Interview: Marlon Wayans Talks "A Haunted House," Handling His Own Business, & Restoring Parody's Good Name

Interview: Marlon Wayans Talks "A Haunted House," Handling His Own Business, & Restoring Parody's Good Name
It must be frustrating, then, to see films like Epic Movie and Vampires Suck come out and spoil what you and your brothers worked hard to make popular again back in the early 2000s. For lack of a better word, parodies have become a joke. They seem like people throw darts at a board filled with recent hit movie titles, rather than actually write a script.
What really frustrates me is that audiences actually think that we brought them that bullshit. I would never waste anybody's money that way. That's not what I do. I would never take anybody's hard-earned money and waste it. I'm glad that me and my brothers make it look easy. That makes it easy for copycats to copy it.

We watched our own franchise go to shit. Scary Movie was a good franchise that we started—now, I don't know what the hell it is. It's as bad as one of those other movies. It makes no damn sense. I'm glad we make it look easy, but now it's time for us to come back and do it the right way. And people now will be able to see, especially since Scary Movie 5 comes out four months after my movie. People will finally see who has the real formula. It's not on some competition shit—this is just what we do.

You can take the franchise we created, but you can't take the talent and jokes behind it. You can only fool audiences but for so long, and for so long the audiences have been fooled. They got fooled on Scary Movie 3 and they got fooled on Scary Movie 4. Now, we'll see who got the goods. I don't wish the people behind Scary Movie 5 anything bad, though. I wish them love. I just know that mine is going to make people laugh. I don't know what theirs is going to do.

I saw the Scary Movie 5 trailer in a packed theater recently, and there was an uncomfortable silence the entire time it played. People looked more embarrassed than entertained.
Yeah, and I've seen my trailer play in front of audiences and the people laugh. And my trailer doesn't even have, I would say, a tenth of the jokes that we have in our movie. At no point do you go, "Oh, that's all the jokes they have in the movie." No, that's not even our best stuff.

I'm not being cocky—I'm being confident. I've been studying comedy since I was 4 years old. This isn't about business, or me being a business guy making a movie. No, this is something that we've done since we were kids. I was raised to do this. I was raised and cultivated to do this. Comedy is a science that I've studied since I was 4 years old. So I'm excited that both movies are coming out. Every time people see the Scary Movie 5 trailer and then the A Haunted House trailer, they're like, "Oh, that Scary Movie 5 looks like nonsense. Those movies haven't been funny since the Wayans left."

I wish it love, because one of my great friends [Malcolm D. Lee] is directing it. I wish it love. But, for me, all I wish is that people would stop associating me with that franchise. We did the first two. I don't want nothing to do with it. I don't got no beef, but I don't want to be credited for something I didn't do. I want my audience to know that I had nothing to do with it. If you don't see my face on it, chances are that I had nothing to do with it.

Transitioning back into A Haunted House specifically, was the plan all along for you to do this one all on your own. Since the parody genre has gone to shit, as you say, was there ever any thoughts amongst you and your brothers to do another Wayans family production to restore the good name?
No, my brothers were busy doing other stuff. Shawn was working on a movie, Keenen was working on some flicks and other things he's working on. This genre kind of lends itself to small casts and only one or two real leads. If my brother Shawn and I are in a movie together, chances are we got to play brothers, or relatives.

 
Every time people see the Scary Movie 5 trailer and then the A Haunted House trailer, they're like, 'Oh, that Scary Movie 5 looks like nonsense. Those movies haven't been funny since the Wayans left.'
 

Maybe he could've played the small role played by Affion Crockett in the movie, but with Shawn, it wouldn't have been sizable enough for him. It would've been a great cameo, but it wasn't something that he wanted to do. Honestly, you want something with more teeth for him. If we're going to be in a movie together, people want to see the Wayans brothers together.

So this one lent itself to a small cast. And, honestly, I wrote this script right out of my pocket, within a couple of days inside my house. But it just so happened that I found a great financier partner at IM Global, so we wound up doing it together. This kind of just ended up being something that I'd do on my own. Plus, I think my brothers wanted me to do something on my own because I'm at that age now. I'm 40, I'm a big boy, and I've been studying for a long time. Now it's time to take the training wheels off and just see what I can do.

Were there any difficulties that you weren't anticipating, from not having your brothers around?
You know, every movie you do is going to be tough, but I always welcome the challenges. Nothing's going to be perfect. The only perfection that you're going to get comes through making the imperfect perfect. That's part of my creativity. It's like, OK, if I can't do this, how can I do this? What are my constraints? Don't tell me I can't—tell me how I can. That's been our approach. We didn't have much money to do it, but we figured out ways to get everything done that we wanted to get done. I had a great crew, a great cast, and great partners with this. And I'm really happy with how they're marketing it.

Looking back at your career, you've always been interested in working outside of the Wayans family circle, whether it's starring in dramas like Requiem for a Dream or blockbusters like G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. What do you think it is about you that's always compelled you to step outside of the family and work independently?
Well, a lot of times I hear people from families saying, "Oh, I want to escape being known only for my family's name and brand." But for me, I love the Wayans thing. That's my tribe. I love them to death. I'm in love with my family. Those are the greatest people I've ever met or I will ever meet. I live first to be a father, a son, a brother, and a friend. Actor, producer, and director come after those things I just mentioned. The things that are important to me are just letting people know how I love my family and how I move in my life to make their lives easier.

I never want to escape my tribe, but I do have different dreams. I do have different goals from my brothers. I like doing drama because I'm a performing arts high school kid—that's why it took me so long to get to do stand-up. I'm an actor, but my brothers came up as comedians, so they're writers, producers, directors, and stars every night on stage. That's what they gravitate towards, but, for me, I came up as an actor.

Now, though, I'm a comedian, so I'm understanding both, and I want to do both. So if there's a project with a director and a cast that I think can be successful, or at least it has a chance to be successful, I'll go do it. If I'm going to do some bullshit, I'd rather do my own bullshit.

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Tags: marlon-wayans, a-haunted-house, scary-movie, spoof-movies, found-footage
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