If you’ve been paying attention to Lonnie Lynn, Jr.—better known to his fans as Common—then you know there’s nothing actually common about how he’s been taking on Hollywood. His domination has been smooth but powerful, calculating yet slick, sort of like his rhyming style. Not only is Common firmly planted in the hip-hop history books, even earning an Academy Award for his lyrically prowess, but his acting game is tight as well. Toss in a growing list of executive producer credits and basically Common has got this Hollywood game on lock.
The Chicago emcee began dabbling in film a decade ago with his role in 2006 movie, Smoking Aces, opposite Alicia Keys. Though many of us were already fans of Com Sense, the world outside of rap still hadn’t gotten a full taste of his talents. Little did any of us know that somewhere intertwined with his musical journey, Common was on the precipice of what he tells EBONY was the beginnings of a new dream.
“As a kid I loved going to see theater, I loved movies, but I didn’t have the courage to do it until a certain point where I hit a ceiling with music and I was just like, ‘Man I gotta study something that I’m really passionate about,’” he explains. “And that’s where this came from so now this is my desire and dream.”
Now eleven years later, the Chicago native is kicking ass and taking names on screen, figuratively and quite literally. This time around he enters the crime-ridden, lethal underworld where deadly hitman John Wick resides. Yes, Common nabbed himself a fierce role in the sequel to the cult classic as a fellow assassin and resident badass who goes by a one-name moniker much like his own. Common’s character, Cassian – Cas for short – may prove to be Wick’s match in the highly anticipated film, John Wick: Chapter 2.
Wick, played by Keanu Reeves, is a beloved character, so the fact that he and Common lock horns throughout this offering is an honor not lost on the rapper, who has set his sights on one lofty goal.
“I want to be a great action artist, like really deliver,” he tells EBONY. “I want to be one of the greats on screen as an actor and as a fighter.”
Common’s no stranger to action films, having had roles in the aforementioned Smoking Aces and Wanted, opposite Angelina Jolie. But as far as acting goes, he said his skills as a musician have prepared him for this, one of his biggest roles to date.
“Some of the most beneficial things being an artist has brought to me in film is not being afraid to do things. You’re used to being in front of people. That’s not the problem,” he explains. “The biggest thing is just getting into character and delivering. So being a hip-hop artist allows me to let go of all the other things that you would be embarrassed about.”
Clearly Common’s musical background prepared him well because he has five more films in the works, including Hunter Killer, opposite Billy Bob Thornton and Gerard Butler. He also recently stepped behind the camera to serve as an executive producer on the upcoming Black fraternity hazing drama, Burning Sands, which stars Trevor Jackson and premieres on Netflix in March.
As Common, now 44, inches closer to his dream of being a serious actor, he tells EBONY that he realized early on that not every musician is built for this.
“Everybody that makes the transition or tries to act just because they’re a musician they can’t do it,” Common warns. “You gotta be true to the craft and really have a passion.”
And as he continues to navigate the twists and turns of his film career and solidify himself as a bona fide Hollywood star, Common reflects on his childhood aspiration to act, before adding with an introspective smile, “I’m still that kid dreaming.”