act, his big “ok its show time!” It was cool.

So the animation was okay?

It’s great. The animation is so good you’re not going need people anymore. The movements look great and they’re so perfect the legs, the lips are synched so perfectly.

Did you relate to Marty’s mid-life crisis?

Oh no, I’m not [too young to have a mid-life crisis]. Ben’s going through it. I just turned forty, and, you know, it’s not what it used to be. It feels old. I’m old. I’m old. Forty is old. Forty is only young if you’re dead.

So you went soft for your kids?

It’s nice to have something my kids can see. I’ll let them see anything [I do], but they can’t see my movies now until they’re thirty. It’s nice that there’s something they can see right now. That’s an attraction. Hmm, all my clean jokes are in the movie. They put all my dirty ones somewhere–in a junkyard, I think. Once I had kids it made me start thinking about family movies. My youngest daughter saw about fifteen minutes of it and said, “Daddy is that you? I think that’s you.” Then she snapped right out of it and went back to watching the movie.

Chris Rock in "Madegascar."

Chris Rock in “Madegascar.”

And what’s on the cutting floor?

Just lots of me cursing. I mean, the zebra cursing.

What do you want people to take away from seeing this film?

There’s a big friendship message and a big “the grass is not greener on other side; appreciate what you have” message. That’s a big part of the movie too.

Hopefully this will be the last time to ask this but, what about the Oscars?

I’ve got to thank Sean Penn who helped out the show and gave people little more to talk about. He’s in love with Jude Law; they’re doing movie together. God bless them, the big couples–Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes; Jude Law and Sean Penn. But I haven’t been asked back. I hope I’m busy.

Everybody seemed to be laughing it up at the Oscars.

I know. And my phone has never rung so much as since the Oscars. I’m getting great offers, real offers from real directors to do real movies. Concert-wise, offers from all over the world to perform. Put it this way: There’s no piece of work I’ve ever done, that I’ve been really involved in, that has pleased everybody. I’m just not that guy.

Is Chris Rock getting more mainstream?

I hosted the Oscars — how much more mainstream can you get? I hosted Saturday Night Live. What do I have to do? I’m a pretty mainstream guy. I just happen to curse [a lot]…

Copyright ©2005  All rights reserved.  Posted: June 7, 2005.

Photo Credits:#1 © 2005 Courtesy of Dreamworks Pictures.  All rights reserved.#2 © 2005 Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.  All rights reserved.#3 © 2005 Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.  All rights reserved.#4 © 2005 Courtesy of Dreamworks Pictures.  All rights reserved.

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