The Best Man Holiday comes 14 years after its predecessor The Best Man arrived in theaters. For the sequel, the whole cast has returned to reprise their roles as the characters reunite for Christmas at Lance (Morris Chestnut) and Mia’s (Monica Calhoun) giant mansion. It’s not long though before old rivalries and romances get re-awakened and threaten to derail the entire experience.
Last week we had the chance to catch up with Morris Chestnut and Monica Calhoun at The Best Man Holiday press junket, which was held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles, California. Cheerful and eager to speak with journalists, the two actors spoke about how this has been a great year for African American films, how emotionally draining their roles were, what they consider to be the proudest moments in their careers so far and much more.
Check it out below and enjoy!
This year has been really great for black filmmakers and we’ve seen a lot of really good films, like The Best Man Holiday and Fruitvale Station, releasing into theatres. African American men in these movies are portrayed as powerful but still vulnerable. Why do you feel that it’s important that we see these kinds of characters?
Morris Chestnut: I think it’s very important especially because sometimes the stereotypes that a lot of people have are of black men in jail or who don’t take care of their kids, so I think it’s always important to have that. This is a great time for black cinema because there are a lot of black films being made. Fruitvale Station, The Butler and 12 Years a Slave are all great films, but they were actually made because they were about real people. Our movie is just a remake and it’s kind of refreshing to see.
Both of you have really emotional storylines in this film. How did you channel those emotions?
Morris Chestnut: For me it’s really tough because you have to go to that place where you really, really don’t want to go to or revisit. After the first movie when I was crying at the altar, whenever I would think about it I would get chills for months after the first Best Man because I had to go to that place. And then here we are with this one and we are going to that place again. It’s just extremely emotional to just have to keep revisiting it, but it can also be therapeutic.
Monica Calhoun: You know what I noticed? When we were working, that anger was still there. You carried a lot of the anger that I slept with your best friend, and so it was difficult trying to chip away at that wall that gets you to balance it out. You made me work for your warmth. You made me work for wanting to be friendly around everyone for the holidays. I saw that tension and the emotion that you are talking about, pulling and driving for what was to come a little bit later on. There’s so many things that we all go through in our lives that are pulled from that.
Morris Chestnut: We really connected throughout the whole time. Just going to all those places we had to go to was tough.
At what point did you decide that you wanted to come back and reprise your roles?
Morris Chestnut: We all loved working with each other on the original. Obviously a lot of time has passed, but we all went to dinner with our director, Malcom Lee, and talked about the storylines. He talked about where we were going to be in our lives, you know, X amount of years later and what we were going to have to go through. Even at that point we were all like, “Yeah it would be interesting, it would be great to get back together and do this again.” But once we read the script, I think that just really solidified everything because the script spoke to me.
Monica Calhoun: The script spoke to me too because you’ve got to think about it. The college friends that met in college have stayed friends, and to see them years later and how their lives have developed I thought would be very interesting. Also, Mia’s and Lance’s journey and what they were going through, I thought that would be interesting and challenging for me as an actress.
Morris Chestnut: Very challenging.
Monica you had your big scene where you kind of had to own up to your part in breaking up the friendship between Lance and Harper. How is that for you as a woman and for your role?
Monica Calhoun: It was cathartic to go through that process, to own up for the role of possibly or potentially destroying a friendship.
Morris Chestnut: I remember when we were in rehearsals and we were going through it because we rehearsed before we went to Toronto, and it’s more of the same. She and I had to deal with a lot of stuff in this movie and we really have to take ourselves there. It actually started in rehearsals, and just revisiting that piece of it all. Just the way Monica is and what she says and the way she looks at me, it really affects me throughout rehearsals and throughout the scenes.