The ''Just Wright'' rapper turned actor is making a name for himself in film

By Jeff Labrecque
April 16, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT

Why he looks familiar
The Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist played a formidable tough guy in films like Terminator Salvation and this month’s Date Night.

Going (almost) pro
To potray an NBA star in Just Wright, Common trained furiously to raise his game to a competitive level. ”They had a stunt double, but they never used him because I did everything,” says Common, 38. ”Eventually, [costar and Orlando Magic center] Dwight Howard really started trying to block my shot.”

Heir Jordan
As a kid, Common was a ball boy for the Chicago Bulls, where he basked in the aura of Michael Jordan: ”He exuded a certain swagger that really resonated with me.”

Cosby kid
Phylicia Rashad, who plays Common’s mother in the film, made the actor feel like a Huxtable on set. ”She would give me those mama looks,” he laughs. ”She didn’t even have to open her mouth and you knew what she was thinking.”

Up next
His new album, The Believer, is due this fall.