NEW YORK - Now in previews at the Hayes Theater is "Between Riverside and Crazy," marking the Broadway debut of musician, activist, and actor Common.
CBS2's Dave Carlin talked to him about the challenges and joys of this new chapter in his remarkable career.
Common has Grammys, a Golden Globe, and an Oscar. Now he's trying something that just might earn him a Tony Award.
Carlin talked to Common about his Broadway debut playing Junior in the Pulitzer Prize Winning play "Between Riverside and Crazy" by Stephen Adly Guirgis.
"You really don't have to. You've got this slew of awards," Carlin said. "You can keep going on with your activism you can keep going on with your great music and you can keep going on with the book and stuff going on... why is it that you do all these things?"
"I just love acting. Now obviously I was grateful to get into a film, eventually after a minute, and then do some TV work, but I always wanted to do theater," Common said. "This made me say, listen, we have other things going on, but I want to do this, especially this play 'Between Riverside and Crazy.' This is the play."
"Junior, my character, is formerly incarcerated. So I've done a lot of work with people who are incarcerated," Common said. "It made me approach Junior and understand, like, I gotta show the whole human being, not just this dude that that was incarcerated... If you go and allow somebody to be incarcerated and come out worse because of the way you treated them, that's making things worse. They're coming back to society."
Common burst on to the music scene in in 1992 with the album "Can I borrow a dollar?" and gained widespread critical acclaim for his 1994 album "Resurrection."
On his road to stardom, he wasn't afraid of detours that paid off in big ways.
"We get put in boxes. Like, because I, personally, I love jazz music somebody might expect, but I also love like silly comedies. Like 'Bridesmaids' is a movie I like, you know?" Common said. "I am a dude from the south side of Chicago. I grew up on the south side. It's a neighborhood. That's the hood. But I still love to listen to classical music, and enjoy that. I used to love Ernest Hemingway reading that when I was growing up, and James Baldwin."
"We don't always get to sit down with others from other different nationalities, or other cultures, and experience. So what's one of the ways we can actually get close to it, if it's told in a truthful way, is through storytelling," he added.
"Like 'Between Riverside and Crazy?'" Carlin asked.
"Like 'Between Riverside and Crazy,'" Common said. "This play really allows you to see, like, I can speak specifically, even to my character. This dude is formerly incarcerated and an addict, but he really does love, and he's bringing people into his home, and wants to love his father in a certain way. These are things you don't really think about or examine if you saw, man, this dude was locked up. When you get a great story and really great writing you get to understand these people more."
Common shared with Carlin his advice to young people: Keep seeking, learning and evolving. He says he knows a choice that might seem scary or crazy can land you exactly where you want to be.
Opening night for "Between Riverside and Crazy" is December 19th at the Hayes Theater.
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