July 2003
Bad Boys II : An Interview with Gabrielle Union

Interviewed by Godfrey Powell

Bad Boys II: An Interview with Gabrielle Union

If thereís anyone who can match wits with the guys, itís Gabrielle Union. She seems to be rolling high these days as she has appeared on screen three times this year. She locked horns with LL Cool J in Deliver Us from Eva. She saddled up with DMX in Cradle 2 the Grave and now sheís in league of her own with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys II. Looking better in person, than on the screen (if thatís possible) I sat down with Gabrielle Union recently to talk about her stunts in Bad Boys II, her affection for Krispy Kremes and representiní on Friends.

GU: Hello, Iím Gaby.

GP: Hi, Iím Godfrey Powell.

GP: Tell me about your weapons training.

GU: Well, the boys worked for about a week before I got there. I got to come in on the following Sunday and got briefed on weapons training. You learned how to shoot all the different weapons. Like the little brother to the Ak47, a number of 9s, Glocs etc.

GP: Did you like it?

GU: I loved it. Iím a former athlete and extremely competitive. I won a couple of the competitions and the guys were kinda surprised.

GP: You like guns now?

GU: My husband has always had weapons and I was always afraid. But now that Iíve had weapons training and got comfortable with it, you canít take me off the range. Iím like (POW, POW, POW) (laughing). I know about gun safety and only shoot at the range in a safe environment. I love it. Itís a great relief. Itís scary because Iíve had weapons training, in a safe environment and I know these are blanks but the power that you feel squeezing them off. You understand why we have a weapons problem in this country. It does make you feel like you can take on the world. You tawkiní to me (DeNiro imitation).

GP: How was working with director Michael Bay?

GU: Luckily he and I are both perfectionists which is good. He knows what he wants. Heís very specific which I appreciate. I had a lot of questions and he knew what he wanted.

GP: Whatís it like working with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence?

GU: Oh, my god. Theyíre like Martin and Lewis for the new millennium. Everyone was like, ďItís been 8 years, whatís it going to be like?Ē They must have been having barbecues every weekend because they just picked right back up. And the DVD for this is going to be the greatest ever. Half the stuff that is the funniest is not even in the movie. They are constantly bagging on each other. There are some amazing improv scenes. Yeah, you have to be on your toes. I got to hang around them before shooting so I got to see their banter. So when youíre filming I can jump in and follow them.

GP: Youíre well known for romantic comedies like Two Can Play That Game, The Brothers, Deliver Us From Eva. Now youíve done two action films: Cradle 2 the Grave and Bad Boys II. Which do you prefer?

GU: Me personally, I enjoy romantic comedies. I think after we wrapped Bad Boys right before Christmas and two days after New Years I was doing another romantic comedy. They are smaller and more intimate. They donít have as much money. Thereís a real family environment. You can really get into your character without worrying about car crashes.

GP: You look great throughout the movie. Tell me about your workout regime.

GU: The wardrobe in the movie kept me looking really awesome. One outfit, the Gucci dress (worn for the last half of the film) started off at my ankle and Michael Bay said no and kept moving it up to mid thigh. So it kept me away from my first love, not my husband, itís the Krispy Kreme donuts. So I worked out 2 hours / day. 5 days a week. It didnít matter if I worked 16 hours that day. An hour of Pilates and an hour of cardio.

GP: No injuries on set?

GU: Nothing bad. A few bumps and bruises. Martin, I think got the worst of it. He got a busted lip. There were these things called burger bombs that explode around you and it busted his lip. And when I saw his lip I said, ďHow did they do that? It looks so real. Itís even swelling. They are so good.Ē

GP: How much of the dialogue did they change to fit your personality?

GU: Some of the dialogue. It was written a little damsel in distress[ish]. And once you meet me, you see that Iím not really a shrinking violet kinda girl. So most of the dialogue was written on the day of the shoot. The script is just a guideline. You can say whatever you want provided it makes sense. Michael hooked me up w/ a local DEA undercover agent for character background. And she was tough as nails. She doesnít need the men to save her. Sheís highly educated and skilled and wontí cry in the car

GP: Do they re-write dialogue for all your films?

GU: Yeah, again, I donít play victim-like characters. Once I sign onto the project, they do a re-write where itís sort of my voice.

GP: Youíve done a lot of TV work and were the first African-American to guest on Friends. Would you go back on TV?

GU: I always want to do a show that I actually watch. So thereís a struggle. Ok, why do you want to do a guest spot on something thatís 130 in the ratings? Because I like it. (Laughing) Weíre working on something now, I donít want to spoil the surprise but Iíll make a guest appearance arc on a pretty popular show. But as far as Friends, I think I was kinda the guinea pig just so the NAACP doesnít picket in front of the studio. But lucky Aisha [Tyler] got to step in and kinda pick up. As long as there are people of color. It just needs to be a little more diverse.

GP: Yeah, especially in New York CityÖÖ

GU: Yeah, on the way here we were talking about that. How can you even begin to have a show that takes place here and not show all the different races and creeds here? You canít even go one block without seeing all the diversity. Itís like recreating reality.

GP: How do you feel when you see yourself on a magazine cover or a photo spread? Any pressure?

GU: No pressure. They throw you up to smash you down. Itís like watching Venus or Serena on a serve. You go from A-girl to Shó girl in 2.5 seconds. As long as Iím working, Iím happy. It is funny. I got an invitation to the Maxim Hot 100 Girl List Party. Last year, I was like number 50 after no movies that year and this year, Iíve done three and Iíve fallen. Iím somewhere in the eighties. I mean, what do I have to do? Do I need to send in a resume? An essay? But my relatives will call when they see me in a magazine and say I saw you on the cover of Jet! You made it girl!

GP: Any pressure to keep up your figure?

GU: Iíve never had pressure to being smaller. But I think luckily, in the African-American culture the ideal is not a zero. Iíve been able to work and sustain myself, sometimes a size four, sometimes an 8. But no oneís ever said, can you be smaller? There were times when I look at myself on screen and say, ďOoooh, that was the krispy kremes.ĒMy friends who are non-minority actors though really have a hard time. They put up signs on the craft services that say if you see this girl turn her away. Itís a joke but at the same time they get it. I donít get it though. Why would you want to see a woman that looks like an emaciated, pubescent boy? I look at Diahann Carroll, Sophia Loren. They were women. We want to see women.