Director Neil LaBute and the Death at a Funeral Cast Press ConferenceFunerals are supposed to be somber but often we end up laughing. Have you thought about how you’d like your own funeral to play out?
Chris Rock: "I’m not sure. I think I want all the living Presidents there. Carter, I want them all to be in shorts. Stanley Cup, you know, somewhere around. I haven’t given it that much thought. I want Jay-Z to rap the eulogy. 'That nigga’ dead y’all.' Squeeze Oprah in there somewhere."
Who is responsible for such outstanding casting? What was the criteria?
Chris Rock: "Clint Culpepper. I mean, Clint’s the man. I didn’t know Columbus. I didn’t know James. Clint’s like, 'They’re in your movie.' I was like, 'Okay.'"
Columbus Short: "No one knows me. No one knows me, Chris."
Chris Rock: "But when we got Neil, a lot of actors really were like, 'Oh yeah, I definitely want to work with Neil.' But when people started hearing Martin was doing it, it was like, 'Oh, yeah!' It was like, 'Oh, sh-t!' Tracy signed up but once Martin got on, it was like, 'I’ve got to get in there! Don’t do that movie without me.' Once we got Martin, it was another movie."
Tracy Morgan: "Well, I get to work, these are my champions right here so it was like for me, this whole panel is like the dream team. I’m playing with Barkley and Jordan, those guys, so I might get a medal. I’ve got my shirt. I’m on the team. When I’m with Martin and Chris, I’m on the team. I might not start, I might not never play. But that’s okay. I’ve got my shirt. I played pro game. So for me, that’s what it was for me. You know what I’m saying? It was the same thing going back to find my inspiration from the gate. From the gate it was just like what first made me want to do it from the jump was Chris and Martin. So now to actually get here and it’s for real now, it’s solidified. I’m in a movie, just for me to be seen, I’m sharing space with these guys so that’s how I feel about it."
James, we loved your rendition of "Amazing Grace." Where did you draw your inspiration?
James Marsden: "That was from Chris, I think. That was your addition, wasn’t it? I don't know, I thought it was funnier if it really was a sincere offering of condolences to Loretta [Devine]. I remember Zoe and Columbus sitting there going, 'You’ve got a voice, man. You’ve got to go for it.' I’m like, 'I don't know if it’s funnier if he can sing. Maybe it’s better if he doesn’t sing well.' 'No, no, no. Sing as gospel as you can. Just go for it.' That was like all right, all right. That on, the last take, became like inspired."
Being naked the whole movie, did you worry about catching cold?
Columbus Short: "I caught the cold."
James Marsden: "I gave the cold to Columbus. I gave the cold to Columbus’ cheek. No, they kept it nice and warm on set. They wanted me to be comfortable. Yeah, that was fun. I’ve always said, 'Nudity’s not a problem for me, but it must be in a comedy.' I’d hate to be, I don't know, there’s something uncomfortable about asking for the audience, to be sincere to the audience or have to take it really seriously and get naked. If it’s for a joke, I’ll do it - I guess."
You never had any doubts or qualms?
James Marsden: "No, because I knew it was funny. I read the script on a flight from New York to LA, and I didn’t know that there had been a British film already made so I just thought it was this great original kind of chamber piece about all the stuff that takes place at this funeral. I just thought the character was rich and I just kept reminding myself of what this guy has to endure unbeknownst to him and involuntarily. It was just always funny to me, so I didn’t think twice about taking it off."
Tracy Morgan: "Yeah, but you're built like an Adonis."
Regina, where do you find your humor alongside these guys?
Regina Hall: "Well, I was very excited to see the movie. I’d never worked with any of these four so I’ve watched all of them, all these three guys literally. I watched Martin every episode. I was like, 'God, I can’t tell him. He’ll be like, She’s stalking me.' Chris I loved, Tracy on Saturday Night Live so I’ve been a fan, too. But I have to say they’re really giving and generous, so to work with them was pretty easy."
Martin, after doing Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, what made you want to do another ensemble comedy?
Martin Lawrence: "Well, my man Chris Rock gave me a call personally and when he first called, I was like, 'Uh, sorry, Chris. I can’t do that.'"
Chris Rock: "I didn’t have a lot of money when I called him the first time."
Martin Lawrence: "But then he sent me the British version and I thought it was very funny. Then when he told me it was about playing his brother, I just said, 'I’ve got to be on board.' Me and Chris we see each other probably every year and we’ve always talked about working together, working together. He came on the Martin show, I went on his show on HBO. We just finally got a chance to really do a movie together and it’s because he put it together, so I’ve got to give my man the credit for that."
Martin, how does it make you feel that everyone is drawn to a film with you?
Martin Lawrence: "It makes me feel good. For your peers to respect what you do and respect that you can bring something to it makes me feel good. Puts pressure on me to deliver, but I’ve been doing that my whole career so I look forward to it. I’m very appreciative and thankful to have been a part of it."
Chris and Neil, is it more or less challenging to remake a movie than create something from scratch?
Neil LaBute: "For me I would say it’s a bit of each."
Chris Rock: "Yeah, it’s a bit of each. I’ll say this. When you know a movie’s ending works, your life’s so much easier. It doesn’t make the rest of the movie not difficult in parts but, boy, when you know... I’ve remade a few movies and they all have one thing in common: great endings. If you’re going to remake something, make sure that ending was tight. I would say it’s a little less challenging, if you have a great ending. If you don’t have a great ending, don’t remake the movie."