Marlon Wayans, 33, and Shawn Wayans, 35, will always be associated with “Scary Movie” (and the first sequel) and their sitcom, “The Wayans Bros.” But then there is also brother Damon Wayans (“My Wife and Kids”), sister Kim Wayans (“In the House”), brother Dwayne (a composer) and sister Nadia (“I’m Gonna Git You Sucka”). The multi-talented clan also features cousin Craig (a scriptwriter), nephews Damon Jr. (“My Wife and Kids”), Michael (“My Wife and Kids”), Damien (“Little Man”) and niece Cara (“My Wife and Kids”).
Here, Keenen, Marlon and Shawn talk about their new film, “Little Man,” and share what it was like collaborating again. (The last time was for the successful “White Chicks.”)
Williams: Was it challenging playing this part?
Marlon: It was kind of hard, first of all, because I’m 6’2”, not 2’6”. Then, on top of that, I had to play a baby. That was asking a lot. All that and I couldn’t use my body, just my head. And when I’m acting, and supposed to be driving in a car, I’m really sitting on a box. And when I’m running, it’s not really me running. It’s somebody else running.
Williams: What was it like having to perform against a blank screen?
Marlon: I felt like I was working with Shrek’s skin all over the place. I had nobody to talk to, so I just thank God for developing my imagination when I was young, since none of my brothers would play with me because I was so annoying.
Williams: How was it different directing your brothers this time around?
Keenen: The two of them are together in the movie when you see the film, but they never shot a scene together. Marlon had the most difficult job because he was isolated on the green screen. He had to physically match everything that Linden (body double Linden Porco) did with his head. He came up with a very clever way of using a swivel chair that enabled him to keep his head still and move his body in a fluid way.
Williams: What did you think of Marlon’s performance?
Keenen: He really did a brilliant job. Marlon, Damon and Jim Carrey are the three people that I think could play a character like this, a human cartoon that you still connect to. You don’t lose him in the cartoon. You still relate to him as a human being.
Williams: How about Shawn’s?
Keenen: I think that Shawn actually had the most fun because he got to work with Kerry (Washington), Spoon (John Witherspoon), Molly (Shannon) and David Alan Grier. Plus Linden, (who) made it easy, because he’s such a lovable kid. He made it easy for Shawn to want this little kid, so his performance is genuine.
Williams: Shawn, how would you describe your character?
Shawn: Darryl is a young man who has reached that point in life where he really wants to have kids, that responsibility and that camaraderie that you share with children. So he’s really excited about that next level in life. Unfortunately, his enthusiasm about having babies is not matched by his bank account which can’t really accommodate kids at this particular time with his wife. But that doesn’t stop him from trying. So, he wants to be a dad, and he will be one.
Williams: Do you two see yourselves as similar to a classic comedy team?
Marlon: Me and Shawn are kinda like Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Who knows what we’ll become when we get older. But we’re going to be grumpy old Black men. I know it.
Williams: What’s it like being directed by your big brother?
Marlon: I didn’t want to get in his way. Sometimes Keenen would give me a look like, “You want to get the hell off the set?” And I’m like, “Okay.”
Shawn: Keenen likes to do what is written first, or close to what’s written. Most of the time, Keenen is cool. He’ll let you play. You’ll come up with something, and then he’ll come up with something, and it just becomes this whole other thing. He’s always trying to elevate the material.
Keenen: I always shoot one to page, so that we have it as guide, and then it’s improv.
Williams: What makes it to the screen, more of the original script or the improv?
Keenen: I think the spontaneity is where you get the best stuff. What I do require of people is that they really understand their character, so that what they improvise is in context. We do a lot of work on who their character is and what they’re all about. And then once they understand that, then they’re free to go.
Williams: As the director, are you happy with the final cut?
Keenen: This was probably the most unique film. It called upon all of my experience because I’d never done a full effects film before. But I’ve used some effects in all the films that I’ve done, so all of that felt like preparation for this film, which made it one of the most gratifying experiences for me.
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