Interview with When the Bough Breaks stars Morris Chestnut and Regina Hall
by Bobby Blakey
Over the years there have been a ton of films that focus on the crazy girl from an affair, the crazed babysitter and all manner of other scenarios. The latest film Where the Bough Breaks takes this genre and uses the topic of a surrogate to offer up a new thriller and I had the chance to sit down with stars Morris Chestnut and Regina Hall to speak with them about their all-new thriller.
Bobby: Morris, you serve as executive producer as well as starring in the film, what drew you to this film and how much different is that from just the acting work?
Morris: It 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 beyond just being an actor is something that I’ve been continually trying to do more and more of each time out. It was cool.
As far as what drew me to the film, this 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. And also, our director, Jon Cassar, working with Jon Cassar, I was familiar with his work from 24 and he had done a couple of miniseries and I was really looking forward to working with him after sitting down and discussing his vision for the film. I always say that 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 in the end.
Bobby: Regina, I have always wondered with films like this why people don’t see the issues coming before they spiral out of control. Why do you think Laura was so willing to trust this woman and not see any of the signs of trouble?
Regina: I think that her desire for a child just overrode success, just like sometimes women do in relationships. You know what I mean? You might like a guy so much that your sixth sense of woman intuition doesn’t kick in because your desire for what you want is bigger than what you pay attention to and your red flags. I also think that maybe the girl, or in my mind, what I created was that in my mind, the girl before the pregnancy and the hormones, it wasn’t as bad, it wasn’t as blatant. It wasn’t obvious, and 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 have to go with it at that point.
Bobby: This is a story with some pretty dark subject matter, what was the hardest part about 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: Right. Doing a film like this where, like she says, it takes an emotional toll on you, as an actor to have to be in that space day in and day out, it’s really draining. Just being in that space when you draw from your life’s 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.
Bobby: When making a film in a place as unique as New Orleans, how do you think that affects the characters that you create?
Regina: New Orleans almost felt like a character in the movie. You know, like the backdrop of the city was huge, and I think especially for Laura, who is playing a chef and so much about New Orleans, what’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 tastes, 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.
Bobby: You guys have both been in the industry for a long time now, but how is it to work with fresh young talent like Jaz Sinclair?
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 is not convincing and believable, I think the whole movie falls apart. Watching someone of her age, the way she approached the role and her professionalism and then the talent, it was a great experience.
Bobby: Both of you have been very successful at transitioning between film and TV whereas most actors have not been that lucky. What do you think has been the key to making these transitions?
Regina: I just think looking and picking the right parts and really working with really great people, always trying to continue to pick material that you connect with and doing the work and luck, but doing the work, so that every opportunity you get to perform, you’re doing your best.
Morris: In terms of longevity and Hollywood, people ask me the question about being around so long and then having the opportunity to work for so long. I think one of the things that I feel is an element of success is you have to be courteous and respectful of the people you work with. When you’re standing around with someone for 14 hours a day, you really want to have—I mean, it’s already demanding in terms of the workload, but you really want to—you don’t want any friction. You don’t want any tension or conflict, so I think being respectful to the people you work with.
Bobby: How different is it working on TV as opposed to film?
Morris: For me, there’s no way to do a movie like this on a television schedule, luckily we did have Jon, so he knew how to shoot scenes and shoot scenes quickly. When you’re doing a television show, you really have eight days to shoot 45 minutes or 42 minutes or what it is. Here we had 35 days to shoot 140-plus minutes; I’m not sure exact running time.
You can see, obviously, say for instance me shooting the TV show, Rosewood, to where I have tons of dialogue each week, I literally forget dialogue after the scene is over because it’s like cramming for a test. You cram, cram, cram to get the dialog in so you can keep things moving, but it’s not the best, especially 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 where television it moves so fast, at least in a one-hour drama, that it’s very difficult to really immerse yourself into a character.
Bobby: Thank you both for taking the time to speak with me and good luck with the film.
Morris: Thank you so much.
Be sure to check out When the Bough Breaks in theaters on September 9th.