By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Media Services
June 5, 2012
Comedian Chris Rock returns to the big screen as one of the voiceover stars of “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.” Though he’s been to Europe many times already, the 47-year-old actor has yet to visit Madagascar. “I’d love to go,” says Rock, who lives in New York with his wife and children. “Jeffrey Katzenberg (founder and CEO of DreamWorks Animation) always invites me to go, but I can’t because of work or other things I have going on. One day, though. One day.”
Q. Your “Madagascar” alter ego, Marty, makes the best of whatever situation he finds himself in. How adept are you at fitting in?
A. I’m pretty good in most countries. But there are certain levels of poverty that you have to acclimate yourself to. Parts of India and Africa can be a little difficult to fit in at times and that can be humbling. But I can roll with most situations.
Q. Are you a fan of trying the local cuisine when you’re traveling?
A. In America, I can eat anything. I’m pretty good with all kinds of dishes and I can handle spicy food. But when I’m in another country, I don’t eat anything off the side of the road from a food cart and I stay away from local tap water.
Q. Have you traveled to a place where you weren’t recognized by anyone?
A. Not yet. If I’ve got a baseball hat on and am just walking fast, I can get by. But once people hear me speak, they know who I am right away as soon as I say something. Like most kids, my kids are always running around and away from me, so I’ll say, “Hey, get back here!” Then people will look over and say, “Hey, Chris Rock!” It’s flattering and really nice.
Q. If you had to pick one destination in Europe that’s your favorite, which would it be?
A. I like France. Paris is always good in the summer and Nice is about as beautiful a place as you can get. I don’t speak French, but I get by there. It’s kind of a weird place in that they don’t believe in censorship on the radio, so that’s kind of interesting. You hear all the curse words. I’ll hear a record and think, “Wow, that was dirty!” It makes my act sound clean by comparison.
Q. The French sometimes get a bad rap. What’s your take on them?
A. They’ve been pretty decent to me. Sometimes you might ask where the bathroom is and they won’t answer you, even though they know what you’re asking, but overall I’ve got no beef with them.
Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. St. Martin. It’s a nice island and it is three hours away from New York. It’s not one of those places where you have to travel for 10 hours, or whatever. Unlike Jamaica, there’s no crime. Unlike St. Bart’s, it doesn’t cost much. It’s the kind of place where every meal is going to be about $8. In St. Bart’s, you’re constantly spending $100 at every meal, no matter what you order!
Q. Do you raid the hotel mini bar?
A. When I’m paying, I’ll still take a $3 Snickers bar and charge it to the room. I don’t drink much, so I don’t have to worry about overspending there. But if Paramount Pictures is paying, then I’ll take three Snickers.
Q. How well do your children travel?
A. The kids are very good travelers. I know that when they see us boarding, some people dread the idea of what they might be like. But people are always amazed that the kids do so well on planes and in restaurants.
Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?
A. When I was a kid, all the trips I took were road trips to South Carolina to see my grandfather. I loved those trips. I want to take my kids on road trips like that.
Q. What are some of your favorite cities?
A. I love Chicago. San Francisco is great. Los Angeles is lovely. Let’s see, where else? Washington, D.C., London, Nice, Sydney and Auckland. Capetown, South Africa, is amazing. I’ve been to a lot of great places, but New York is the best.
Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?
A. I’ve been to some Asian countries, but I haven’t been to China yet and want to get there. I’ve been to Japan to do some press stuff but I didn’t really get time to see the country. I wouldn’t mind hanging out in Japan for a week. I’ve been to Seoul, South Korea, which was nice, too.
Q. If someone asked you where to eat in Los Angeles, where would you point them toward?
A. The Ivy on Robertson. At this time of year, they have great Cajun soft-shell crabs that are really good with a little kick to them, but they’re not super hot.
Q. Where have you traveled to that most reminded you of home?
A. A place that reminded me of New York? The closest would be Toronto, I guess. But New York is pretty unique.
Q. What do you bring with you on the road?
A. As little as possible. I don’t even like to pack anything. I definitely don’t like to check baggage. I like to keep it slim. Sometimes I’ll FedEx luggage to my destination. It costs money, but I love being in an airport with no bags.
© 2012 JAE-HA KIM
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