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January 2008
An Interview with Mike Epps

An Interview with Mike Epps

By Wilson Morales

February 4, 2008

As one of today’s funniest comedians, Mike Epps certainly knows when to jump in on a film project and deliver those lines that will make us laugh out loud. He’s done it with Ice Cube plenty of times, added some flavor to the ‘Resident Evil’ franchise, and will do so again in his latest film, ‘Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins’. The bonus to this film is that he will be working along with some comedic peers in Martin Lawrence, Cedric the Entertainer, and MoNique.

Martin Lawrence stars as talk-show sensation Dr. RJ Stevens, who has shirked his simple Southern past and the awkward boy he used to be to dispense “you can do it” advice to millions of adoring fans. With a reality-series star (Joy Bryant) on his arm and loads of cash in his pocket, there’s nothing he feels he hasn’t achieved.

When his parents request that he come home for their 50th wedding anniversary, RJ packs up his 10-year-old son and spoiled princess of a fiancée and heads back to his sleepy Southern hometown. Ready to impress his down home kin with how much he’s changed, RJ will prove he’s not the walking disaster they used to pick on. At least, that’s the plan…

But as his crazy, lovable family reminds RJ of the kid he once was and the egotistical adult he has become, this superstar will take a hard look at the life he is living. Roscoe Junior might’ve felt teased, second-best and laughed at as a child, but the love from home could be turning Dr. RJ into the better man.

In speaking with Epps, he talks about how he came on the project, working with his peers, and being the go-to guy for jokes.

At what point did you get attached to the film?

Mike Epps: What’s strange is that me and (Director) Malcolm Lee had worked on a movie together, ‘Roll Bounce’, and before the script to this film came along, he told me about it, and we would sit down and talk about and stuff, and he told me that he was going to make this film happen. Well, he made it happen.

What character do you play in the film?

ME: I play Cousin Reggie. Reggie is just about who I am. Reggie is a family member who also is a thief. He’s sort of the go-to funny guy of the family, and that’s pretty good for me because I’m following the script but my character is sort of all over the place. I can freestyle and say the stuff that I like to say. The character is pivotal in the movie as far as the family is concern because he’s the black sheep of the family and has a white girlfriend, and she helps him pay the bills.

What’s it like working with so many comedians on a film together?

ME: It’s cool. I’ve admired Martin since the Def Jam Comedy Jam and the Martin Show, and I’ve worked with Cedric a couple of times before and MoNique. We all know each other from the comedy circuit and it’s always great to work with the other comedians. As soon as we see each other, we always reminisce about the glory days. By the time we get on the set, it just really gels. We know each other’s comedic timing from being comedians so we know when to come in and compliment on the joke. It’s also great to be working with James Earl Jones. H’s a great leader and someone we looked up. That really helps the film too. Not only is he playing the granddaddy in the film, but he’s also our family, in spirit.

What’s the tone of the film? What do you compare it to?

ME: I couldn’t because everybody is bringing a certain type of energy to the table

Why do you think you were chosen to be the go-to guy in the film to deliver the jokes?

ME: Because it’s something about me with people. I always feel like that I work well with people. People like me, but I always feel that it ain’t gonna be right unless I get kicked off the project. (Laughs) I’m serious. In my family when I was growing up, my mom would say that I would be brought back with the teacher because of something I did.

Do you get to ad-lib on your films to make it funny, or is it funny already when you read the script?

ME: With some materials, it needs my stink on it. Some of the materials that you get for movies is not always funny. It’s something that you can’t make funny, but in this case, Malcolm wrote a pretty good funny script. Some of the dialogue was funny. I’ve actually been sticking with this script. In some scenes, I would ask if I can add something to the scene, and I he would let do it. That’s really how I work. It’s not the professional way to work in the eyes of Hollywood and I get a bad reputation sometimes. I didn’t know this, but some of my agents would tell me, ‘Well, you know you have a reputation for not saying the lines’, and the writers take this seriously when you say their lines. They look at it as a slap in the face. I could do their lines, but mine is gonna win. I will make it a hard choice unless you just this ego you just have to win the argument.

What motivates you?

ME: I like a good story, a good speed of a story and a script and I like to put my bells and whistles on it.

WELCOME HOME ROSCOE JENKINS opens on February 8, 2008


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