Over the past few years, Common — best-known as a successful hip-hop artist — has been quietly building up his acting resumé with small roles in Smoking Aces, Wanted and Terminator Salvation. Next weekend marks his leap into leading man status as Scott McKnight, a professional basketball player who falls for a physical therapist (played by Queen Latifah) in Just Wright. He lets us know why he loves being a starter.

This is a departure from the hardened characters you've played in your past films. Was it difficult switching over to a romantic lead?
This is not only my first romantic, leading character — it’s my first leading role, period. I thought highly of my experience. I love being able to come in every day to act. A lot of times, I’m in movies and they might call me in and I might not even work that day. So it’s fun to come in and be a part of this, like, equivalent to a basketball game. You know — being able to play in the game and be a starter.

You’re in nearly every scene. Does seeing your face onscreen all the time rattle you?
To be honest, I’m critiquing every little part. I do that even when I only have two lines (in a film). It’s fun to have my friends and family come to a movie and not have to wait two hours before I come on screen.

So, serious question: When you talk to Queen Latifah, do you call her Queen Latifah or just Queen?
I call her Latifah, and I got other names for her too. (Laughs).

Oh? Like what?
I’m just tripping with you. But yeah, I call her Latifah more than anything. But you know, sometimes you just have to refer to her as a queen. She is a queen, but she seems so much like a friend.

What’s the most, um, common headline you’ve seen in articles about you that use your name?
Typically, “uncommon man” or something like that. Obviously, I hope you use “extraordinary.”

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