Derek Luke's Double-Duty: How He Prepped for 2 Anticipated Summer Roles
Catch Luke alongside Steve Carell and Whitney Houston before the summer ends
Derek Luke is slated to have a stand-out summer. With today's release of Seeking a Friend for the End of the World and the anticipated Sparkle remake coming in August, the actor we first met in Antwone Fisher is proving himself, once again, to be a versatile actor who can work alongside the best of them.
In End of the World, he steals scenes with Steve Carell playing Speck, a man committed to surviving disaster, and in Sparkle, in which he got the chance to work with the late Whitney Houston, he plays Stix, a budding songwriter with a dream (a role he likened to his real father). Here, he speaks to Loop 21 about how he prepped for both roles.
Loop 21: What was it like working with fellow New Jerseyan (and legend) Whitney Houston?
Luke: It felt like a next door neighbor that you never got to meet until now. Everyday the theme was like being one of the only boys in the family and the sisters always taking long in the bathroom. That's what it was like with Whitney; the girls would come in their whole morning garb and everybody would say, "I gotta put on my face!" and as they started, they'd be singing. And Whitney always had this same routine; she'd come in playing gospel music and wouldn't come out her side of the trailer until her makeup was done, but when she came out the steam was coming off of her because she was so inspired by what she was listening to.
What I love about Jersey - and a lot of us in the industry are from there, I think Tom Cruise is, too - is that when you see each other, you talk and just know what makes you different from everybody else, what distinguishes you. With Whitney, you sort of felt proud that you were sharing a fellow Jerseyan with the rest of the world.
Loop 21: Who did you look to for inspiration in playing your character Stix?
Luke: For me, Stix was really based off my dad more than the original movie. Every actor has a process - sometimes they like looking at the old school version, some don't, and normally I refuse but I wasn't familiar with Sparkle and was sent the movie before I was sent the script. When I saw it, it was basically the same story as my mother and father. My dad came in from London, he met my mom at a church, and they made an album with three sisters. He was just really passionate. So, in present day, I'm Stix because my dad is the one who really had the dream and I got to relive what he was trying to do.
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Loop 21: What made you want to do Seeking a Friend for the End of the World?
Luke: I was excited because it was a dramedy. I was walking into a new situation. I wanted to infuse and confirm my comedic instincts. With my first TV role, I never felt like I could end up at an Antwone Fisher. My first TV role, I had just one line: 'Get out my face!' And then I had another line, then another, and my next role was my first movie. So none of those things added up to me manifesting Antwone Fisher, but it was a step in the right direction. As an actor, you learn that what you compromise to keep is what you can lose, but you actually enhance it by just taking a step out.
Loop 21: What was it like working with Steve Carell?
Luke: I remember being in the van with Steve headed to or from set and he's like, 'How do you feel?' And I said, 'I feel like I'm in a scene with Steve Carell!' And he started laughing, like, 'No man, I ask that because you did so well.' It was impressive because I found out that he's not like a stand-up comedian, he's an actor first and his timing and quality are impeccable.
Loop 21: So, how would you prepare for end of the world?
Luke: I would go right to Target. And I would make sure my Direct TV is working. And me and my wife, that's enough to repopulate the world.