Jerry Ferrera, Gary Owen, Terrence J, Michael Ealy and Romany Malco in THINK LIKE A MAN | ©2012 Screen Gems

Jerry Ferrera, Gary Owen, Terrence J, Michael Ealy and Romany Malco in THINK LIKE A MAN | ©2012 Screen Gems

Actor/comic Romany Malco is actually in the middle of moving from Los Angeles to Brooklyn during this phone conversation – workers periodically ask him questions and his American bulldog Doodles occasionally gives a contented-sounding “Woof” in the background. Despite this, Malco seems remarkably focused and friendly as he discusses his new romantic comedy movie THINK LIKE A MAN, the animated FX comedy UNSUPERVISED, his new social network/TV project ROMANY MEETS HIS FRIENDS and more.

ASSIGNMENT X: What is THINK LIKE A MAN about?

ROMANY MALCO: It’s really about women trying to think about how to think like a man, and also [men being more aware of women’s needs]. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before. This is a unique movie, undoubtedly one of my proudest projects to date.

AX: What’s your character Zeke like?

MALCO: There are several different types of men in this movie. There’s a mama’s boy, there’s a happily divorced guy, there’s a happily married guy, there’s a dreamer and then there’s a player, and I play the player.

AX: How is it getting to flirt with a lot of different women onscreen?

MALCO: I have a problem with that. It’s torture – because I’d much rather be doing it in real life. [laughs] It was actually very much fun. Melyssa Ford is pretty hilarious. Meagan Good and I have actually worked together before, so we have some chemistry and some history, and that’s always a plus. Kelly Rowland was [beautiful]. The only trepidation I think I might have had about doing THINK LIKE A MAN was, I played a player before in THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN. I didn’t want to feel I was saying the same thing over again, and so me and my agents had a discussion over the material to insure that that was not the case. And once we clarified that, everything else about it – I loved the cast, I loved the people [making the film].

And it turned out to be very different [than VIRGIN]. I interpret [being a player] the way that it’s being said, not the way that I want to hear it. The character that I play in THINK LIKE A MAN – first of all, I’ve never seen myself like this on camera before, so kudos to the whole team for making me look and come across in the way that I did. But also, normally, I gravitate to playing the type of character who’s a lot more cerebral, a lot more introspective. But even though I was playing this crazy guy named Jay [in VIRGIN], I was extremely philosophical as Jay the whole time. And in this role, I’m the opposite. I don’t come introspective at all. I play this guy who’s more on the surface and discovers himself through a woman, and that’s a kind of different vibe. I was like, damn, if I do this right, this is something that I would want my children to see one day. Not only that, but you get to see me and Kevin Hart [together] again.

AX: Was there anything you found challenging about making THINK LIKE A MAN?

MALCO: I was doing a scene with Meagan Good was where I was expected to cry. And usually it’s not a problem, but for whatever reason, I didn’t want to cry in the scene. And while we were shooting it, I had to ask myself, “What’s going on? What’s the block?” And what the block was, and what I hope people learn from this movie, is that the degree of love you experience is usually going to be proportionate to your degree of vulnerability. You just have to be vulnerable in order to experience true love.

AX: What is the tone? Is THINK LIKE A MAN a family film, is this more of a film for adults?

MALCO: I would have to say that maybe fourteen and up would be more realistic. We have a little bit of the [type of humor that appeal to teens] and we have a little bit of that very adult type of humor, but there’s also this death wheel that consistently flames through the whole thing, because there’s so much conflict within it, and not manipulated conflict. I feel like it’s very difficult for anyone to disengage from conflict that’s grounded in truth.

AX: You’re also on FX’s animated series UNSUPERVISED …

MALCO: UNSUPERVISED is offensively funny and it’s probably one of the most political shows on television. It’s the same crew as IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA. I’ve never worked for a network like FX before. They are so encouraging on self-promotion. They encourage me every week to Tweet live during the show. They send to me thirty-five, forty posters at a time and every episode, I Tweet live, I go into the chat room. FX is really responsive about doing stuff like this. They send us material constantly to give away, they call up every week – “Are you going to be live online this week?” I’ve never been with a company [like FX]. They’re like, “Anything you want to give away, let us know, we’ll make it happen.” I really do appreciate it. I think they have a mission statement that says they honor fans, and they honor the value of fans. I’m becoming a fan of the network because of the way that they operate. Literally, here’s what I do – I go online and I Tweet a phone number and then you have to call the phone number, you give me a quote from the show and what I do is, I verify the quote, I get your information and I send you straight from my house, I send you a poster or whatever it is that you want. UNSUPERVISED provides it. I think it’s really cool.

AX: You started your performing career very young, as a rapper. Were you thinking at seven years old, “I want to be a rapper,” or were you just naturally rhyming and somebody said, “Oh, you should be rapping”?

MALCO: No. I grew up in Brooklyn, Queens, the Caribbean. I went to school in a Third World country. I grew up with a little bit more of a rough lifestyle, and when I was about seven or eight years old, a friend of mine, named Timmy, who lived on 222nd Street, got shot at the park, and I remember we were all sitting around at my buddy’s house, mourning his death, and one of the dudes there, Mark, was an older guy, but he was very influential to me as a kid. He started saying this rap about Timmy. I’d never heard anything like it. And the minute he said that was the minute I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Because what I identified with was this outlet for me to express true feeling.

AX: How did you go from rapping to acting?

MALCO: I was doing some music for Paula Abdul very early on in my career. She had an animated cat named MC Skat Cat, and I was writing all of his music. You can dispel a myth right now in this interview and let everyone know that I was not the voice of MC Scat Cat. That was actually Derrick “Delite” Stevens, who was a radio personality out of Milwaukee. I was the writer – Derrick Delite was the actual rapper. I had done that, I had a rap career, and then I left my rap career and started an Internet business, and I was really content with my Internet business and never thought I’d be in entertainment again. I was making more money than I’d ever made in my life, I’d never been so successful in my life, not even with music. And then the next thing you know, I get this phone call from John Leguizamo. And John Leguizamo actually wants me to help him create music for his movie THE PEST. And after hanging out with John, he was like, “Romany, you’re like the funniest person I’ve met in my life.” He insisted that I audition for his movie. So I ended up auditioning and the casting director told everyone in town that I was the greatest audition of all time. And that [led to] me becoming an actor, because everybody started calling.

AX: You’ve also been doing a bunch of stuff for Funny or Die on the Internet …

MALCO: Let me explain that. Tijuana Jackson is an ex-convict turned motivational speaker. He’s a character that I created. [The character was on a segment of HBO’s UNITED STATES POLICE DEPARTMENT] and instantly I got signed up to do T.J. It was very documentary-esque and he seems very real life, so I did this whole thing of Tijuana Jackson for HBO and people were watching it and so he’s got a pretty successful YouTube channel, he’s got his own TV show coming up. Tijuana Jackson is a force to contend with. I do stand-up all acrossNew York. I [haven’t had] the time that I really want to invest in going out and doing T.J. That’s part of the reason that I’m moving toNew York now.

AX: You’re moving to New York because it’s easier for you to do more stand-up there?

MALCO: Well, I’m moving because of the fact that that lifestyle is more conducive to who I am. Wherever I’ve lived in my life, I never really felt like I blended naturally with the environment. And I’ve had a great time – I’ve lived in Paris, I’ve lived in the Slovak Republic, I loved it, I’ve spent time in England, I loved it, lived in Toronto, loved it. After all these years, I’ve returned to Brooklyn – not Manhattan to Brooklyn – because it really felt natural and conducive to my art and my past. The thing about Los Angeles is, when you’re in the industry, the industry’s very small. So no matter where I go in Los Angeles, someone to the left of me and someone to the right of me is discussing the industry. That’s not an exaggeration. And I realize that, if everywhere you went, work was present, the same way you modify your behavior at work, you modify your behavior wherever you went. So you modify your behavior at work, you modify your behavior at a restaurant, you modify your behavior in the bathroom, all of a sudden, you become pretty homogenized, because you have to be careful what you say every single place you go. So that type of modified behavior can create a very homogenized environment and I don’t find that environment [conducive] to art, if that makes any sense whatsoever.

Also, I’ll feed off of the people that I watch. And if everyone that I’m watching is kind of in this very fake mode, there’s not a lot of material to get from this. And I’ll add a third element – love. Let’s talk about love for a second. And here’s what I’m saying about that. I grew up around flawed people. And I learned to love those people. And I just feel more comfortable with people who are comfortable with their flaws. Doesn’t mean they’re not working on them like everybody else, doesn’t mean they’re not trying to progress like everybody else. No. They’re just more comfortable with their flaws. And so it’s intimidating, it’s weird, when I’m in the company of people who have worked so desperately hard to mask those flaws. So to me,New York serves better for my art, it serves better for love, it serves better for habitat. It feels like my habitat.

AX: Do you have any other projects coming up that we should know about?

MALCO: I’ve got the movie about to drop in May called A LITTLE BIT OF HEAVEN, where I play Kate Hudson’s best friend and I’m helping her while she’s going through all the emotional changes of someone who’s just discovered she’s dying of cancer. And the timing was perfect, because I hadn’t really gotten around to mourning the death of my father, who died just the year before of pancreatic cancer. So I got to put a lot of that and work through a lot of that during this film. Don’t watch that without tissues nearby.

But I think my pride and joy right now is this thing called ROMANY MEETS HIS FRIENDS, which is pretty awesome. It’s real life and it’s a project. I have a very unique relationship with my Facebook friends. And so that unique relationship has [become a show from Google affiliate] Alchemy. They put up a substantial amount of money to create ROMANY MEETS HIS FRIENDS. I have all these Facebook friends. In the show, what happens is, I [select] a Facebook friend, I land in the airport closest to where they live. I contact them, I tell them where I am and they navigate me from wherever I am all the way to where they are. If they can get me there in the allotted time, we spend the day together. If they can’t, I go back to the airport and get back on the plane. It’s a road show of me meeting my Facebook friends.

AX: Is there anything else you’d like to say about any of your projects?

MALCO: I just want to say that THINK LIKE A MAN – there’s nothing typical about it.

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Article: Exclusive Interview with THINK LIKE A MAN star Romany Malco

 

 

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