PHOTOGRAPHY BY RIE RASMUSSEN
STYLED BY NEAL ST.ONGE
INTERVIEW BY MICHAEL WILLIAMS
Marlon Wayans is seriously funny as well both funny and serious. Marlon sat down to chat with Imagista about his multi-character Netflix comedy “Sextuplets” and just how hard it is to make such a funny movie.
Marlon is also coming out next year in Sophia Copolla’s “On The Rocks” which co-stars Rasheeda Jones and the legendary Bill Murray.
Life is good for Marlon but he’s also on a serious mission and is not about to slow down or coast any time soon.
Imagista: So what do you have going on at the moment that you’re excited about?
Marlon Wayans: “Sextuplets” man!
Imagista: Of course! I just watched “Sextuplets” with my 14 year old son the other day.
Marlon Wayans: How did you guys like it?
Imagista: It’s hilarious! We loved it!
What I’d love to know, and I’m sure a lot of other people would love to know is how do you develop each of these separate characters? Are the characters little alter egos that live inside your mind, or are they drawn from people you meet in real life?
Marlon Wayans: I guess it’s a bit of a combination of sorts. Russell, for example, got his voice from my old roommate who sounded just like that. He’d always stay at my house and he was always a little annoying. Then I developed his mannerism from what I thought someone like that would be like; someone who’d been sheltered.
This may sound crazy – because Sextuplets is such a broad comedy – but you have to build the soul of each character. I decided to go back into my performing arts highschool crate and give each character an animal so that each character would walk differently, talk differently, eat differently, and have different mannerisms. That way, everything about each character is different. I wanted to make sure that I was consistent within that method of character development.
Imagista: Having watched the movie that makes complete sense. Each character really feels completely different from the others.
Marlon Wayans: I wanted to build the soul of each character before I could put the makeup on top of the character. If you lean on the makeup to create the character then you have a problem. Then you make the transformation before the makeup and costumes – that’s the work. If you rely on the makeup to create the characters then you have a problem. The once the makeup is applied it’s about remaining consistent.
Imagista: What is the actual process like in applying the makeup? It must take hours?
Marlon Wayans: It is A LOT of work. On the character Russell I was in in the makeup chair for seven hours, for Dawn it was eight-and-half-hours.
Then, after seven or eight hours of makeup I have an entire day of shooting ahead of me. So for me, it’s fifteen to eighteen hours of work every day. Seven to eight hours of makeup, then filming, and then an hour and a half to remove the makeup. Then it’s go home and sleep for three to four hours. I repeat this same day for fifty days.
Imagista: Sounds biblical! What do you do to prepare physically for that fifty-day marathon of filming?
Marlon Wayans: Believe it or not I work out every day down there, six days a week for an hour and a half to two hours just to be able to keep up with physical demands, the physical hell I have to put it through. I’m wearing fifty pounds of makeup along with ten to fifteen pounds of makeup on my face, and then there’s another fifteen pounds of chin. It’s heavy. And then the character Dawn has heavy breasts.
It was a lot. On top of the weight it’s also really hot. I’d have a cooling vest on but the rest of my body was really hot.
Imagista: Do you ever worry that some people may get offended by characters? For example Ethan. He comes across like a classic pimp in some ways.
Marlon Wayans: Well Ethan isn’t a pimp. Ethan owns a nail salon. Just because he dresses with some flair don’t mean he’s a pimp. Maybe he watches a lot of pimp movies but he’s a nails man. That’s what he does.
Imagista: I love Dawn. She’s so amazing. I love the scene where she sharpens her nails on the pavement then basically rips the guys’ face apart while your main character is trying to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
Where does Dawn’s character come from?
Marlon Wayans: Dawn’s look and attitude comes from a lot of women I know. They talk with their hands. They have long fingernails and they’re always grabbing at you in the air, and they’re always clapping at you because that’s how they express themselves. At the same time, I took the look of two of my sisters.
The compliment I often get when I’m making fun of, or mocking someone, is when that type of person (the type of making fun of) laughs about it. It’s funny because women tend to love Dawn the most.
It’s like when I did “White Chicks”. You know you loved “White Chicks” the most – white chicks!
We do things with kidd gloves and we always do it with love in it. We don’t have hatred in our hearts. Everything we do is complimentary, you know what I mean?
Imagista: Absolutely! And, by the way, that comes through in your performances. It doesn’t feel like you’re treating your characters with contention. You feel a love for these characters as a result. I think that’s why they’re so believable and why they’re so funny.
Where does the character Jaspar come from?
Marlon Wayans: I thought it would be fun to make the super-intelligent brother a villain. I’d never played a before. I thought I’d make him like something out of a Bond movie. He’s probably the most damaged out of all of them. Although he comes across as the craziest it’s because he never got a hug from his mother. I thought that having him play the villain would be fun as well as give him a look that was different. The irony of him being the black sheep of the family even though he was the lightest skinned one.
I thought that was funny because, in most cases, white is supposed to be the good and dark is supposed to be the bad. I thought it would be funny to make the black sheep of a black family, a white guy.
Imagista: What about the brother who’s in hospital and ends up taking your kidney, so he can live, without your permission?
Marlon Wayans: We actually found a body double. We wanted someone small and sickly but not too small.
Imagista: How did you even shoot that scene???
Marlon Wayans: Yeah…
Imagista: The characters’ interactions are so seamless that I had to remind myself, and my son, that you’re playing all of these characters.
Marlon Wayans: This was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
Imagista: I bet it was. I know it’s hard but how much do you actually laugh during the production?
Marlon Wayans: It’s funny because from “action” to “cut” I laugh a lot.
Then when they say “cut” because it’s grueling to be in that makeup, I’m not exactly the happiest camper. I just try and survive and consume my energy before they call “action” again. I’ll sit and watch the playback on the monitor to see what I did. I have to remember the mannerisms for the next day so I know how the characters are interrelating onscreen so that I react in a way that feels real. It’s a lot to manage at once.
Imagista: So when does part II come out (1/2 kidding)?
Marlon Wayans: Oh my god are you trying to give me anxiety? (Laughs)
Well, people are really loving this movie. I’ve never gotten this many great responses on my Twitter feed, my Instagram, since “White Chicks”. I’d say that 99% of the audience has loved this movie I might do a sequel. I won’t do it next though. I want to do two other movies first. I want to do an action-comedy and maybe a romantic comedy before I think about a sequel to “Sextuplets”.
Imagista: You’re obviously a busy man. What else are you working on these days?
Marlon Wayans: I’m coming out in Sofia Coppola’s next film called “On The Rocks”. Rasheeda Jones and Bill Murray are also in it.
AJ wears: Dress by RED Valentino @maisonvalentino. Bracelets & Neckerchief by Lucky Brand @luckybrand.
Imagista: How did the project with Sofia Coppola come together?
Marlon Wayans: Well, I read the script and I loved the script. Then I had a meeting with her and said. “You know what? I would love to do this”. We talked about the character. She was like “Ok, this will be fun”. I also know Rasheeda. We’ve been friends for a long time. It was nice to showcase some of my dramatic chops.
I have a lot of versatility. If you look at my career you can see a lot of versatility. It took me a while to get to superstardom because of that. People would look at me and say “Well, what does he do?” I can actually do it all. I just want to be credible.
Imagista: It sounds like it’s important for you to have a well-rounded career and not just be stuck in one genre?
Marlon Wayans: Yes, I want to be able to do everything. I love acting and I love comedy. I look at guys like Robin Williams; that’s the kind of career I want. That go could go from zero to sixty in a heartbeat and everything in between.
Imagista: You’re obviously a very hard working and very focused actor but what do you do when you’re not working? How do you rejuvenate yourself and how do you restore yourself after shooting a movie like “Sextuplets”?
Marlon Wayans: I go right back to work. I really haven’t taken any time off. As soon as I wrapped the movie I went straight to doing standup. I’m writing my next TV special. And as I’m working on my special I’m also developing five or six movies for myself.
Imagista: Have you always been like that, so hardworking? Even as a kid?
Marlon Wayans: Some people think that ADHD is a deficiency. I personally think it’s a superpower.
Imagista: Well clearly you’re a force of nature.
Marlon Wayans: My brother said to me, “if you want to be a superstar then you will have to be a force of nature”, and that’s what I’m going to be.
Imagista: By the way, I love the photos you shot for us with Rie Rasmussen. She said you were amazing to work with.
Marlon Wayans: Oh, she’s great! I love her personality. She’s a sweetheart.
Imagista: It was such a pleasure speaking with you. Congratulations on “Sextuplets” on all the other great projects you’ve got coming out.
Marlon Wayans: Thank you so much!