I had the esteemed pleasure of being involved in a Screen Gems press conference in which actors, Morris Chestnut and Regina Hall, were interviewed and answered questions via phone about their upcoming thriller, When The Bough Breaks.


One perspective during this interview that was truly eye-opening for me is the fact that as an audience, we often take for granted the toll or weight that is placed upon an actor as they play a role. One resounding notion that Morris and Regina will explain below is how dark this film became. It was refreshing for them to float back to reality and enjoy normalcy and lighthearted moments once the production of the film ended.


Actress Jaz Sinclair, who plays the role of the surrogate named Anna, is expected to wow the audience with her phenomenal acting skills. Morris explains how comfortable he was to work with a young talented professional.


Read the interview below to learn how these acting veterans appreciate where they are now, and how they look forward to sharing this film with audiences across the country. Photos from the Los Angeles premiere are also available for you to view and enjoy. The movie is available in theaters September 9.


Movie Synopsis: John and Laura Taylor (Morris Chestnut and Regina Hall) are a young, professional couple who desperately want a baby. After exhausting all other options, they finally hire Anna (Jaz Sinclair), the perfect woman to be their surrogate – but as she gets further along in her pregnancy, so too does her psychotic and dangerous fixation on the husband. The couple becomes caught up in Anna’s deadly game and must fight to regain control of their future before it’s too late.


Being key members of what they call Black Hollywood, how do you feel about doing this movie and how does this fit in? Are the roles getting better, and are the movie opportunities getting better for black actors and actresses?


Morris: To me, I just think just to be able to be working in Hollywood for a sustained period of time is something, whether you’re black, white, just Hollywood in general. It’s definitely a blessing. In particular for Black Hollywood, I definitely think the opportunities are … Hollywood, in general, I think the opportunities are increasing and improving in terms of television. I still feel that we could be doing a little bit better in films in terms of opportunities, but there are opportunities nonetheless in both.


Regina: Yeah, I agree with Morris. I think it’s a work in progress but it’s always a blessing to be working and ideally things continue to evolve.


You worked in other pictures before, but how was it working together on a picture that is such an intense environment in terms of the plot and everything?


Morris: I think that we’re both professionals. I think that the one thing with this film, it was a very challenging and emotional film, and it was very challenging for myself. I’ll let Regina speak for her, but I think that working with someone who is a professional, such as Regina, professional such as Jaz, and even our director, Jon Cassar, was pretty much just another day at the office coming to work prepared. I mean Regina definitely makes it fun each day, good sense of humor, but it was pretty much work. Just come in well prepared.


Regina: I think we were both ready to do something light after the project ended, but we were able to find moments that weren’t intense and take a break and have fun. I think when you’re working you’re in the mode. The project at that point is most important, more than what you’re going through while you’re shooting, because in a few months you’ll be out of it. I think when you’re shooting the intensity is part of what’s driving you, so you actually appreciate it because it’s helping your performance.


Morris, you’re executive producing and you’re starring in the film. How was that experience?


Morris: Wasn’t my first time, but it’s always a great opportunity to where you’re not just an actor in front of the camera. To be able to have some type of input into the overall process, you’re not just being an actor, is something that I’ve been continually trying to do more and more of each time out. It was cool.


Morris, what was it about this script that compelled you to be a part of it?


Morris: I felt the script was different. It definitely had elements of other thrillers, but I felt it was unique in its own perspective and voice, so I wanted to be a part of that. I knew Regina Hall was involved, so I was really looking forward to working with her. Also, our director Jon Cassar, working with Jon Cassar. I was familiar with his work from 24 and he had done a couple of mini-series, and I was really looking forward to working with him after sitting down and discussing his vision for the film.


Regina, your character Laura Taylor in the movie, I was like, did she miss her woman’s intuition or was she naïve to just put so much trust in this woman with her child?


Regina: I mean, I think her desire for a child just overrode sixth sense. It’s like sometimes in relationships. You might like a guy so much that your sixth sense or woman’s intuition doesn’t kick in, because your desire for what you want is bigger than what you pay attention to and the red flags. I also think that maybe the girl, or in my mind, what I created was in my mind, the girl before the pregnancy and the hormones wasn’t as bad. It wasn’t as blatant. It wasn’t obvious. I think once someone’s implanted with your last embryo you don’t really have much of a choice even when you do realize it. You can’t even allow yourself to know that it’s a mistake because it’s done. It’s permanent. You can’t go in and scrape it out. You’ve got to go with it at this point.


How does Laura restrain herself, because she seems really conservative?


Regina: You got to see the movie. I can’t tell you. You got to go see the movie.


Do you think that Anna was genuinely wanting to help the couple?


Regina: I mean, I do. Human beings are complex and I think the movie examines that complexity. I don’t know that anyone was completely ill intentioned in the beginning. Sometimes life goes in directions that no-one plans and you are trying to deal the best way you can when the circumstances come up.


Getting to shoot in such a wonderful, vibrant city and specifically Regina, being a chef in New Orleans, did that impact the way you approached the character? How much of the city impacted the way you guys went into the Taylors?


Regina: Well, New Orleans almost felt like a character in the movie. The backdrop of the city is huge. I think especially for Laura, who is playing a chef and so much about New Orleans, that’s amazing about the city, is a lot of it is their cuisine and their way of cooking and expressing themselves through eating, and dining, and taste, and seasonings, and everything. I think it played a really important part for both of us and for the family that we wanted to have in New Orleans.


Getting to work with a young talent that’s also from Dallas in Miss Sinclair, what was it like working off of her? Morris, obviously, you got to be a lot more physical with her. How much fun was it to play off of such a new talent, if you will?


Morris: I thought it was great. I thought watching Jaz, the way she approached the job at her age, because this is a character that if this character’s not convincing and believable I think the whole movie falls apart. Watching someone of her age, the way she approached the role and the professionalism and the talent, it was a great experience.




This film has a pretty dark subject matter. What would you guys say is the most difficult part of filming a movie like this?


Regina: Well, it’s really an emotional journey when you’re dealing with issues as sensitive and heart wrenching as surrogacy and fertility issues. Just starting from there is already a lot.


Morris: Doing a film like this where, as she says, it takes an emotional pull on you. As an actor to have to be in that space day in, day out, it’s really draining. Just being in that space you draw from your life experiences to be in that mental head space, it was a relief to be done with it. I was looking forward to doing something that was fun and light afterwards.


Morris, I was wondering, was it more difficult in particular since you are a father yourself?


Morris: Was it more difficult? I think as actors we really try to put ourselves in these types of situations, the situations of our characters, or a situation that we have to draw upon to where we need to have the same type of feeling and emotions of those characters. I think for this one, I mean I’ve never been in a situation to where … My children are old now, but I’ve always known what it’s like. My approach was to just put myself in the situation to what if I didn’t have them, if I couldn’t have them again.


I’ve interviewed several black celebrities and they’ve stated that they don’t like their films being described as black films because they don’t travel well. A lot of the movies you’ve been doing recently have been universal with The Perfect Guy, and even TV with Rosewood. What goes into your decision making process when you pick a movie to star in?


Morris: I like to start in on the material. The script. I always say Hollywood never sets out to make a bad movie. Most of the time scripts, they have different revisions and it’s all about the execution. Regarding the black films and black projects, that is a challenge, because I wish people would just look at films for what they are. Either people come out of seeing the film, it’s either a good film or a bad film. They want to see a thriller or they want to see a comedy. I wish it didn’t have that label of a black thriller or a black comedy. With that being said, I’m very fortunate to be able to work in Hollywood and have these opportunities to do films and so I’ll just take it as it comes.


You all shot this film in 35 days and talked about Jon Cassar and his television experience. For those who don’t know, can y’all describe the difference between shooting for TV and shooting for film. I know the time constraints are different, but what else is different about shooting for television versus shooting for film?


Morris: Well, for me, there’s no way I can do a movie like this on a television schedule. Luckily we did have Jon. He knew how to shoot scenes and shoot things quickly, but when you’re doing a television show you really have eight days to shoot 45 minutes, or 42 minutes, or whatever it is. Here we had 35 days to shoot 140 plus minutes. I’m not sure of the exact running time. Say for instance, I’ve been shooting the TV show Rosewood where I have tons of dialogue each week. I literally forget dialogue right after the scene is over because it’s like cramming for a test. You cram, cram, cram to get the dialogue in so you keep things moving, but it’s not the best. Strictly in terms of acting, I like it to sink in a little bit more so I’m not thinking about dialogue. Film provides you the luxury of being able to take your time and really dig deep into a character and become that character, whereas television it moves so fast like a one hour drama, it’s very difficult to really immerse yourself into a character.


Both of you have been very successful in transitioning between film and television. What do you think has been the key to your success and to your longevity?


Regina: I just think looking and picking the right parts and movies, working with really great people and always trying to continue to pick material that you connect with and doing the work, and love, but doing the work so that every opportunity you get to perform you’re doing your best. Morris?


Morris: I think in terms of longevity in Hollywood, people ask me questions about being around so long and having the opportunity to work for so long. I think one of the things that I do as an element of success is you have to be courteous and respectful to people you work with.


Morris: Always being courteous and respectful. When you’re sitting around someone for 14 hours a day, you really want to have, and it’s always demanding in terms of the workload, but you don’t want any friction, you don’t want any tension or conflict. I think being respectful to the people you work with.


Morris, it’s been 25 years since you appeared in Boyz in the Hood. What was one of the best pieces of advice you received in becoming an actor?


Morris: Wow. During that film. It really went so fast. No-one really gave me advice. I would always ask Cuba questions, but it’s really questions about his experience in the industry. It was so much so every time, if he came out of the trailer, I came out of my trailer, he saw me walking towards him, he’d go back in because I was always asking questions, because he had more experience than I did at the time. Basically, so no-one really gave me advice. Everyone was really doing their own things and I was just observing. I was just sitting there soaking it in and just seeing probably how people really treated other people on the set that they worked with.


Based on a movie talking about a couple’s struggle with marriage and fertility issues, and the thought that having a child could make their marriage stronger, but do you think that in real life it becomes problematic when couples think that a baby can help them fix those marital issues? Do you think maybe they should try to fix them before they try to get a child involved?


Morris: Well, I would just say that I think within a marriage you always have to work on that despite anything else. You have to work on your relationship with your wife, with your husband, and that first and foremost. I don’t really think that anything other than that core relationship is really going to help a marriage. If it’s a bad relationship you have to deal with the other person. I don’t think anything, such as a child, money, cars, anything of that nature will help a marriage survive.


Why do you think that sometimes people feel that children are the icing on the cake for defining success, because both of the Taylors are successful in their own right, but why do you think that they still feel that they need a child?


Morris: Well, it could be a number of reasons for a number of people. Sometimes I think that when you look at the Taylors, they have achieved success in other aspects of their lives. They were both very successful in business. They had a nice house, cars and things of that nature, but, and the one thing I like about this movie, it shows that no-one has everything. It can appear that a couple or people have everything, but no-one has everything. The one thing that they couldn’t buy with just themselves was a child, in that regard. You never know what people are thinking and what their upbringing is that affects their decisions and their desires, but and to the previous question, kids and money and things, can’t really solve issues within a marriage.



Jaz Sinclair attends the Screen Gems premiere of "When the Bough Breaks" at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on Sunday, August 28, 2016, in Los Angeles.

Jaz Sinclair attends the Screen Gems premiere of “When the Bough Breaks” at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on Sunday, August 28, 2016, in Los Angeles.

Malika Haqq attends the Screen Gems premiere of "When the Bough Breaks" at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on Sunday, August 28, 2016, in Los Angeles.

Malika Haqq attends the Screen Gems premiere of “When the Bough Breaks” at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on Sunday, August 28, 2016, in Los Angeles.

Sanaa Lathan, from left, Regina Hall, and Melissa De Sousa attend the Screen Gems premiere of "When the Bough Breaks" at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on Sunday, August 28, 2016, in Los Angeles.

Sanaa Lathan, from left, Regina Hall, and Melissa De Sousa attend the Screen Gems premiere of “When the Bough Breaks” at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on Sunday, August 28, 2016, in Los Angeles.

Regina Hall, left, and Russell Simmons attend the Screen Gems premiere of "When the Bough Breaks" at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on Sunday, August 28, 2016, in Los Angeles.

Regina Hall, left, and Russell Simmons attend the Screen Gems premiere of “When the Bough Breaks” at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on Sunday, August 28, 2016, in Los Angeles.

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