Chris Rock’s Top Five, out Dec. 12, has a predominantly black cast: Gabrielle Union, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan, Michael Che, and Whoopi Goldberg are just a handful of the big names highlighted on ads for the film. But were any of those talented actors ever up for a True Detective role?
“I never heard anyone go, ‘Is it going to be Amy Adams or Gabrielle Union?'” Rock wrote in an essay about race in Hollywood on The Hollywood Reporter. “I didn’t hear one black girl’s name on those lists. Not one. Literally everyone in town was up for that part, unless you were black.”
In the essay, Rock talks about his beginnings in the film industry and how he tries to help black actors because he fears no one else will. “Someone’s going to help the white guy,” he wrote. “Multiple people will. The people whom I’ve tried to help, I’m not sure anybody was going to help them.”
One of those people is Leslie Jones, a Saturday Night Live writer who became a cast member in October. “She’s about as funny as a human being can be, but she didn’t go to Second City, she doesn’t do stand-up at The Cellar and she’s not in with Judd Apatow, so how the hell was she ever going to get through unless somebody like me says to Lorne Michaels, ‘Hey, look at this person’?”
Rock also addresses the lack of a Latino presence in Hollywood, something especially puzzling seeing that so many movies and shows are filmed (and set) in Los Angeles, a city with a high Mexican population. “You’re in L.A., you’ve got to try not to hire Mexicans,” Rock wrote. “It’s the most liberal town in the world, and there’s a part of it that’s kind of racist—not racist like ‘F— you, n—-r’ racist, but just an acceptance that there’s a slave state in L.A.”
The rest of the essay focuses on how movies with mostly black casts have changed over the years, why Top Five wasn’t made at a studio, and what kind of obstacles Rock has faced throughout his career.
Read the entire essay over at The Hollywood Reporter website.