The romantic comedy Baggage Claim follows Montana Moore (Paula Patton), a successful flight attendant and a devoted daughter, sister and friend, who just can’t manage to get her love life together. With the help of her two best friends, Gail (Jill Scott) and Sam (Adam Brody), they devise a plan to have Montana conveniently meet up with eligible ex-boyfriends to see if any of them have since become the perfect guy. Directed by David E. Talbert, the film also stars Derek Luke, Djimon Hounsou, Taye Diggs, Boris Kodjoe, Terrence J, Jenifer Lewis, Christina Milian, La La Anthony and Affion Crockett.
At the film’s press day, actress Paula Patton spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about her desire to do a romantic comedy, how long ago she first read this script, wanting to do physical comedy, working with such a great ensemble cast, who was the most difficult to get through scenes with (without laughing), and how much doing a movie about a story like this made her appreciate the love she has in her own life. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
PAULA PATTON: I’ve always wanted to do a romantic comedy. It was a long time ago that I read this script. I was making a movie called Just Wright, with Queen Latifah, at the time. I was sent the script and I read it, and I laughed out loud. Then, I brought my husband and my best friend over and said, “We’re gonna do our own table read.” Everybody was like, “It’s great! It’s funny!” So, when I got back to L.A., I met with David Talbert. We had a great meeting. But as things go in Hollywood, the movie just didn’t happen. It fell apart, a little bit.
A few years went by and I had my son. It was pretty soon after Mission: Impossible that I got the call that said, “It looks like they’re going to make Baggage Claim.” I said, “You’ve gotta be kidding me?!” And they said, “Yes, and David Talbert only wants to make it with you.” I was so happy that a tear came to my eye. I was like, “This can’t be happening!” I kept asking about it, after the movie fell apart. I kept saying, “What’s going on with that?” It’s not very often that you can find a role, as a woman, where you’re the lead. Quite frankly, as a black woman, to be the lead in a romantic comedy is not something that comes around very often, and one that is so well-written and fun to play. It was a dream come true for me. It was a real labor of love.
Did you want to do something that had so much physical comedy?
PATTON: I always like the physical comedy because I actually do a lot of it in my own life, but not on purpose. I am the klutziest person on the planet. It’s easy for me. I’ve got more bruises and scars on my legs than should be there. And I’m a physical person. That’s why I like action movies. I like to get real into it all, and get real down and dirty. So, it was fun for me. You just can’t take yourself too seriously, especially in comedy. You shouldn’t try to be funny, but you should try to be as honest as possible. The extreme end of honesty is usually what’s funny. That’s your job. You just have to let people see it.
This is a business that’s based on beauty, but you’ve really managed to not let that encumber you in the work that you’ve done.
PATTON: Oh, thank you!
Is that intentional? Have you purposely fought for that?
PATTON: I appreciate that. When you’re in your own body, you don’t feel that great about yourself. I don’t think of myself that way. It’s not on purpose, I guess. I just want to become the person, as much as I can. I go to see movies and I really appreciate and respect the audience. People pay their hard-earned money to go watch you, so I feel like it’s my job to give 100,000% of myself to what I’m doing. You have to just lay it all on the table, with all your vulnerabilities and no walls, in the best way that I can. You don’t always get it right, but you try. So hopefully, maybe that transcends into being a real person. No matter how you look, we all hurt the same, cry the same, and feel joy the same. I wish I did more press junkets, so that I could hear the nice things that people say because of the amount of self-hatred that’s going on in my house, like a lot of us women. It’s a funny thing.
Did people look at you like you were crazy when you said, “I’m gonna take my top off,” for 2 Guns, rather than being the one to refuse that or negotiate more money for however many seconds of boob that you showed?
PATTON: I know, I’m a cheap date! I didn’t ask for anything. I just showed up and shocked them on set. It was actually really funny because I didn’t tell the director or Denzel [Washington]. I had been thinking about it. I was like, “There’s a scene where they’ve just made love. They’ve been longtime lovers and they’re having this conversation. It doesn’t make sense for her to be clothed.” In wardrobe fittings, we had come up with bra and underwear sets. The night before, I called my husband because I thought that was a respectful thing to do, and I said, “What do you think babe? Will you be cool with it? I just want to make sure.” And he said, “Absolutely! Go for it!” So, I went to set that day and said, “I’m not gonna be wearing a top,” and the director and Denzel said, “Excuse me?! Hold on a second, I don’t understand.” It just doesn’t look natural. It doesn’t make sense to me. I hate, in movies, when people have their bra on in bed. You just can’t take yourself too seriously, especially in comedy.
How was it to work with this great cast?
PATTON: We have great guys and great girls. There are some guys that are really easy on the eyes, and they’re good actors, more importantly. That’s the fun of it. You have to know your genre. This is a romantic comedy. It’s meant to be feel-good and fun, and it’s meant to look pretty with twinkly lights everywhere. I believe in that. I feel like movies should stick to a genre and give the audience what they want, and then surprise them with the unexpected, and not just do the same thing you’ve always seen. But of course, you’re gonna see some of the same things you’ve seen before. It’s part of the deal. We’re so thankful for how great everybody is in the movie. Jill Scott is magnificent, and so funny. Who would have thought Adam Brody would play a role like this, and he does such a great job, in a really unique way of being the gay best friend. Taye Diggs is outstanding and so funny. And Jenifer Lewis and Derek Luke are so great. Everybody gave all of themselves to the movie. Everybody felt passionately about the script. We were very lucky with this cast.
Was there anyone in particular that it was difficult to get through your scenes with, without laughing?
PATTON: Affion [Crockett], who plays the TSA guy in the movie. I know it’s a small role, but he’s hilarious. It was sometimes challenging to get through some of those scenes ‘cause I’d bust out laughing. Definitely with Taye Diggs and the dog, there were some moments where we just fell on the floor. What’s great about David [Talbert], as a director, is that he allows for improv, which is where I think the magic lies, especially in comedies. Sometimes people will say the darndest things, and it’s all you can do to not ruin the take and bust out laughing.
When you do a movie like this and you realize that there are people like this who have a bunch of crazy exes, does it make you appreciate the fact that you actually have love and a stable relationship in your life?
PATTON: I live vicariously through my girlfriends, so yes. I’m sometimes like, “That sounds hilarious, and like so much fun!” But obviously, I’m very grateful and thankful to have the husband that I do. We have a lot of fun together. I’d be lying to say it doesn’t make me appreciate that.
Baggage Claim opens in theaters on September 27th.