Maybe you fell for him after watching The Best Man, or perhaps it was his most recent box office smash, The Perfect Guy. Morris Chestnut’s resume is so robust, we know it’s hard to keep track. But now, for the first time, the veteran actor is fronting his own network TV series, Rosewood, premiering on FOX.
“I’m excited about Rosewood because it’s a show that has a little bit of everything,” he says about the comedic drama. Rosewood is centered around private pathologist Dr. Beaumont Rosewood Jr., who uses his intuition and endless charm to solve crimes on the streets of Miami. Chestnut took time from his busy filming schedule on set to speak with B*Real by phone about his leading man status, love and pushing boundaries in Hollywood.
B*Real: What should we know about your character, pathologist Dr. Beaumont Rosewood Jr.?
Rosewood is a guy who really enjoys life. He’s had a couple of strokes and a lot of health issues, so he’s the eternal optimist. He knows that his time is limited on this earth and that he’s going to die probably sooner rather than later, so he lives each day to the fullest. And he’s a private pathologist who teams with a Miami detective to solve crimes.
You’ve starred in dozens of films over the years, and Rosewood marks your first leading role on primetime TV. What about this new opportunity is challenging, or even rewarding, for you?
Well there’s definitely something challenging because being the lead of a one-hour television show is a lot of work. I’ve been on TV shows before, but never as the lead, so it’s exciting to be out in front of a TV show and doing stuff that’s a little bit different. Hopefully people will respond to it.
Currently, a number African-American actors have been given a huge platform on TV, yourself included. Do you think Hollywood is becoming a more level playing field for Black actors?
I think we’re getting a lot of opportunities. I think Hollywood is seeing the trend. Empire proved that people are still watching network television. Hollywood really listens to the people, and people speak by turning on the television or paying the money at the box office to go watch a movie, so I think it’s great that diversity is being supported in that way. I just hope that fans will continue to support it, because if they continue to support it, Hollywood will continue to make it.
Along with being profoundly intelligent and intuitive, Rosewood is also debonair and very charming, especially with the ladies. Do you share some of those traits?
Well, I would like to think so, but that’s a very subjective thing, so I have to leave it up to other people to determine. [Laughs] But that’s one thing that Rosewood does; he tries to charm and smile to get things that he needs, but also he tries to use the smile to warm people up a little bit. You know, he’s happy with life and he wants other people to be happy as well.
Rosewood seems like he can talk his way in and out of any situation. Perhaps at home, what’s one of your go-to lines you’ve used to sweet-talk yourself out of a bind?
I’m sorry. You’re right, babe.… [Laughs] Those are my two. Those are the best ones. [Laughs]
You’re celebrating your 20-year marriage anniversary this year. As a husband, what’s your advice to newly married women on keeping a marriage strong?
I think honesty, communication and respect. With me and with my wife, those are very important — and being aligned with those priorities. We’re aligned in that sense.
You also star alongside Sanaa Lathan in the new movie The Perfect Guy. In your opinion, for the ladies, what are the qualities that define a “perfect guy”?
That’s the thing — I think a lot of people make the mistake of looking for the perfect man, the perfect woman, the perfect job, the perfect car. I don’t think anything is perfect. I think as far as a person is concerned, you’re able to deal with things better if you have that expectation that nothing is perfect. There’s going to be your positives and your negatives with everything in life. As long as you go into certain situations with that in mind, I think you’ll be OK.
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