Morris, you have been known as a ladies’ man around Hollywood. As you’ve matured in your career, do you have to clear that stuff out of the way so you can work?
Morris Chestnut: It was very difficult. With this particular movie it’s 14 years later and the character still needs to be playing football, so it was really challenging for me physically to have to be in great shape. Then Malcolm said that he wanted me to take my shirt off, and there were a couple of other explicit scenes that we didn’t get to shoot. So it was tough for me emotionally and physically because I really couldn’t eat. I lost a lot of weight for that movie just because I still had to portray the football player who is still in shape. But fortunately Malcolm gave me enough in this movie to where I could convey how far that I feel that I’ve come, and I’m still growing as an actor in a lot of those scenes. It was really challenging. Even when I first read the script I said, “Oh man. He’s really emotional and there are so many emotional things.” It’s really hard to do that in an ensemble movie because you’re there and everybody’s talking about, “Yeah we had a good time last night, and tonight were going to the club” and all that stuff, and I had to be over in my little corner just kind of focusing on what I needed to do to get to that place. But Monica and I were there together so I think it worked.
We all heard that the dance scene you guys did in the movie was a quick study. Who was the most helpful in teaching you your dance movies.
Morris Chestnut: Harold Perrineau, that dude can move! He went to Alvin Ailey (American Dance Theater in New York City) and he’s a fierce dancer. Taye (Diggs) is actually a really good dancer as well. They gave us some videotapes to watch, but the choreographer didn’t come until two days before we shot the film so we all went in to practice. Terrence was late, came for about 30 minutes and left (laughs). I was just trying to get the moves down, and then on that Sunday I had to call and say I needed some more help because it just doesn’t come easy to me. Nothing in this movie came easy to me. This was some tough work!
How did you keep a straight face throughout that whole choreography?
Morris Chestnut: To be honest, I was focused on Monica the whole time in the movie because throughout my performance everything was for her. Everything that my character did, everything that he was, was for her.
Monica Calhoun: And everything that she did was for him and to restore his friendship with his best friend.
Some people think that watching this film will become part of many holiday traditions. What starts your holiday traditions?
Monica Calhoun: I haven’t designated a holiday tradition this year.
Morris Chestnut: With me, my wife is big on holidays. Believe it or not, every year after Halloween she puts up Christmas decorations. That’s the tradition. I missed the pumpkin carving this year, but Christmas decorations are already up.
What has been your proudest moment in your career so far?
Monica Calhoun: It’s really difficult for me to answer that question because the past 20 something odd years I’ve had a roller coaster effect. I’ve worked in the industry on several different levels, so the proudest moment I could say… I got several because each experience is different, but I will solidify this film as one of the proudest moments because to go from knowing these folks when we were just basically kids and now we are grown and we’re able to have… Well, I’m still working on having grown up conversations (laughs) and I’m still working on creating a different sort of family life as opposed to the family life that I have right now. You have to hook me up with the traditions and a good handsome friend.
Morris Chestnut: (laughs) You’ll want none of my friends.
Monica Calhoun: Okay then never mind (laughs).
Morris Chestnut: I think that this is definitely one of the proudest moments because it was 14 years ago that we made the original in Hollywood, and to still be able to make a film that you’re proud of and be relevant in Hollywood really doesn’t happen too often. Hopefully I’ll be proud when the box office numbers come out, but even if the numbers don’t come out to what we expect, I’m just proud to be able to be a part of this film and just to have the impact and be able to do the work that we did in the movie.
Malcolm has dropped hints that he has an idea for a third movie. Have you all signed up to do a third movie, or is that contingent on how this one does at the box office?
Monica Calhoun: I’ll come back as a ghost and whisper in everybody’s ears (laughs).
Morris Chestnut: No we are not signed up. If they want to do a third one I would love to. That means this one did very well for us to do it. It’s also kind of funny because people asked me that question about Boyz n The Hood, “Are you going to do a sequel?” I mean, how do I come back?
Monica Calhoun: You can come back as a ghost and say, “Don’t go down the alley” (laughs).
That concludes our interview but we’d like to thank Monica and Morris for their time. Be sure to check out The Best Man Holiday when it hits theatres this Friday!