The movie, "Think Like A Man," adapted from Steve Harvey's book, 'Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man,' is set to open nationwide April 20. I recently caught up with some of the stars, Michael Ealy (ME), Kevin Hart (KH) and Romany Malco (RM) to talk about the film.
Q: Kevin, you had great one-liners throughout the movie (the movie was going up and down with your one-liners), how much of it was scripted and how much of it was your brilliance?
KH: The great thing about Tim Story is as a director you have choices you can make with your talent. You can have your talent be married to the actual material or you can realize sometimes that talent that you have and where their strengths are. In comedy my talents are improvisation. So Tim allowed me to improve whenever I wanted to as long as I stayed within the character guideline and that’s what I did. I think some of it was me; some of it was the script. A lot of those funny moments are probably me just riffing to some funny stuff.
Q: Michael, what did you think of your film?
ME: I love it! I honestly love it! I am watching myself the first time… I was more critical of my own stuff. I was just telling the writers that when anybody else was on the screen but me, I just thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed watching every character go through their beats and their development. I enjoyed every relationship. Every relationship was fleshed out. The movie breaths enough so that every relationship had an arch and that is so rare in romantic comedies.
Q: Michael, you reference your 'For Colored Girls' character and it was hilarious! Who’s idea was it? Was it you? The writers?
ME: I don’t know who had the line. I was like ‘nah, nah, nah!’ If anybody is gonna say something, its gonna be me. That’s just too perfect. It’s way too perfect! I’m glad people got it. You always have to be careful with what you say these days. But was innocent and its fun that way.
Q: I’d like to know if the three of you actually read Steve Harvey’s book and what do you really think as men about whether or not he actually told your secrets or what you think about the book…period.
RM: I actually read the book after I read the script. I actually understood a lot of what he was saying in the book, but I didn’t necessarily agree with it. There was an instance where his wife loves to scuba diva, but because of the fact that he couldn’t scuba diva it made him nervous that he wouldn’t be able to save her (if something happened). If found it a little bit contradictory because at the same time he speaks in the faith of God, you know. Certain things you just can’t control. So that I kind of had a little bit of a beef with. But, what he as saying fundamentally, for the most part, I think it does apply, maybe to the status quo. I think….I don’t want to get myself in trouble.
Q: You just did!
KH: I read the book. I like the book. The reason why I liked the book is because what he is doing is being honest. I think he is being honest from his point of view, which I think is great! Me being an entertainer coming from a stand-up comedy background, when you are self-deprecating is great because you are being vulnerable. You are letting people in on your world, your mistakes and what you’ve done. For Steve to talk about the things he talks about in this book, he basically saying, ‘look I’m a man and I know how men think and the mistakes that men make, but at the same time, ladies there’s reasons for the mistakes that we make.’ It made women aware of the things that they should and shouldn’t do. When you have a certain level of respect for yourself and carry yourself a certain way, a man has no choice but to treat you the way you want to be treated. He did a great job at showing that gradually in the book. At the end of the day a woman get that its not about him just bashing men, its about him letting you in a man’s mind and saying, ‘listen, we can do better, but you have to help us and here’s how you help us by doing these things and the attitudes and the way you want to be treated and carry yourself. Things should be changed on that side and it forces us to change. It was a smart book to me and I enjoyed it.
Q: No, you didn’t read it? No, you aren’t gonna read it?
ME: I may at some point, I thought it was important for me just as a character to not have any understanding of the book whatsoever, so that when the book comes up in the movie its, ‘what is this?’ and its more of a shock and ‘what is he doing?’ ‘he’s a traitor’ and stuff like that. During the production it was not imperative at all for me just as an artist to go there and approach the script as it was. Because often times books and scripts are two different worlds, so I didn’t want that to affect the script. I was playing the script.
(l-r) MICHAEL EALY, KEVIN HART, GARY OWEN, TERRENCE J, ROMANY MALCO & JERRY FERRARA, star in "THINK LIKE A MAN"
Q: With no disrespect to the screenwriters, Kevin it seemed to me that you scripted your own little story in a sense. It might have even been written that way, but it seemed you where given a lot of liberties that worked. How was that working with the script verses him [Story] allowing you to adlib a little bit…and what percentage did you adlib?
KH: You have to make smart choices when trying to improvise. You gotta make smart decisions. Everybody can go and everybody can be funny. But I think what was so important about this was staying within the story. There is a story being told and your character’s journey has to make sense. Sometimes you can be funny, but now I took us out of where we were suppose to be, by being funny. My conversations with Tim and Will were always, ‘listen I think its good if I did this while they are doing this or if my character were to talk about this and snap about certain things. ‘ It makes sense of everybody else and how they feel.
At some points I wanted to be angry. At some points I felt like what they were saying it should be irrelevant to what my overall bigger picture is, which was taking everybody away and do something with me for a change. Because when you are going through a divorce, that’s what you want. You want your friends to be around you, you need male company. I don’t want to see no woman. Women are the devil. They are the enemy. I need my friends right now, and y’all not there for me. That’s the feeling that you go through. For me going through a divorce in life, I took some of those things and added it to it. It was all those conversations. Tim and I would talk. He would agree and if he disagreed I would say ‘ok, that makes sense.’ It was a great relationship between an actor and a director to allow me to do the things I did.
'THINK LIKE A MAN'
RM: In any comedy or project that I have been involved in that was really successful, usually involved collaboration. It’s actually what [Kevin] was saying. Not just collaboration amongst the actors, but the fact that the actor was able to go to the director or the producer and interject ideas. And even the writer, if the writer is on set. So the collaboration is actually 360 (degrees).
Q: Out of the three characters you played, which is the closest to who you really are?
KH: My divorce was finalized in the middle of filming. The only difference is that in the movie there were points that the audience would think I hated “Gail” [Wendy Williams’ character] and what I was going through. And in the end I made a 360.
Q: You mean a 180. (laughing).
JERRY FERRARA, GARY OWEN, TERRENCE J,
MICHAEL EALY & ROMANY MALCO
Q: You mentioned kids. You have a daughter. You are going to have to in part some kind of knowledge of dating on your daughter. You may be writing your own book one day, either literally or figuratively about dating and relationships for your daughter. What’s the advice you are going to pass on to her?
KH: I am a firm believer that you can only give so much advise. My mother was a great mother. She told me everything I needed know, and I still made mistakes. I still did dumb stuff. You have to do dumb stuff to grow and learn that its dumb stuff. As a father, all I can do is be a great dad, which I am. I can be there for my daughter. I spend time with my daughter. My daughter understands that she has a father figure in her life that’s above and beyond what he’s suppose to be. At the end of the day I am doing my job. When she wants to talk and needs advice, I’m going to be there for her. She’s going to make mistakes and I don’t expect her to be perfect. She’ll never be beat or punished for doing things I know I did as well. My job is to just have my daughter in a place where she feels comfortable enough to talk to me about anything. I think that’s what you want as a parent.
ROMANY MALCO & MEAGAN GOOD
Q: Romany, can you talk about working with Megan and whether do you believe in the 90-day rule?
RM: I kind of implement my own waiting rule as well.
Q: How long is it?
RM: I have literally been with a woman for a year before we went to bed. I was just kickin’ it with a chick for six months. For me, I look at myself like a business or a corporation. I have like 20 plus people that work on my behalf and they have families and kids. They rely on me to deliver a certain service so we all can eat. I don’t now if I can justify risking that because I was tempted to “hit” this or be with a person. It's something I just grew up learning. At the end of the day you can tell people and say whatever you want, but it's time. For me, if I am with a woman and investing time, without necessarily wanting to be “there” and she feels uncomfortable because she needs to be validated via the vagina, that she’s probably not the chick for me; especially in the profession I’m in. I need to be with a woman who is secure enough within herself to be able to indulge outside of that at times, because when you are in relationships that’s usually the first thing to go anyway.
RM: Working with Megan…it’s my second time working with Megan. It was like… How many times have you seen a fruit bowl and there is a mango in there? Me and Megan worked together in a Mike Meyers movie and we never got to do any scenes…its like looking at that fruit bowl and not being able to touch it. So this time the minute we were like, ‘yo’ we are working together.’ I was like, ‘Yo! I get to bite into this fruit!’
TARAJI P. HENSON
Q: What was it like working with Taraji?
ME: Literally a dream. I have been wanting to work with her for years. We talked about it. The two most dramatic actors that we are coming together and doing something powerful…and we came together and did this…and had so much fun actually being silly. One of the things I learned is that romance is comedic. I understand the whole point of having a romantic comedy. Before I never wanted to do one because I didn’t understand it. But now I totally understand how funny the whole thing is. Working with Taraji day in and day out, there is nothing she can’t handle. There were things that I threw at her that she didn’t know was coming and she just knocked it out of the park. She is so dope! That is the only way to describe her. I hope that we get to do more projects together.
Q: More love scenes?
ME: We can do that too!
Q; Talk about the basketball scenes with Lisa Leslie and trying to score and defend her.
ME: Let me just say this. There was no script for that. They were like, ‘Kevin, go!’ I gotta give all credit to him. He did that whole scene.
KH: Lisa is great! She allowed me to play and we went back and forth with ideas and stuff to do. The whole thing was me playing on the fact that I am small, but have this big personality. Nothing but trash talk. She literally did what she wanted to do and in real life she could do the same. She’s great!