The Best Man Holiday Set Visit – Morris Chestnut and Melissa De Sousa
The Best Man Holiday Set Visit
Morris Chestnut and Melissa De Sousa
By Wilson Morales
July 17, 2013
On a fairly cold evening in Toronto this past May, Blackfilm.com, and a handful of other colleagues, got a chance to visit the set of the upcoming ‘The Best Man Holiday,’ the sequel to the 1999 hit film directed by Malcolm D. Lee.
After nearly 15 years, the whole cast (Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Terrence Howard, Morris Chestnut, Harold Perrineau, Regina Hall, Melissa De Sousa, and Monica Calhoun) is back in a new story that reunites the characters we have all come to love.
We haven’t been told much of the plot except that “when the college friends finally reunite over the Christmas holidays, they will discover just how easy it is for long-forgotten rivalries and romances to be ignited.”
Universal Pictures had us come up when the entire cast would be shooting a scene together. Standing behind director Malcolm Lee, we saw several takes of Nia (playing Jordan) and Eddie Cibrian first arriving at the house owned by Lance Sullivan (played by Chestnut), while the group is gathered in the living room catching up.
Cibrian is playing Jordan’s boyfriend judging from the trailer that went online recently.
After a few hours, members of the cast came by and talked about reuniting with each other and reprising their characters.
For Chestnut, ‘The Best Man’ was his comeback film. After making an impressive film debut as Ricky Baker in John Singleton’s 1991 film ‘Boyz n the Hood’ and one season of the TV series ‘Out All Night’ with Duane Martin and Vivica A. Fox, the California native had small roles in ‘The Inkwell,’ ‘Under Siege 2: Dark Territory,’ and ‘G.I. Jane.’ In playing football Lance Sullivan and with his first entrance in the film, the hearts of many were captured. Since then, he’s had a string of films and this year alone, has had roles in ‘Identity Thief’ with Melissa McCarthy, ‘The Call’ with Halle Berry, and the upcoming ‘Kick-Ass 2.’ He also completed a stint on Showtime’s ‘Nurse Jackie.’
‘The Best Man Holiday’ also sees the return of Melissa De Sousa as Shelby, the ex-girlfriend of Julian. Besides Howard, De Sousa also provided the comic relief in the film. The New York City native had previously worked in smaller roles and afterwards was recognized in films such as ‘Miss Congeniality’ with Sandra Bullock, ’30 Years to Life’ with Tracy Morgan and Kadeem Hardison, and currently in BET’s ‘Reed Between the Lines.’
So how does it feel to be back?
Melissa De Sousa: It feels really good. We’ve fallen right back into our rhythm, it’s like we’re old friends literally getting back together again. There’s nine of us and we actually all like each other and get along.
Morris Chestnut: Except I don’t like Melissa.
DE SOUSA: (laughs) He doesn’t. He threatens me all the time.
Looking through the script after you guys got together, what was the first set of emotions that went through your head upon seeing where the characters go?
CHESTNUT: The whole process of moviemaking is I don’t get too excited until I’m on set, because so many times we have projects that are about to be greenlit and we went to dinner as a cast two-years ago and then Malcolm calls and says, “Yeah, it’s looking good” and then nothing would happen. Even after the table read it’s like, “Yeah, they like the table read but we’ve still got to jump through some hoops.” I wasn’t too excited about it until it actually happened.
DE SOUSA: At the dinner it was good to see everybody but I felt like that was just a talk and what he’s thinking of doing, but once we did the table read… actually two table reads, one after the dinner and then an official one for Universal. Once we did the table read for Universal I felt a little excitement because I knew it was going to be a slam dunk after that. I mean c’mon, once you get us all together we just click for some reason. This must be some type of cosmic thing.
As popular as this film has been over the years you wonder why it’s taken so long to greenlight a film that people want. Do you think the success of “Think Like a Man,” another ensemble film, compelled them to say, “Hey, maybe we can do something”?
DE SOUSA: I think it helped.
CHESTNUT: I think it helped but the industry fluctuates to where they’re making a lot of certain movies and then they’re not. The demise of DVDs meant the industry as a whole stopped making as many movies because the revenue streams weren’t as strong. Now you mainly only see huge blockbuster tentpole movies or you see lower budgeted movies. The overwhelming success of “Think Like a Man”…
DE SOUSA: Exactly, overwhelming. Of course they’re like, “Let’s get onboard, let’s make $98-million.”
Melissa you’re blingin’, so what do you do in the movie?
DE SOUSA: (laughs) Well Shelby has come up!
Even your fingertips…
DE SOUSA: I know, I came up with that. Shelby has come up in the game. I can’t tell you exactly how but she’s come up. You saw I got played out at the end of the last movie, but I come up and come back and come correct. She comes back as a force to be reckoned with. She has the upper hand when she comes back.
Shelby is such an interesting character in the first one because you love to hate her. How hard is it for you to get that character out of you?
CHESTNUT: Oh it’s very easy for her. (laughs)
DE SOUSA: I knew he was going to say that! You know when I first read the script there was something that just jumped off the page. A part of it is it’s who sometimes everyone wants to be but doesn’t have the courage. She says things that people want to say and behaves how people want to behave, so for me it was fun because sometimes you want to be bad! I’ve always been very introverted growing up, people picked on me when I was growing up, I was quiet, but this character is so out there, but I loved playing her. I loved being crazy and bad and not giving a s**t what anyone thinks, and I say whatever I want.
Where’s Lance? I noticed a kind of iciness to the scene…
CHESTNUT: Just a little bit.
This is his house, right?
CHESTNUT: This is my crib! Yeah, it’s my crib!
I mean I know you got money, but where are you in your relationships?
CHESTNUT: Lance right now has matured since the first movie. He has a family now, and he’s dealing with other personal things in his life. He accepts Harper back into this house and into his life for a reason. He’s having a difficult time right now. He’s trying to break the record but there’s a personal crisis that’s overtaken everything else.
DE SOUSA: He’s so deep!
You guys have done other projects in the last ten years, but most people know your characters by name. Why do you think this movie still resonates with audiences ten plus years later?
DE SOUSA: It’s been almost fifteen. I think my character per se is one of those memorable parts that just sticks to certain people, especially in the African American community. People still call me Shelby in the street. All these characters were fresh and new and people were craving this kind of smart comedy. It stuck with people because it was something new that people had been wanting to see for so long. Intelligent characters that they could really relate to, not just the urban stereotype.
Is there pressure to look the way you did fifteen years ago?
DE SOUSA: No pressure, black don’t crack. (laughs) That’s just a given, that’s how it goes.
I think you guys got some body doubles.
DE SOUSA: I worked hard, because a year ago you would have been like, “Well DAMN!” I was on my couch eatin’.
When people walk down the street do they yell “Ricky!” or “Lance”?
CHESTNUT: It’s primarily Ricky. For me when you have Ricky I think people relate to those two characters because they really feel for them. Ricky they really wanted to get the scholarship and he got the 700 and why’d he have to die? Here and in the original movie, even though I’ve had my indiscretions people, especially me, related to me being on the altar and having the images of my woman being done by another man and crying at the altar. Emotionally I’ve been lucky to strike an emotional chord, but it’s mainly Ricky.
In a way Lance is the dream that Ricky didn’t get to live.
CHESTNUT: Yeah, very much so. That’s deep. It’s a continuation of Ricky. Actually his real name is Ricky… no, I’m just joking.
Overall this entire year has been good for you because of “Identity Thief,” “The Call,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Kick-Ass 2.” Would you say that even though you’ve been working all these years that this is YOUR year?
CHESTNUT: No, I wouldn’t say that. The thing about this industry is you never know how or when things are going to come. To be honest I don’t even know how most of those things came, they just sort of happened. Even on this, we talked about this movie two years ago and it’s only happening now. What if it happened next year? I just take things as they come and try to keep it moving; keep myself as versatile as possible.
Was this one of the ones you were looking most forward to, though?
CHESTNUT: This movie? Yes, primarily because I love the original movie and this cast is great. People relate to the characters and wanted them to get back together because it’s fun. It’s just so emotional. This is the most emotional character I’ve ever played. These movies have taken a lot out of me.
Is your character still a bitch in this movie?
DE SOUSA: I know! You definitely see another side of her in this movie because of what happens. You see a change in her. It’s not one-sided this time. I’m still wrecking havoc, but you see another side to her and that’s great. I think the audience will like that, I hope they do.
CHESTNUT: Yeah, her character has a nice arc in this movie. You see a different side of her which makes it more relatable.
How was it for Shelby to come back? You got two men.
DE SOUSA: Monica Calhoun is his wife; that’s the only reason I’m still a part of his life, you find out that Monica and me pledged together. He just puts up with me because he has to; he would do whatever for his wife. I’m still connected to them, they’re like, “Ahh, she’s still here!”