April 2003
Malibu's Most Wanted : An Interview with Anthony Anderson & Taye Diggs

Interviewed by Monikka Stallworth

Malibu's Most Wanted: An Interview with Anthony Anderson & Taye Diggs

Who knew that Anthony Anderson and Taye Diggs could make such a hilarious comedic duo? In Malibu’s Most Wanted, these two gifted actors create quite a few laugh-out-loud moments. Meeting these two brothers in person was proof that some of that witty on-screen chemistry was due in part to the obvious friendship Anthony and Taye share, but even more so, to the undeniable skills each brings to their role. These two young men have talent. Wait hold on - good looking, smart, funny and rich? Hold me back! Ah shucks, they’re married.

MS: So have you seen Malibu’s Most Wanted?

AA: Yeah and you know what – I think it’s a disappointing film. This will probably be the film that f*@ks up my career.

MS: It’s a very clever film.

AA: I haven’t seen it with a real audience, but I have seen it with the press and studio execs, but uh, Taye and I are the shit in it. (laughs)

TD That is one of the main reasons I was attracted to the role or rather the script as opposed to the role– it was an interesting hermetic comedy on almost a cliché topic and a really interesting take on it with all of the different stereotypes especially today when hip-hop is so pervasive.

MS: Was that all evident in the screenplay?

TD Well yes, that’s why I signed on – one of the reasons, then I heard that Anthony was involved –

AA: I was wondering when he was gonna say that – (laughs)

TD And then I am a big fan of Jamie Kennedy and when I spoke with the director he gave me the impression that he would let us improvise a lot. and I think we both saw the potential…

MS: By the way Taye, congratulations on Chicago winning Best Picture. Did they give each member of the cast their own statue?

TD Yes, I have my own.

AA: Yes and it has the tightest ass. He has it on his mantle and you walk by and just want to smack it on its ass, seriously.

MS: What’d you think of 8 Mile?

AA: You know, I still haven’t seen it.

TD I saw it and I was impressed with Eminem, he did his thing.

AA: I’m a fan of Eminem, I mean they can say what they wanna say, but it’s not like he’s projecting anything that he isn’t.

MS: Did you ever compare Eminem to Jamie Kennedy’s character?

AA: I never saw that while reading the script, I never even thought of the comparisons of Eminem, I never even thought about it as a “poor white rapper syndrome”. I just thought it was good and (Jamie Kennedy’s character) had his own sense of reality, he believed who he was and that is exactly who he is. And I think that’s why the audience is really rooting and pulling for him. When I watched the movie, I was like “wow, he is kind of endearing” because it’s not that he’s a “wanna-be”- this is who he believes he is, so when he’s there and we throw him on stage to rap, you’re rooting for him, you want to see him put his shit down and then, when he doesn’t, you’re like “ah hell.”

MS: Taye, do you have a preference for stage over film?

AA: (With an affected British accent) Taye is from the theater. Taye will do theater for the rest of his life.

TD I will.

MS: Why?

TD It’s what acting is to me. I learned the craft in the theater. And then when I got these opportunities to do film, it started to become something else. What you have to do to the craft of acting to make it translate on film…at first it took me a little while to make that transition. I love the thru-line that you have in a theatrical piece that you don’t have in film because it’s being shot out of sync. And the audience, you know, that feedback…

AA: I understand that, but dog, can we talk about the movie?

TD This is my first broad comedy and something that I wasn’t used to was when I was in a scene with Anthony and a laugh would come from all of the people watching, the crew members each take – because I feel like I’m from theater, you’re looking for that same reaction, so it forced us to try to one up each other to make each take funnier so we could still get that reaction from the set.

MS: Do you miss not having a “real” audience?

TD Of course, which is why I’ll always do theater.

MS: As someone who was prepared to be offended by this movie, I have to tell you – I thought it was hilarious.

TD If you had seen some of the earlier cuts, you might have been (offended).

AA: Had you read the original script, you might have been like “what the hell is this?”

MS: Bringing down the House is a huge success and I’m probably in the one percentile of folk who really did not care for it, so I did bring a lot of that baggage into the theater with me and then, I was probably laughing the loudest in the theater, the film is so funny.

TD: What scene did you think was so funny?

MS: Humm – seeing Jamie’s booty cheeks exposed when he was up on stage in the club was hilarious.

AA: You laughed at that? (Taye’s laughing.)

MS: Yes – it was just so sad and pathetic.

AA: That’s where the movie sort of fell short for me.

(Me & Taye are laughing.)

MS: And then the scene where Taye’s practicing the proper enunciation of “beeootch”. You (Anthony) rocking the “business ‘fro”. (Anthony laughs) It was just all funny. And that the cinematographer (Mark Irwin) also did Something About Mary makes sense because that’s probably the last movie that made me laugh out loud.

AA: He just shot the movie, he just made sure the light was there – he didn’t have anything to do with this talent! Irwin is my boy, but come on…

MS: Anthony, you’ve been in a ton of comedies, which one is your favorite?

TD That’s a good one.

AA: Let’s see. You know what – they are all different. Two Can Play That Game is one of my favorites just because that’s the character that was closet to me in real life, so I just got to be Anthony and just have fun. Me, Myself and Irene just because of the Farrelly Brothers and Jim Carey – they’re all over the place. Kargaroo Jack only because I spent five months in Australia doing a Jerry Bruckheimer film. I can’t just pick just one.

MS: Because you’ve worked on so many comedic films, each directed by a different individual, I wondered if you could point to some attribute that these directors have in common, you know, in light of the fact that they are all directing comedies.

AA: I don’t think that there is a common thread that they have other than they’re just talented and they recognize what’s on the page and what can be shot in between the words that are on that page. Other than that, they all have their own individual style. Like John Whitesell (Director, MMW) gave Taye and I the freedom to play. Everything that you guys see up on the screen, the majority of the stuff, literally, are the things that Taye and I brought. Some of that stuff, you can’t write on the page. And those are the things that we bring to the film as actors.

MS: There’s a cut away in the scene where Damian Wayan’s character says something real thug-like and hardcore and Taye’s character says –

AA: Trust me baby, everything that you see in that movie that Taye and I did that you love, that you laughed at – it was us. Taye did that. Those were out little idiosyncratic behaviors that we brought. I’m serious, I’m not just saying that-

MS: Well, I think that’s why I liked it so much.

TD John Whitesell (director) knew what Anthony was gonna bring, but he took a chance on me and he actually said later on that he expected me to play my character much more straight than I did and when he saw the direction that we were both going, he just let us run with it.

MS: What was it like working with Ryan O’Neal?

TD He’s a very warm, friendly, wise man. On set, he was very just kind of chill.

AA: I got tired of him talking about the seventies and how many women he screwed and all that. I was like, “Hey, hey Ryan – I know you were the number one star in the world for a good six, seven years at one point, but hey, it’s me and Taye’s time to shine.”

MS: Taye what’s next for you?

TD I’m about to do some work on the West Wing.

MS: What about you Anthony?

AA: We’re in the process of creating some stuff right now, but nothing is set any time soon.