Michael Ealy

[INTERVIEW] Michael Ealy's Next Moves, and Why He's Not Denzel

We caught up with the dreamy-eyed star on his new project, his lady fans, and why things have changed since Denzel

Kelley L. Carter

by Kelley L. Carter, August 23, 2012

Michael Ealy

Michael Ealy

Photo courtesy of Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

example, if you think about The Best Man, Taye Diggs, God bless him, he did a great job anchoring the film, but Morris Chestnut, Terrence Howard, Harold Perrineau, those were the guys who you were like, ‘Ah man, Quentin!’ You know what I mean? Those were the characters and the character guys tend to have more fun, and I like to be able to do both. I want to be the anchor sometimes and sometimes I don’t want to be the moral center of the piece. I never thought I would enjoy this, but I’ve learned to embrace and enjoy the ensemble movie, like a For Colored Girls, like Think Like a Man. It’s fun. I hate to say it, it’s … sometimes it’s more fun. So I look forward to it.

EBONY: Did the success of Think Like a Man turbo charge your career? Is that maybe even why this indie film, Unconditional, got picked up?

ME: I hope so. I’d like to think that this film got picked up on its own merits, but who knows? It’s a tricky business. I think the interest increased after Think Like a Man. I don’t think people had seen me in that way, in that light, in my entire career. I know for a fact that some of the actresses in the movie, they were a bit blown away because they hadn’t seen me do it. I have to give it up and say, it’s the role, though. I mean, I did what I had to do, but that was a great role. Like, when I read that script, I had the choice between Dominic and Michael, Michael being Terrence’s character, and I was like, ‘Eh, Dominic,’ right away. I just respond to him, I like his struggle, I’ve been Dominic before, let’s do that. And I think Dominic is someone a lot of people can relate to and so I think that’s why … there was a spark.

EBONY: Do you have any nervousness or trepidation kind of walking into this next role? You’re a leading man. It’s a remake of a great film. More eyes are on you …

ME: No, no, nah. I mean, the way we shot Think Like a Man, you would’ve thought I was the lead in that one, because Taraji and I shot our stuff together and then I went and shot a second movie -- I like to call it Animal House -- with all the guys! You know what I mean? But when Taraji and I were shooting all of our stuff it felt like we had our own movie, and I thought that was great preparation for what I’m about to do with Joy (Bryant). It was great preparation for that, because we just kept talking about, ‘Wow, we need our own movie.’ We forgot that we were in an ensemble film, because we had so much stuff together. We fell in love over two and a half weeks, then she was off and I had to go play with the boys after that, and it was weird, it was a weird transition playing with the boys. But yeah, I think I’m ready and I won’t approach it any different. I won’t put any more pressure on myself. That’s the joy of working with people you’re familiar with … Kevin (Hart) and Will (Packer) and all those people. So I’m looking forward to it.

EBONY: One thing that sets you apart from your contemporaries is your extensive stage background. How do you use that in your feature film projects?

ME: The key for me is to never do a take the exact same way every time. And when you do stage every night it’s a different audience. Certain nights they find something you did funny, other nights they don’t, so there’s no real consistency. The only thing consistent in stage is change, and so I try to bring that same flavor or that same rhythm to film projects, just, you got four of five takes use ‘em and explore.

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