Chris Rock has a rule for when he starts working on a screenplay. “If I’m going to write something, I get the second-best part,” says the comedian.
“I’m not Matt Damon, so it’s not like I’m getting a ton of scripts.” Not that he’s complaining. “Hey, I’m not as good as Matt Damon,” Rock admits. “There are a lot of great actors out there.”
The same can’t be said of the offers that come his way. “Some of the stuff is s**t,” Rock says. “There’s a lot of garbage. Have you seen movies this summer? There are a lot of horrible movies.” (He was a fan, however, of Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood.”)
Rock arrives at the Toronto Film Festival on Saturday with his latest “Top Five,” a comedy produced by Scott Rudin and Eli Bush. Rock not only wrote and stars in the movie, he also directed it, his third feature after 2003’s “Head of State” and 2007’s “I Think I Love My Wife.” He shot the project in 32 days last summer in New York for about $6 million.
“That was the beauty of Scott,” Rock says of his producer. “I wasn’t worried about budgets. I just got to concentrate on being funny.”
“Top Five” tells the story of a comedian movie-star (played by Rock in a variation of Eddie Murphy, Kevin Hart and himself, he says) who has an awakening on the day of his big premiere. Rosario Dawson plays a New York Times reporter assigned to write a profile about Rock’s character.
Rock liked the idea of setting a film in a single day.
“Louis C.K. is one of my good friends,” Rock says. “I watch his show. I watch ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm.’ No one has done a movie like this. Just a movie about a comedian, a day in the life.”
He says a lot happens to an actor in the 24-hour cycle of a movie premiere. “You could have a whole day, from 6 in the morning to 8 o’clock at night, doing media,” he says.
Rock pitched the premise to Rudin after they worked together on a Broadway show, “The Motherfu**er With the Hat,” in 2011. He then spent four months cranking out a script.
“To get a script that he liked, it probably took another year,” Rock says. “Rudin is the king of ‘It’s not ready.’ I’m sure Scott’s got three pages of notes on the ‘The Godfather 2’ somewhere.”
Rock says the business of making movies is always challenging. “When it’s easy, people are still going to make it hard,” Rock says. “Someone is planning on giving you a loan that you don’t have to pay back.”
He doesn’t have any projects lined up at the moment. “Directing always takes me away from my kids for long periods of time,” says Rock, who has two daughters. “I’d like to focus on them a little. Honestly, I’ve been working on this project for so long. I hope someone has a cushy gig for me somewhere.”
“Top Five” premieres on Saturday night at 10 p.m. at the Princess of Wales Theatre. UTA is selling domestic distribution, and FilmNation is handling overseas rights.