Michael Ealy is known to be a man of few words, but we caught him in an unexpectedly chatty mood. We called the handsome blue-eyed actor to talk about his hit rom-com About Last Night, which is on DVD now. Ealy discussed his faith, maintaining privacy in Hollywood and fatherhood. The notoriously private star — he managed to keep the fact that he was married with a son a secret for years — gives us a rare peek inside his family life.
About Last Night was a great film, but I think it surprised even its biggest fans with its tremendous box-office performance. Were you surprised the film did so well?
I wasn't surprised by the numbers that About Last Night did. If anything I probably expected it to do better. I was expecting it to do around $60 million. But I wasn't upset that it did 50. The thing is, when you make a rated R movie, you're gonna lose some money. That's how it is.
Do you feel you raised the bar for rom-coms with the success of Think Like a Man?
You can't compare About Last Night and Think Like a Man, even though it has three of the same cast members, because they are totally different movies. In About Last Night, we had to curse a lot and talk like real people to sell the story, and that's not for everybody. I'm very happy with the film. The people who have seen it have responded completely positively to it. It's been unanimously adored, it seems. For me, that's a win.
Speaking of box office, it's a pretty common practice for celebrities to start parading their private lives in the tabloids ahead of a film's release. You have always resisted that. Do you think you sacrificed advancing your career by keeping your personal life so private?
That's an excellent question. It's interesting you ask that, because my wife even asked me recently if I think I could have gotten further ahead in my career if I lived my life in the public eye. I said to her many times, I don't know the answer to that question, but if it is it, so be it. If I'm being punished for keeping my life private and protecting my family, then this may not be the right business for me.
You're a man of God. Has your faith played a big role in your career?
Absolutely. Whether you believe in God or not, this business is insane. It is crazy. Until you're in it, and you really go through it and you've been in it for years, you'll never quite understand it. My faith has given me a foundation to believe in myself and my progress. I'm exactly where God wants me to be in my career. If he wants me to have more, he'll give it to me.
You're about to celebrate your first Father's Day…actually, we don't even know how old your son is! Is it going to be your first?
[Laughs] Is it going to be my first Father's Day? No. I can't tell you more than that.
Fair enough. At least tell us, what has this year of fatherhood taught you?
Patience. Things that used to bother me, or get me hot really quick…I just have so much more patience now.
Have your priorities shifted since becoming a husband and father?
A child will make you realize what really matters in life. The new perspective that comes with being a parent and seeing the growth of the child, and wanting to be a part of it, has enlightened me on a whole different level. It puts this business in perspective. It's the most amazing accomplishment that I have. He is my most amazing accomplishment. And the fact that I get to share him with my wife is amazing. It speaks about us and our bond. It truly is a miracle. I've never seen a miracle like this. I don't think I knew what a miracle was until I had my son.
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(Photo: Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Montblanc)