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Mr. Light Eyes Surprise himself, Michael Ealy, recently co-starred in the hugely successful Think Like A Man and wrapped up the first season of USA series, Common Law. Now the 39-year-old actor is ready to finally enjoy the release of a two-year-old indie film to theaters and has signed on for his first leading man role in a remake of About Last Night with Kevin Hart and Regina King.

Speaking with EBONY.com, the actor reflects on what it’s like to land his first leading role at almost 40 and touches on how it’s harder these days for actors to follow the Denzel Washington method to attaining (a certain kind of) success in Hollywood.

EBONY: You’ve been acting for a while now, and you’re just now about to get your first leading man role at 39 for the About Last Night remake. What does that say to you?

 ME: Sign of the times. You know, the way that it worked for Denzel won’t work now. It just won’t. It won’t work for anybody that way. The business is different. And if you look at it like, ‘OK, if I pattern my career in the way in which Denzel did his,’ you’re sculpting your career based on an antiquated system that doesn’t exist anymore. You know, it’s not the same. It’s rare to find an actor now who doesn’t have some sort of social media site. But, you know, he didn’t have to worry about that stuff. It’s a different time. I read an interview with Idris [Elba] not too long ago where he said he doesn’t even consider himself a leading man, he considers himself a character actor who plays leading man roles from time to time. And I get what he’s saying, because as an artist, oftentimes the leading man roles aren’t that interesting!

As an example, if you think about The Best Man, Taye Diggs, God bless him, he did a great job anchoring the film, but Morris Chestnut, Terrence Howard, Harold Perrineau, those were the guys who you were like, ‘Ah man, Quentin!’ You know what I mean? Those were the characters and the character guys tend to have more fun, and I like to be able to do both. I want to be the anchor sometimes and sometimes I don’t want to be the moral center of the piece. I never thought I would enjoy this, but I’ve learned to embrace and enjoy the ensemble movie, like a For Colored Girls, like Think Like a Man.

It’s fun. I hate to say it, it’s … sometimes it’s more fun. So I look forward to it.

You can read the interview in full over at EBONY.com.

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