August 2002
Still Going Strong! : An Interview with Martin Lawrence

Interviewed by Wilson Morales

Still Going Strong! : An Interview with Martin Lawrence

Not many people realize this, but comedian-actor Martin Lawrence has been one of the most profitable actors for studios to date. His first comedy concert film “You So Crazy” was a moneymaker for Savoy Pictures back in ’94. “A Thin Line Between Love & Hate” was the second biggest picture for New Line Cinema in ’96 and “Bad Boys” with Will Smith was the highest grossing picture for Sony Pictures in ’95. Martin has had more hits since then as well as a few flops like “Black Knight”. He also went through personal issues that almost ended his life. Now he’s back to tackles those issues and tells the world what really went down in a new comedy concert film, RUNTELDAT. In an interview with, Martin talks about the difficulties of sharing his personal issues with an audience.

WM: Is this your chance to put your own spin on your stuff?

ML: No question. In a comedic way.

WM: Did you get everything in the story that you wanted to get?

ML: I think so; for as much as I can get in ninety minutes. I guess; but a lot of fun. To be able to tell this story and not in an angry way. I’m very thankful.

WM: When you decided to do your concert film, how difficult was it knowing that you were throwing in part of your life in there?

ML: Well, it was difficult in the sense knowing that I had to go back and relive it. It’s one thing to go through everything that I’ve been through and then get past it and you’ve moved on doing movies, whatever. But to go on and do standup and to go back in and get out the paper clippings and the news reports and all these things of yourself. It’s kind of hard thing to go through, but it was very therapeutic for me because it reminded me and gave me some understanding and humbled me to a degree of saying “wow, that was you that been through it.” And the best thing about now is that you have now to get yourself together.

WM: Tell me how you are able to do this, because some performers, they hate the press?

ML: I don’t like the press either. But, not all press. I like the good press. I like the people that report accurately. There are talented, honest anchors out there and journalists that I have a great deal of respect for and we need them. They are the ones that help shape the consciousness, the pulse of a lot of us; a lot of people in a good way. But the ones who sensationalize bullshit and just run around and talk negatively and misinform people and don’t do all their work, I have no respect for them. I think they are the scums of the earth. That’s why this movie is called “Runteldat”. A lot of them with their hatred and their hateful words in trying to knock somebody down are the same people who didn’t want me to be here and wouldn’t want me sitting at this table and talking about this movie and things like that. So, while they’re thinking that we wouldn’t be here, we’re still here and “Runteldat” is about to drop.

WM: Has your comedy change much since you quit doing drugs?

ML: I don’t think it has. When you say doing drugs, I smoked a joint. You make it like a motherfucker was freebasing or some shit! Naw, you ain’t got to choose that. I think my comedy; God has blessed me for it to be just as sharp or just as funny, I believe as is it has always been. I thank God I haven’t lost that, no.

WM: Being that it’s been so long since you did “You So Crazy,” have you been doing local comedy circuits to keep your material fresh and spontaneous?

ML: When I’m in California, I go to the Comedy Store to work out and I’ve worked out about two months before I was able to get out on my first tour date and it comes together. It kinda came together.

WM: How come you do the comedy films instead of the HBO specials?

ML: Because this is a movie. This is the American Dream. This is like for anybody that has been down and got up, this is what this film is. This is not just a cable/comedy special. This has a lot of heart, it’s honest, and it’s more honest than a lot of non-fictional movies that are productions that are put together. This is one man on stage coming from an honest place but giving you a comedic perspective on things from my opinion. That’s why I say “Runteldat”. People are quick to talk about the negativity, but when it’s positive, I don’t hear people running that around too much. So, “Runteldat.” This is positive, it’s funny. I laugh as I was dealing with the marketing of this movie; I drove around one night and I was looking for the poster and I had to go over to the Black area, the “urban” area and I see a poster here and there. So, I asked the marketing people why don’t you have it up in the suburbs, the white areas. The said “no, this is for the Black people, this is going to get your audience, the Black people.” I’m going, this is not just a Black movie, this movie is for everybody. So, please, I hope you all tell that story.

WM: Talk to me a little bit about the process of transferring material that was sort of personal and hurtful to you into comedy and can you really laugh about stuff?

ML: I mean you laugh to a certain degree. The laughter sometimes is just part of the masquerade of the pain. But, if it can help me to understand a road that I don’t want to travel again, or something I don’t ever want to go through again then it’s necessary. It’s needed for me to be able to find a comedy spin on it and find a way to laugh. I can’t ask for other people to laugh if I’m not laughing myself.

WM: Do you think it was a right time to do a comedy tour?

ML: Yeah, I’m going to do it if I want to do it.

WM: After all you’ve been through with the movie and personal issues, what has helped you keep ground, you mentioned your family, what else besides that has helped you stay focused?

ML: My spiritual side of things, my perspective of that. Really it’s my family and friends and my appreciation and not taking things for granted that just helped me to understand that it is what it is. Life is what it is. When we finish this interview, we’ll all get up and go on about our merry ways. It is what it is. You work hard to have good days and a good life.

WM: What’s next?

ML: What’s next? I have a movie coming out with Steve Zahn called “National Security” which is an action comedy. But it’s very funny and Steve is a good guy to work with. He’s a white guy, but I call him “brother”. I say brother ‘cause he’s so cool. He’s one of the most talented guys out there. And then I leave in August with Will Smith, Big Willie. We head to Miami to start filming “Bad Boys II” along with Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer. I say this time and time again, but I’m excited about this movie. To do this again after so many years; everybody kinda went off and had their own success and to come back and see everybody after all these years, it’s great. I’m anxious to see if somebody’s going to show up to the set with an ascot on. But this is not a movie, but an event, so you all might want to get up on that one. And, we love ALL people, ALL people!

WM: Do you have a funny story from the road doing the comedy tour?

ML: We had a lot of fun and they just showed me a lot of love and I was real appreciative of them coming out and not being so judgmental, but just really willing to have a good time and embrace me and what I had to say.