An Online Universe was lucky to get the opportunity to chat with Marlon Wayans when he was in Australia recently. Wayans was visiting in support of the upcoming release of his new film A Haunted House and to perform his stand-up comedy show with brother Shawn. Check out the chat between Marlon and Chris after the jump.
Chris: Thanks for taking the time out to have a quick chat. I have to say on the offset that I genuinely did enjoy the film. However, I know many critics have not.
Marlon: Thanks so much, man. And you know, with critics, I think when it comes to critiquing comedies, they should watch the audience first and go, “Okay, so the movie wasn’t for me but the audience seems to love it.” Because, and not to disrespect critics or anything, they always seem to miss the mark with our comedies. We make people laugh and I think more consideration should be taken into how many laughs are had from an audience.
Chris: You’re used to making films with your brothers Keenan and Shawn, but you went solo on this one. How did that came about and why did you decided not to work with them on this particular project?
Marlon: Well I’m touring with Shawn in Australia at the moment so it’s not like I’ve ceased working with my brothers entirely; but for this, it was a one man kind of deal. I mean, it’s about a couple, a guy and a girl. Plus I think they wanted me to go out and experience something alone and be a big boy, and I’m glad I did.
Chris: What about Michael Tiddes as director. How did he come on board/how did you meet?
Marlon: Michael is from our camp. He came up from ‘Camp Wayans’ if you wanna call it, so it was a natural progression. We’ve been working with him for seven years
Chris: What inspired going the independent film-making route with A Haunted House? Other than creative freedom of course. I, personally could see a studio look at this and go, “Nope, we want a PG-13 and just a generally ‘safe’ picture”. Or was it simply easier to get it made that way?
Marlon: Because studios aren’t making movies like they used to. I went independent because I wanted to make something different, take a chance, take a risk and get gritty and get dirty and still see if I could make a movie that had studio quality jokes on independent money.
Chris: In terms of the Paranormal Activity films, The Devil Inside and demon/devil possession type film franchises; did you watch those sorts of films before writing A Haunted House or did you watch them as you were writing?
Marlon: You know, it’s funny because the movie [A Haunted House] is more of a horror-comedy with parody moments. I watched Paranormal Activity because I wanted to make a found-footage comedy. As I was watching I kept thinking to myself, wow, why do people do really dumb things in these movies? What if Paranormal Activity happened to a black couple? That’s where the idea for A Haunted House came from. Of course, you’ve gotta do research when you’re making something like this, and yeah, It kinda wrote itself.
Chris: Did you have potential cast already in mind when you were writing the script with Rick (Alvarez, co-writer)? Or did you write the script then think about casting?
Marlon: Well, I always write with people in my head but that casting never works out. I think having a certain actor in mind helps you write better dialogue, but once that’s done you have to divorce yourself from it being that guy or girl because chances are you’re not gonna get that actor that you wrote with in mind. So, they become blank faces and you set who would be best for the role. Everybody who came in wanted to do it, everyone was game and it turned out I was blessed.
Chris: The casting of Cedric the Entertainer was a genius move. I think he’s a great, funny actor that’s hardly utilised these days. His character may have gotten the most laughs out of the audience I saw it with.
Marlon: Well basically, you spend 70 minutes with two people and they’re a couple, but then comes Cedric to perform the exorcism, and he takes it up a notch. You have all the cast members in the last 15 – 20 minutes, so instead of only two or maybe four people in the house, you have the whole band, and things get to be a lot more fun, especially with Cedric starting it all.
Chris: I’ve had many people request that I ask you this: What happened exactly with yourself and your brothers helming the Scary Movie franchise? Why you didn’t go on to make the third film?
Marlon: It, it was a combination of things. The Weinstein brothers kinda disrespected The Wayans brothers and gave the franchise to the Zucker brothers (Flying High/Airplane). For us, it was like,“Look, we made you guys a lot of money and it’s very simple, if you want us to continue on, pay us X amount and we’ll do it.” They didn’t think our value was that, and so they basically snatched the franchise and gave it to the Zuckers. I watched it, and I have a lot of respect for the Zucker brothers. I was a fan of Airplane, but I just don’t think they worked with this franchise. It’s a different tone.
A Haunted House proved to be the kind of thing people wanted to see. I mean, I made my movie for 1.7 million while they made theirs for over 40 million dollars, and the box office is what it is. I wasn’t hoping it would fail, but it is what it is. Scary Movie was a great franchise we created and loved, and it was sad to see it end like that. We’re really excited to start a new franchise with A Haunted House. There’s no bad blood, everybody made money and I wish them well.
Chris: Have you finished writing the script for A Haunted House 2 or is it still in progress?
Marlon: I’m writing it while I’m touring Australia.
Chris: With Michael Tiddes returning as director?
Marlon: Michael will be there as director, and I’ll be there [of course] along with Rick Alvarez.
Chris: You’ve worked with The Coen Brothers (The Ladykillers) and Darren Aranofsky (Requiem For A Dream). Did that help you improve as an actor? Was it a great experience working with such great directors?
Marlon: It was great. I learnt about different points of view as an actor, a producer and even as a director. These guys are so meticulous about everything that’s within the frame. And with those films, as an actor, I wasn’t trying to be funny for funny sake, my reaction was funny to the situations my character was in. So I learnt not to play it up but to just be.
Chris: You were cast a few years back as Richard Pryor for the planned Richard Pryor biopic. Is that still going ahead or is it up in the air at this point?
Marlon: It’s way up in the air. I have no idea what’s going on. I was given the part three years ago and ever since I’ve been hitting the stage, constantly. For three years straight, doing serious stand-up. I started out playing a great, now I want to be a great. Touring Australia and doing stand-up has also been helping this.
Chris: Well congratulations on the film’s success. I have to be honest, having seen your film and finding it funny, as opposed to watching Scary Movie 5 and being so disappointed, I can see why it became such a success.
Marlon: Funny enough, on Rotten Tomatoes, my movie’s got a 6% and Scary Movie 5 has a 5% . I was sitting there going “Um, something is wrong” , because that movie got no laughs and mine got a lot, so I think the Rotten Tomatoes are rotten.
A Haunted House is released in Australia on Thursday 30 May. Check out Chris’s review of the film here.