'I Think I Love My Wife'

'I Think I Love My Wife'

Comedian Chris Rock expects some criticism for his new movie, “I Think I Love My Wife,” in which he plays a black family man living in white suburban Westchester and working in an even whiter Manhattan investment banking firm. People may say he’s gone soft; fans may worry that he’s lost his edge.

But Rock is OK with that.

“I hope I get softer over the years,” says Rock, 42. “You evolve. I can’t be the guy I was 20 years ago.

“I was never angry. I was only edgy compared to other things… I was only edgy because you watched Paul Reiser before me. But he’s not not edgy, he’s just Paul. And I’m not edgy, I’m just Chris.”

Rock wrote, directed and stars in “I Think I Love My Wife,” co-starring Gina Torres as his devoted wife and Kerry Washington as the bold bombshell who draws him into adulterous temptation, blowing his formerly routine life out of the water.

“I like playing a grown-up,” Rock says of his role. “I think most comedians play guys that won’t grow up. And I think my comedy comes from being a grown-up.”

“I Think I Love My Wife” is based on the French film “Chloe in the Afternoon,” directed by Eric Rohmer, about a happily married Parisian man who fantasizes about other women but never considers infidelity until an old acquaintance drops by and tries to seduce him.

If a witty, elegant, French character study seems like odd source material for a Chris Rock comedy, he isn’t exactly surprised.

“It’s weird,” Rock admits. “I know it sounds like a joke. But I loved [“Chloe in the Afternoon”], and I got [co-writer] Louis C.K. a copy and he loved it, and we both thought that we could get a lot of comedy in here. We thought it was like a house with no furniture: there’s a lot of jokes that could go in here.”

The result is a story that probes the fuzzy line between fantasy and infidelity, telling the humor-filled truth about the pratfalls of married life.

“Is [the movie] autobiographical? No,” Rock says. “I definitely relate to the character. I’ve been married 10 years; I have two kids; I live in the suburbs; I commute into the city – all that stuff. It stops there, pretty much.”

He adds, “Any guy, anybody — gay, straight, whatever — you see attractive people every day. You notice them, and you keep moving.”

TMZ.com reported in November that Rock was filing for divorce after nearly 10 years of marriage to wife Malaak Compton. But he has since refuted the claims, and says now that, “It’s nothing. It’s all rumor. We know Britney cut her hair. But it’s a rumor that she’s crazy.”

“I Think I Love My Wife” opens March 16.

This story was published in the March 12, 2007 issue of amNewYork.