It’s hard carving out your own identity in Hollywood. It’s even harder when you’re part of a famous comedic family. Marlon Wayans hasn’t run into that problem. The youngest member of the Wayans entertainment dynasty has made a name for himself by portraying varying roles of people. Marlon has been the pothead Shortie in our favorite spoof movie series, “Scary Movie” and his role as Tyrone C. Love in the critically acclaimed “Requiem For A Dream.”
Though Wayans has been lauded for his dramatic turns on film, he has returned to his comedy roots in the “Paranormal Activity” send up “A Haunted House.” Written by Rick Alvarez and Wayans, the film takes a look at how black people would deal if they were caught in a house inhabited by ghosts. When a Wayans is involved, there is sure to be loads of biting humor, humorous pop culture references, and horror movie clichés.
Marlon Wayans recently spoke to The Urban Daily about his new film, his thoughts on Mike Epps playing Richard Pryor, and why he was never allowed to celebrate Halloween like most kids. Step inside the world of Marlon Wayans.
TUD: Could you tell me a little bit about your new film “A Haunted House”?
MW: “A Haunted House” is “Paranormal Activity” if it happened to a black couple. So it shows our reactions, which are way different from white people. It will be interesting for white people to come see this movie because in this movie, we do the opposite of what they do. They’re gonna get a big kick out of it. I watched it play with a big audience that was multicultural and everybody gets it. It’s really funny. It’s a horror-comedy. It’s not so much a parody because I think parody has gone into a bad place. We wanted to reinvent and reinvigorate that word. So we did more of a send-up and we did it as a horror-comedy which if you’ve never seen “Paranormal Activity,” “Insidious,” or “The Devil Inside,” you need to because there’s a coherent story with characters you’ll invest in.
So there’s no girl running from an axe murderer and just so happens to trip and fall over a well placed log or anything like that?
That is such a cliché horror movie tactic.
Yeah, but this one is more of a horror-comedy. The horror and slasher films we kinda did in “Scary Movie.” Now, “A Haunted House” is more dealing with ghosts. We have some really funny scenes. We pulled stuff from “The Last Exorcism of Emily Rose” and “The Devil Inside,” but we created funny characters. Cedric the Entertainer‘s character is a priest who comes to do an exorcism only he isn’t a regular priest. he got his priesthood in jail. So he’s like this gangsta preacher. [chuckles] He’s giving you that real point of view like, “Hey man, this b***h don’t look right.”
What was it like shooting with Cedric the Entertainer and everyone you worked with in the movie?
Well, what was great about the cast we hired is that everybody we hired were comedic vets. I mean Essence Atkins, who plays my co-lead, she’s amazing. She’s a veteran in the acting game and she just had a baby five weeks before we shot the movie. And she was just like, “Yo, I’m game. Let’s do it.” So she was doing stunts and I wasn’t sure if the stitches healed yet. Plus, we have great actors like Nick Swardson and David Koechner in the film. What’s beautiful is I felt like Lebron James playing on the Olympic team. No matter who has the ball, I know somebody’s gonna slam dunk it.
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This is a horror-comedy and with Halloween coming up, what was Halloween like in the Wayans household?
My dad was a Jehovah’s Witness so he didn’t play that s**t. Yeah, he wasn’t playing. He felt like that was the devil’s holiday. In a way, he’s kinda right. Halloween is like a pedophile’s homecoming. A pedophile is like, “Aw, look at all the babies coming to get some sugar today!” There’s so much evil shit that happens on Halloween. People put razors in apples and honestly, we were so poor, I would have taken a razor in an apple. [laughs]
My father calls it “Beggar’s Day.” That’s exactly what it was because me and my brother didn’t have costumes. We would just go around begging for candy. We’d go to people’s houses and asked who we were and I would say that I was Shawn and he would say that he was Marlon.
I would’ve imagined if you guys did celebrate Halloween, it would have been a massive thing in your house because there are a lot of you.
None of us are big on Halloween. My dad killed that holiday, but my kids celebrate it. I let them dress up and stuff. I even let them go out and beg for candy. I don’t let them eat it though. That pisses them off. I tell them that I will buy them their own candy.
You let them go beg for candy and don’t let them eat it? I understand why, but isn’t that cruel and unusual punishment?
If you wanna beg, go on and beg. I don’t know what people do to their candy. I know if I buy it in the store, I know I can watch them eat that. You can go beg for the sport of it, but you ain’t gonna eat it. You can buy crack. You just can’t smoke it.
[laughs] Tell that to a crackhead! [laughs] Besides “A Haunted House,” what other projects are you working on?
I’m in a movie called “The Heat” with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy which is directed by the guy who did “Bridesmaids,” Michael Tiddes. That will be out in April I’m also producing a television show for my nephews called “Second Generation Wayans” that will premiere on BET in February. I just sold a show to ABC for me to star in. Lastly, I’m consistently on tour with my brother Shawn.
What is it like trying to brand yourself outside of the Wayans family, considering so much of the work you’ve done has been a family thing?
MW: As challenging as one may think it is, it’s actually pretty easy for me. I’ve been doing this for a long time. People know me and know that I execute well. I work hard and I’m not the guy who’s resting on my last name or my laurels. If I say I’m going to do the work, I do the work. So it’s been fairly easy because people have been receptive to me and my work. See, like with “A Haunted House,” we shot this on a micro-budget. We had $20 million worth of jokes, but we didn’t spend nearly that much.
Personally, one of my favorite movies is “Requiem for a Dream.” Could you ever see yourself doing more roles like that?
Absolutely. One movie I really wanted to do was Richard Pryor. His life was like “Requiem for a Dream” meets a comedy. He is the funniest man who ever lived, but at the same time he was so crass. It is such a great story. That’s the one role I would love to do because that’s what brought me to the stage in the first place.
How do you feel about Mike Epps playing Richard Pryor in the Nina Simone biopic “Nina”?
I think it’s cool. I like Epps. Mike Epps is good at what he does. I hope he does the role justice.
Bringing it back to “A Haunted House,” the film comes out in January and it’s a horror-comedy. Why not put it out now when it’s that season?
For us, it’s finding a date that people want to laugh at. When it’s cold outside, people like to go into a movie theater and laugh. We chose to launch around Martin Luther King weekend. It’s a good date that nobody is on and it felt like that would be the best time to put it out. So it’s gonna be Halloween on New Year’s. It’s gonna be Halloween on Martin Luther King Day. The black and the orange. Yeah, that’s how we do. [laughs] It’s gonna be a mash-up.
“A Haunted House” hits theaters on January 11th. Go out and support!
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