Mark Christopher Lawrence Character actor Mark Christopher Lawrence puts a name (and personal stories) to the face. BY STEVE COOPER
Courtesty of Mark Christopher Lawrence
Mark with his wife Rebecca.
MARRIAGE STATS Married: 10 years Kids: 0 Notable: Mark Christopher Lawrence is one of those guys you know, but you can't figure out from where. Mark is a comedian and actor who has appeared in hit movies, such as: The Pursuit of Happyness, Christmas with the Kranks, Crimson Tide and many more. On television, Mark has appeared on everything from "3rd Rock from the Sun" and "Heroes" to "Weeds" and "Crossing Jordan." Most recently, Mark plays Big Mike on the hit show, "Chuck" and continues to regularly hit the stage as a stand-up comedian. Mark currently lives in San Diego with his wife Rebecca and is ready to put a name to the face.
 As your career continues to take off, what keeps you grounded?
My faith, first and foremost. Then having somebody that's my life partner who's grounded. She's not jaded by the whole Hollywood scene—she could care less. You know, I get home and she'll say, "So trash day is tomorrow." So she's my strength and my rock and keeps me grounded. She doesn't let me get ahead of myself.
 This is a cliché question, but I have to ask. How have you and your wife been able to make your marriage a success and last in Hollywood?
Fortunately my wife is very funny. In fact, on our first date I came down to San Diego (she lived in San Diego and I lived in Venice, CA.) and we went out and I spent the night at a friend's house. And when I came back from the date he said, "So how did it go?" And I said, "I'm gonna marry her. I felt no pressure to be funny or carry the conversation. She had a million questions and she was hilarious." In fact, I have a good friend who said (after he met her the first time), "Your wife is way funnier than you."
 You got a scholarship to the University of Southern California. What is the most important thing that you learned at USC?
The most important thing that I learned at SC is to go with it. I took a class from Stephen Book who is an acting coach, and he taught me an improv technique that you apply to scripted words. Steven was really heavy-handed in saying no matter what you get, go with it, because if you shut it down the exercise is over. So I try to live life with go with it, no matter what's going on, I just go with it.
Do you apply that to your home life as well?
Absolutely. Nothing bothers me. I'm unshakable over here.
 With one quick story, can you summarize the success of your marriage?
The thing that sticks out most in my mind about my wife is that during the year of the commercial strike, I think that was 2000, we had been married a little over a year and the strike started and I was kind of going through my savings and nothing was happening—and as an actor, if you're not in a play or film by May, you're sitting around all summer. And so I was using savings to pay all the bills and I said to my wife, "You know, I think I'm going to have to go out and get a day job." And she said to me, "Relax, I have a job."
There was this comfort in knowing that she understood my business; and she understood that there were going to be ups and downs and she was comfortable with that and she didn't stress and kept me calm. And, she was funny. She'd make jokes about it. I was like Mr. Mom cooking and cleaning, so she'd come home and say, "Alice I'm home." So that helped, that levity really helps.
 After a long separation, when you get home, what's the one thing you want to do?
Sleep in my own bed. When you're traveling, no matter how nice the hotel is, it's not the same as being in your own bed with your wife right there. I tend to not sleep well when I'm on the road. When I move, I don't feel her next to me and it wakes me up.
 You grew up with a single mom in a not-so-good neighborhood and now have a successful marriage and career. When you break down marital success rates in this country there are clear lines based on race. What do you think can be done to improve the numbers of successful marriages, particularly in the African American community?
I think it starts in the home. At some point somebody has to take responsibility for the family. Typically, in the African American community it's the women leading the charge of the family and I think there have to be some men who stand up and families have to actually operate as families.
I think a lot of young people don't have a concept of what [marriage] is because in the African American community, my generation, folks didn't really talk to you about those things. They'll tell you about wrong and right, but when it came down to conversations about sex and relationships, nobody really had anything to say about it. And I think we're in an age when we have to talk to our young people and educate them, and it's not just book learning.
 Do you have a favorite joke based around relationships or marriage?
Yes. I do this bit about my wife.
All my life you hear from people that say you have to wait on God to bring you that perfect person. So I waited and waited and finally, God brought me this beautiful woman who was funny and was perfect for me. But in retrospect, when I think about it, I know who I am—she didn't wait on God.