TheYBF.com caught up with the cast of The Best Man Holiday this week in Miami as they reflected on what brought them back together, the studio’s reservations about making a sequel and if they’re going to get another hot movie soundtrack! See what behind the scenes tea they spilled inside….
In 1999, some of Hollywood’s top Black talent united with director Malcolm D. Lee to create The Best Man, a movie AND soundtrack one-two punch, which often finds itself at the top of everyone’s list of cinematic favorites. And last night, during a special panel discussion at the Ritz-Carlton for the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) in Miami, the cast of The Best Man Holiday (Nia Long, Sanaa Lathan, Morris Chestnut), along with director Malcolm D. Lee, united on stage to discuss how all nine actors from the classic film reunited to make movie magic once again.
Presented by Comcast/Universal and moderated by tv journalist Shaun Robinson, we got a sneak peek at the upcoming extended movie trailer releasing to the public soon. And Sanaa Lathan’s character’s pregnancy is revealed in the preview. (But we already told you that.)
Shaun began by asking Malcolm how the sequel came about. He revealed that he took the original cast to dinner in January 2011 (remember the pics?) and laid out his proposal for the film. He says that he explained over cocktials what would happen scene-by-scene and that everyone involved knew this WOULD NOT be a random sequel. And with everyone eagerly jumping on board, Malcolm dished the next hurdle…..pitching the studio.
Malcom explained that whether the film got "greenlighted" depended on the success of films like Jumping The Broom and Think Like a Man because production studios often look at the box office performance of other films to determine if they can "replicate" the success. You know, since all black films are lumped together….
Although both films performed well at the box office, Universal was still on the fence, so they brought the cast get together for a table read. Luckily, the table reading went over very smoothly. Sanaa said they performed the script like a "play" and killed it! And the studio was blown away.
The cast also spilled a few audition secrets including the little known fact that Morris Chestnut was almost passed over! Because he plays "Lance Sullivan", a football player, Malcolm initially though he was physically too small for the role until his wife told him, "It’s Morris Chestnut!"
And Sanaa said she was supposed to audition for "Candy", the stripper, but she felt like she was at a different place in her career.
Nia revealed that for the first movie, she didn’t have to audition, but she did have two lunch meetings with Malcolm prior to filming. Of course.
Here’s more dish from the panel:
Q: Why a sequel 14 years later?
Malcolm D. Lee: “I would describe this movie as the right script at the right time. I was timing it, that’s how this business works, in success they want to make more of the same thing…We met in Jan 2011 and after everyone said they would do it, Morris said, Ok what is the next step? I said, We have to wait until Jumping the broom comes out and see how that movie does, and Morris said we don’t need them, and that might be true but it will prove to the studios that black people would want to go see movies about successful black people.“ “Nobody up here did it for the money, they did it for the Love of the movie.”
Q: The studio is not sure, even though the first one was a success, and they got the cast and everything and they’re still not sure?
Sanaa Lathan: “All of a sudden the studio wasn’t sure. We are not sure that it has all of the elements as the first one. We couldn’t believe that they couldn’t see it. We did a table read and acted it all out like a play. It was basically like we were auditioning as this cast for the movie. “
Malcom D. Lee: “After the table read, they were just blown away. They said, You know what? Reading it on this page doesn’t compare to hearing the words out loud.”
Q: Let’s talk about the first day on set. What was that moment like?
Nia Long: “We were bad little kids, We were so excited.”
Sanaa Lathan: “We were like 12 year olds at camp. We all love each other we are like family. We literally are friends and we hang out. It’s been damn near 20 years now so we are pretty family and we get to work together. We were so loud. We had a blast.”
Nia Long: What came out of this was such passion from all of us. We’ve all worked together before but it was so special with this one. We are really solid in who we are and then when you get to play a character you already know, it’s like Woohoo we have grown.
Sanaa Lathan: One of the things that kind of always blew my mind during this whole process, is, how crazy that all 9 of us are still in the business and that all of us are alive. What are the odds of 9 people not being crazy walking down the street. The odds of being in this world for 15 years where people fall off.
Q: What should we expect from the soundtrack…
Malcom D Lee: I can’t give away too much, but a couple of artist already contributed to the movie. Marsha Ambrosius and Anthony Hamilton do a duet that will knock you guys out. There are a lot of Christmas songs and a lot of remakes, it will be a mix but satisfying.
After the talk, the fab cast posed with blackfilm.com editor Wilson Morales and Talitha Watkins, the VP of Multicultural Marketing for Universal Pictures.
The film is expected to hit the silver screen on November 15, 2013.
Photos via Wilson Morales/BlackFilm.com/Red Carpet Images/ABFF