They are back. After a break of 15-years, the beloved cast of the 1999 comedy hit, ”The Best Man”, have reunited for the long awaited sequel, ”The Best Man Holiday”. Written and directed by Malcolm D. Lee, the new movie centers on Monica Calhoun’s character Mia, who as the loving wife of Lance (Morris Chestnut), sets the party in motion when she invites their old friends to their home for a Christmas reunion. Featuring original cast members Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Terrence Howard, Harold Perrineau, Regina Hall and Melissa De Sousa, the characters must now take stock of each other, the bonds which still unite them, and the course their lives have taken.
Reprising his role as the kindhearted Julian Murch in the new film is Harold Perrineau, whose domestic life is rocked when an old video featuring his wife (Regina Hall), a former striper, makes its way to YouTube.
A native New Yorker, Harold Perrineau’s own career took flight after his turn in ”The Best Man” (1999) with roles in ”Lost” (2004-2010), ”The Matrix” (2003-2005) films and ”Oz” (1997-2003) to name but a handful.
Q: Congratulations on The Best Man Holiday. Were you surprised by the film’s initial success at the US box office?
A: Yes and no. I thought we had done a really, really great film and great films deserve to have lots of people go and see them. That said, a film with a predominantly African-American cast sometimes in this country is tricky because it gets pigeonholed. This film really is about a bunch of friends, their lives together, their relationships, children, and love and death – all these things. It should not be pigeonholed into any one thing.
Q: Why has the first film remained popular with audiences for so many years?
A: I think the reason is that the original Best Man (1999) had a bunch of really well written characters. They were characters that we really had not seen in films that much before. I thought they were all very truthful and very funny. I think Malcolm Lee (director) constructed a really great script.
Q: Why did you want to be a part of the reunion film?
A: I wanted to do The Best Man Holiday because you just don’t get a chance to do something that you enjoy like this all that often. So when the opportunity presented itself, I just jumped at it. I wanted to portray the character again. I wanted to be with those actors again and see if we could recreate this thing that felt like a classic. I also love these kinds of films as well. It was a really great opportunity to do something that you do not often get the chance to do.
Q: Tell us about your character, Julian Murch. How has he changed over the years?
A: Over the years, I would say Julian has become more confident. In that first one he’s just trying to figure out what it is that he was supposed to do, based on what his family thought, based on what his girlfriend thought. He was always just trying to do the right thing. I think the Julian that we see now is a Julian who is much more confident, a Julian who has everything he wants and who’s pursuing his life with passion and joy.
Q: How have you changed as an actor since making the first film? Are you a stronger performer than you were back in 1999?
A: I think I am a stronger performer. I don’t know about as a human being though (laughs), but certainly as a performer. The more life you live, the more things you can understand. If you apply it to your work, it can’t help but make you better. So yes, I do think I am a much stronger performer than I was in 1999. I think I understand things a little bit more deeply than I did then.
Q: What was the importance of being in the original ensemble to your career?
A: Being a part of a successful film is a great thing for your career and then being part of a successful film that featured African-American actors – to the community that I belong to, that’s a really great thing too. You know, this was also a chance to perform for African-American audiences in a way that I had not before so that was also important for me personally. It was also a successful film and if you are in successful films, people think, ‘Why can’t he be in our film?’ It was really helpful in moving forward.
Q: Did you know you had a hit on your hands when you were making the first one?
A: I did. I honestly did. I just felt we had not seen a film like it and I thought that all of the actors that were hired were really, really great…. But if I was excited about the first one, I was super excited about the second one (laughs).
Q: What was the biggest challenge in making the new film?
A: The biggest challenge really was to make sure that all of the fun that we were having on set was not diminishing what we were doing on screen because we all were really having a great time. Sometimes you can be having a great time on a movie set and not realize that you are doing horrible work (laughs). So the challenge was to really stay focused while we were getting the film done… For me that was biggest challenge – to stay focused on the task at hand, making another really great film. Luckily (writer-director) Malcolm Lee was there. The man is a genius and he kept us on a steady track.
Q: Was it an actual reunion for you guys when the cast got back together? Or had you kept in touch over the years?
A: It was an actual reunion. We have all seen each other around at different events and things like that but none of us have ever spent that much time together so it was a surprisingly great reunion and really fantastic for all of us.
Q: There has been talk of further installments – of a Best Man franchise. Would you be up for another film?
A: I would be up for another one in a second. I am waiting with bated breath for Malcom D. Lee to finish a third script! I would love to see where he would take it again. So yes, I would love to do it and to work with these actors. It’s just too much fun to turn down!