I had the pleasure of sitting down and talking to Marlon Wayans about his upcoming film,”A Haunted House 2.” Malcolm (Marlon Wayans) barely escaped from his last house. Now with a new girlfriend (Jaime Pressly) and her two kids, he moves into a new house and a new neighborhood. But you can’t keep a good ghost down, and Malcolm’s house troubles are starting all over again.
Marlon: Good morning! I am a little tired. I got up at 2 o’clock in the morning. I had this stupid idea to go to the gym and workout. I am such a jackass, I should have just took myself to sleep. I then slept in drool, I don’t know what the heck I was thinking. I am paying for it. Then I am on this stupid cleanse. Trying to live, trying to look young. I’m trying to look like Pharrell. Trying to age backwards. I think I need that big ass hat he wears. What is that thing?
Maybe that’s his secret.
Marlon: The big ass hat? Yeah, he probably has a whole beauty salon under there.
I want to ask about the evolution of your writing and producing. How have you evolved a s a writer and producer?
Marlon: When we did “Don’t be a Menace” twenty years ago it was just a bunch of funny sketches with a really thin storyline. We just used crazy characters and were just balls to the wall crazy. How to you make fun of “Menace II Society” and “Boyz n the Hood”? Two good movies about something so important in terms of Black film-making. Those films were about exposing what the “hood” was about. But we just have a dark, crazy sense of humor, to where we could take the darkest thing and find light. And that’s what led us to horror. As dark, crazy and sick of a world horror can be, I can always find something funny in them. This film is based on the “Paranormal Activity” franchise. I think this film is a little more grounded in the storytelling. I think you take more of a chance by being grounded in the comedy because you sometimes sit in silence. A lot of times in comedy you are desperate to get the laugh, making it more forced. By doing the Paranormal franchise, it’s a lot less active than the slasher franchise that “Scary Movie” was based on. In the Paranormal franchise, not a lot happens. If fact they tease you. So, in “A Haunted House”, we kind of let stuff happen but in this film, we turned it up, making Malcolm put upon. There are so many things happening from other movies. We have the doll from “The Conjuring,” Malcolm’s ex is haunting him. He has this house which is haunted and his step daughter has this box from “The Procession.” Malcolm’s stepson has the worst imaginary friend who is teaching him how to start fires. So, there is trouble all around, and the only one that is seeing it is Malcolm. White people walk through these horror films like “It’s all good,” but it’s not. The first film was about a black couple experiencing the paranormal. What I want to with this film was just make it about a couple but one that is interracial. That way you can get her point of view versus his point of view, throwing the two together to make a fun conversation. Then we have our Latino neighbor, played by Gabriel Iglesias. You know, I feel that Latinos are underrepresented in film, especially in comedies, so I wanted to do something that represented the “melting pot” that I grew up in. I went to a high school that had blacks, whites and Latinos, and in this film I want to present a movie that, yes its core is urban, but it’s a movie that everybody can understand and is represented. I think the conversations between Gabriel Iglesias character and my character is fun because it represents everyday black/Latino conversation. We don’t pull punches when we have conversations. I thought that was a good avenue to explore in this film. I think this film is a lot of fun. And as an evolution as a writer, I like this story that it has to tell. Yes, it is rated R and we do have our sex jokes in it, but for the most part, the jokes come out of the situation. I see this film as a situation comedy and that Malcolm is the one that is put upon.
I think your character has the smartest reaction to a haunted house, which is to get the hell out of there. That is what has always bothered me in horror films.
Marlon: Yeah, why don’t you just leave the house!
Exactly. What would it take for you to leave your own house and say “I’m done”?
Marlon: If a dish broke. If it didn’t drop out of my hand, or somebody else’s hand. If it just broke for no reason, I would go “I don’t need to see anymore” I would just go “Keep that dish,” no need to break my windows or open/close my shutters. Its ok, I’m out.
Talk about working with Jamie Pressly, who has shown a talent for working in comedy.
Marlon: She is a good, strong comedic actress. Similar to Essence, in that they are both good comedic actresses that understand how to play a situation. I need someone to play off of that is a strong anchor. And both those women are strong, comedic anchors. I thought that Jamie, with her years of comedic television, was still a fresh face for movies. People like her and she has tons of fans, so people will want to see her on the big screen. Plus, she is beautiful on top of all that.
Is there anyone aspect of film-making that you prefer? Do you like acting or writing or producing more?
Marlon: I love it all but at the core, I do all of this because there are just so few roles in Hollywood and everyone goes out for those few roles. And even though, when I was young and auditioning for things, I did get the roles but it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I write and I produce, so that I can act in the kind of movies I want to be in. Make movies that showcase my comedic abilities and has my sense of humor. You know a little warped, a little crazy. I just want people to laugh and not think too much. I just want people to just go laugh and be a kid.
I am so tired of this cleanse. I really want a drink so bad it hurts. When I see people drinking, I just want to slap the drink out of their hands and say “No more happy juice!”
You do so much. How do you keep that balance to go from doing an animated show, to film and then TV? What do you keep in mind when balancing the three mediums?
Marlon: you know, one of the most appropriate comedians of our generation is Eddie Murphy. I think when Eddie Murphy was in the pocket, nobody was better. Eddie knew when to be what. Knowing when to be what is one of the greatest keys to comedy. One of the keys is just being responsible to the genre that you are doing. You got to be able to put on different hats. Except for that big ass Pharrell hat. If you watch Eddie Murphy’s performance in “48 Hours” or “Beverly Hills Cop” was that Eddie laid back in the pocket. He played the drama, then he played the comedy, never forcing it but always playing the situation. He let the game come to him. His dramatic ability helped him be a better comedian. So for me, I always challenge my dramatic ability. I love working with great directors like the Coen brothers. I had a great time working with them. I got to be funny and make them laugh on set. Working with Darren Aronofsky, in “Requiem for a Dream,” creating that character on screen shows that I can do that. I was dramatically trained, I went to a performing arts high school. We did drama five hours a day. We learned how to act. I’m not that smart, but I know how to act. That’s all we did, working on our craft. Drama is the easiest thing I could possibly do. Comedy is so hard. To make everyone feel the same thing, to evoke laughter is hard. You might have a bad day or your foot is hurting or you may have a hemorrhoid the size of a golf ball, so it may be hard to make you laugh. But if you can make everyone laugh at one time. There is so much involved in comedy that I love the challenge of it.
Have you seen any movies since you have written this film that you want to spoof for a third one?
Marlon: I haven’t seen many movies lately, but I want to see the Hispanic paranormal film, “Paranormal Activity Part 5.” I have the Hispanic character in this film, in Gabriel’s character, so maybe “Spin-off!”
Your character in this film is trying to establish a new life, after the incidents with the old girlfriend in the first film. So which do you think would be more nerve-wracking, his old girlfriend moving in across the street or paranormal activity in his own household?
Marlon: I think the girlfriend moving in across the street, because she is the “Paranormal Activity.” She just won’t let me get away. You know some ex-girlfriends are like that.
What is your favorite horror movie of all time?
Marlon: I would say Freddy Kruger in “Nightmare on Elm Street” because it blew my mind. The thought of someone killing me in my sleep scares me. You can’t make yourself wake up from a dream. It’s the scariest thing in the world because you are defenseless. I loved part 2, because Freddy had a sense of humor. That’s the first time we have seen a bad guy with a sense of humor. It’s the first time that you started rooting the antagonist as he was the protagonist in the film. I was like “Kill all those kids because you are really funny!” I like Freddy better than Jason. Jason was just kind of creepy watching people have sex, then chop them up.
Thanks so much and good luck with the film.
“A Haunted House 2” opens this Friday, nationwide.Follow @Lastonetoleave