All Taye Diggs had to do when he picked up the script for the new romantic comedy "Baggage Claim" was read the name of his character — Langston Jefferson Battle III — to understand how to play the character.
He knew immediately the character was a charming — but smug — politician.
"It was written so well and so specific that there was not a lot of thinking to do," Diggs says. "When you have that kind of writing all I had to do was put on the clothes and this character came to me. And, when you have a cast like this, it makes working so much easier."
In the film, Battle comes back into the life of a former girlfriend (Paula Patton) when she gives herself 30 days to revisit past boyfriends in case she missed her one true love. Battle seems like the perfect partner who got away, until his controlling side emerges.
Diggs was particularly impressed with Patton, who he says can easily handle both comedy and drama and improvises when needed.
Patton gets to show her acting skills with a lot of different actors in "Baggage Claim." Along with Diggs, past boyfriends are played by Djimon Hounsou, Boris Kodjoe and Trey Songz. Toss in Derek Luke as the neighbor who's obviously the perfect catch, assorted friends and fellow workers, and "Baggage Claim" boasts a large cast.
Diggs has worked on stage, screen and television. His next project is as the star of the new TNT series "Murder in the First." Set in San Francisco, the series will follow a single case across an entire season. Diggs plays a homicide detective who investigates the murder of an apparent drug addict. The mystery deepens, however, when the victim is found to have a connection to Silicon Valley.
It's his latest TV series since "Private Practice," where he co-starred with Fresno's Audra McDonald. He says the one thing most people don't realize about McDonald is just how funny she is. He adds that she's so talented that she should do a one-woman show.
"Outside of my wife (actress Idina Menzel), Audra is the most talented actress I know," Diggs says.
Diggs likes working in TV because it gives him more time with his family.
He also enjoys movies, especially ones like "Baggage Claim" that give him a distinct character to play.
But, he says, nothing beats live theater. Diggs has appeared on Broadway in "Rent," "Chicago," "Wicked" and "Carousel." It doesn't hurt that his wife is such an accomplished stage actor.
In "Baggage Claim," Diggs plays a man who thinks he can tell the woman in his life what to do. Asked if he has ever thought about taking that approach with his wife, Diggs quickly answers, "Heck no."
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.