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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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Wayans brothers

JT: How much does social media affect the content you're putting out there?

MW: It helps me to know my audience. On Twitter, the people that follow you really want to know about you and really like you for the most part. There's a small minority that follow just because they're haters and trolls. So for me, I know what my audience expects from me and I also know that in this day and age where these kids have access to the internet, there's all kinds of insane stuff out there. My little R-rated comedies are really like PG-13 compared to some of the stuff they see on the web. So I'm trying to make edgy content that's a little in-your-face, but it's still with kid gloves.

JT: You've said that you want to branch out and do other things beyond comedy. Do you feel your audience is ready for that?

MW: I think they're flexible and down to see me do whatever. It's funny because if you look at my filmography, it is diverse. There's nothing I haven't done. So I just continue to spread my wings as much as I can, do me and hope the audience follows. I hope that they believe in me and find something authentic and know that I do it to make them smile. The effort is there.

JT: Coming from the Wayans family, what are some of the lessons you've picked up from them that you continue to use in your career?

MW: My brother Keenan literally raised me in comedy, so I'm a disciple of the Keenan Ivory Wayans school of comedy. And also from watching my brother Damon, watching those guys take chances. So I try to apply the fact that you make three movies - you make one movie when you write it, another movie when you film it, and another movie when you edit it. So it's good to have a lot of choices.

I've also employed letting actors and comedians improvise. Write something funny and then you hire someone funny to make the script funnier. There's a lot, whether they sat me down and told me things or it was just being a fly on the wall, watching.

JT: You've studied Richard Pryor's career to potentially play him in the upcoming biopic, which has been developing for a long while now. What have you learned from him?

MW: That Richard was an artist. Above anything else, he was a true artist that really took the time to develop his skills. He wasn't afraid of offending you. He wasn't afraid of speaking his mind. Here's a guy who could play guitar, he could play piano, he could sing.

As an artist you forever learn, you forever grow, and you just get better and over time you could put that guy in anything and just go. I love Pryor. He's the only reason why I saw Superman 3.

JT: What do you feel you can bring to the role that others can't?

MW: I think I'm mature enough, and seasoned and skilled enough in all the different areas in terms of the skill set to play Pryor. I've been doing standup for three and a half years just to prepare for the role. I hope the movie happens but if it doesn't, I'm grateful. I started out wanting to play a great and now I want to be a great.

JT: You're making movies, you've got WhatTheFunny.com, and now you've got a new comedy competition series coming to TBS. Are you working to create a comedy empire? Is that the goal?

MW: The goal is to have a big brand, and my brand is just to put smiles on people's faces. If you're at your job and somebody gets on your nerves, or you're about to get fired, or you're on the toilet and you're having a hard time getting one out, you can go over to WhatTheFunny.com and look at some of our content. It may not change your life, but hopefully it'll change your mood. The same with my movies. If you're feeling down, turn on one of my movies and feel good about it.

 

A Haunted House 2 will be in theaters on Friday, April 18.

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


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