Speaking with the Los Angeles Times about his latest endeavor, the USA cop procedural Common Law, Michael Ealy was asked about the success of his last big project — the hit comedy Think Like A Man. He also expressed his desire to see his latest TV series perform well. If you recall, Michael’s first starring TV role, Showtime’s Sleeper Cell, was a critical darling that was subsequently cancelled. In the Q&A Michael reveals he had to fight to prove he could do comedy.
“Think Like a Man” made a great debut. Everyone seemed to use “surprising” to describe the box office total. And Chris Rock recently said the film’s resonance has little to do with the race of its cast. What do you make of how the film has been received and what it says about … ?
I think “surprising” is a good way to describe it, but I also think that what really happened is we were able to raise the expectations for romantic comedies, period. If you ask anybody who has seen it, it’s a romantic comedy that just happens to be cast predominantly with African Americans. Race is never really a big issue in this film so it’s a film that technically crosses over. So the numbers are fantastic and you have to give a lot of credit to the studio and the cast who have done everything that has been asked of them to promote this film and then some. It’s just about making something you’re proud of.
I was in another one like this called “Barbershop.” It was made for the same amount of money and people kind of underestimated it — ourselves included. And it ended up shocking the world and making more than $80 million. I think “Think Like a Man” has the same potential, if not even greater. I just look forward to the day when movies like this come out and it’s not a surprise.
As we lead up to the premiere of “Common Law,” which do you think will weigh on you more heavily on you: seeing how “Think Like a Man” holds up at the box office, or waiting for the Nielsen numbers for “Common Law”?
For any other movie, I would probably say just the Nielsen numbers would preoccupy me. I would have said “Think Like a Man” is on its own, I’m moving on. But I have a connection with this film and with the cast members. I will hold on to its numbers for as long as it is in theaters because this film means that much to me. I’m so proud of it and I’m proud I’m in a movie that everybody likes. I feel like I’ve finally made it as an actor. I’ve been doing this for years and you don’t always make a movie that everybody likes.
But “Common Law” is also very important to me. This is my second show as a lead and it’s my first opportunity on television to be funny and, you saw it, I hope I was funny. It was a big leap for me.
This wasn’t a job that was just handed to me. I took a meeting and the network was like, “Michael Ealy — he does drama. I don’t know about him.” I had to go in and audition and earn the job. That’s why I’m proud of it as well because they didn’t believe I could do comedy. I had to show them I could do comedy. And I was able to earn the job.