When I think about Martin Lawrence the first thought that comes to my mind is House Party. Martin played “Bilal” – a hapless, house party D.J. with Halitosis. I understood the concept of the movie. I was a sophomore in college and the parties were in the dorms or in someone’s mama’s house. Ahhhh… the memories and he scored some mad crazy laughs! Bilal seared martin’s image in my mind and so when his groundbreaking sitcom, “Martin” hit the small screen, I knew I was going to be laughing. What I didn’t know is that I would be laughing so hard tears, would run down my face.
Now the whole world knew what we knew – Martin Lawrence is one funny brotha. As the years wore on, Martin became more recognizable on the big screen as well. His movies started making MILLIONS. His star was rising faster than he could keep up and it took its toll. We all heard the rumors and true reports. He even speaks on some of it in Runteldat, his last live concert film. So there is no reason for me to rehash that here, but it is very clear that he has tried to deal with those issues and it put it behind him, as we discussed it:
Martin, you’ve been kind of quiet on the scene in recent years, is that intentional? Is that just my perception? If it was intentional, what were you doing?
ML: “I was just maturing. Growing up. Learning about me. Putting my past mistakes behind and just growing. That’s it. Living life. You know what I mean? Not afraid to live life.”
What were some of the things you did?
ML: “I played ball. I stuck close to my family and friends. Took trips. You know went on boat trips – things like that.”
Are you a spiritual person? How important is your spiritual dimension to your life.
ML: “It is my life, it’s my reason for being.”
In his absence he also spent time with friends including Eddie Murphy who gave him some advice, “He just said, “Hey Man you would be funny in a family comedy” You and kids – that’s a funny concept. Then Rebound came along and I was able to do that.” And Rebound seemed to be just what the doctor ordered because he found in this movie a chance to try something new, working almost exclusively with children, “I’ve never had an opportunity to be in a movie like or an opportunity to work with kids. And I though it was funny for a guy who is so temperamental who is always arguing and believing his right about this and right about that having to dig inside of his own character. And say wait a minute, maybe this isn’t the best way to go about things. And what impressed me the most with this group of kids is how professional they were. And they fact that they could have fun. That kind of energy gives you energy and reminds you of when you were a kid. They were cool. They are professionals and they knew that they came there to work and that’s what they did, so it wasn’t hard at all.”
One might worry about being upstaged by kids, not Martin, “Well I don’t worry about that. My days of being upstaged – I never have to worry about that. I just let them do what they do and be kids. I have fun with and site back and enjoy it.”
“Fun”, now were back to the Martin who brought us Big Momma’s House. Speaking of BMH, he talked a bit about the upcoming Big Momma’s House 2:
What about returning to a character? You are back in Malcolm Turner’s various disguises. Do you have to remind people where you left off?
ML: “Are you talking about Big Momma’s?”
ML: “Well this time it’s a whole different scenario and situation. I’m a nanny in a home because the father is under investigation and we gotta catch him. I don’t want to give too much of it away because we are right in the middle of filming, so I’m still putting the pieces together.”
Any improvements in that suit? I know you weren’t thrilled by it last time.
ML: “No improvements. It’s still kicking my butt. It’s unbearable at times.”
And it’s in New Orleans where it nice and coolâ€¦ that must be crazy. Everyone is sweating in normal clothing..
ML: “Well that’s what they hire me to do. There is only so much complaining I can do. But getting in makeup for 2 and a half hours every morning. Wearing this fat face and everything and sweating under it is not fun!”
Not only does Martin have the ability to play multiple characters in from of the camera, he can multitask behind it as well as he explains why this is so important to him, “[Directing] was hard. If I do it again, I think it would have to be something that I’m not acting in as well. It just depends on if something comes my way, but I’m not looking for it. He also likes to have creative input in the filmmaking process, “because I produced Rebound I’m able to speak on it. I have input from casting to scenes to story points. Things that I think don’t work or do work. Things we should try and it’s fun because it helps me be able to stay in tune with the project and the people that I’m working with. Being able to have a voice. You know there’s nothing like being on a project and not being to have a voice. I don’t like that.” And he is successfully able to keep both tasks separated,” When I’m acting, I’m acting. I don’t think about “Cut! Hold on!” when I’m doing a scene. I don’t think about that.”
It seems to me that Rebound holds a special place in his heart because he can relate to it on the same level as the characters in the movie His shared experience was boxing as a youngster and the boxing coach that encouraged him, “He was always there giving encouragement and trying to keep us focused on the Gym so we wouldn’t be out there in the streets doing things we weren’t supposed to be doing. Well it kept me out of the streets. It gave me a father figure through my coach who was there for me. It gave me soothing to do and reiterated what my mother was trying to tell me about getting my life together and focusing and things like that.” He also had divine inspiration and support from home, “My God inspired me because I blessed with the knowledge that I wanted to do this and my mother supported me. She said whatever it is you want to do and if you believe that acting and comedy is something you want to do, I can only tell you that it’s not easy. It’s very hard, but I support you. By her supporting me, it allowed me to move forward.” These lessons are passed on to his children, “Fatherhood means a great deal to me. I love it. There’s nothing better because your kids keep it real with you. When you look at them and think things are bad or whatever, they show you why things are right and it make it all worth it and the values I teach them, I teach them by example. I just try to be a good person each and every day. To respect themselves and to take care of themselves. Don’t get involved in things they don’t need to be involved in. And that comes in time because they are little”
It seems to me that Martin is in a good place in his life, his turned a page in the chapter of his life. He’s moving on from some of his old habits, he’s not really listening to music anymore, “Right now I’m just listening to serenity. Peace and quiet. I don’t really listen to music right now because I need to connect with my thoughts. This workload is giving me all that I can handle. So I’m just kind of dealing in silence.” And not really interested in touring either, “no time soon.”, he says unless, “I have something to say something to make you laugh – Runteldat is still doing well. I don’t miss it.”
But I did manage to find something he is interested in –
Martin, A producer was at a party and said that he was going to do a movie version of “The Jeffersons” and wants you for George Jefferson and Queen Latifah for Weezy. Have you been asked? Is it going to happen?
ML: Well tell him to call me!
I most certainly will, Martin.
Look for Rebound in theaters on July 1st.