In "Wanted," musician and actor Rashid Lynn, Jr. -- better known as Common -- features as the Gunsmith. He is part of the support team which includes Angelina Jolie's character, Fox, and Marc Warren's Repairman. Together, they train James McAvoy's character in the Assassin arts. The Gunsmith also maintains the arsenal the Fraternity (the league of killers in the film) uses through the story. For Common, the role continued an education with guns that began on earlier productions.
"'Smokin' Aces' to 'American Gangster,' then also 'Street Kings' and then to 'Wanted,'" Common told CBR News. But despite this extensive training, the performer would not call himself an expert. "I'm pretty good. I got to say, I've been to a gun range where I've been shooting and I'm thinking I'm good, but there's been an older woman that [is] a better shooter than me." In fact, all this training helped him on his next project, "Terminator: Salvation." "I went one day and they were like 'Oh, you know all this shit. I got this.'"
Common said despite his film roles, he is not a gun aficionado. "I'm definitely not a promoter of guns. I mean, that's not me," he said. And despite Common's tendency to take darker or villainous parts, he feels sure his younger audience is aware of the difference between himself and the parts he plays. "I definitely feel that I've laid a foundation to let youth know who Common is." He went on to explain, "As an actor, you're becoming a person. As a person, you can't really judge yourself too much so I just approach it like that, taking on these roles and just really wanting it to be a good role; to be in good films. That's really the goal. I think I can take care of letting people know that that's not me. I've kind of established that already. But, for those who don't know, they will get to see that."
However, Common does appreciate the opportunity these types of roles have afforded him. "I'm glad I acquired that type of knowledge, but it's not anything I want to utilize in my regular life," he said.
The gun training, Common thinks, is part of "just really doing my best to really become the character." That sort of preparation is important even in an action-driven film. "If the character's alive, he's alive," he said. "If you really do as much research as you can to create this who this person is and really know who the character is and knows who the Gunsmith would be with or without saying things, then, that energy and that presence is going to be there. And that's the most important thing I can do, just really know who the core of my character is."
With all the training and preparation, Common said he downplayed his own persona while acting. "I try my best to not have any Common qualities in my characters, but if the character has something that's like me, you may see it come out." He also admitted, "I get mad if I see anything that has to do with Common, any of my maneuvers that come out." Having asked other actors if it is a problem for them, Common said they feel the same. "They get mad when they see themselves on the screen, because you really want to see the character. That's your job as an actor to create that character. Common is removed from the film set when you step on and you're doing Gunsmith."
On "Wanted," Common said his job was made more difficult when the shoot moved to his hometown of Chicago. "We had a lot more people coming up saying, 'Hey, Common, what's up baby? You're home, how it feel?' and I'm trying to stay in the zone of the Gunsmith and it's like, 'Yo Common, what's up? You coming 'round the house?'" he recalled.
In the film, Common does not have many lines, which he is comfortable with because of his preparation. "At any given time they also would also given you lines or take out a scene so it was like, if you are that character you don't have a problem when the lines come to you, you do them. In a way, you still are that character, looking at somebody or, you know, putting a gun together."
For Common the Gunsmith character is "a person who was like a samurai in a way. He was a master of weaponry and definitely a warrior, but also this calm Buddha-like character and would take things in." With that in mind, Common feels the character still comes across strongly in the film's final form. "That's why without words, you could see things going on with him," he said.
Speaking more about the upcoming "Terminator" sequel Common said he has begun filming, but has yet to work with co-star Christian Bale. In that film, Common plays a character called Barnes, whom he describes as "one of John Connor's right hand men." Having been to the set, Common described it as "just incredible. I went to that set and it was like 'Man, we are in this world. This is like Terminator. I'm in 'The Terminator', right in this world.'"
After taking the gig, Common re-watched the early Terminator films and was reminded how much he liked them. "Man, they're great movies," he said. Not being a TV watcher, he has not seen "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" television series. "TV kind of lost me," he joked.
When asked about the long-standing rumor about his involvement in the "Justice League" as Green Lantern, Common laughed and said, "Man, rumors, those rumors. I can say that if they do a Justice League movie, I would love to be Green Lantern. That's all I can say. I do like Justice League. I love it."
Despite that desire to play Green Lantern, Common said he wants to play a wide set of roles in the years to come. "Obviously, it would be nice to do a superhero character eventually that becomes timeless but, at the same token, I would want to do the role of a pastor and that becomes timeless and then do the homeless man. So, I don't think I would want to be pigeon-holed with just one character. I want to show my diversity and make classic movies."
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