For the past 20 years Gabrielle Union has starred in some of the most memorable movies of this era including Love and Basketball, The Brothers, Daddy’s Little Girls and Cadillac Records. And now she’s starring in another unforgettable film, the 39-year old portrays Kristen "The girl who wants the ring" in the highly anticipated new ensemble comedy Think Like a Man.
BET.com spoke with Union about avoiding typecasting, her onscreen interracial storyline and getting out of a work slump.
Why did you want to be apart of Think Like a Man?
Aside from working with all my friends, which is always a good time, I love [director] Tim Story; I’ve known Tim forever. I love [producer] Will [Packer], I’ve been in the Screen Gems [movie studio] family for a long long time. It was the perfect mix of people, story and characters. And then I had a chance to work with Jerry [Ferrara] who I have been a fan of for a very long time. Also, I got a chance to play a different type of character. Normally I’m the good girl from the right side of the tracks who meets the bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks. This was very different so I jumped at the chance.
But originally didn't they want you to play a type of character you've portrayed before?
Yes. I think there was an idea floating around at one point that I would play the Taraji [P. Henson] role because of my history as [playing] more of a bitch [on screen], more of the woman who doesn’t need a man. But because I’ve done that to death, I said, “You know, it would be more interesting if I play Kristen.” And everybody was like, “Yeah!”
You’re paired with Jerry Ferrara but race never comes up in your onscreen relationship. What did you think about that aspect of the script?
I think it was one of the few times in my career where it was truly color-blind casting. There’s an inherent idea that if a Black executive producer and a Black director are going to do a movie based on a Black writer’s book that everybody is going to be Black. But when I read the script there really was no distinction as to who was supposed to be Black and who wasn’t. It was a non-issue. When they said Jerry was going to play Jeremy, I was like “Oh, great.” It was a non-issue for me and I was glad it was a non-issue for the character.
For audiences it seems you're always starring in projects but you say you hit a work dry patch. Can you tell us when you felt things started to change?
It’s not that I didn’t get scripts before, it was just that I wasn’t getting picked for a stretch of time. If there was a stand selling roles when I’d walk up they’d close shop. But everyone has his or her season. [It picked up when] Kevin Hart and I filmed Little In Common, a pilot for Fox. While we were on set for that Will [Packer] had come. He was like “Here’s a script tell me what you think.” I started shooting Good Deeds, Tyler [Perry] gave me a break. Screen Gems and Will and Tim [Story] gave me a break. In between those two movies I was asked, “Would you like to come do this indie [film In Our Nature] up in the Catskills with John Slattery?" and I was like, "Where the hell have you been?" It was a nice change. I was suddenly getting yeses [for roles] after trying for a long time.
As a star of the film version, what did you think of Steve Harvey’s book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man?
When it came out, a group of girlfriends and I bought the book, bought a lot of wine and we had a reading of it. I was one of the people who was laughing because I thought it was common sense. But then we noticed that some of our girlfriends were freakishly quiet. And then I realized, “Oh, for some this is a revelation.” So I get that it speaks to a lot of people, but, for me, it’s just common sense stuff.
Think Like a Man opens in theaters today.
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(Photo: Alexandra Wyman/Getty Images)