The ensemble comedy Think Like a Man, inspired by Steve Harvey’s best-selling book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, was a huge hit, naturally leading to a sequel that will be bringing all of the couples back for a wedding in Las Vegas, when it hits theaters on June 20th, what was supposed to be a romantic weekend goes terribly awry when their various misadventures, and the bachelor and bachelorette parties, get them into some compromising situations that threaten to derail the big event. Back on June 13, 2013, Collider was invited, along with a handful of other press, to visit the Caesars Palace Hotel & Casino set of Think Like a Man Too and chat with the cast and filmmakers.
One thing that was evident from the scenes that we watched on set was that the cast – Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence J, Romany Malco, Gary Owen, Gabrielle Union and newest addition Wendi McLendon-Covey – was dedicated to making the sequel as funny as possible. They improvised countless versions of lines, each getting a laugh from whoever was in earshot around the casino. While there, I was able to participate in a small press conference with the cast, and you can check out what they had to say after the jump.
KEVIN HART: I don’t know what serendipity means.
TARAJI P. HENSON: I was a little nervous, to be quite honest. I get nervous whenever something goes really well, and then they’re like, “Okay, we’re gonna do a Pt. 2!,” ‘cause I’ve seen a lot of Pt. 2s flop. Sometimes when it’s so good, you should leave it alone. But, I don’t know. I just feel like this one could be possibly better than the first one.
JERRY FERRARA: I felt great. I never even think down the road about sequels. You don’t think that can really even happen until it does. I know it’s good because, the minute we got back together, it was like the first one never stopped. I know we’re doing the right thing here because it literally felt like we never wrapped the first one.
GABRIELLE UNION: And then, (Screen Gems president) Clint [Culpepper] announced the sequel before the first one came out. So, we were contractually obligated to show up.
TERRENCE JENKINS: I’m just excited to be here, and to work with [this cast] again. Will [Packer] was like, “You know there’s a sequel, right?” And I was like, “Am I still in it?!” Just to be able to hang with these guys and laugh at work and learn so much, I’m happy.
REGINA HALL: I love Will [Packer] and Tim [Story]. Everyone in the cast was excited. I was disappointed that Kevin came back. I thought he was, for sure, going to be written out. Tim told me that, and Will assured me. But he did come back, and so we’re trying to make it work. It’s been hard.
WENDI McLENDON-COVEY: Well, I wasn’t in the first one, but I can tell you, as a viewer, for selfish reasons, I wanted there to be a second one because I wasn’t done watching these characters. You have to see these relationships through to the end. And now I’m in it, so Christmas has come for me.
MEAGAN GOOD: The first one leaves off where you don’t really know what happens next. You just got a chance to get to know these characters. Our writers are so fantastic, as is our director and our producers. We had such a great team around us that I feel like people actually want to see where these characters are going to go and what’s going to happen next in their story. I think they’re doing a fantastic job of executing what is coming next. And it’s good for all the girls to work together. We’ve been having a fantastic time, and I think that will translate on screen.
ROMANY MALCO: I think the sequel is interesting. I’m normally not a fan of sequels, but selfishly speaking, I honestly wanted to see the progression. With all the push and pull there was in Zeke and Mya’s relationship, I wanted to see how a relationship like that would evolve. I completely trusted the writers and their sensibility to give a realistic depiction of that, and they have. So, as a result of that, I’m happy to be here again. We’re having a lot of fun.
MICHAEL EALY: At the time we made the first one, I had never had more fun or sex, during the making of a movie. That was enough for me to come back.
HART: The one thing that I love from going to Pt. 2 from Pt. 1, is that it’s believable. Of course, when you’re doing a movie, that’s the job of the actors and actresses. You want to make it believable and relatable. But in Part 1, I believed every single relationship. I saw that couple before. I could relate with Zeke and Mya. I can relate with Dominic and Lauren. With everybody’s characters, I could really relate and say, “Wow, I know people like that,” or “I’ve been that person.” So, to see it now and to track where they’re going, I think for our audience, it’s something they’ll have a need for and want. Relationship movies can be cheesy and corny, but nobody wants to address real situations, and that’s one that we’ve addressed here. The writers have done a good job of doing that, and the producers. And myself, as the talent, I think I’ve done a great job.
Can each of you talk about the arc or journey your character takes in the film?
GOOD: Mya and Zeke have been together for awhile now, and they’re doing really well, except that Zeke’s past keeps rearing its ugly head. We’re at odds with that. And then, in terms of our level of our commitment, there are constant questions, so we feel like we’re not seeing eye-to-eye. So, there’s a bit of dysfunction.
EALY: With most of the couples in the sequel, it’s all about the maturation process of the relationship. Dom and Lauren are, once again, pretty solid in the second one, but they’re independently confronted with challenges to the relationship that they’re forced to work out individually.
HENSON: Lauren, overall, is softer. You’ll see a softer side. She needed help. She’s still a power girl, but just softer.
HART: With Ced, I don’t really think that tracking my story is the same as theirs. I’m more of the guy that’s driving what’s going on. Ced’s relationship is in and out. We’re back to a place where we’re getting a divorce, but it hasn’t happened yet. It’s a revolving situation that has never ended. It’s the same thing carrying into this one.
FERRARA: For Jeremy and Kristen, you left off with us where she basically wanted the ring and he finally manned up, and they got married. So, we’re married now, and with marriage there’s not a new set of problems, but a new set of marital issues. It’s the next step after. The’s the ring, and then marriage, and then family, and trying to make that happen.
HALL: Well, we’re getting married.
JENKINS: We watch Michael grow. I think he’s broken a lot of the momma’s boy tendencies. But his mom hasn’t died, so she’s still very much involved and very much controlling. I think her character plays out a lot with all the women. Jenifer [Lewis] isn’t here, but you’re going to see her interact with all of the women. One of the funnest parts of this film is getting to see different characters interact that never got a chance to do so, in the first one. Even for us guys, we haven’t seen a lot of the stuff that the girls are filming, so ‘’m excited to see the dailies with Meagan [Good] and Raji [Henson] and Gabby [Union] and Regina [Hall] and Wendi [McLendon-Covey] and LaLa [Anthony] together.
GARY OWEN: Other than Romany [Malco], Mike [Ealy], Kevin [Hart], Jerry [Ferrara] and Terrence [Jenkins], I think my character is the most talked-about. But, after those five. They wanted to see who I was married to. I wanted to see. I had a whole other visual in my head, other than [Wendi].
McLENDON-COVEY: He was disappointed.
OWEN: I thought she was going to be Asian, so it shocked me when they gave me a white lady. I was like, “Whoa, that’s crazy!”
McLENDON-COVEY: Tish and Bennett have been married a long time, and we see the world through khaki-colored glasses. Over the course of this movie, it shakes up the snow globe of their marriage. Tish remembers that she’s female.
What’s the best or worst piece of relationship advice that you’ve ever gotten?
HART: Get married.
HENSON: Well, obviously I didn’t get any best advice ‘cause I’m still single.
GOOD: I used the 90-day rule thing, but I kept it going for about a year. I got married, and it’s been awesome.
OWEN: Me and my wife did it on our second date, so you don’t gotta wait 90 days. I went right in and knocked it down! I was gonna get that. It ain’t gotta be 90 days. It was barely 48 hours. With my wife, I didn’t abide by any of the rules. This is real life, I met her, and the same night that I met her, I called her. She said, “I just met you, and you’re calling me an hour later?” I was just like, “I want to talk to you. I didn’t want to wait.” So, I went in, and I freaked her out.
What part of your character’s development or what aspect of their personality do you identify with the most?
HART: With Cedric, it’s the whole misinterpretation thing. He takes things and runs with them, whether it’s correct or incorrect, and I do that in real life. I’ll assume things are a certain way, and I’ll plan things accordingly to what I thought it should be. With Cedric, that’s the whole thing with this movie. I assume, from a conversation that we were having, that I’m the choice of best man, but I was never truly picked to be the best man. Nobody has the heart to tell me, so they just let me run with the mistake. That happens a lot to me, in my personal life.
HENSON: For me, it’s being successful and single, and that being an issue with guys who want to date me. Sometimes they get a little intimidated by my success. That’s what I identify most with Lauren. I’m very soft and loving.
OWEN: Bennett is the guy that I wish I was more like, as far as being unselfish. He definitely puts his wife and kids before himself. And in this line of work, you have people telling you you’re great, and you can get selfish and self-centered. You can get caught up, especially when your son has a basketball game that three people are going to be at, and you get Super Bowl tickets. I didn’t get to go to the Super Bowl, but it is what it is. They still lost, and he wasn’t even starting.
What do you want audiences to take from your characters, this time around?
UNION: That sometimes the best thing is to just chill the hell out. Just chill out and have fun and ride it till the wheels fall off. Let the chips fall where they may. When you try to micro-manage and control things and will your way into everything, it doesn’t always work. The first one was about, “Follow these rules and X will happen.” This one is almost the opposite of, “Relax, have a good time, let the magic happen, and don’t force it.”
GOOD: Don’t try to make the person that you’re with, the person that you want them to be. Love them for who they are, and for the person you initially fell in love with. Don’t try to manipulate them, even if it’s unintentional.
EALY: In the first one, there were a lot of mind games and courtship, and stuff like that. You have so much fun with the first one ‘cause it’s fun trying to get to know somebody and see if you have a true connection. I think in this particular film, the connection is there. The hard part is figuring out how to stay there. The real work begins when you’re actually in the relationship. Getting to know someone, you can do that at work. But in order to stay with them for the long-term, that’s where the real work begins.
JENKINS: I met a lot of single mothers after the film came out, and they would come up and say, “Wow, the way your character took care of Duke and Candace, it inspired them and let them know there are good dudes out there.” That’s even more so, in this second film. Michael is a guy that’s just really in love, and really tries the best to make good decisions. I honestly wish I could be more like him. I wish that I could find what my character has found, and really be as focused as he is. I just hope that when women watch it, they can look at a character like that. A lot of our characters have that trait of being good guys. We make a lot of questionable decisions in this film, but the core of all of us is that we’re really good guys, and we really do love all of the women.
FERRARA: With the first one, you could tell that we were all friends and it was all about the relationships. This one is still about the relationships, but to me, you really feel the friendship, especially with the guys and the girls. You see what these people are willing to do for each other, outside the relationship, even more so that the first one. This is real life. This is the real world. We all actually love each other. With this many characters, everyone is on the same page with that, and that’s rare. I haven’t seen it.
HART: I think that’s what makes our movie original. With Pt. 1, what was good with the whole Think Like a Man theme was that you were jumping into a man’s mind and you’re finally seeing a male’s point of view on relationships and how to handle them. The fact that it’s done within a group of men, you get to see these men bounce information off of one another. That’s unique and original. With this one, it’s just been escalated because you get a chance to see the women actually interact within a group and do the same thing that the men were doing in Pt. 1. It’s just more enhanced, that’s all.
Obviously, you guys are all funny people and you’re all comfortable with each other. How much are you improvising? Do you ever actually do a take of just the script?
OWEN: I never actually read a script.
HENSON: The first take is the script, and then Tim let us had fun.
HART: I’m an on-book actor.
HALL: No, he’s not. None of Kevin’s stuff is on book.
HART: Whatever is on the page, is what I’m married to. I’m very prepared. I’m a thespian. I don’t like to improv. I don’t like to go off course ‘cause I think that’s where stuff happens. When you stick to the material ‘cause it’s written so well, that’s where the magic happens.
HENSON: Like I said, we do what’s scripted, and then we get to have fun.
HART: That’s what makes this set amazing. It’s very rare that you get a director that lets you be creative and bring what you feel your character should do or should be. Everybody here has creative input on what it is we want to do. There’s discussions before scenes about how to make a scene better. With Romany and Mike, you’re looking at two guys that are story trackers. I’m different. I don’t come and worry about the story so much. I know my character and I know what I want, but they track the story every beat of the way. There’s a conversation, before every scene, and it’s about making that scene better. The director allows us to have that input, and that’s why the material that we get comes out so much better than what we expected it to be. Tim Story allows us to go and do what we do.
You guys have had a very big social presence online, during the filming of this movie. What is that about? How do you feel that really helps promote it?
MALCO: This movie?! You didn’t notice what happened with the last movie?! We set a new precedent for the way movies are promoted because of how active we were online. We haven’t even gotten started with this movie yet. We’re holding back.
JENKINS: I think people are attracted to what’s real, and people are attracted to genuine things. What happens with our social media is that it’s so organic. The moments that are created, when we just put moments together, all comes from a place of us genuinely being friends. I think that’s what translates through the photos, through Instagram, through Twitter, and through the screen. I think people really like this movie because this is real. When we have off days, I call Jerry in L.A. and I’m like, “What are you doing?” You do so many projects where there will be the social media person on set who will come in and say, “Hey, use this hashtag,” and all this corny stuff, and it just doesn’t work.
HART: You’ve gotta understand that with branding and the way things are promoted, in our day and age, your older movie stars are not reachable or accessible because they’re not a part of the whole social media world. This younger generation that’s around, that’s Tweeting, Facebooking and Vine-ing, the fans appreciate that because they feel like they can get to you. So, the way of promoting movies has changed and turned over to this particular route. If you add up our social media presence, you’re looking at anywhere from 15 to 20 million people that we can reach, as a cast. A movie studio has their regular way of promotion, but they can’t buy our world. That’s our world. And now, it’s becoming a place where, as actors and actresses, you can get smarter about your brand. We have what they don’t have, which is a direct connect to our fans, and we know what our fans want. That is where the power is, within social media, overall. So, the success of the movie isn’t just laying on them. It’s also in what we decide to incorporate ourselves in, and studios now know that. That’s the best thing about social media.
HENSON: But, you started filming first.
FERRARA: The girls came in and destroyed us. The reaction when the girls came in just destroyed us. It was humbling. I’m off Instagram now because they humbled the shit out of me.
EALY: As the person who has the least social media presence, with the exception of Regina [Hall], I feel like ever since the first film came out, the fans were on my small little Twitter feed, talking about the first movie. Now, they’re excited about the second one. I don’t think anybody up here started to send things out because they felt like they had to promote a movie. I feel like everybody was just trying to share the experience with the fans. The fans gave us so much on the first one that it was just an opportunity to give back to them without spoiling the movie. It wasn’t like, “Oh, we’ve gotta promote!”
HENSON: It basically just comes out of the organic fun that we’re having on the set. If Kevin and I went out – and I would never go out with Kevin – and we’re at dinner and are look, “Let’s take this picture!,” that’s just how organic it is. It has nothing to do with selling the film. Sometimes I forget to add [the hashtag].
FERRARA: People know when they’re getting sold.
MALCO: One thing that I think we’re overlooking is that no one expected this film to do what it did the first time, out of the box. We put together a video where we thanked the fans, and how this movie performed on opening night, the fans felt like they played a big role in the success of the movie. We built this city together. Not just us, not just Will and Tim, and not just Sony, but all of us together, fans included. I feel as though giving them all this social media and pictures behind the scenes, it includes them in the process again. I believe that’s a big part of what keeps them loyal, but at the same time, enables us to express our gratitude.
What was it like for all of the girls to get to work together, this time around?
HALL: I love the girls. Obviously, I’d met all of them before, but on this movie, I got to know Meagan [Good] more. I didn’t know Wendi [McLendon-Covey]. We had never met. I feel like we actually became really, really good friends.
UNION: Especially with the girls, you’re watching a lot of friendships re-blossoming, but it’s all happening organically. There were so many moments like that. Wendi and Regina are two of those rare birds that can literally make you laugh so hard that you cry. It happens mainly on set. But when we’re just in downtime between takes, we don’t scurry off to our trailers. We hang with each other. You see a lot of the natural progression of our real relationships in those scenes, not in a sense of growing pains, but actually beautiful and blossoming.
EALY: I don’t think the guys know exactly what the girls are doing, so if they’re competing, it’s by default.
GOOD: Oh, we don’t really care what the guys are doing.
EALY: We’re on our own path of being lead by the devil, and the girls are dealing with a whole different thing. I don’t know if we even get around to talking about what the other did.
HART: We don’t even address what we were off doing.
What’s been your favorite scene to shoot?
HART: We’re not doing shooting yet, so I can’t say. No. The day when we were doing a toast. Terrence was talking, and I’m so pissed off that I’m slurping my martini, as if I’m drunk. We couldn’t stop laughing. That was just a fun day.
OWEN: It’s not funny, the way he’s explaining it. But when you see it, it’s gonna be funny! Right now, I’m just like, “What the fuck?!” But, it’s really funny on camera.
HENSON: All of the scenes that I’ve shot have been a riot. It doesn’t even feel like work. It feels like I’m getting paid to come and have fun with my friends. But for me, we go to the club and a song comes on and we were dancing on the tables. It just turns into a video, and it was so much fun. We had a ball.
MALCO: I think I enjoyed the supermodel strip show the most. There were just a lot of models stripping.
HENSON: What movie is that?!
MALCO: I’m trying to sell our movie, people!
OWEN: I like working with Wendi. I’ve never had a girlfriend, in any movie or TV show. This is my first love scene.
McLENDON-COVEY: And he managed to not kiss me in our love scene because he loves his wife so much.
HART: On a sidebar, because we haven’t said it, we all were in Pt. 1, so Wendi coming on – and I’m such a fan – she’s very, very funny and is so subtle. You just heard about his wife in Pt. 1, so you just assumed that this woman was whatever you thought she was. But then, when you see her, the person that Wendi came as, and the way that she’s playing it, is funny and it gives him a great balance. I think the fans are definitely going to like what she brings to the film. She’s hysterical.
Think Like A Man Too opens in theaters on June 20th.