Morris Chestnut is no stranger to lighting up our screens. Although the beautiful dark chocolate man with teeth as white as freshly fallen snow is now a leading man in NBC’s drama The Enemy Within, we’ve watched him as Ricky in Boyz In The Hood, and as another football player, and reformed cheater, in The Best Man.
The 50-year-old actor told journalists during a recent breakfast in New York City that although you’d think that Ricky, a football hopeful who was gunned down in South Central Los Angeles, would be a harder role to shed emotionally, it was really his role as Lance Sullivan in The Best Man that took some time.
“To go to an emotional place like that…you guys see it one time [onscreen], but it’s done several times, and you have to go to that emotional place,” the actor explained. “So, there were literally times [when] it took a minute. It did take a minute because at that point in my career, I never had to go that deep.”
“I would literally—probably at least for a year—I would think about that scene and I would have chills,” he added.
Filming the hit 1998 flick, which also starred Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Terrence Howard and Taye Diggs, was so hard for Chestnut that when asked by ESSENCE if he’d want to bring Sullivan to the small screen in a series, he replied that “it’d be too challenging. I wouldn’t want to do it.”
Although Chestnut has played tons of football players in the past, the actor said he doesn’t mind being typecast.
“All of a sudden, you get a job, and they keep hiring you as this, because sometimes that’s just how they see you. So, I don’t mind being typecast,” he explained. “Do I have other ranges, more ranges and more depth? I do. Do I necessarily get the opportunity to play that? Not necessarily.”
Thankfully, Chestnut’s latest role as FBI agent Will Keaton in The Enemy Within is allowing him to show off more of what he’s capable of.
“This is somewhat of a departure from what I normally play. But I’m just blessed to still be able to be here and to be able to enjoy going to work every day, working with beautiful people inside and out,” he said.
Watch Chestnut on the NBC series on Monday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT.