Mekado Murphy (The New York Times and Clarín)
The comedian and actor tore himself apart filming a foot chase with Will Smith in his new movie Bad Boys: Forever, the third in the cop buddies franchise that was born 25 years ago. This last episode, of course, has a few jokes about the age of its protagonists (the phrase “ride together, die together” could be changed to “die together”, now that Smith’s character needs to touch the gray of his beard). And yet it has high-octane action scenes that characterize these movies.
Lawrence’s character Marcus Burnett, like Lawrence himself now, is a bit thoughtful. They have both had long careers, with ups and downs, and are thinking about their past as well as their future. In a telephone interview between public appearances in New York, Lawrence, 54, spoke about his estrangement from film, about comedy today, about his work on the homonymous sitcom that solidified his stardom in the 1990s, and also about his controversial stint as host of Saturday Night Live. Here are some excerpts from that conversation:
– “Bad Boys: Forever” is your first major role since “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son” in 2011. Why did you let so much time pass before starring in another?
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence at the “Bad Boys: Forever” Premiere. FTP CLARIN
-I had not received any script that seemed good enough or in which I wanted to get involved. And I had to deal with personal things in my life. I lost my mother. I lost my father. I lost my older brother. So it was a time to dedicate myself, spiritually, to reconnect and go through all of that.
-The idea of making another “Bad Boys” sequel had been considered for some time. What was it that finally convinced you?
-Well, first of all, the possibility of working with Will again. Having the opportunity to work with one of the best in the business, again, was a great joy for me. And the fact that we had such a good script that we felt like we could give people something as worthy as the first two.
-The funny thing about these movies is the way you talk between the two of you. Did they improvise those jokes?
-In this movie less than in the others. In the others we added much more. In this most of the jokes were written.
-Are you and Will friends, apart from these films?
-Absolutely. Will is one of my good friends. She could call Will to talk about anything, and so could he.
– This time there were challenges on set, in any of the action moments?
-Yes, I couldn’t do so much exercise this time before filming, because I had hurt my back on one of the tours. So when we did the chase scene, I was torn apart. We had to use the doubles. But when you see the movie you don’t notice it at all.
-Are you willing to make more movies after this one?
-Yes, but I don’t want to make movies to make movies. I don’t want to do anything that’s not worth my time. I want to work with good people on good movies.
-You are on tour working as a host in a comedy show this year. What is different now in the world of comedy, if you have to compare it to the times when you were a host of Def Comedy Jam?
-The truth is that there is no difference. Comedians gave their all when I did Def Comedy Jam. And the comedians that I have toured in the Tower bedThey give their all too, capturing every moment and taking advantage of the times.
-Do you think that stand-up is your first love?
-Definitely. The stand-up is my baby. It’s where I started.
-There are many renowned comedians in your show, such as Lil Rel Howery, Adele Givens and Hannibal Buress. Are there others that you find interesting besides these?
No, those who work with me seem interesting to me. I am not thinking about what others are doing.
-Is there anything you see in the world of comedy that you think is a direct influence on him?
-I think people are more honest, rude and direct now. I took the blows when my movie You So Crazy (from 1994) was classified for over 18 years. And as a result, comedians can say what they want to say now.
-There was also a strong reaction when you hosted “Saturday Night Live” in 1994, for the opening monologue that got you kicked out of the show.
-I have nothing to say about Saturday Night Live, it is not mine. I had my moment there, it was what it was and I moved on with my life.
-Did you watch the show again?
-The only time I saw him was when Eddie (Murphy) was there.
-If the Martin Lawrence of today could talk to the Martin Lawrence of 25 years ago, what advice would you give him?
-I would tell you to be more patient, more understanding with situations that are beyond your control. Learn to be a better person every day and give your best.
-What is the favorite character you created for “Martin”?
-Sheneneh, Jerome and Otis are the ones that stand out the most for me. Sheneneh’s attitude reminds me of my nieces and sisters, how they can say something that touches you and puts you in your place immediately. Otis is the old man who doesn’t let you take old people for granted. And Jerome is that laid-back person who always has a lot of people around him.
-In an interview with GQ magazine you suggested that you left “Martin” after co-star Tisha Campbell reported you for sexual harassment. (Lawrence and Campbell later reached an agreement)
– We are not going to touch that subject, the one of Tisha, because it is part of the past. I have nothing but love for her. I don’t want to talk about anything negative about her. Our relationship is one of love and respect.
-With a career that already has more than three decades, what is the most important thing in all these years?
-I would say to be professional. And be a little selfish about what you want. And then give everything. That’s what we did with Bad Boys. We put heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears in these movies.
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“I want to work with good people on good movies.”