Interview: Marlon Wayans from “A Haunted House 2”
The Massie Twins recently had the opportunity to sit down with Marlon Wayans at the Ritz Carlton in Scottsdale, Arizona to discuss his writing, producing, and acting work on “A Haunted House 2,” the follow-up to his incredibly successful “A Haunted House” in 2013. The star-studded sequel hits theaters on April 18th, 2014.
The Massie Twins: You came to Arizona during the last week before we hit 118-degree weather!
Marlon Wayans: I’m so glad I did that. You will not see my black ass here in that heat.
MT: With the first “A Haunted House,” you had the pressures of being independent and in charge. Were there any new challenges that you faced with this sequel?
MW: Yeah. I was independent and in charge again. (laughs)
MT: Did it get easier?
MW: No, actually it got tougher and crazier. We try to broaden the world and add more effects. We added a couple more days, but we didn’t have much more of a budget. We’re aggressive and we try to film a lot. When you have a 140-page script, you’re not going to shoot it in 25 days. But we roll with it and use it as a blueprint. We have a lot of fun and by the time we’re finished, we shot 190 pages, of which we cut down to 87 pages. We’re indecisive sons-of-guns.
MT: Tell us a bit about your writing process. Do you watch a bunch of horror movies or comedies prior?
MW: We definitely study a lot. For me, input breeds output. I just sit and watch, learn the staples, figure it out, and construct a story that’s simple, then complicate it with characters and situations and hopefully 1500 jokes. Of which we choose the best ones to put in there.
MT: Are you a fan of the found footage genre? Do you find movies like “Paranormal Activity” scary?
MW: I don’t find it scary. I found it interesting. As a filmmaker, I thought it was interesting that they found such a cheap way to film horror, to film a movie. I think it’s a lesson not just to me – I’m constantly a student. You find yourself at different places in your career. I just wanted to do a found footage comedy or something low budget. Found footage was the perfect genre. I watched “Paranormal Activity” and thought it was smartly constructed. It was a slice of life. You knew it was fake, but you didn’t. It had that same affect of “The Blair Witch Project,” but it actually had a few effects. They use strings to make a door slam. For me, even more interesting was how dumb the couple was. “Why don’t you just move?” I found myself as a black man talking to the screen: “That’s ridiculous! Just move! You know there’s a demon in that room.” I thought, “What if you do that from a black perspective?” And that’s where the idea came from.
MT: What are your thoughts on the success of “A Haunted House,” now turning into a franchise, versus the decline of the “Scary Movie” series?
MW: In your face!
MT: That was the answer we were hoping for!
MW: No, you know there’s a part of me that was happy. But there was a part of me that was sad. We created that franchise. We didn’t want to see it go where it went; we didn’t want the business to turn out the way it turned out. We didn’t want the things that transpired during that process to transpire. Even the working bond that we had with the Weinsteins – everything must come to an end. I’m glad we had the experience. It was a great stepping-stone for me – I learned a lot. That was like my grad school. Now I get to go do what I do independently. Maybe opening day [of “A Haunted House”], and then the opening day of “Scary Movie 5,” I was kind of happy. I did pray for that. (laughs) But I did feel bad about it after that.
I saw Bob Weinstein and we kind of made amends… not even amends. He said, “You killed my franchise.” I said, “I didn’t kill your franchise, I just started a new one. But with all due respect, we tried to do ‘Scary Movie 3’ and ‘Scary Movie 4’ with you guys and you guys went in a different direction. And that’s your prerogative. I thank you guys for the journey and for teaching me how to market a movie and get on a plane and go to every territory – especially that when you believe in your movie, you go talk to people and sit in a room.”
I’m going to 26 cities because I believe in my movie and I’m hand delivering it. If I didn’t believe in it, maybe I’d be at 10, or maybe 6. The rest via satellite! But I’m going city to city, having a screening, daring them to tweet about it – and you know how mean they can be on social media – but I believe that for this generation, that’s something fun. I’m thankful for what I’ve learned. The quicker you heal from things, the quicker you can look back and assess a bad opportunity and look at all the good that you learned from it. The quicker you can move on and build and create better things.
MT: How involved are you in the casting process? Are some of the roles written specifically for certain actors?
MW: Very. I write it with Rick [Alvarez] and Mike [Tiddes], our director. We’re a three-headed beast. If it comes down to instincts, I trust their instincts as well. Sometimes we have knockout, drag-out fights and I say, “I’m going with my instinct. I’m sorry, I know you guys are feeling this way, but I gotta go with my instinct.” Sometimes I’ll defer to them. I may disagree, but “being that I overruled you on this here, I owe you.” It’s all negotiation. But it’s fun and we always say, “I love you” before we leave and “I love you” when we see each other in the morning. We’re doing something great with buddies.
MT: Were the roles for Nick Swardson and David Koechner in the first film written for them in particular?
MW: They weren’t written for them… well, Swardson, kind of… but they came in and Koechner just blew us away and was great. I wish I had the money to bring him back – and all those guys.
MT: Was Gabriel Iglesias’ role in “A Haunted House 2” written just for him?
MW: That was specifically for Gabe. I did a gig with Gabe. I said, “You’re funny, you should do movies.” He said, “Well write me something!” I said, “I will, but if I write something, you better do it.” He said, “Alright, fucker, I’ll do it!” So I wrote it, he came and read, he was funny, and I cast him over Twitter.
I like to write with an actor in mind. 9 times out of 10, you do not get that actor. I’ll say 99 times out of 100 you don’t get that actor. But it gives me a voice, a rhythm, something to attach it to. I see flesh, and a person. I see a character. I write monologues, I don’t write little pages. Rick hates this, but when I write, even if it’s supposed to be a 2-page scene, I’m writing 12 pages, because we’re going to take and chop that down and condense it to a 2 to 3-page scene. When the actors come in, they’re going to fatten it back up to a 9-page scene, of which we condense it back down.
MT: Are you contractually obligated to do an ass scene in every movie? Or do you say, “I’ll do this movie only if I can get an ass scene”?
MW: If you look at all my movies, I’ve always shown my ass. There’s something funny about somebody showing their ass. What I like about it is it’s not given a hell. It’s just being naked. It’s saying, “I don’t care!” It’s to your crew, to everybody else. I’m going here for the joke – there’s no vanity in comedy. I’m not thinking, I’m just doing. It’s silly. It’s crazy. And for me, it’s peeling away layers so I can just be purely as crazy as I want to be without second-guessing. I just like that – I like what it says about comedy. It’s not vanity; I’m going to go have some fun. 99% of the time it’s not written for me to be naked. I just get naked. (laughs)
MT: To circle back from all the ass stuff, can you tell us something no one knows about Jaime Pressly?
MW: Oh man.
MT: It’s got to be good, though.
MW: She’s as sexy in real life as she is on screen. And she has a nice butt.
MT: So you both have the butt factor.
MW: With my butt and her breasts, we’d be the finest bitch in the world.
MT: Well that is quite the quote! We’ll be quoting you on that!
– The Massie Twins (3/26/14)