This week we're discussing Morris Chestnut, one of the most popular Black actors of the past 30+ years. You know him from movies like Boyz n the Hood, Two Can Play That Game, The Brothers and The Best Man, as well as his roles on hit TV shows like Nurse Jackie, The Resident and most recently, The Best Man - The Final Chapters. This man is always on our screens, so we decided to talk about some of our favorite moments from his career.
Miguel: Welcome back to They Reminisce Over You. I am Miguel.
Christina: And I'm Christina. And today we're talking about someone who got their start in the ’90s, but three decades later is still out here, booked and busy.
Miguel: Very busy.
Christina: Yes, but I betcha he grinds his teeth every single time someone yells out, “Ricky!!!” But, that's what happens when you become part of a cultural moment.
Miguel: Yep. You can't help it.
Christina: And if you haven't figured it out, we are talking about the one and only Morris Chestnut.
Christina: Not Ricky.
Miguel: Not Ricky. I think we should just get right into it.
Christina: Let's do it.
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Christina: All right, so, usually when we do these episodes, you know, we always start off with a little bio and I usually check their Wikipedia or IMDb page.
Christina: And when I saw his bio on IMDb, it started with “a tall, handsome, and versatile American actor…” And I was like, I don't think I've ever seen these bios start off with a physical description.
Miguel: I definitely haven’t, and I'm gonna have to go back and look for 'em now.
Christina: So I actually ended up—‘cause I was curious—so I ended up just searching for a few, you know, like male heart throb actors.
Christina: And everyone else's bio is just so-and-so was born here to this parent and that parent.
Christina: And just, generic stuff. So, I mean, I'm not saying he isn't tall and handsome, but I just thought it was funny that it was written that way.
Miguel: Well, it goes along with his entire career, as being the ladies man.
Miguel: The sexual chocolate, so to speak. That's his role in this world, and it would make sense that his IMDb says something similar.
Christina: I just thought it was hilarious because, I mean, he's not the only one though.
Miguel: He isn't, but…
Christina: I guess... he just shines a little brighter. Which is funny because his first role in Boyz n the Hood, he's obviously good looking, but he wasn't really, the character wasn't, “Hey, I am a debonair ladies man.”
Miguel: No, he was just a, a random high school student.
Christina: Exactly. But he still became that anyway. So just a little bit more background. He was actually a bank teller for a little while.
Miguel: Yes, I've seen him talk about this in multiple interviews about his days as a bank teller.
Christina: But he did get an agent while he was working in the bank 'cause he was kind of thinking about becoming an actor. And he said what made him come to the decision was his agent sent him for an audition for A Different World. And his only line was to smile and say “hi.”
Christina: And then his agent told him that they wanted him to come back and put him on “avail,” which I don't know what that means. I think it stands for availability. I'm gonna assume they probably just wanted him around cause they didn't know exactly when he would be needed.
Christina: So his agent told him they gon’ pay him $1500 a week and he was like, “to say hi?” So that kind of sealed the deal for him.
Miguel: Which is good money in 1990, ’91.
Christina: Exactly. So good thing the acting stuff worked out because on the interview with Jimmy Kimmel, he said he was fired from his bank job and he was taken down by a “forgeress.”
Miguel: What? What’s a forgeress?
Christina: A forgeress is a forger who's a woman. Forgeress.
Miguel: Okay, if you say so.
Christina: So he said he had a, a customer come in, an old lady. So he didn't think anything of it. And I can't remember exactly what she did. I think think she wrote a bad check or something. But basically she forged something.
Christina: And I believe he said she came in twice. Cause I remember him saying something like she waited for him. Like, yeah, there's that sucker again. And since it happened on his watch, he got fired.
Miguel: Well if it happened to him twice, you kinda have to let him go. Miss Earlene took him down.
Christina: Miss Earlene! Yeah. He was like, she was an old lady, so hey, I thought it would be okay. He was wrong. So the forgeress took him down but it worked out in the end 'cause he ended up booking Boyz n the Hood like a few months after that.
Christina: Morris Chestnut the uh, well, I was gonna say the leading man was born, but it took a little while before he became a leading man.
Miguel: It, it did it. It was a steady grind for him to get there. A couple small roles here and there in between, but he finally got there.
Christina: Right. So it took a couple years because after Boyz n the Hood, he ended up on the TV show Out All Night with Patti LaBelle, which I remember watching it, but I don't remember anything about it except for it being set in a nightclub. You would think I’d remember that they at least had musical guests, like all my faves, Jodeci TLC, et cetera.
Christina: But I don't remember nothing.
Miguel: I remembered the show. I remembered the premise. I remembered the cast, but the only thing I actually remembered from the show in terms of like, the show itself or scene or something or an episode, him singing “Groove Line” by Heatwave really badly has been stuck in my head since that came out.
Miguel: And for years, like every couple months I would look it up, like do a search on YouTube. “Morris Chestnut sings Groove Line.” Nothing ever came up and now it exists on YouTube and we are gonna link to it so people can now have it stuck in their head for the next 30 years. Like I've had it stuck in mind for the past 30.
Christina: “Ooh. Ooh.”
Christina: Yeah, some kind soul uploaded most of season one. There's a couple episodes missing. It's a pretty bad upload because…it's old.
Christina: But you can get the gist.
Christina: I guess because, and we've talked about this before, that back in those days, if you wanted to be a quote unquote movie star, you couldn't do tv.
Miguel: Yeah, and I saw him in an interview speaking on that, just talking about how, because he needed a job after Boyz n the Hood, he took basically the first thing that his agent was able to get him. And he didn't realize that it was a thing for you to either be a movie actor or a TV actor. He was like, I just want a job.
Christina: Right. I mean, and also like the show’s with Patti LaBelle. I mean, to me, that would sound like a good opportunity.
Christina: Perhaps, maybe that's why, um, the next couple years he just had little bit parts. Like he had a small role in The Inkwell. We talked a little bit about this in the Larenz Tate episode. So he was kind of Larenz's, sort of arch nemesis.
Miguel: Yeah. He was the husband of the lady that Larenz's character had a crush on. And of course he would always catch Morris' character cheating and they had a little run in at one point.
Christina: He did. If you haven't watched The Inkwell, you definitely need to watch.
Miguel: Yeah it’s—
Christina: It's one of my favorite movies, actually.
Miguel: It's a very entertaining watch.
Christina: And then he was on Living Single for like an episode, little guest spot, and small role in Higher Learning, where he wasn't even credited.
Christina: Of course played an athlete again.
Miguel: Yes, he was on the, uh, track team with Omar Epps.
Christina: Yes. And then he kind of annoyed Ice Cube's character a little bit with his choice in women.
Miguel: That's, that's one way of putting it.
Christina: But little small role that I actually forgot about until we re-watched it for the Omar Epps episode.
Miguel: Well, it makes sense that he was just in a small uncredited role because John Singleton gave him his first role, and he was like, hey—
Christina: Right. We need a guy to run around the track and say a couple lines.
Miguel: Yeah, we want somebody who is known, but we don't have to use him to sell the film.
Miguel: It'll be a nice surprise for the Morris Chestnut fans out there to see you in this.
Christina: Yeah. So at this point he's already built up a core fan base, but it wasn't until The Best Man, which was I think what solidified him as being like part of this era of actors.
Miguel: Yeah, because there's a big group that are around the same age and they're in a lot of the same films with each other.
Christina: It's starting to feel incestuous at this point because…
Miguel: People like Taye Diggs, Larenz Tate, Omar Epps, Michael Ealy, Bokeem Woodbine, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Regina King, Regina Hall, all them. Taraji. P Henson.
Christina: And I say incestuous 'cause as we're rewatching all these movies for all these episodes we do, we were like, hey, in this movie he's friends with this one, but he's married to her in this movie. Like everybody's been married or dating.
Christina: At some point.
Miguel: They all start to overlap and I get 'em mixed up sometimes.
Christina: Like when we were watching The Best Man, you kept singing Taye's part “my divorce.”
Miguel: Yeah, because—
Christina: Even though that was from Brown Sugar
Miguel: Yes, so it's all mixed up in my head.
Miguel: But yeah, that's basically when he became Morris Chestnut, superstar.
Christina: Leading man.
Miguel: Leading man. All the women want me, was starting at The Best Man.
Christina: And I think his character has always unintentionally been, well, I'm gonna say unintentionally and intentionally been the guy that all the girls want, but The Best Man, I think made him that guy.
Miguel: And also it came at a time when we were in this brown nigga renaissance. It was just after like, the Wesley Snipes and Blair Underwoods and Leons of the world.
Miguel: So he came along right after that. Right after us—
Christina: He’s gonna keep the torch going?
Miguel: Yeah, so right after we took it back from the DeBarges of the world and us darker folk could get, get a little action, he was leading the charge for us.
Christina: It's funny you say that actually, because he did mention that in The Breakfast Club interview 'cause Charlemagne said the same thing to him.
Miguel: Because it's true.
Christina: And he was saying, well, you know, when he was growing up, you know, it was, the light skinned dudes getting all the action
Christina: And Charlamagne's like, “You? You had insecurities?” He's like, “I mean, everybody does, right? “He's like, “I like the way I look, but, you know, you’re gonna feel it sometimes.” Yeah, so his character on The Best Man is totally flawed.
Christina: Like, he's like, this religious guy, but he's stepping out on his college girlfriend forever and then all of a sudden it's like, she's gonna be the perfect wife and all she does is wanna sit at home and have my babies, even though I'm out here doing all that stuff. But then he's extremely devoted to her once he, you know, decides to stop being a dog. Anyways, so he's a flawed character.
Christina: But I do enjoy this series. We rewatched The Best Man, The Best Man: Holiday. And then we had to binge The Best Man: The Last Chapters 'cause we watching this from Canada, which is hard. That's all I'm gonna say. Get a VPN. Yeah, I do enjoy this series even though the characters are all flawed but—
Miguel: They are, but like I said in our newsletter from last month, actually from this month, the worst character of them all is Taye Diggs’ character, Harper Stewart. Harper Stewart ain't shit. In two movies and a TV series. He ain't shit. In a stew full of flawed meats, he's by far the most spoiled piece of meat.
Christina: Because I think everybody understands their flaws
Christina: Or their flaws are kind of like on display, so at least.
Miguel: Well, he denies his.
Christina: Yeah. He's like, the not so nice, nice guy.
Miguel: Yes. Anyway.
Christina: Anyways, we're here to talk about Morris, so let's get back to that. So, yeah, the first movie came out in 1999, and he's gotten a wide variety of roles after that. But, there's still a theme. There's two themes actually. We talk about this a lot. I remember saying he's always playing like a doctor, an athlete or some kind of law enforcement.
Christina: So I had planned to go through his IMDb and actually count, but it's too long.
Miguel: Yeah, me too. I thought about doing it, but I couldn't commit to that.
Christina: There's so much stuff that I haven't watched, so I don't know what the character is.
Christina: And I started to look some of it up and I was like, I ain't got time for all this. So I, the few that I looked up and the ones that I already know, here's just a, a preliminary count, in case you're wondering.
Miguel: Alright. Give it to me.
Christina:So, he's played an athlete at least five times.
Christina: One time he was an athletic director. Close enough.
Christina: He's, he's, you know,
Miguel: I’ll let that cook.
Christina: Yeah, and he's played a doctor or nurse at least six times. Usually doctor, he was a nurse once, but medical. And he's been law enforcement nine times. I actually, that was higher than I thought. I thought that the doctor and the law enforcement would be a little closer together, but it isn't a final count.
Christina: He's also been sort of a general like, businessman, business dude.
Miguel: Yeah. Just someone who wears suits and ties to work.
Christina: And makes a lot of money.
Christina: Uh, at least three times. And he played an alien once.
Miguel: Yeah, you mentioned that, but I didn't remember the V remake.
Christina: I don't even know what V is. I didn't didn't know until I looked at his IMDb, but I would watch it.
Miguel: I watched the original one when I was a kid. I didn't watch the, the newer version.
Christina: I like a little sci-fi, so I would watch this.
Miguel: If we're gonna watch it, we need to watch the old one though, because I'm sure looking at it now, the costumes and the CGI and all that is probably just terrible.
Christina: Yeah, but Morris is in the other one.
Miguel: All right.
Christina: Well, the funny thing is, even though he is an alien, his human form is a stockbroker.
Miguel: Of course he is. I'm just surprised—
Christina: So he still is a business dude.
Miguel: He wasn't a football player.
Christina: Maybe he's a stockbroker who likes to play football.
Christina: And then as we mentioned in Out All Night, he was, well, I was gonna say club manager, but he was like, an apprentice.
Miguel: No. He wants to—yeah, he wants to be a club manager, but Patti LaBelle was like, no, you're a trainee.
Christina: She’s like, you're a little too young. I’m gonna just—I’m gonna take you under my wing.
Miguel: Well, she said, “I got shoes older than you, baby.”
Christina: She did. So those are the general roles. So we, we are correct. He is usually a doctor, football player or detective.
Christina: Something like that.
Miguel: Pretty much.
Christina: The second theme is intentionally or unintentionally, he's always a ladies man.
Miguel: Yeah. It doesn't matter what role he's playing, he's gonna get that.
Christina: Yeah, like we watched an episode of one of his doctor roles, The Resident. And as soon as he walked in, the two nurses like, “I got dibs.” And I'm like, the man got a mask on. He got a like a thing over his head. You can't even see him. Just his eyes.
Miguel: He literally just walked into the room and she goes, “I got dibs.” And that's who he is. Ever since The Best Man, he's been that guy. He's the romantic comedy, I’m gonna be the one that all the women want, lead role type of person.
Christina: And even if it's a serious role.
Miguel: Yeah, it doesn't matter if it's serious, if it's a comedy, whatever it is, the women all want him and that's who he is.
Christina: He just comes in and he smirks.
Christina: And the ladies are like, hello.
Miguel: They just melt.
Christina: Not all of them. There's always a hater.
Miguel: There is, but then eventually they come around too.
Miguel: I saw an interview that he did with Jemele Hill where he was talking about being typecast and he said he doesn't mind it because it keeps him working.
Miguel: And if that's what the people want, he's gonna give it to 'em.
Christina: Yeah, I did see in, I think it was The Breakfast Club interview where he asked for some of his scenes in Rosewood to be less shirtless scenes. Because he's just like, I don't want people to expect it, like clockwork. Like, the show starts at 8, 8:15, I got my shirt off.
Miguel: But that's who you are, brother. We know it. It’s cool.
Christina: He's like saying that he always keeps in shape, but getting in TV shape is different than like everyday shape.
Christina: So I'm sure he probably just wants to, you know, not drink so much water or suck in his stomach.
Miguel: Yeah, I saw I mention that as well, where he said he loves sweets, so, he needs for them to give him like, a three week window when he knows he is gonna have to take his shirt off so he can prepare for it.
Christina: Get that Cheesecake Factory out first.
Miguel: Yeah. Run those cookies off.
Christina: Yeah. Because even in The Best Man: Last Chapters, that scene where he opens the door and all he's wearing is a robe that was supposed to be completely naked and he asked them, “can I wear a robe?”
Miguel: Well, eventually the robe came off, so…
Christina: It did.
Miguel: Does it really matter?
Christina: But that was a body double. The part where you see the buttocks, it is not him.
Christina: It's his body double.
Miguel: All right.
Christina: Anyway, there's a bunch of stuff after, in between all these Best Mans, some stuff I've seen. I re-watched Two Can Play That Game day. But I feel like I've seen this.
Miguel: I saw it when it first came out, and I'm pretty sure I have it on DVD too, but I didn't feel like going to look for it, so I didn't watch it, but I've definitely.
Christina: Yeah. And I've seen him in, like I said here and there, there's so much stuff that I haven't seen, but I feel like I always see him in a commercial or something.
Miguel: Yeah. Cause every time I see him, it's in a commercial for a TV show.
Miguel: And it's like, how is he on another TV show when there's already one running with him in it?
Christina: So, I think like, a lot of these actors, they just like, they're always doing stuff and it spans over, you know, decades. So it feels like they're always doing something.
Christina: And in a sense, he looks like he has something, you know, at least every year. But for us, if he's doing like one episode, it seems like, oh my God, he's got something every year.
Miguel: But it kind of is though.
Christina: He did mention he had a couple like small slumps in between. He's like, you know, to y'all, it feels like I'm doing something all the time.
Miguel: Right. Because if you doing a show for two years, like Rosewood for example, and then you have a movie come out in between, and then after the movie you've got another show that runs for another two or three seasons, you are always out there.
Christina: That’s true, but I, I think I can see it as like, there's probably maybe a two month window or something where he's trying to get the next thing.
Christina: Because as someone who is a freelancer, not an actor or such, you know, sometimes not knowing when the next thing is coming can feel like it's been a long time—
Christina: Even if it's just like a month or two. So, I see what he's saying where he is like, I might not be as busy as it appears to you guys.
Christina: But yeah, I saw him, I watched him in, a few episodes of the first season of American Horror Story.
Miguel: Which I completely forgot about.
Christina: It wasn't a very big role.
Christina: He was the, security. She had installed like a home security system like a private security system and he would be the respondent.
Christina: Playing semi law enforcement again.
Miguel: That counts.
Christina: And then he had a bigger role in Nurse Jackie, but you didn't remember him in that either.
Miguel: I didn’t.
Christina: But again, eh, he was still kind of like a side character. Anyways, one thing we did watch that he wasn't in, but I wanted to watch 'cause he was a producer, was Spell.
Miguel: Because we had seen the trailer a few weeks back and was like, what is this Black Misery?
Miguel: And not “Black misery,” but the movie Misery, but with Black people in it.
Christina: And hoodoo voodoo.
Miguel: Yeah. So we ended up checking that out last night, and it was a lot better than I thought it was gonna be.
Christina: So it stars Omari Hardwick and Loretta Divine, and I figured if it was gonna be bad that Loretta would be able to just carry it because of—she's pretty much great in everything I've seen her in.
Christina: And I was right. She was great. And I mean, it's a horror flick.
Miguel: Yeah. It's what you expect from a horror movie.
Christina: Yeah, because I looked at it on Rotten Tomatoes and it was 49% for the critics, 56% for the audience. So I was like, I don't know.
Miguel: Yeah if you are giving it those kind of ratings, then you're expecting too much from a horror movie.
Christina: Yeah. If you just want some gore…
Miguel: Yeah. And some mystery—
Christina: Some jump scares.
Miguel: What the hell's going on? This is a good movie.
Christina: I liked it.
Christina: And like I said, Loretta with her little, “hee hee,” but she's an evil character. She, she knows how to work it.
Christina:There is one scene that was unintentionally funny.
Miguel: It was.
Christina: Which I’m not gonna say, because—
Miguel: You don’t want to spoil it.
Christina: Yeah, I'm not gonna spoil it, but it was unintentionally funny ‘cause I think they might have overshot the special effects. And we ended up laughing our asses off instead/
Miguel: I loved it.
Christina: Or maybe they meant to make it kinda kitschy.
Miguel: I'm, I'm gonna say that it did what it was intended to do.
Christina: Okay. So, if you were a fan of just sort of popcorn horror flicks I would recommend it.
Miguel: Yeah, go ahead. Check it out. It's on Netflix.
After looking at everything that you've seen over his career, the movies, the TV shows, what is your favorite role of his?
Christina: Um….you know what? I was really thinking about this and I, I think, um, The Best Man just kind of, was the first thing he jumped in my head. ‘Cause I think of all this stuff he's been in, I've enjoyed that the most.
Christina: But when I think about it, it is just more of like, I like the camaraderie between the characters.
Christina: And like, the storylines are, you know, it's funny and it's relatable in, in some ways and it's just like, you know, one of those sort of, oh, feel good friends movies or TV shows. But I wouldn't say wouldn't say that that's his, my favorite performance of his. So, I think I would say my favorite role is Two Can Play That Game because he got to be a little bit funny. And yes, he's still sort of the ladies man, but he's not like the ladies man.
Christina: Like, he’s basically getting played by Vivica Fox's character.
Christina: But then he kinda gets her in the end. So, like, he got to be the leading man without being the ladies man.
Christina: Like, I didn't have to see that, “Hello ladies” smirk. It’s like, oh yeah, he's a leading man, but he's not like…a jerk.
Christina: It's nice to see him be a little bit funny too.
Miguel: Yeah. I'm gonna say the same thing, but not that one. It was gonna be with Rosewood. Now the show itself isn't very good. It's really cheesy, but his character is entertaining as shit. Because he's everything that Morris Chestnut is in all of his performances, but turned up a notch.
Miguel: So it's very exaggerated.
Miguel: And even like the comedy portion of it is a lot more than he usually gives us. So just because of that, I'm gonna go with his character in Rosewood.
Christina: Yeah, I see what you're saying but it wasn't for me. It was too formulaic, I guess? Too over the top.
Miguel: Like I said, the show itself is cheesy as shit, but you would tune in just to watch him be a smart ass.
Miguel: It's very—every time he does something or says something, it's like, I told you so. I knew you would come back with that because I'm smarter than you.
Miguel: It's one of those type shows, but in a funny way.
Christina: I did like him in Nurse Jackie even though his role wasn't too big there. But again, it just kinda, we got to see sort of a different side, 'cause you're so used to him being the ladies man.
Christina: He was kind of a grumpy doctor actually.
Miguel: Former army doctor that became a civilian and immediately reenlisted.
Christina: This ain't for me.
Miguel: So, yeah. All right. Is there anything else you wanna say before we wrap this up?
Christina: I think if there was any doubt after having this conversation, he's definitely part of that group.
Christina: You know, the Larenz Tate, the Omar Epps, the ones who will always be that group when we think about the 90s, even though he's still working now. And definitely people in our age group, especially the ladies agree because Da Brat had shared a video of when he came into Dish Nation, I'm assuming to do an interview and the women were literally lining up to take pictures with him. Da Brat is just laughing in the background. “Look at the thirst, it’s real.” And she was saying like people who never come out of their office were showing up wearing heels and sheer shirts and whatnot, and everybody's just taking pictures of him. And he's being completely gracious throughout, so...
Miguel: Of course.
Christina: Whenever you see a conversation pop up on Twitter about how they don't make 'em like they used to in the ’90s. He's one of those.
Miguel: He is what people are talking about.
Christina: Yep. In case you're wondering.
Miguel: All right, so I've got nothing to add to that. So I think it's time for us to go ahead and get on outta here.
Miguel: Make sure to follow us on social media at @troypodcast on Twitter, if it's still around by the time this comes out and on Instagram. You can check us out at troypodcast.com. That's where we post, probably not for this episode, but for other episodes we have playlists that are themed to accompany the episodes.
Christina: You can do one for this one. Some of the soundtrack stuff.
Miguel: I could, but it wouldn't be much. It'd be like eight songs on it.
Christina: That’s okay.
Miguel: I'll think about it.
Christina: All right.
Miguel: Also you can sign up for our newsletter. You can go to troypodcast.com/newsletter and sign up for our newsletter. It's free. So go ahead and do that.
Christina: It's free and it's funny and you can have something nice in your inbox instead coworkers sending you some bullshit.
Miguel: And there are little clues and breadcrumbs to our upcoming episodes, so if you want to know what's coming up, sign up for the newsletter.
Christina: Do it.
Miguel: You're not gonna say it makes your teeth whiter this time?
Christina: No, not this time 'cause I'm, I'm sleepy, so I forgot.
Miguel: All right, on that note, we're out.