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Interview: Marlon Wayans Talks Career, Comedy Franchises & Studying to Play Richard Pryor ('Haunted House 2' Opens Today)

Photo of Jai Tiggett By Jai Tiggett | Shadow and Act April 18, 2014 at 10:58AM

Wayans made time to talk with Shadow And Act on a recent press tour to promote A Haunted House 2, which opens in theaters on April 18.
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Marlon Wayans

With A Haunted House 2, Marlon Wayans takes his brand of comedy to the same edgy extremes as the original. This film sees his character Malcolm moving into yet another demon-possessed house with a new family (Jaime Pressly, Awkward’s Ashley Rickards, and Steele Stebbins), for a series of shenanigans spoofing horror movies like The Conjuring and Insidious, and again involving Wayans in an extended sex scene with an inanimate object (this time, a creepy-looking doll named Abigail).

The movie was reportedly made at the insistence of the studio, who Wayans says "chased us down" to make a sequel after the success of the first film. The final product is largely a vehicle for Wayans' improv skills with plenty of riffing between him and comedians Cedric the Entertainer, Affion Crockett, and Gabriel Iglesias, who co-star.

Wayans made time to talk with Shadow And Act on a recent press tour to promote the movie, which opens April 18. Constantly cracking jokes, but always sincere about the message he wants to put out about himself and his brand, he also shared plans for his upcoming projects, including that long-gestating Richard Pryor biopic he hopes to star in.

JAI TIGGETT: So shockingly, the movie already has a reputation for pushing boundaries.

MARLON WAYANS: Weird, right? You have sex with a doll and see how people stereotype you?

JT: Where does that idea come from, simulated sex with a doll?

MW: She was standing there flirting with me, looking all sexy [laughs]. It was just improv. We kinda just did it. You know how sometimes your girl is in the kitchen making you eggs, and you come up behind her, smack her on the butt and before you know it, y'all are having sex? It's kinda like that.

I never reach for crazy. Crazy just kinda happens in your everyday thinking. I am crazy, I am ballsy, I take chances in comedy all the time. It's not like I sit there and say, "We've gotta go crazier! We've gotta throw boo boo on the walls. We need a fart scene."

JT: There were a lot of comedians on this set. How much of that craziness was on the page and how much was improv?

MW: Our approach is always to let people improvise. Mike Tiddes, our director, and Rick Alvarez, my producer and writing partner, I drive them crazy because they're always like, "Hey, can we get one as written?" and I'm like, "We'll get that later!"

There were no rehearsals. We rehearsed right before we shot scenes, and God bless the cast. Even though they'd just learned the script, we said, "Alright now throw it out. We're going to write something brand new and we're going to have fun." It's kind of like a writing session as we're filming. But what I didn't want to do was a confection, a bunch of just gags. We wanted to approach it from a story point of view, believe it or not. We didn't want to just whore out a franchise. 

'A Haunted House 2'
'A Haunted House 2'

JT: Was there anything that happened during filming that surprised even you, or places where you thought the comedy went too far?

MW: Nope, everything too far is in the movie. Well, maybe one scene. It was dialogue and it wasn't until we tested the movie where we felt that it was like an "ooh" moment. Strangely enough it was Cedric's scene inside the church. He does this really fun joke, "Let me tell you about why I became a preacher. One, it was for the little boys..."

JT: An Eddie Long moment?

MW: He plays it off like a joke [in the final film], but before that we had a run where he talks about, "One, it was for the little boys, and not just the little boys but the boys who look like girls, the little boys who grow up to be big boys, and the boys who ride on bicycles..."

And for us, we were cracking up. My nephew Damon [Wayans Jr] was in the theater howling. But the audience was like, "Awww..." It kind of sucked the energy out of the room so we cut it down. And now it gets a really good laugh and that's all we need.

I don't make movies for me, I make movies to make a large audience laugh as well. So it can't just be the things that make my dark ass laugh. I have to make it inclusive. I have to make sure that everybody's represented and that I am an equal opportunity offender.

JT: And this could offend. Tell me about who the movie is for.

MW: It's not for sensitive people. Sensitive people, stay your ass home. If you want to laugh and you're not gonna be judgmental and it's just gonna be about the joke, then come and enjoy it. But if you want messages, if you want to cry, I think 12 Years A Slave is still in the theaters. Until then, it's A Haunted House 2 and hopefully it'll make you laugh until you cry.

This article is related to: Marlon Wayans, Cedric The Entertainer, Affion Crockett, Essence Atkins


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