If you took the friends from Love Jones and invited them to a party with the cast of 30 Years To Life you might end up with something like Russ Parr’s 35 and Ticking. The romantic comedy follows a group of friends at various stages of their love lives trying to make a connection. Turning 35 with uncertainty in their relationships is a cause for alarm and they’re all struggling to build the families they’ve always dreamed of.
In this interview with TheUrbandaily, one of the co-stars Keith Robinson shares his thoughts on managing relationships in your thirties and the need for more balanced portrayals of Black men in the movies.
TUD: In 35 And Ticking your character, Phil, deals with quite a doozy of a woman. What are some of the warning signs to know you’re dealing with a woman who is cheating?
KR: I think there’s a way to know. Women are the best at hiding it. I guess if she [packs] two pairs of panties and two pairs of pumps. If she smells like manly cologne and it isn’t yours, that’s a sign. If she’s less active in the bedroom, take it as a sign. Maybe if she isn’t returning your phone calls as promptly as she used to, or she may allude to her not being happy and she says she just can’t put her finger on it. Those might be some ways to realize somebody else might have their hand in the cookie jar.
TUD: When do you decide, if you decide, to take a woman like that back?
KR: I don’t know. That’s a case by case scenario. I guess you’d have to do a lot of praying. I know you have to find a way to forgive, but you never really forget. I don’t know if there’s one particular way. You have to feel it out and give it some time.
TUD: One thing I’m not sure I gathered when watching the film was the couple’s back story. Did the characters get married too early, too young? What was it?
KR: I think so. When they met they were both in the same place. They were both struggling and in love. I think that’s the thing in a lot of relationships. People meet up at the same place in their lives and it just works, but we’re built to evolve and change. So if that person isn’t growing and changing the way we want or need them to, infidelity can set in. I think that’s what happened to [character’s name] in this case.
TUD: The other aspect to your character is he has a female best friend. How realistic is it for a man and a woman to just be friends?
KR: I think it’s realistic to think men and women can have platonic relationships. You get to find out the good things. They can teach you everything the opposite sex is up to.
TUD: But aren’t there unique issues to cope with when you’ve known the person before? Like you might know who all of their past partners are for example.
KR: I don’t think there are any complications when you enter a relationship like that. I think there are complications when you try to go back to being friends once you’ve already been there. Being friends first is a good way to start a relationship because you get a chance to feel each other out. You get to know each other’s similarities and dislikes. So when you get into that relationship you are operating on all cylinders.
TUD: Kevin Hart is hilarious in the movie with his “job” at the sperm bank. Do you know anybody that was engaging that that occupation, so to speak?
KR: I’ve never met anybody like that, but I can see Kevin doing that. [laughs]
TUD: You had Kevin Hart on the set and other really interesting people on the set as well. What was it like filming this movie?
KR: It was a blast because off camera we’re all really friends. So it was like getting to go to work with your friends. You know how it is, especially in Black Hollywood, we’re all spread out because the work is so scarce. So for all of us to be able to go to work and hang with friends, it was fun. This is one of my favorite projects by far.
TUD: If you were to give a few reasons why people should check out “35 and Ticking,” what would they be?
KR: I mean, number one, it’s just really funny. It’s realistic. The film depicts African-Americans in their late twentis and early thirties in life with [young] families. I like movies like this, kind of like St. Elmo’s fire, but the African-American version. I think it’s just relevant to a lot of young adults today. Plus, my character is a character you don’t necessarily see all the time. I play a black man trying to keep the family together. There are men out there like that, but they don’t get portrayed in the movies. So that’s kind of refreshing and it drew me to the character. There are beautiful women in the film like Tamala Jones. It’s such a big cast, there is bound to be one person in there you like. the movie takes you on a ride of every emotion, from betrayal to happiness and funny to sad. It explores all the aspects of love. Lastly, I have a song in the film called “Simple Hello.”
TUD: In terms of offerings for black folks, the movie theaters haven’t been too kind to us in the past few years. do you have any hopes for us, in terms of getting more movies like this released more frequently in a wider range of theaters?
KR: There’s always hope. We’ve come a long way and we still have a long way to go. I hope in dependent movies like this continue to get support from the African-American community. If the movies make money at the box office, more of those kinds of films will get made. We all have to pitch in, whether you’re in the movie or just the moviegoer.
Check out this clip featuring Zenobia (Nicole Ari Parker) and Zane (Clifton Powell) out on their first date. Zane is a recently released convict with an aspiring rap career trying to make a good first impression.