Common is hoping to make a major splash in his movie career this year with his new film 'LUV,' co-starring Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton, Dennis Haybert, Meagan Good and Lonette McKee.

The two-time Grammy award winner also makes his debut as a film producer with this coming of age story set in Baltimore. The project also features newcomer Michael Rainey Jr., 11. He plays the role of a young boy learning how to become a man by the lessons taught to him by his ex-con Uncle Vincent, played by Common.

Following appearances in several films including 'American Gangster,' 'Smokin’ Aces' and 'Just Wright,' 'LUV' represents the biggest role of Common’s acting career. “This film is important because I play a character with depth, who is complex and goes on a journey and I display that journey,” he says. “I met with the director, Sheldon Candis, and I was confident we could do something impactful. I knew the film was about a father figure who wanted to give love to his nephew, but he was not able to give the proper love because he had not received proper love in his life and didn’t have a positive father figure to guide him.”

The rapper-turned-actor takes pride in being a positive father and enjoyed celebrating Christmas in Chicago with his 15-year-old daughter Omoye. Last year was a milestone marker for Common, who turned 40 and also celebrated 20 years as a recording artist. “Professionally my highlight of 2012 was having 'LUV' presented at the Sundance Film festival, seeing the premiere and being very proud seeing the cast,” Common shares. “My personal highlight was my 40th birthday party [in Salt Lake City with Serena Williams and Kanye West].

Common is featured with Kanye on the title song of Game’s new controversial CD 'Jesus Piece.' The album cover, featuring a black Jesus wearing a red bandana has been described by some as blasphemous, but Common defends Game, saying he is entitled to utilize his artistic license.

“People are allowed to have their opinion, and as an artist The Game should be allowed to express himself," the Chicago native states. "For the song 'Jesus Piece,' I looked at the symbolism. It’s nice to have it but more important is having Jesus in your life. I value having Jesus in my life.”

In addition to 'LUV,' Common will star in two more films coming out this year. 'In ‘Now You See Me’ I play a FBI division leader,” he says. “It’s a real cool story about magicians who rob banks in the name of justice. It’s like a Robin Hood story -- rob from the rich and give to the poor. I am grateful to be in a great cast with Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Woody Harrelson. ‘Pawn’ is with Forest Whitaker. I play the negotiator. It’s a heist at a diner.”

He'll also continue his starring role as freed slave Elam Ferguson in the upcoming third season of the TV series 'Hell on Wheels.' He also makes a cameo appearance in Kevin Hart's new BET TV series 'The Real Husbands of Hollywood.'

One of his favorite movie roles was playing a pro basketball player in 'Just Wright' co-starring Queen Latifah. He grew up serving as a ball boy for the Chicago Bulls and dreamed of a career in the NBA. In the movie, he partially fulfilled that fantasy playing with NBA stars Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat, Dwight Howard of the Los Angeles Lakers and Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics.

“If I was in the NBA I would want to play for the Bulls,” Common says.” With Derek Rose injured, I would be a great point guard. I am a good distributor and floor leader. I would be a great addition to the team either with him injured or even if he was on the team. I would be a great compliment to him.”

As he focuses on his acting career and developing his Freedom Road production company, Common has not lost his passion for music. He plans to release an EP and a mixtape this year before dropping a new CD in September.

Now his focus is on 'LUV,' which debuts today. He hopes the film will inspire a dialogue about the lack of proper male role models for young African-American men. “It is a cycle that is passed on from generation to generation,“ he states. “A boy does not have a father figure and that cycle continues. They need a father figure and they choose the wrong father figure who can’t guide them properly, who is not able to show him the right way. It is a cycle that often leads kids to be violent and be surrounded by violence.”

Common believes it is the responsibility for all men to do everything they can to provide better role models for youth. “Everyone has to look at themselves," he continues. "Are they a positive role model whether they are a father or an uncle or a mentor? We have to give young men good guidance and not just street knowledge. We need to bring God into their life, give them love and show them how to love.”

Watch Common in the 'LUV' Trailer

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