Matt Pais, @mattpais
RedEye movie critic
January 7, 2013
Within the first three minutes of our conversation, Marlon Wayans mocks my shoes, imagines an ethnically diverse array of naked women surrounding him, describes the peaceful way to strangle a cow and his plan to delay sitting on the toilet in order to fully savor his breakfast.
I’d prefer not to spoil anything else about my fireside interview at the Waldorf Astoria hotel with the 40-year-old star and writer of the horror film parody “A Haunted House,” which opens Friday. OK, fine: We also talked about impregnating stuffed animals, Wayans demonstrating the differences between black and white people through song, and what the actor would have had to do to make me believe him in “White Chicks.”
Welcome back to Chicago.
Look at you with your little canoe shoes. [Picks up my foot.] Look at you, think you’re cool. I want to get in those and do this. [Imitates paddling in a canoe.]
Are you suggesting I didn’t canoe here?
No! I didn’t suggest that at all. I hope you didn’t canoe in that lake; it’s frozen right now.
It was tough; I made it though. I know you’ve spent a little time in Chicago. Do you have any favorites?
[We’re here] by a nice warm, cozy fire.
I thought it would be the most intimate way to chat.
Yeah, yeah. I just want to get a pipe and some cognac.
I like that. Do you have any places you really hope to hit here?
I just want a bearskin right here. Like a black chick naked, me naked, white girl naked, Spanish girl naked, Asian girl naked. And you leave. [Laughs.] … But we’ll keep the cameras rolling. Because you know fun stuff happens with nakedness. What’d you say, favorite restaurants out here? I love going to Mastro’s. Mastro’s is always great. Great steak. It’s like I trust it. The Kobe beef steak, I think they massage the cow.
You can tell from eating it?
They play classical music. Maybe a little Enya. And when they strangle it, it’s peaceful.
As long as Enya’s playing …
That’s all. You can’t just shoot a cow. [Makes sound of a shot and a cow moaning as it gets shot.] That makes the meat tough. But if you have a cow relaxed then you just kind of softly choke it up. [Makes noise of a cow mooing and being choked.] That’s when it tastes best. Sunda’s another good restaurant. I like that. Oh, Yolk is crazy. I just had a red velvet French toast. It changed my life. I believe in God.
As of a half-hour ago.
Only God could make that and cinnamon bun French toast. I had to have ‘em both. I have a belly right now. It’s going to take me like three days to actually sit on a toilet and let it out. I’m going to savor this. I’m not going to go to the bathroom. ‘Cause I want my food to digest all the way through my stomach because it was that good.
Thank you for clarifying that.
You know I just like to do that. I feel like it’s awkward if you don’t.
I would have asked anyways.
Exactly. You want to know: “How long are you going to hold that bowel movement until it fully, completely digests.”
You already know me too well.
My man. I knew it. [Shakes my hand.]
Speaking of special moments, “A Haunted House” brings up a very important question: Does it count as cheating if you sleep with a ghost?
Absolutely yes. It’s still another man. Or even if it’s a female, the fact is I wasn’t there to watch it, so that’s like disrespectful.
It seems like it was more of a problem that she wanted to do it again.
Actually it too depends: Did the ghost orgasm?
How does one know?
Because if he just tipped it … and did he bag up? That’s the other thing. Don’t go have raw ghost sex. That’s just completely disrespectful.
Now when you have loopholes in the situation …
That’s why you shouldn’t have brought the question up. ’Cause when you ask a question you have to really define what that means. Do you want to sit here and define it …
Any healthy relationship will have this conversation.
Ahh. I know. But it’s just too early for me and you to have this conversation.
I just think it’s personal business. It depends on your preference.
In the film you do have some intense and intimate scenes with stuffed dogs. What kind of bonding happened before shooting those?
I don’t know about bonding before, but during we bonded. There’s all kinds of DNA, Marlon Wayans DNA, all over those stuffed animals. They were stuck together for a while. I had to really rip ‘em apart.
I thought people usually just faked that in movies.
You don’t understand how good stuffed animal sex is. It’s crazy.
Stuffing, Styrofoam pellets all over the bed. It’s unbelievable. And they’re soft! They’re plush. Only thing is, you gotta be careful because they will rip and leave those little pellets on your bed. And that can be messy. And you don’t want to have messy stuffed animal sex buddy.
I think I got a fortune cookie that said that one time.
Really. I got that same cookie … You don’t have to wear condoms with stuffies. ‘Cause chances are you’re going to be the only one actually having sex with stuffed animals. Unless they make a couple of perverts like me.
And if they get pregnant, it’s a miracle.
I jizzed all in ‘em. There might be three little stuffies being born by Christmas. That’s how I do it. And I got three at one time. I got all three of ‘em pregnant at one time. ‘Cause that’s just how I do it. Bob Marley style. [We smack hands three times.] This is online, right? Because this couldn’t make TV. Sponsors is leaving …
In print we’ll just have it all redacted.
Gone. This show has been canceled.
What’s something that scares you in real life? What’s the scariest moment you’ve had?
Any time the cops pull up in back of me. I’m black, I’m rich, all my stuff is legal. But as soon as the cops get in back of me I feel like I’m poor and I just stole something and the car ain’t mine and it’s uninsured and they know there’s a body in the trunk and what about the crack pipe under the seat?And I don’t have any of this in my car, but the cops just pulling up behind me make me feel like that. Does that happen to you?
See, this is your country. It’s not mine.
Has a cop come up to you and recognized you at any point?
Yeah, and still gave me a ticket. Some let me go. Like [impersonating cop], “Yo, I’m going to let you go, ‘cause ‘White Chicks’ was hilarious.” And then one guy was like, “Yo, are you Marlon Wayans? Yo, you was in ‘Dance Flick’? You wrote that? Well, I’m giving you a ticket ‘cause you owe me $14.”
You’ve talked about “A Haunted House” being “Paranormal Activity” if it happened to a black couple instead of a white couple. Why do you see those reactions as being fundamentally different?
You can’t see the reactions [being different]? OK: If you heard a ghost in your crib, what would you do?
I don’t know. I don’t know if I believe in ghosts.
But if you heard one. That’s the first of all, the fact that you said ...
This is a loaded question now!
Well hold on, hold on.
Did I say the stereotypically white response …
Well, you did already because you said, “I don’t know if there is a ghost.” Which is weird because black people, we believe in superstition, that there’s a ghost. That’s why sometimes when you shoot somebody we be crying afterwards, because you know he’s going to haunt you. So that’s why we know there’s ghosts.
Why is that, that there’s that difference in belief there?
Because you don’t, you probably think, do you believe in God? Or you believe in science.
Now we’re getting into heavy stuff.
You believe in science.
I’m a science guy.
Ahh! See. “There’s an explosion that hit the Earth and boom and dinosaurs.” No. God made this, man. If you don’t believe in God you can’t believe in ghosts. Black people, we believe in God. You’re not going to find too many atheist black people. Maybe one or two. You might find some agnostic but you’re not going to find many atheists. Here’s the thing, because black people believe in spirits and things like that. You would go, “There’s no ghosts; I have to go check down this corridor. Honey, you stay here, I’m going down that corridor and I’m going to go see [where that] noise came from.” It’s logical.
See, black people don’t go [with logic]. If we hear a noise, “Bitch I’m out the door. I’m gone. You can check if you want to.” Or we’d go, “Baby, can you check what that noise is right there? I don’t know, I think somebody dropped something.” And I would climb my black ass out the window. [Climbs over chair.] “Check right there, check right there!” I’m gone, see. Outro. See, that’s the difference between white people and black people. White people, you actually would want to save your girl. Me, I would use her ass and save myself.
I feel like that approach is as old as comedy: white people are like this, black people are like this. Where do you draw the line between stereotypes and something funny?
It’s not stereotypes! We’re different! Black people and white people, we’re actually different. And then Spanish people are different than all of us. Just inherently. In how we’re raised. And I think the line is starting to become blurred because you’ve got black guys now skateboarding. That [bleeped] me up. And now they’re wearing skinny jeans. That [bleeped] me up! So that’s taking some of the gangster away because you can’t rob nobody rocking skinny jeans. “I see the gun. I see the gun. Right there, look it—it’s the gun.” So the lines are being blurred, and I think it’s a good thing we’re starting to mesh together. But there’s always going to be [differences]. White guys love hip-hop music. They know all the lyrics. Even sometimes comfortable enough to say the N-word. We’re not that cool yet. You understand? There’s a line. Skip over that word. Say nizzle.
What’s a song you know all the words to that would be considered ...
White songs? Uh, yeah. [sings] “Black hole sun, won’t you come, wash away your pain, black hole sun, won’t you come, won’t you come.”
And yet the white song you mention has “black” in it ...
[still singing] “In my eyes (mumbling)” That’s all I know. (singing again) “(mumbling)” See, black guys don’t know that song.
That is how Chris Cornell sounds these days.
[singing again] “(mumbling)” Black guys don’t know that song. They don’t know that! That’s what I’m saying. It’s starting to blur.
As a huge fan of “Requiem for a Dream,” your performance is so great ...
“So why would you do a movie like this? Why would you do something so great as ‘Requiem’ and so crazy as this?” That’s what you’re asking me.
Well, when looking at your career, it’s obviously an anomaly on your resume.
Because why am I still even working. The fact that I’m still here 20 years later is an anomaly in itself. They should have banned--stopped me making movies. What the [bleep] is wrong with Hollywood? They’re crazy! They’re crazy. Darren Aronofsky put me in “Requiem.” What the [bleep] are you smoking?
And it worked out well; why not do more of that?
Which is crazy! Which makes him--he was a genius. He said, “If I can make this guy look decent in a movie, I’m [bleepin’] great!” He’s one of the greatest directors ever just for making me look like that in that movie.
Why not do more of that? Are you interested?
Ehhhh, you know, drama’s great. Comedy is harder. I’ve been blessed to work with great directors, like when I did “Requiem” was one of them. Working with Darren was awesome, like I said, one of the greatest experiences I’ve had ‘cause he directs you from soup to nuts. This [bleeper] made me walk through New York City in February with no shirt on just so I remembered what the cold felt like when we started filming, because it would be summertime [not] winter. I was like, “Dude, I grew up here without a jacket. I know sense memory. I don’t need this.”
But I think for me I’m a guy that can do everything. Literally. I went to performing arts high school. I choose to do comedy because it’s harder. Besides there’s not that many good roles out there for black guys. It’s very rare. When they come along, there’s probably other people that go, “Ehh, this guy would be better for this.”
Is there something you’ve read for that people would know you were interested in?
Actually when I do read for stuff, I have a really good ratio of getting it. it’s weird. It’s like when I go in and audition, I think because there’s that performing arts training, I don’t go in to audition. I go in to have fun. I look at a role I go, “Here’s my interpretation of the role and I hope you like it.” And if not, then cool. We’ll shake hands; I’ll go my way you go yours, but at the same time … I’ll take your notes and I apply them and hopefully it can be a song that you really like. But in terms of drama, I think working with the Coen brothers in “Ladykillers,” that was another great experience I had. If those roles come along I’ll do ‘em, but if not—chances are I won’t write ‘em. Because I like writing comedy because I just like making people laugh.
You talked at one point about wanting to make the stupidest movies possible because that’s what makes people laugh. Why stupid? Not all comedies are stupid. Why do you prefer the stupid ones?
There’s a science to comedy. ... To evoke the same emotion from a group of people that do not know each other ..., that’s one of the hardest things you can ever do. Simultaneously just bow. And you’re doing that, you tell one joke that the whole world gets and the whole world understands and that’s what you do when you do a movie and it plays overseas. You tell one joke and all these different theaters and all these different pockets, people all over the place, are laughing at the same time and that takes—it’s really hard to do.
Yeah, silly, scatological humor has always been funny because everybody shits. Everybody farts. Everybody orgasms. Everybody has sex. So there’s a pocket that just everybody kinda understands through experience, what that experience is like, so you can kinda poke fun and twist that around and make fun.
So for me, I don’t want to make movies that make you think. I want you to think about laughing. I want you to just go in there and enjoy. And with this movie what we did differently is normally in a parody it’s just bow-bow-bow-bow, and it’s stuff that especially lately with parody, I don’t know what the [bleep] happened to the genre but it just got really bad. When I’m watching, what’s the name of that movie, “Disaster [Movie],” I’m watching “Epic Movie”—
All by the same guys. Unwatchable.
But see that is when you do it bad. When you do it good, when we did “Scary Movie” we did it good. That one rocked. Two I didn’t like so much, we rushed it. Some people will go, “Oh, two was funnier than one.” It may have been funnier in pockets but it was all right hands. There was no time to really write—to pepper your jab. There was really no time to modulate the punches. It was a confection, just a bunch of jokes, just a bunch of jokes. “Don’t be a Menace” was a fun parody. There’s time when you do it good and times when you do it bad. With “A Haunted House” it’s kind of a parody, but it’s really a horror comedy with parody moments. Although the pacing of the jokes were like bow-bow-bow-bow-bow, one atfer the other, what we tried to do was make a story that, and make an experience, because it’s like “Paranormal Activity” if it happened to a black couple, that even if you never seen any of these movies, the movie is still funny to you because you’re just going, “Oh, I get the experience, so I get the movie. It’s a movie, it’s not just a bunch of gags.”
I thought it would be fun to do a speed round like in the movie: favorite part of your body.
Someone who should stop singing.
My dick. No I’m joking. [Laughs.] OK, do it again.
Someone who should stop singing.
God, there’s so many. Let’s start with Britney Spears and let’s end it with … Who’s terrible? Lil Wayne. Let’s end it there. No, let’s end it with Drake. Shut the [bleep] up, you’re flat. Hell of a rapper, but damn you be flat.
Fast food indulgence.
McDonald’s, only in Europe.
Most beautiful woman in the world.
Second most beautiful woman in the world:
Most beautiful man in the world.
My momma. No, the most beautiful woman in the world would have to be, damn, I don't know, there’s so many. Halle Berry definitely. Any time you get two dudes fighting over your vagina, and you see the way the dude look, he be down, that has to be some really good na-na. [Raises his hand.] I got next! What was the other question? The most beautiful man in the world? Me. Yeah. Definitely me … or one of my brothers be good-looking. Channing’s kind of good looking. I say that in most not … you know … most manly way I can say it. It’s hard to go, “Yo, Chan, you cute.” It’s weird. Girls can go—guys it puts a different stank on it. “Chan, you got a sweet-looking mouth. It looks sweet.” You put a wig on him, he’d be a fine chick. So that’s where you go he’s a good-looking dude. But he don’t have an ass. He wouldn’t be that cute then. Who would be a cute man?
It seems like you could talk about this for a while.
I probably could. This wouldn’t be a speed round. Go.
I would say my brother Shawn.
That’s tough. Overrated funny. I don’t know. That’s hard to say. Me. I’m overrated.
I have to ask you, for “White Chicks,” you did eight or nine hours of makeup a day ...
Seven. I never want to be a white woman again. White girls, if you have to take seven hours to put on makeup, I feel so sorry for you. That’s why y’all be doing it in the car, on the way to work, ‘cause you’re still doing it. Do you get up at 2 in the morning and start doing makeup and then you’re ending at 8 in the morning, doing that in the mirror? I don’t know.
When you look at that movie and look at you guys, do you think you look like white women in that?
We look like aliens. We look like some white girls. We look like the white girls that white guys don’t want to [bleep]. But the black guys is like, “Yo, that bitch is thick.” [Laughs.] When I did “White Chicks” I was actually kind of [bleep]-able. Shawn, oh, hell no. Shawn looked crazy.
I’m going to have to pass on both of those.
You wouldn’t give me none as “White Chicks”?
Can’t say I would.
Terry Crews was, I think he really developed a crush on my character. Whenever I got in makeup he’d, “Hey, what’s up man, what’s up baby?” I was like, “Hey, dude.” and I’d take it off he’d be like, “[Oh, yeah.]”
As far as that goes, the first word coming to your mind about that is aliens, and in “Little Man” you were a little person pretending to be a baby ...
Can we look at my filmography for a second? I’ve played a white woman. I’ve played a midget. I’ve played a crackhead. I’ve played a gangster. I’ve played a Shakespearean educated teacher … Who has a filmography like that? That’s crazy! A white woman and a midget? Sorry, Sir Laurence Olivier never played a midget! Never played a white woman, man! Where’s my Oscar?
But I’m wondering when you make those, is there any sense of—for me as a viewer with those movies I couldn’t help but say, “No one would believe that he was a baby in that movie, and those don’t look like white women.”
You should never ever go see a comedy ever. You should only see dramas. You gotta go see, yeah, just dramas. ‘Cause you can’t think like that in a movie! When you go see a movie you gotta suspend—
Do you think all comedies ...
When you go see “Jurassic Park” ...
I love “Jurassic Park”!
Do you go, “Oh my God, [those aren’t] real dinosaurs”?
Of course not, because they make it believable on screen.
You can’t believe—you can’t suspend the believability, you can’t suspend the reality and go, “You know what, I can believe that as a baby”?
I could …
“I can believe Marlon and Shawn are white women.”
In that case it didn’t seem believable to me.
[And it took] so much makeup. That’s tough! I had to tuck back … Here’s the thing, if I had a vagina, you would have believed it.
You’re right. That would have sold it. But I’m glad we didn’t have to take it there.
But you know what, I could have. I could have.
You considered that?
That’s method acting. You gotta do it. I considered that.
A white vagina or a black vagina?
I’d start with a black vagina and then go to a white vagina.
And you’d be in seven more hours of makeup.
But the surgery to go to a white vagina, you know how painful that is?
One thing at a time. ‘Cause there’s skin grafting involved. Just doing a vagina alone is a lot of work. To add the white and the pink, get that perfect, that’s like a couple of surgeries. I would go black vagina first. Then I would do for the sequel, I would do a white vagina.
Now I do wish there was a sequel.
Now we’re going to do one. But can you suspend the fact that, “Oh, they’re guys. They’re black guys.”
The second time yes, I will.
OK. [I see] that was hard for you.
On his rumored movie in which he’ll play Richard Pryor: “I hope it does [happen]. I think it is. Right now it’s lying dormant. But who knows. If that’s something that I can’t get done in the next couple of years, the beautiful thing is I’m doing standup … before that I wasn’t doing standup, now I’m doing standup to prepare for it. So if it happens and when it happens that’d be great. If not then I’m going to try to make it happen. I think I want to get that one funded. I want to go raise some money and make that happen because it’s an awesome role. You talk about a drama, that’s the perfect drama for me because it’s a drama about a comedian. And it’s really like a tragedy. It’s such an awesome script. It goes everywhere. And I can be hysterically funny but at the same time I can really put on a powerful dramatic performance. If you seen the screen test you would lose your [bleepin’]—you would go, ‘I like this guy.’ No you would probably go, ‘Come on, that’s not Richard Pryor. That’s Marlon Wayans.’”
On re-tweeting people’s comments no matter what they say: “You know what’s funny, someone today, I was tweeting all the reactions from last night’s screening, I told them, ‘I want you guys to tweet me no matter your opinion. I don’t care what your opinion is. Good bad, whatever, I’ll re-tweet it.’ So hundreds of people tweeting me all these good responses… and somebody tweeted me, ‘I didn’t like it. Not at all. I didn’t like it one bit. Wasn’t for me.’ I re-tweeted it and somebody hit me up like, ‘Yo, I love you because you re-tweeted bad ones. That’s awesome.’ The guy was serious about not liking it. I was just like, ‘You’re entitled to your opinion. I’m not mad.’”
Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U
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