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Chestnut, Hall face obsessed surrogate in ‘When the Bough Breaks’

Regina Hall and Morris Chestnut in "When the Bough Breaks." | Screen Gems

LOS ANGELES — While Morris Chestnut and Regina Hall have previously co-starred in other films, notably the “Best Man” romantic comedies, the two never shared scenes or lines in those earlier projects. “We spent plenty of time talking and all that when the cameras weren’t rolling,” said Chestnut, “but no, we didn’t talk to each other in those movies.”

Sitting next to the actor for this interview, Hall laughed as she said, “No, we didn’t officially ‘work’ together, did we?” making quote marks in the air with her fingers.

It certainly was far different in “When the Bough Breaks” (opening Friday). The actors play a married couple employing a mysterious surrogate to carry their baby — a woman who becomes troublingly obsessed with Chestnut’s character.

Knowing each other as working friends provided them with something of a comfort zone for this film, where “intensity was a constant co-star,” as Chestnut put it.

As the conversation turned to Jaz Sinclair, the actress who portrays the surrogate in the film, Hall quipped that “in real life, I would never have picked a woman looking like Jaz — looking that gorgeous — to be the surrogate for my baby. I’d have preferred a SpongeBob-looking lady to carry my baby and be around my husband!”

Jaz Sinclair in “When the Bough Breaks.” | Screen Gems
Jaz Sinclair in “When the Bough Breaks.” | Screen Gems

Sinclair, for her part, has no problem being a villain, saying, “I would so much rather play the bad girl, or the questionable character, where you really have to dig to find the right acting skills — rather than playing some surface-level cardboard character.”

One thing that comes out in the storyline— perhaps unknown to audience members as it was for Chestnut and Hall — is how much legal power surrogates actually possess.

“I really was not aware about this,” said Hall, adding, “But I think it also starts that whole conversation about when life truly begins. Legally they say it begins when the embryo attaches to the uterine lining. That’s life, so that’s what makes the surrogate the mother — even if it’s your DNA.”

In connection with the release of “When the Bough Breaks,” Chestnut said he learned something from a pal he had been working out with “in the gym for something like five or six years. One day he had seen the trailer for the film, and he came up to me and said, ‘Man, I want to thank you, because a lot of people don’t know about this issue [of parental rights for surrogates].’

“Turns out this guy and his wife had been trying to have a child for a long time, and had looked into surrogates and all that. He explained how difficult it had been to find the right one. So, at this point in time, I think it’s an issue that is very prevalent.”

As for Hall, the actress admitted that it was quite emotionally draining for her to play Chestnut’s wife in the movie. “It was very tough in the sense that I’m used to being in a very happy place on film sets, because I do a lot of comedies. Here, it was emotionally taxing to be in the state of being uncomfortable, or scared or frightened and unhappy so much — simply because of the material we were dealing with.”

At the end of the day, Chestnut said, the “moral of this story is you never hire a gorgeous women to be your surrogate — and you certainly should never move her into your home!”

To that, Hall quipped, “And I’d add, you also never hire a woman like that to be a nanny later, either!”