At one point, there was a debate over who would portray comedic icon Richard Pryor on the big screen. It came down to two comics: Marlon Wayans and Mike Epps. Epps went on to the land the coveted role, and Wayans got back to doing what he’s always done, work! Fast forward to today. The two have put the competitiveness of the role behind them to now work together in upcoming spoof “Fifty Shades Of Black”, which was written and produced by Marlon along with writing partner Rick Alvarez.
While in Atlanta apart of his press tour, I had the pleasure of catching up with Marlon to tell us more about the film. The 43 year old came up with the idea for the film while reading the original book, Fifty Shades Of Grey by E.L. James.
As I was reading the book, I started writing down all these jokes. I originally thought about writing it as a parody book. But then I heard that the book was coming out as a movie. I thought about the black experience. What if Christian Grey was black?
The jokes just started coming to him.
If I’m not inspired, then I’m not going to write it. If I don’t have over 1,000 pages of jokes and funny scenes, I’m not messin’ with it. I’m greedy. I like to pack a lot of jokes in the script.
“Fifty Shades of Black” follows Christian Black as he enters a relationship with college student Hannah, played by Kali Hawk. Wayans says that this is a great couples movie because he was more responsible in terms of making choices for jokes.
If you go too far with women…there’s a way to do a joke and they will laugh. You had to know how much to hit and when to pull back.
When asked if it was difficult to play terrible lover, he says, “I did a throwback to my younger days. There is no guy who has sex the first time who was good in bed. We all lie. It takes a while to master that. It was hard but easy. You have to remember those times”.
What he didn’t include in this movie was some of the messier scenes that Fifty Shades of Grey had in the book.
“There was a scene in the book when [Christian] has sex with the woman on her menstruation. We took it there and was like, we see why this scene wasn’t in the movie”.
As far as casting goes, Wayans believes, “We get who we’re supposed to get. We get some really funny things written. [We] get some great characters written and you find people that are really fun and got some great minds, and when you try to improvise stuff they are ready to play”.
That’s why I cast comedians who are real strong and who have a real good voice, so when it comes to improve, they’re pretty much gonna be in pocket, or they gonna make it funnier. Don’t just give me what I wrote, give me options.
When asked if him and Epps ever discussed going neck and neck for the role of Richard Pryor, here’s what he had to say:
No. When it comes to roles and stuff like that, that’s the director’s choice. That’s the studio’s choice. I’m fine with it. Either way it goes, I’m happy for him if it ever happens and when it happens. I give him all the love in the world. I hope he smashes it. I don’t have no beef. You know for me I would have loved to have done Richard, but God plays my cards. And whatever he deals me I just accept it. And I know that’s how that’s supposed to be. That’s what happened and I know that it’s by design.
“Fifty Shades of Black” is set for theaters on January 29. It’s way shadier than grey.