Marlon Wayans came into town this week to promote his new film, A Haunted House, conduct a question and answer session with fans and take time to meet with various media folks. Directed by Michael Tiddes, A Haunted House was written and co-produced by Marlon and longtime collaborator Rick Alvarez. House also stars Essence Atkins (Are We There Yet?), Nick Swardson, Cedric the Entertainer, and David Koechner (Anchorman).
As I was making my way to the interview site, I thought about how the Wayans dynasty had impacted American culture. Very few names in Hollywood evoke immediate expectations of funny than Wayans. The family brand name became famous the moment audiences were treated to their ground breaking comedy sketch show In Living Color. The comedy was edgy and the show an instant classic. Conceived by older brother, Keenen Ivory Wayans, the show also included just about every other member of the Wayans close knit family during its run from 1990-2001. The youngest sibling of the Wayans clan, Marlon, didn’t actually appear in the sketch show, but he is credited with writing material for a few episodes during the 1992 season.
Sitting alongside Lauren Veneziani of DCFILMGIRL, I learned that Marlon had already made some early morning publicity events, but when he arrived he appeared fresh and relaxed for our comfortable sit-down. For someone with such a legacy in the industry, he came across so grounded. It was more like sitting with an old friend you haven’t seen it awhile, sitting back and shooting the breeze.
This interview started with Marlon answering a question regarding which of his previous characters might have stood a chance against the paranormal visitor in House. Besides Shorty Meeks (Scary Movie) staying alive “…Loc Dog would live cause he probably...would have ran… after he shot him up” On his most recent character; “…the guy in GI Joe, Ripcord, he would have definitely died.” And “If you can’t survive GI Joe you got a problem.”
I wondered why his brother, Shawn, wasn’t a part of this film: “I love working with my brother, I just think this time didn’t really lend itself to it.” “…I think this was kind of like my coming out party. This is my taking off the training wheels and seeing what kinds of tricks I can do on the bike by myself.” This particular movie “is more an extension of the (Wayans) brand rather than a departure.”
In regards to being compared to Scary Movie this one is “similar but different”. When I made the mistake of connecting him to the upcoming Scary Movie 5; “We’re not involved in Scary Movie 5 at all”, as their participation ended after Scary Movie 2. In regards to the differences between this movie and the current crop of non-Wayans Scary Movies; “It’s like a father on Maury Povich and he has his two kids sitting there and they look just like him and this girl sitting there going no, this this is your baby and he’s going…it’s white with green eyes …I’m black with nappy hair. It’s not my baby.” Marlon went on to describe the difference between the groups (Dimension Films, Lionsgate) that try to “mimic” the Wayans “flavor”. A Haunted House is “is even different than Scary Movie…the original ones we wrote. This one is more of a horror comedy with parody moments than it is a parody”. House is “its own story, its own group of characters, it has a relationship, it has somebody you want to follow with intentions, something to follow with obstacles”.
With A Haunted House being released in January and Scary Movie 5 being released next April, it was easy to assume that jumping ahead of the other movie was intentional on a few levels. Marlon stated that he wrote this “a year and a half to two years ago” and although you would think that after having their pitch idea used (excluding them) for Scary Movie 3 that there would be bitterness, but Marlon wishes Scary Movie only “love and success, just glad it’s not on the same day as mine.”
He wanted something different, a film that focuses on a couple rather than just on a singular person that the Paranormal movies all seem to revolve around. He wanted to focus on the story and not produce a film that seemed to be nothing more than a series of vignettes stitched together. With that he also was looking to show very funny moments that would actually happen in real life such as a scene where Malcolm “packed up the moving van” “and left her there” because that’s “what any normal person would do in a situation like that”.
Come back Wednesday to read the conclusion to this interview that includes; Marlon’s description of what it was like working with famed director Darren Aronofsky, which role was the most challenging of his career and what sequel he would love to make.