Listen: Issa Rae Talks Spider-Man, ‘The Photograph’ and the End of ‘Insecure’

Marc Malkin

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Issa Rae isn’t jumping to be in a superhero movie, but that doesn’t mean she’s opposed to them.

“I’m not going to block any blessings but I am tired of them ’cause I’m a huge [fan]. Since the third grade, I’ve loved Spider-Man, comic books, memorabilia, everything,” she says on this week’s “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast. “But I’m just like, they are over saturating my guy to death.”

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Even so, if a superhero flick is in her future, Rae would prefer to be a part of one of the current franchises. “Would I take one on that I liked? Yes, absolutely. An existing franchise,” Rae said. “I don’t think I’d do anything new.”

Rae will next be seen on the big screen in “The Photograph,” a romantic drama written and directed by Stella Meghie. Rae plays a museum curator who falls for a magazine writer (LaKeith Stanfield) when he reaches out to her about a mysterious photo taken by her late mother. “LaKeith is just easy to fall in love with,” Rae said.

Rae and Stanfield first met shooting the “Friends” remake in Jay-Z’s “Moonlight” music video two years ago, but they didn’t really know each other until “The Photograph.” “I did the chemistry read with a couple of guys and obviously Stella was watching and [producer Will Packer] was watching…[LaKeith] was definitely the most interesting read out of all the guys. LaKeith had a different type of energy and that’s what blew them away,” Rae recalled.

The Photograph Issa Rae Lakeith Stanfield

I sat down with Rae at the Manhattan Beach production offices of “Insecure,” her hit HBO series that has earned her Golden Globe and Emmy nominations. The fourth season premieres in April. Rae is tight-lipped when asked how many more seasons she has planned. “I haven’t said it yet,” she said. “I just know that there’s an ending.”

In fact, she added, “I’ve always known…I love working on the show. I love every part of it. But I love when stories finish and they don’t try to overstay their welcome.”

Rae’s other endeavors include a music label, Raedio, with Atlantic Records. She’s also part owner of Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen, a coffee shop in Los Angeles’ Inglewood neighborhood, where she grew up. “It’s just really a space for community and creatives,” Rae explained. “I have always wanted to open a coffee shop just because that’s where I always work, like to get out of the house, to get out my mom’s house, to get out of my cramped-up New York apartment. They just made me feel productive and working around other people, meeting other people there.”

A second Hilltop recently opened in L.A.’s View Park and they’re working on another in Eagle Rock.

Rae isn’t that surprised she’s in the coffee shop business. “If I weren’t doing the entertainment thing, I would want a restaurant or to be a waitress…If I were a waitress or bartender, I’d be set. I’d be happy.”

She was a waitress at one of the original The Counter restaurants in Palo Alto, Calif., when she was a student at Stanford University. She once waited on Michelle Pfeiffer and David E. Kelley. “I got no tip from them because they took the receipt,” Rae said, and then she laughed and added, “I wonder if it was a method, if it was intentional.”

“The Photograph” is in theaters on Feb. 14.

You can listen to the entire interview with Rae below. You can also find “The Big Ticket” wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

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