Interview Dateline: Detroit – Dec. 19, 2008 (the worst snow day of the season!)
(Audio of Interview may take a few seconds to load ~ Read interview write-up below)
DG.com Producer Renee’ and Morris Chestnut
DG.com’s Renee’: Hello Mr. Chestnut I’m here to interview you about the movie “Not Easily Broken.” But first, because DetroitGospel.com is a gospel-based media we are interested in knowing if you have any favorite gospel artists?
Morris: Probably not a favorite artist. There are different songs. Obviously everyone knows Kirk Franklin, BeBe and CeCe Winans…but I like the song “Never Would Have Made It.”
Renee’: The song by Marvin Sapp. Yes, he’s up there on Top.
Morris: Yes. Without a doubt.
Renee’: Because “Not Easily Broken” is a T.D. Jakes production we would like to know if you’re affiliated with any church?
Morris: Yes, I go to Living Waters. It’s in Northridge California. My pastor came from Philly. He’s a bad brother. This brother is coming up; his name is Pastor Barry Lyons. He just celebrated a year anniversary. The church started with one service and within that year, we now have two services, and we are going to change churches within the next year.
Renee’: Praise God! How did you become affiliated with him, since he’s new?
Morris: Basically, my wife and I went to different churches we never really had a church home. One day one of my wife’s friends said, we should go to see this pastor. So, I said to my wife, ‘Baby, you go ahead and check him out.’ She came back saying how good he was. So I asked her to go see him again.
Renee’: You made her go twice before you went?
Morris: Yes, because I wanted to make sure she wasn’t just impressed with that message that day.
Renee’: That is right. We are emotional.
Morris: Yes, emotional, you know what I’m saying. So, after the second time she was still impressed and said he’s the real deal.
Renee’: All right! Well, praise God! That is good. I’ll have to check him out.
Morris: Yes, Barry Lyons.
Renee’: What was the name of the church again?
Morris: Living Waters.
Renee’: Well now, let’s talk about your career if you don’t mind. What were your previous jobs, and how did you come into acting?
Morris: Well, actually, after I graduated from high school, I was a bank teller. But one day I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do and a friend of mine asks me to come see him in a play. I was in Jr. College and met him in my English class. He was also in the drama department. After I saw the play I said, ‘You know what? I might check that out.’ I checked it out and I’ve been pursuing it ever since.
Renee’: Wow! How long have you been in the business?
Morris: I have been in the business probably almost 20 years.
Renee’: What do you want people to know about Morris Chestnut?
Morris: [Laughs] Not much.
Renee’: Well since this is Christmas time what is your favorite Christmas memory?
Morris: Well, one of my favorite Christmas memories was I wanted a bike for Christmas and my brother and I would walk where there was this bike shop not so far from our house, and we saw two bikes that we wanted. So, we would go to the bike shop every time we could. One day my parents came. We brought them there to see the bikes and they simply said, ‘Well, we can’t really afford those bikes right now.’ So, I was like, ‘Okay.’ So, we just asked for everything else on the list, but once Christmas came around, we woke up about two o’clock in the morning and those bikes were underneath the tree. At two o’clock in the morning we were riding our bikes outside.
Renee’: Right. Because you were in California where the weather is nice in December. Not Blizzard weather like we’re having today in Detroit (laughing).
Morris: Yes, sometimes in California, you could wear shorts on Christmas day.
Renee’: Oh, wow!
Morris: Yes, that was it. That was one of my most memorable Christmases.
Renee’: Oh, that is nice. Anything else you want to add? Anything interesting we should know?
Morris: Like what? I don’t know. I don’t have much to add. I’m a shy guy.
Renee’: Okay. Let’s talk about the movie “Not Easily Broken.” Because it’s a relationship movie, how important are relationships to you?
Morris: Oh, very important! You know, because relationships are our life. Our lives are built on relationships. You know, we function as human beings through relationships and that is why this movie is so pertinent to today’s time because a lot of people across the country are losing their jobs, they are losing their houses. There are struggles that go on within their marriages, within friendships, and those are some of the types of issues that we deal with in this movie. And the prevailing and overall message is perseverance. You got to persevere and work through it.
Renee’: So, why should we go see “Not Easily Broken?”
Morris: You should go see “Not Easily Broken” on January 9, in a theatre near you because it is a movie that will make you laugh. It is a movie that could possibly make you cry. It is definitely a movie that will make you feel there are issues dealing with relationships that everybody can relate to. There is a husband and wife, there is a mother and a daughter, and there is a father and a son. There are relationship issues that deal between friends. There are so many relatable issues in this movie that people would definitely see things that they can learn from. However, we are not preaching. It is not a preaching movie to where you come and you feel like you got the sermon. This is definitely an entertaining movie. We have several comedic scenes from Kevin Hart. (He’s funny right). We have some heart felt scenes with Jennifer Lewis and Taraji Henson. There is a little bit of something for everybody.
Renee’: Right. It is okay to not necessarily be a preaching movie but to have a message. That is a good thing. How was it working with the people you worked with? Because I thought everybody was excellent.
Morris: Oh, thank you. Thank you. We got lucky. Basically, when I was brought on to come work with the movie, there was no cast and we didn’t have a director. Because I was an executive producer on this movie I went out and got Bill Duke. Taraji Henson, who your readers may know from Hustle & Flow, she was at the top of our list. She was excellent, so we got her. Kevin Hart, Wood Harris and Eddie Cibrian, they are all friends of mine. I have a lot of friends who are actors, but it was important to call my friends who are actors and right for the part. Because we didn’t have a lot of time, or a lot of money, we needed to come on the set and have instant chemistry and we had that.
Renee’: Is there any advice you can give to people having the desire to come into the business?
Morris: Coming into the business. It’s a tough business to crack. When I came into the business, to me one of the main things that I think helped me in this industry was, I did not tell people what I was doing, because a lot of the times when you are going for your dreams and other people are not going for their dreams, they’ll try to discourage you. You know, against it. It could either be your best friend or your relatives.
Renee’: Or the “haters.”
Morris: Exactly, the “haters.” So, you know one thing is just persevering whatever you have to persevere through, but keep your business for yourself.
Renee’: Who is your favorite gospel media? (wrapping up)
Morris: My favorite gospel media is DetroitGospel.com
Renee’: Thank you soooooo much! I appreciate you doing this interview.