First, there was the play, “Sexual Perversity in Chicago,” written by David Mamet. Then, there was the 1986 feature film, About Last Night, starring Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, James Belushi and Elizabeth Perkins. Now, a modern re-imagining of the classic romantic comedy, which follows new love for two couples as they journey from the bar to the bedroom and are eventually put to the test in the real world, is hitting theaters on February 14, 2014. And back on October 25, 2012, Collider was invited, along with a handful of other press, to the set on the second-to-last day of shooting.
At the Broadway Bar in Downtown Los Angeles, a Halloween party was in full swing, with Kevin Hart as Channing Tatum’s character in Magic Mike, Michael Ealy as Ike Turner, Joy Bryant as Tina Turner and Regina Hall as Nicki Minaj. Find out more about the film, what the actors were doing and why after the jump.
Out for a night on the town, Danny (Ealy) and Debbie (Bryant) were joined by Bernie (Hart) and Joan (Hall). While we were on set, we got to see various snippets of a longer scene set in the bar, but it easily illustrated the balance of comedy and drama that they’re clearly going for in the film. Both Kevin Hart and Regina Hall were throwing out hilarious improvised lines, exchanging quips and barbs with and at each other, while Hart and Michael Ealy were sharing a bit of a heart-to-heart moment.
While on a break from shooting, Regina Hall – who was dressed in a blue wig, black and blue sparkly mini-dress and butt pad – took some time out to talk to us about what attracted her to this project, how much fun it is to play off of Kevin Hart, how her version of the character is different from what Elizabeth Perkins did in the original, the pros and cons of remakes, working with Joy Bryant, what she thinks will most surprise fans about her performance, the awkwardness of intimate scenes, and what makes About Last Night different from Think Like a Man.
REGINA HALL: I read the script and thought it was really, really funny. Honestly, that’s what happened. I read it and laughed. I spoke to Clint [Culpepper], and he told me that he was going to be a part of it. I love Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant, and I had seen (director) Steve Pink’s film Hot Tub Time Machine, so it was a no-brainer. I love Will Packer. He’s amazing, and always very committed. And Clint Culpepper is very committed, as a studio head, to making black films and images with a lot of integrity. So, it was great.
Both Will Packer and Kevin Hart praised you for your comedic timing, and how you can keep up with Kevin.
HALL: That is so great. Kevin and I have a lot of fun. We did Think Like a Man together, but we weren’t really in scenes together that weren’t group scenes. This was the first time we got to work off of each other. I have to tell you, it’s so amazing. Kevin knows his lines. He’s an amazing actor. It’s a pleasure. I watch the guy and he’s insanely funny and off-the-cuff. He keeps me on my toes. I’m like, “Damn, Kevin’s coming with the best game.” He makes me work harder. Will is committed. He’s here on set, every single day, and Clint is here, too. When you have the executives and the cast that committed, you have to commit, too.
Is your good comedic timing just a part of your personality, or is that something you had to work at?
HALL: I think it’s part of me. I get it from my momma since I didn’t get her real butt. I see it that way. When I look at the script, I see it in beats.
In the original film, Elizabeth Perkins’ Joan is a little snarky and unlikeable. How did you re-imagine her?
HALL: It was already different in the script. The writers re-imagined her a lot closer to how she was in the David Mamet play, Sexual Perversity in Chicago. That film was a little less close to the play than this film. I feel like they went back a lot to what the play was about. With Joan, I thought it would be fun to show that she’s a professional. She’s a dentist, but she has a wild side. We have a professional side, have a side we are with our girlfriends, and have a side we are with our man. We get a little crazy, but we can be affectionate and loving. She’s a multi-dimensional person. So, instead of making her just snarky, there are a lot of levels that she goes to.
What are the pros and cons of remaking something that has existed in other forms?
HALL: I did The Honeymooners, so sometimes it doesn’t work. You have to make sure there’s an audience out there. With this, the play was so well-written and so well-done, and the way we’re doing it is not an exact replica. These characters have the same names, but there is a freshness. Because it’s an African-American cast, the comparisons will probably be a lot less. It’s not like somebody is trying to be Rob Lowe or Demi Moore or Jim Belushi. Because of that, it should stand on its own. If you enjoyed the first one, we hope you enjoy this one.
You play Joy Bryant’s BFF in this. What’s it like working with her?
HALL: This is my first time working with Joy, but I’ve known her outside of this and she’s a sweetheart. We have so much fun. We have met several times before this, so the friendship part is really easy because I like her. I look at her and go, “She’s someone I want to be friends with.” I think you see it. You know how you can just tell that two girls will be friends, even though they’re nothing alike? She’s more tomboy-ish and Joan is really ultra-feminine, outspoken and crazy, but there’s a similar energy they both have. So, I was excited to work with her.
Is there something in this film that you feel fans of yours will be surprised about, in seeing your performance?
HALL: This is the first time that I’ve been a woman who is funny. I did a lot of stuff in Scary Movie, but I was younger and it was much broader. This probably has more dimensions and levels than other things I have done. With Think Like a Man, I loved Candace, but she was straight and grounded. With this one, she’s crazy but reasonable, and reasonably crazy.
How did you go about shooting the intimate scenes?
HALL: You know what? It’s not that bad. Kevin and I are friends. We know each other. It was funny. I said, “Kevin, I’m on my period today.” He said, “I don’t wanna shoot this.” But, Kevin is easy to shoot with. It’s a little awkward, but it’s a safe set. The environment is so comfortable. The biggest thing is not to laugh. It’s not like Kevin and I were doing the most romantic stuff. Their sex is crazy. Their relationship is crazy, so it went in the vein of how everything else is going.
What is it about this story that holds up, after 25 years?
HALL: Because no one has gotten it right, whether it’s 25 million years ago, or 25 thousands years ago. I think it’s the idea of exploring relationships and couples, and what each individual person brings to a relationship. Seeing that, people probably look at it and see themselves. I know I see some of myself in Joan and in Debbie. I think anytime there is something that can still resonate with audiences, and they make it current for today’s audience, they can still love it. That’s why I still love Sleepless in Seattle. There’s something about love and getting it right.
Since this film follows these couples over different holidays, is there one holiday, in particular, that is crazier than the others?
HALL: I think Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving turns out to be quite a holiday.
HALL: Well, first of all, I’m so happy that people liked Think Like a Man. The support we got was amazing, and just really astounding. The feedback was great. We had fun making it, but you never know how people are going to respond, and it was wonderful. There were four couples, and I think people could see themselves in either partner. Sometimes our own stories don’t have happy endings, but you can watch a movie and get a happy ending and see people like my character, who is a working-class woman. There were rich professionals, but they were regular people. This is different. This is an R-rated comedy. It’s just as funny, if not funnier, but in a different way. It pushes the envelope a bit more, but not in a way that takes it over-the-top, just in a way that you can see how women really behave together. It’s really rooted and grounded.
About Last Night opens in theaters on February 14, 2014.