Red Carpet Interview: Kadeem Lundy
For those of you out there who are fans of the original Best Man film (circa 1999), you are in for a treat. Director Malcolm Lee has done a phenomenal job with the sequel, which is no easy feat, especially for a classic.
In the original film we are introduced to a group of friends, who are coming together for the wedding of “Lance” (Morris Chestnut) and “Mia” (Monica Calhoun) only to discover that “Harper” (Taye Diggs) an emerging author and best friend to Lance has a secret which he doesn’t want anyone to know–a secret nestled in his first book “Unfinished Business” which is discovered by budding reporter “Jordan” (Nia Long). This secret jeopardizes the upcoming nuptials of Lance and Mia and their friendship with Harper.
Fast forward 14 years later and the friends are brought back together for a holiday retreat at Lance and Mia’s estate. The progression of their careers have grown tremendously. We find Jordan and Lance at the top of their game. Jordan is a successful TV Producer and Lance, a star in the NFL.
“Shelby” (Melissa De Sousa) is a reality star. Terrance Howard’s character “Quentin” is still an endearing asshole. “Julian” (Harold Perrineau) reprises his role as the sensitive romantic who has turned his stripper girlfriend “Candy” (Regina Hall) into a housewife, and Harper has married “Robyn” (Sanaa Lathan) who is now 9 months pregnant, with their first child.
Since the announcement of the film 2 years ago, inquiring minds have been wondering how a sequel can top the original and if it was a great idea. However, there has been a void in African American cinema over the last decade and with the success of recent films like “Think Like a Man” audiences have shown that sophisticated, urban dramas are in demand. Director Malcolm Lee delivered, not just a sequel [but] a fresh new perspective for part 2 of The Best Man that is just as juicy and engaging as the original.
In “The Best Man Holiday” viewers are in for a roller coaster ride of emotions, for part 2 takes a dark turn, testing their friendship, their loyalty, love and faith in one another. It is a film that deals with adult situations considering the friends are no longer, young, single and in the prime of their lives. They are professional adults, married with children and facing life changing situations.
Writer/Director Malcolm Lee subtly intertwines the nuances that we remember about the first film, bringing us up to speed and reminding us never to forget where the journey with these 6 friends began. He also adds topical moments in the film relatable to the current state of pop culture.
Watching “The Best Man Holiday” feels like a family reunion and as it unravels we are caught up with old “friends” that we’ve grown up with in cinema, taking in each heart breaking and endearing moment.
Crème caught up with the director and cast at the red carpet premiere in New York City and here’s what they had to say:
Crème: Bring us up to speed on the sequel…
Malcolm Lee: They’re older characters now. It’s a more sophisticated story. It’s more complex than the first one. What you worry about when you’re a twenty year old is different than what you worry about when you are thirty and forty years old. You have different responsibilities: children, the mortgage, it’s all kinds of things that are different about the movie…when people go to see the movie they’re gonna have a great time. It’s not a movie that you just watch [but] it’s a movie that you’re really gonna experience.
This is the first time they’ve all been in the same room at the same time. There are still a lot of feelings from the first one that are still lingering. There is still some tension between Jordan and Robyn; Shelby and Candy, and even Harper and Lance. Old habits die young, so to speak.
On the influence of New Edition…
Crème: How long did it take you to shoot the dance scene?
Malcolm Lee: Not even a full day, they rehearsed it the week before and it was great.
Crème: Why did you choose “Can You Stand the Rain” for the performance scene?
Malcolm Lee: ”Can You Stand the Rain” is a classic song, the one that everyone knows. People respond to it in a great way. I thought thematically it fit with the movie. I thought that it also was a great piece to have all the guys perform. There are different parts for each individual guy to play, so it was the right song to use.”
Harold Perrineau: The earlier part of my career I was a dancer. I studied at the Alvin Ailey school and danced in a bunch of small companies. So for me, it was a really great opportunity to get to put some of those dance skills to use in a film that I really, really love. Also, to pay homage to that type of music and the artists from that time, it was really just a beautiful and fun thing to do.”
On their reprised characters…
Melissa De Sousa: “Shelby” has come back and she’s just bigger and badder than ever. She’s gonna do her thing. But you see another side of her this time–a more serious side…things go down which I can’t tell you.
Harold Perrineau: I think Shelby is a woman who never loses, she’s always sort of just working that angle that she just doesn’t lose. But in this case there’s no losing, Julian has just moved on to where he should be with a woman who [loves him for him] and [he loves her for her] and they build their life together. That’s where he is in this movie. I’m super excited. I can’t wait for everyone to see it. I think it’s more special than people are anticipating and I think it’s gonna be around for a really long time.
Sanaa Lathan: So “Robyn” is married to “Harper” and very much in love with her husband. They’ve been married for 10 years and she’s 9 months pregnant. Malcolm did a really great job of taking these characters and growing them and having realistic situations that they’re all going through. I think that people who love the first one or who haven’t seen the first one will resonate with this one.
Robyn has really grown. The first movie she is flighty, she didn’t know what to do with her life. She was a caterer…a jewelry maker…she was all over the place. She didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life. In this movie she finally found her calling. She’s working at Red Rooster in Harlem. She’s a passionate chef that still loves her husband and she’s nine months pregnant.
At first, I was not too happy when the director said I would have to be nine months pregnant. I was like: ‘Not four months pregnant, nine months pregnant?’
I had to where a huge baby bump the whole movie and it was hot and it was heavy.
Crème: How is the relationship between your character and Nia’s character “Jordan”?
Sanaa Lathan: It’s still a little tense. Robyn’s a little intimidated by Jordan and her connection that she has with Harper.
Nia Long: Jordan is running a studio now. She’s a television producer and she’s learning that there’s more to life than success… she’s definitely reached where she wants to be in terms of her career. She’s at a place now in her life where she realizes that all her friends around her are getting married and having kids and she’s really at the place where she’s like: ‘maybe I need to try some other things…’
Jordan’s exploring love and other things and being vulnerable.
To catch up on all the characters in the film and find out what they’ve been up to, check out The Best Man timeline here: http://www.best-man.com/timeline/
The Best Man Holiday opens in theaters on November 15th.