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January 2006
Big Momma's House 2: An Interview with Nia Long

Big Momma's House 2: An Interview with Nia Long

By Wilson Morales

Having worked non-stop since she played "Kat" on Guiding Light to more recently "Are We There Yet?", Nia Long continues to excel with each role. As in her last film, Long will again play the role of a mother in the sequel "Big Momma's House 2" opposite Martin Lawrence. For her performance in the original film, Long earned nominations for both an NAACP Image Award (Outstanding actress in a Motion Picture) and a Blockbuster Award (Favorite Actress). In the sequel, Lawrence dons on the Big Momma costume to go undercover to avert a national security disaster, while his pregnant wife Sherrie (Long) looks for him as she discovers he's not where he claims to be. In speaking to blackfilm.com, Long talks about going back to the role and what roles are appealing to her.

Outsider of TV, where you played a recurring character on "Third Watch", how does it feel to come back to a sequel?

Nia Long: I think with a 5 year gap, you get a chance to grow and stuff off-camera. It was fun. If you think about the first film, it was fresh love, and in this film, we're married and expecting a baby and having to deal with what a lot of people deal with in their 30s. I got to change my life. I got to be more responsible. I got to get rid of the Porsche. It's growing up.

As you mentioned just now, as opposed to a year later, it's been five years. What was the approach when they told you that they were going to do a sequel?

NL: They just said that they wanted to do a sequel and that they will get me a script. They said that my role wouldn't be as prevalent as the first one, but they really would like me to be a part of this film. I said, "You know what. It's 8 days of work." I did my work in eight days. It was the shortest pregnancy ever; so I was very happy with it. I think the film is actually very cute. Very enjoyable. I think kids and comedy are just cute.

With this film and your character being pregnant, you and Martin (Lawrence) are wearing pads. How funny is that?

NL: Yeah, we were. I had my nine-month old belly on and he had his big momma's costume on.

Within the last few roles that you have tackled, your character is either a mother (Are We There Yet?) or being pregnant (Alfie).

NL: I could see the similarities with "Are We There Yet?" but not "Alfie", and certainly not "Third Watch".

For some people, they feel their career changes when they start taking on the mother roles. How do you see it?

NL: I think if you are a woman, you are going to eventually play a mother; and I am a mom, but it doesn't mean that in my next film I can't be something completely different. I think playing a mom in a comedy is much different from playing a mom in a drama. Playing a mom in a drama, you have to take things literally whereas in a comedy, you can be loose. And it's not really about being a mom. It's about a pregnant lady running through the mall searching for her husband, which is funny.

With eight days of shooting, did you and Martin get to reconnect your friendship?

NL: We're cool. When I have problems with whatever, I call him. "Martin, they're trying to do this me. Come save me." And he will. He always has my back. He's a good guy.

What are you looking to do next?

NL: I'd like to do a period piece or something a little bit more dramatic, a little bit more challenging, not so together; not so perfect. Not that anything I've done is perfect but someone who's a little bit lost. Just a darker character.

The last time we spoke you had talked about the roles you didn't want to take on anymore, like the girlfriend roles. Based on what you just said, what else is appealing besides period pieces?

NL: I think it's a matter of finding a good story to tell. As a woman, you're always going to play someone's object of desire whether you're the wife, the mother, the girlfriend, or whatever it is, you are a woman and that's what we do; but it's really about finding the right story. I can't say I want the story to be this, because if that were the case, I'd go write right now.

What about producing? Do you feel you're at a stage right now where you can put a little bit of money into a small project and get the film greenlit?

NL: I haven't found a story that I'm that passionate about.

Will you go back to television?

NL: Maybe. I don't know. Television is great. It's consistent. It's great money. You get to play a character every week that is completely developed and when you're a mom, it's kinda nice to know where you are going to be. It gives you the freedom to enjoy life. I've never been interested in being super, super famous. I just want to do good work. Fame is overrated. You lose your privacy. Your kids suffer. I want to be able to walk down the street, go to the park, and go to the grocery store. People recognize me all the time but they are always respectful because I'm very private and I like the way I set things up. I don't get up in the hype. At the end of the day, I don't care about any of this stuff, in terms of Hollywood. I care about my work. I care about people honoring my achievements in terms of how they come at me. I'm very prideful but also very private. When it's over, it over and you go do something else.

Did you see yourself coming this far in your career from when you were on "Guiding Light"? For some people, staying on soaps has being a blessed thing.

NL: I knew I wasn't going to stay there. That was not going to be it for me. I feel in so many ways that I have just begun. I know that by the time I'm 45 years old, I'm going to win an Oscar. I just know it. I've seen it in my head. I've seen it happen. It will happen.

Why should folks go see "Big Momma's House 2"?

NL: The reason to go see "Big Momma's House 2" is that it's family fun and I think you can take everyone and it's an easy movie to watch. The stunts are great. Martin is just hysterical and you get to see me pissed off and pregnant.

If successful, would you come back for a third film?

NL: Don't know about a third. Everyone's asking that. I think they left an open ending. I think if everyone comes out to support us, definitely, there will be a third one. I don't know if I'll be in it, but who knows.

BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE 2 opens on January 27th, 2006


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