Regina Hall and Michael Ealy talk 'About Last Night'

"About Last Night" opens this weekend, just in time for Valentine's Day. Three of the four principal actors in this LA-set adaptation of David Mamet's play "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" (borrowing also from the 1986 film "About Last Night …") worked together on the ensemble comedy hit "Think Like a Man." Two of those three, Regina Hall and Michael Ealy, came through Chicago recently on a promotional tour, and in separate interviews, back to back in a capacious suite at the Trump International Hotel affording a truly yowza view of the Wrigley Building clock and surrounding buildings,the actors talked about topics ranging from getting dragged to "The Exorcist" at the age of 4 (Hall) to the subtly racist idea that two African-American comedies are basically the same (Ealy, discussing the dreamy, idealized "Think Like a Man" and the edgier "About Last Night").

The '80s version of "About Last Night ..." starring Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, James Belushi and Elizabeth Perkins: "There's a whole generation that hasn't seen that movie," Ealy said. "We're nothing like it. We're set in Los Angeles, and my character, Danny, is a Dodgers fan, not a Cubs fan. … Hopefully our film will resonate with people in its own way. There's not an ounce of melodrama in it. It feels to me like a fresh interpretation."

Coming off "Think Like a Man," "About Last Night" has drawn some parallels that don't really hold: "'Think,'" said Ealy, is "highly romanticized, well-written, well-executed romantic comedy." Without rancor, he also calls it "safe." "About Last Night," written by Leslye Headland, is a raunchier but truer depiction of the way relationships actually come together and, often, fall apart. "The movie feels strikingly real to me in the ins and outs of relationships," the 40-year-old Ealy said.

Screenwriter gender and other topics: To Hall, 43, "there's a truth in the way the women interact in this picture. Usually when things are scripted by men, it's how they think women might talk. But here there's an honesty." Her character, Joan, a caustic skeptic and a full-out bawd, is matched up with Kevin Hart's fast-talking Bernie in "About Last Night." "There's no judgment in the movie, really, no behavior the female characters need to 'correct,'" Hall said. "Joan's not necessarily empathetic most of the time, but certain scenes call for it, and the director Steve Pink was good at fine-tuning that stuff within a scene."

The pretty boy thing: Like Hall, Ealy has a lot of fans who simply like to watch him ... exist in whatever he's in, or on, at the moment. In that regard, the new "About Last Night" has something in common with the old "About Last Night …" starring Lowe. "Rob's a great comedic actor," Ealy said. The two worked on the TV series "Californication" together, and Lowe, in middle age, has finally figured out how to be an effective, often very funny performer. "In his young heyday," Ealy said, "he was this pretty boy doing nothing but drama." Ten years ago, the same could've been said of Ealy. He hopes "About Last Night" reveals the range of all four leads, including Joy Bryant, who plays opposite Ealy.

You're never too young for "The Exorcist": Hall told me she holds certain bittersweet films about love, notably "The Bridges of Madison County" and "Heartburn," in high regard. She remembers seeing the '86 "About Last Night …" as a teenager mainly "to look at Rob Lowe." She also remembers accompanying her older brothers as a preteen to see a gaggle of R-rated horror movies including "The Exorcist." "Maybe that's why those sorts of movies don't scare me today," said the woman of considerable comic gifts, and equally strong dramatic ones, who claims "Scary Movie" and three of its sequels on her resume. Hall, Ealy and Hart return to screens this summer for the release of "Think Like a Man Too."

"About Last Night" opens Friday.

mjphillips@tribune.com

Twitter @phillipstribune

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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