Brandon T. Jackson Interview BIG MOMMA’S: LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON

     February 17, 2011

When FBI Agent Malcolm Turner’s (Martin Lawrence) teenage stepson Trent (Brandon T. Jackson) witnesses a murder, the two team up to go undercover at a performing arts school, in the hopes of catching a killer. However, since it is an all-girl school, they must go deep under, posing as Big Momma and the hefty co-ed Charmaine.  The character of Big Momma was first introduced to movie audiences in 2000’s Big Momma’s House, which went on to become a global box office sensation. Then, Big Momma’s House 2 further enriched the story of the larger than life matriarch who does whatever it takes to stop even the most hardened criminals. Now, Big Momma’s: Like Father, Like Son not only continues the story, but reinvents it for a new teen audience.

At a recent press day for the film, co-star Brandon T. Jackson talked about working with and getting advice from Martin Lawrence, looking pretty as Charmaine, what he learned about women by dressing in drag, getting to rap in the film, wanting to do his own comedy tour and the actresses he would love to work with. Check out what he had to say after the jump:

Brandon T. JacksonQuestion: When you first put on the dress, wig and make-up, and saw yourself as Charmaine, what did you think?

BRANDON T. JACKSON: I was like, “Whoa, she’s pretty!” It was a good time. I’m happy I got to create this character. As an actor, it’s amazing to get to create different characters. Johnny Depp is a character actor, and everything you see him in is different. I’m happy that they gave me the chance to create a different character.

By playing a woman, did you learn anything about women that you didn’t know before?

JACKSON: It was more a respect. I can’t believe that women have got to put on so much in the morning. What time do women wake up? Man, I put a t-shirt and jeans on, and that’s it. To see what women have got to go through in the morning, it’s more of a respect factor.

How hard was it for you to wear all of that, all day?

JACKSON: The heels broke! We were runnin’ and doin’ the action thing, and I was in the half girl/guy suit, at that point. The heels broke and (director) John [Whitesell] was like, “Just go with it!”

How long did it take you to get used to the fact that you would have to sit there for a couple of hours every morning, in order to get made up?

JACKSON: It wasn’t cool at all. I didn’t know that it took that long, and they constantly had to tell me to chill out and sit down.

What did you do, during all that time?

JACKSON: We had hip-hop playin’ in the trailer, just to keep me awake. I didn’t want to start watchin’ movies because I have a problem with mimicking and I would just go into that movie or this movie. I have a real problem with that. I was that kid that would watch the movies and do the same thing.

After playing Charmaine in this, do you think you’ll be a better boyfriend?

JACKSON: Yeah, but I don’t have time to date these days.

Are you too focused on your career?

JACKSON: I guess so. What I find is that I can’t use the same tricks that I use in the movies. You can’t do that in real life.

When you were a teen, did you have a Big Momma in your life who gave you good advice?

JACKSON: Yeah, my grandmother. Everyone has a Big Momma, but she wasn’t big. My grandma is actually very skinny. Our family is pretty skinny, traditionally. But, she gave great advice. My grandma is kind of a rock star. She goes to France, and all over. My grandpa was in both of the wars and could speak different languages.

Did you have to audition with Martin?

JACKSON: No, I didn’t, but I auditioned as the girl with Jessica [Lucas] to check the chemistry. Me and Martin met at a party, and he said, “Wazzup? We’ve gotta work together!” It was a blessing, to be able to work with a dope comedian like him. Come on now, this is Martin Lawrence.

What advice did Martin give you?

JACKSON: The whole crew gave me advice, but Martin told me to chill out, do the work and be professional, and stay calm before the camera rolls. This takes a lot of energy out of you, and you don’t realize it until after the fact and you’re so tired. I got off this movie and I was burned out. I was like, “Why am I so tired?”

What did you pick up from Martin Lawrence that you used for Charmaine?

JACKSON: With Martin, I watched how he embodied the character. He could embody it fully, but then would go in and out, when it was time to show the guy. The funny thing about Big Momma is when Martin comes out and shows that he’s the guy.

When you first got the script and knew you were going to have a love interest, did you have anybody in mind?

JACKSON: I think (producer) David [Friendly] and (director) John [Whitesell] are very good at knowing how to cast the right actors. I think it’s what inspires people. In this movie, you have so many elements, with the father/son story and the love story. The love story was great for me because I never thought I’d get one. Goofy guys usually don’t get a love story.

Did you do any ad-libs in this?

JACKSON: Yeah, but the script was really good. There were a couple of things that me and Martin would slide in there.

Did you have any time to have fun in Atlanta while you were shooting there?

JACKSON: I had a little fun. I went out a little bit. I did stand-up. I’m really focused on that. There are no young comedians out there. I’m really a purist when it comes to Pryor and Eddie Murphy. Those guys are geniuses.

You get to rap quite a bit in this. Is rapping and performing music new for you?

JACKSON: It’s an undiscovered talent. (Producer) David [Friendly] and Ben Stiller taught me how to rap. They wrote it in the scripts, as producers. I’m not a natural comedian, as an artist. I studied comedy growing up. I would watch Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence, all day. Now, it’s funny because the rap element is such a thing in our culture. It’s so relevant that it was like, “Let’s make it happen.” So, they taught me how to rap. Now, I’m doing it. I did a viral video with T. Pain, called “Do It Big.”

Do you want to do more rap now?

JACKSON: It’s fun. There are so many layers in this movie that it’s a performance piece. I was rapping as a guy playing a girl. It’s a blessing that they allowed me to do something like that. The problem is, if you give it to me, I’m gonna go with it. I’m inspired to do it, but I’m still taking it one step at a time.

Do you have a favorite rapper?

JACKSON: Kanye West and Lil Wayne are the dopest. They speak for our generation, to be honest. I think they really speak for what’s goin’ on right now.

In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, you were half horse and half man. Now, in this film, you’re a man playing a woman. What’s with that?

JACKSON: It’s all characters, man. The cool thing about it was that I got to play a Demigod and a Satyr in one movie, and then I got to play a girl and a guy and a rapper in this movie, and then a rapper who was in the middle of a war with actors (Tropic Thunder). I’ve had a blessed career.

Are you planning your own comedy tour?

JACKSON: Yeah. I don’t know what it’s called yet, but I am. I’m getting my material together right now.

Do you write scripts?

JACKSON: Yeah, I write scripts.

Would you love to have a comedy special?

JACKSON: Yes, that would be amazing. I’m not supposed to say this yet, but I’m working towards it. I do feel that whatever happens now, it’s important to work with great people and do something great. That’s how I feel. I really have a love for comedy. I can’t express it enough.

Do you do any impressions in your stand-up?

JACKSON: I do. I can do Michael Jackson, Chris Rock and all these guys.

When did you know you were funny?

JACKSON: I’ve always been funny. I look back in the day, when I would take the mic from my dad in church and just start goin’, at age six, the first time I did it. I think 14 was when I knew I wanted to do it and promote my own comedy shows at the church. Then, everyone would come.

In writing movies, who do you look up to?

JACKSON: Jonah Hill is dope. I just love how those guys know what’s going on in our generation. And Aaron Sorkin, the guy that wrote the Facebook movie, The Social Network, is very, very talented. That monologue in the beginning of the movie is crazy.

What actresses would you just love to work with?

JACKSON: Honestly, I’ve got so many. Betty White is dope. I really want to do a comedy with Meryl Streep. That would be such an odd couple. Halle Berry is great. Natalie Portman is dope. I’d love to work with her. Scarlett Johansson is dope. Portia Doubleday (who plays Jasmine in the film) is hilarious.

BIG MOMMA’S: LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON opens on February 18th

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