Hollywood’s self-described “Black shrink” opens up about wrestling with a recent learning disorder diagnosis, learning to swim in his 50s, and reassessing the childhood traumas he once joked about: “I had to let it go. I was just dying, dude.”
There’s a fairly standard list of reasons people typically call Chris Rock.
In no particular order, he rattles them off: There’s the “We’ve got a charity event, it’d be great if you host it” call. The “My kid’s got a thing at his school, can I count on you?” call. The “I’m having trouble with a Black celebrity, can you help me out” call. And finally, the “I haven’t really cast a Black guy in 10 years, who should I go after?” call.
Rock, at this point, is OK with all of them.
“I get it, I’m a lot of people’s Black shrink, or their Black whisperer,” he says as we snake our way through midtown Manhattan traffic in search of lunch on an early March afternoon, a week or so before the city goes into lockdown. “I’m sure Quincy Jones did it for years, I’m sure Oprah is still the Black council for a lot of powerful people. But yeah, there are some huge stars who owe getting cast in a big part to me — and I’ll never tell, but you’d be like, ‘Get the fuck out of here.’ ”
The call that doesn’t come quite as often as Rock would like is the one he got from Noah Hawley.
It was summer 2018, and the Fargo creator was preparing to dive back into his Emmy-winning anthology series and wanted to do so with Rock at its center. The series’ fourth installment was to be set in 1950s Kansas City, and Hawley envisioned Rock as his wily mob boss, Loy Cannon.
“I just thought, ‘He’s that guy,’ ” says Hawley. “Chris had started with nothing, a skinny kid with no permission to get up on that stage, and now he’s a sort of elder statesman — he’d hate me for saying that — someone who has built an empire for himself, and that’s who Loy is, too.”
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