The Literary Roles of Chris Rock

Posted by Jamie Canaves

Chris Rock is hosting a pretty bookish Oscars: "18 of the 57 movies have bookish origins.” This, along with his ability to make us laugh, got us wondering about his literary roles. (Oh, and it also inspired us to tinker with the Oscars’ promo poster. You’re welcome, Oscars.)

As a comedian who has written and starred in his own movies (Top Five, I Think I Love My Wife) we wondered if Chris Rock would even have any literary roles? If so, would they be many, MANY, like Chloë Moretz? Or a handful like Christian Bale? As we continued to speculate the one thing we could agree on was that the majority of his roles would be funny characters, even if the movie wasn’t a comedy.  




Written and directed by father and son Melvin and Mario Van Peebles, Panther is a look at the rise and fall of the 1960’s Black Panther Party—the same titled novel is written by Melvin. Being that it released in 1995, Chris Rock wasn’t yet a household name and only had a small part but his scene was the comic relief in a heavy/dramatic movie. Clearly, he knew from the beginning the direction he wanted his career to go in.



Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child – Pinocchio

While most people now know him as the Zebra in Madagascar, Chris Rock first lent his voice to Woody in this reimagined Pinocchio. Except in this retelling, Pinocchio is known as Pinoak—get it, he’s made from pine and oak—and Woody is a funny version of Jiminy Cricket in the form of a termite. Because termites are actually amusing when they’re not eating your roof and are voiced by a comedian.



Dr. Dolittle

Remember in 2012, while presenting at the Oscars, when Chris Rock said “And if you’re a black man you can play a donkey or a zebra…” referring to voicing in film? Well here’s another animal he voiced: In Dr. Dolittle, based on the series of books that first published in 1920 (yup!), Rock is the voice of a guinea pig named Rodney, who initially makes Dr. John Dolittle think he’s lost his mind. Or maybe the Doctor was just confused that a cute furry animal that small would have a loud male voice?



A.I. Artificial Intelligence

Inspired by Brian Aldiss’ short story, Super-Toys Last All Summer Long, A.I. is the story of a robot boy programmed to love who is adopted by a family as a test scenario. Starring Haley Joel Osmond (on the heels of his “I see dead people”) and Jude Law (pre-the nanny scandal), once again Chris Rock only had a bit voice part—this time as a robot. A not-gonna-live-long robot. 



What To Expect When You’re Expecting

The book, with the same title, has been so popular for so long that we knew the title before we fully understood what “expecting” actually meant. And leave it to Hollywood to turn a Pregnancy Guide book into a rom-com. Chris Rock plays a member of the Dude Group whose only rule is “no judging.” They make it hard not to judge, even if we’re laughing.



So it seems while we did find a handful of bookish Chris Rock roles they were mostly early on in his career, and none were starring roles. But we get points for knowing they’d be the comedic moments. Now while we wait to watch him host the Oscars we ask you, Are there any literary roles you’d love to see him in? Or are you hoping he writes more films?