AM: Scandal is a great show. I love to see my friends on TV and working, but doing TV takes a lot of time and takes you out of a lot of great film opportunities. But I’m looking forward to turning 55, getting on Law & Order: New Orleans and chilling out, but not yet. As for returning to Broadway, I’m looking for plays, but it’s very difficult right now because I’m working on so many film projects.
TR: Like the Sundance entry The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete. What’s that film about?
AM: That’s an amazing project, and one that I’m most proud to be a part of. It’s about two little kids in Brooklyn trying to figure out how to grow up and be men in a society that does not support them in that challenge.
TR: That sounds like a far cry from the inevitable big-budget push of a blockbuster such as The Avengers. Ready for the media blitz that movie will get?
AM: I love my anonymity. The problem is, there are certain stories I want to tell, and the film industry isn’t making those movies we enjoyed in the 1990s and early 2000s. People are saying there’ll never be another Denzel; I’m saying there’ll never be another Morris Chestnut!
You have to garner a certain amount of celebrity to tell those stories — love stories and victim stories and fallen-angel stories. We should make those movies ourselves, [but] if you get hired to ghostwrite a script or write on a TV show, you’re making a lot of money, so why work for free when you have a mortgage?
That’s the negotiation a lot of people have fallen into that I stay away from, because I don’t have a $75,000 car note and a mansion or a YouTube channel where I’m throwing money at chicks. I live in New Orleans; I drink daiquiris and go fishing. When you live a modest lifestyle, you can have a modest approach to your job.
Hillary Crosley is the New York bureau chief at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.