Solid No. 1 For Rock

CHRIS ROCK marks his directorial debut and stars as Washington, D.C. Alderman turned Presidential hopeful Mays Gilliam
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The box office's returns the past few weeks are proving that audiences are going to the movies looking for a little escapism in times of war.

The new movie on top this week is the Chris Rock comedy, "Head of State."

Funnyman Chris Rock visited The Early Show to talk about his no. 1 film, which he wrote and directed, and in which he stars as a nominee for president of the United States.

"It's, like, an idea I had a long, long time ago," says Rock. "But you know, I was younger back then. You gotta be 35 to run for president. So it never really made any sense to write the movie. Then, you know, now you see Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell. You know I said, 'Hmm, I'd better do this movie soon, or we're gonna have a black president'."

Rock plays Mays Gilliam, a neighborhood alderman in Washington D.C. who is about to be fired from his job. But after the untimely death of a party's frontrunner and his running-mate, Gilliam is plucked from obscurity and thrust into his party's nomination for president.

Gilliam plays by the rules of his advisers, but realizes he is not expected to win. So he decides to try some unorthodox campaign practices because he has nothing to lose. Gilliam hires his unsophisticated older brother Mitch (Bernie Mac), a bail bondsman, to be his running mate. And the two bring a breath of fresh air to the political world with issues that aren't normally addressed.

"I like to call [the movie] a 'comedy-political,'" says Rock. "It's not a political-comedy. It's definitely about the comedy first."

Part of the joy of working on "Head of State" is working with fellow comedian Bernie Mac, according to Rock.

"We work great together," says Rock. "He's tall, I'm shorter. He's got a deep voice. I got a squeaky voice. He's older. I'm younger. So, we kind of worked together on screen, and no one takes the light from the other one. We don't step on each other."

Rock says anything can be funny, even politics. But he warns some things need time to become funny because they are too sensitive when done immediately after an event.

"I just hope that people see me as funny," explains Rock. "They see me as a guy that gave it all, that never got lazy on us. That's all I hope."

"Head of State" earned $14 million over the weekend to knock the previous No. 1 movie, "Bringing Down the House," to No. 2.

Some Facts About Chris Rock

  • Chris Rock was born Feb. 7, 1966 in Georgetown, S.C.
  • Rock was raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
  • Rock performed in Manhattan comedy clubs as a teenager and was mentored by comics Sam Kiniso and Eddie Murphy
  • In 1987, Rock made his movie debut in Beverly Hills Cop II
  • Rock has had cameos in other movies, such as the 1988 "I'm Gonna Get You Sucka," the 1991 "New Jack City," the 1992 "Boomerang and he starred in the 1993 "CB4" and the 2000 "Down to Earth"
  • Rock joined "Saturday Night Live", where he lampooned black leaders, impersonated figures, such as Michael Jackson and created comic characters like the militant talk show host Nat X and the rapper I'm Chillin'
  • In 1993, he left SNL and appeared in nine episodes of Fox's "In Living Color"
  • In 1994, he had his first HBO special, "HBO Comedy Half-Hour: Chris Rock — Big Ass Jokes"
  • In 1996, Rock co-executive produced, wrote and starred in his second HBO special, "Chris Rock: Bring the Pain"; he earned Emmy Awards for the show
  • In March 2003, Rock received a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame