TORONTO (AP) — Showcasing his most personal movie yet, Chris Rock premiered his third feature film directing effort, "Top Five," at the Toronto International Film Festival.
"Top Five" debuted Saturday night at the festival, where it was received warmly by a boisterous audience. Rock wrote, directed and stars in the film, in which he plays a famous comedian trying — and failing — to transition into serious movies.
Rock's last directing effort — 2007's "I Think I Love My Wife," which was loosely based on the Eric Rohmer film, "Chloe in the Afternoon" — suggested some semi-serious, Woody Allen-esque ambitions. "Top Five" is an often broad, R-rated comedy, but it's also his most successful realization of his comedic voice on the big screen.
In it, he plays Andre Allen, a popular comic trying to sell America on a Haitian revolution drama, "Uprize," when all his fans really want is for him to be funny. A reporter (Rosario Dawson) spends the day with him just as "Uprize" is hitting theaters and he's preparing for a reality TV-show wedding to his fiancee (Gabrielle Union).
Following the screening, Rock said he was inspired to make a movie about the life of a comedian by TV shows like "Louie" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm." The question many were wondering was how fictional is "Top Five" to Rock.
"The character, it's not exactly me, but I've been through that," said Rock. "Hey, this movie will come out some week and I'll pretty much have — I won't have Rosario — but I'll have a similar day to the day the guy has in the movie."
"Top Five," which is looking for distribution at Toronto, is full of comics including JB Smoove and Cedric the Entertainer. But two cameos stood out: Jerry Seinfeld "makes it rain" at a strip club in a bachelor party scene, and the rapper DMX — to prove that he, too, has other dreams as a perfomer — sings Nat King Cole's "Smile" from a jail cell.
Asked about the difficulty of getting DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, to play such a part, Rock replied: "If you've got $30 ... The last couple of years haven't been great for X. I appreciate him, but it's not as hard as you think."
Rock did say he harbors one clearly serious desire: to make a movie about Nat Turner, the African-American slave who led a rebellion in 1831 Virginia that killed 55 white people. Presumably, it wouldn't be called "Uprize."
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP