When David Mamet’s play “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” hit the big screen with Rob Lowe and Demi Moore in 1986’s “About Last Night,” dating and relationships were tough. Nearly three decades later, that stuff is a piece of cake.
In the new “About Last Night” (opening Friday), the story moves from Chicago to L.A., and now Bernie (Kevin Hart) and Joan (Regina Hall of “Law and Order: LA”) are one-night standers whose volatile dynamic doesn’t dampen their sexual chemistry. They connect their pals Danny (Michael Ealy of “Almost Human”) and Debbie (Joy Bryant of “Parenthood”), whose romance blossoms more smoothly but still holds challenges .
Considering that Ealy, 40, and Hall, 43, both appeared in “Think Like a Man” (and its upcoming sequel) and Hall co-starred in both “The Best Man” and “The Best Man Holiday,” they should know a thing or two about relationships by now. The pair spilled the goods at the Trump Hotel.
The first time “About Last Night” was on the big screen was 1986. Tell me about your relationship concerns in 1986.
Michael Ealy: I wasn’t born.
Really? The Internet seems to be lying.
ME: It’s the Internet.
Regina Hall: I was in my mother’s womb. It was warm.
ME: I was probably trying to get to first base in 1986 as quick as I could if I remember correctly. No, I had actually gotten to second base at that point.
RH: I hadn’t kissed yet, and I remember that was a big deal. My friends were like, “You have to practice on the back of your hand.”
ME: Yeah? I had gotten a handful at that point I think.
RH: Really? Did they have handfuls at that age?
ME: Yeah, a couple of girls.
RH: I’m not quite a handful yet.
ME: Well, there’s time. You’re only 21.
RH: That’s true. Thank you, Michael.
ME: Your body’s not done growing.
Regina, did you practice on the back of your hand?
RH: I did! When it’s all you got, it’s all you got.
ME: Practice what?
RH: Kissing. I was kinda shy about kissing. I remember I gave a guy a speech. For a long time I was like, “The light may look red, but it’s actually yellow.” [Laughs] It was trying to let him know that after eight months I was OK with him trying to kiss me. [Laughs]
ME: That’s genius.
What should people do if their best friend is in a relationship with someone that they don’t think is right for them?
ME: How old are we talking at this point?
ME: Stay out of it.
RH: That’s what I was gonna—he’s thinking and talking for me! I don’t know what’s happening.
Is it different in the mid-30s?
RH: Hold on, let me ask someone. [Turns to the back of the room] Is someone here in their mid-30s?
ME: No one? No one?
ME: I think in the mid-30s you can address it.
RH: You can certainly ask thought-provoking questions that can then make them do their own sort of introspection..
What’s an example of a thought-provoking question like that?
RH: “You good?” [Laughs] Then they go, “What do you mean?”
ME: [Laughs] “Does he ever go to work?” “Does he just not want a job?”
RH: “You’re cool with paying?”
ME: “You don’t mind that he never goes to work?”
RH: “If you don’t mind, it’s cool.”
ME: Those kind of things. “Listen, the fact that he has a family and he’s married, does that bother you?”
RH: “So how many kids?”
ME: “How many are his?”
RH: “So he don’t like condoms, huh?” You can just insinuate something. “So he’s a health hazard?”
ME: That’s what you do in your mid-30s.
I see no way those conversations could go badly at all.
RH: [Laughs.] No, ‘cause they come from love.
Michael, you said you can relate to Danny because he’s a jerk sometimes. Can you please elaborate on that?
ME: Every guy’s gotta be a jerk sometimes.
RH: That’s true.
ME: I don’t know about every guy—I went through Mr. Nice Guy for a while, and it just wasn’t paying off. And guys like Bernie or Kev in this particular movie, guys with swagger, guys with confidence, they were the ones that the girls were responding to. And instead of just gradually getting there you go from being the nice guy to the jerk immediately [Laughs] ‘cause you overcompensate.
RH: Do you notice the responses are different?
ME: Totally, totally. It’s sad, but based on my experience—I’m not saying this is a generality across the board—but women based on my experience responded more to a man who stands up for himself.
But the guys are being jerks on purpose because they think it will work better, you’re saying?
ME: I don’t know if I’ve ever been a jerk on purpose. It’s more like don’t be so nice.
RH: So accommodating.
ME: [If you’re] too accommodating, anybody will run all over you at that point. Guy or girl, they’re just going to run all over you at that point. You’ve gotta set boundaries.
How can guys set that balance, Regina?
RH: Just kinda like what he said—you’re never so nice at the expense of yourself. You do what’s good for you. What’s kind to another person but ultimately what’s good for you as well.
There’s a scene in the movie where Joan asks Bernie if she’s his girlfriend during sex. Is it possible to get valuable, truthful information out of someone in a conversation that happens during sex?
ME: Absolutely not.
RH: I’m going to agree and say that most of the time, it may not work. That kind of question. During sex: “Are you my girlfriend?” “Do you have an STD?” Those things are generally not going to be answered.
Yeah, no one’s going to say yes to that. But there must be something you can ask.
RH: Yeah, you know what, I think that if a connection is already there—the truth is, Bernie was in a relationship whether he wants to admit it or not. He may not have been, but I felt it, and I saw in his eyes that he was loving Joan.
ME: If you felt it and you saw it in his eyes, why’d you ask him?
RH: Because I wanted to make sure that he knew it.
ME: You just wanted to hear him say it.
RH: So that we were clear. Because you know what happens a lot of times in relationships, men say, “You never asked.” So sometimes we ask so that it’s not implied.
Star Kevin Hart on the “About Last Night” remake, which moves the movie from Chicago to L.A. and has Hart take over in Jim Belushi’s role: “Chicago, first of all, is a great city. So much history with the city of Chicago. ‘About Last Night’ is a part of that history. So when you want to do great things, you gotta follow a great path. ‘About Last Night’ set a great path, so what we did, we just did a remake of it and we just tried to modernize it.”
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