A Chat with Mike Epps, Mike Epps interview, "Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins"

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For a guy who spends most of his life talking either onstage or in front of a camera, comedian Mike Epps sure had precious little to say when he got on the phone with Bullz-Eye to chat about his work alongside Martin Lawrence in "Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins," (on DVD June 17th). Although Epps provides the film with some of its most hilarious moments via his dialogue and his delivery, you can't tell it from this conversation; his responses were so lacking in detail that, although we had a few more questions, we finally just decided to grab our parachute and bail out before we completely went down in flames. Maybe Epps was just tired, as our friends at Universal suggested post-interview, but if that's the case, we're sure as hell hoping he manages to regain his energy before his next project.


Bullz-Eye: Hey Mike, how's it going?

Mike Epps: Will, how are you doing?

BE: Pretty good. I really enjoyed the film. I'm a really big fan of ensemble comedies anyway. I thought that was a really strong one.

ME: Thanks a lot.

BE: So how long have you known Martin Lawrence?

ME: I don't know him like that. I just work with him. That was the first time I really worked with him.

BE: Oh, really? I didn't know if you had any encounters with him in comedy clubs or anything.

ME: Uh-uh.

BE: Did you enjoy working on the film? I mean, the ensemble was pretty huge.

ME: I did. I enjoyed working on the film. You know, it had all those different talents come together. Me being a fan of Martin all these years and working with Mo'Nique and Cedric and stuff, it just all gelled. It became a big family, you know. Malcolm Lee is a good director. He's good at knowing how to use comedians and letting us improv.

BE: Actually, I was going to ask about that. How much of your material was improv and how much was actually scripted?

ME: You know, you can kind of tell when we ad lib.

BE: Well, I have my suspicions.

ME: I couldn't tell you the percentage, but it was there.

BE: Were you as intimidated by working James Earl Jones as it looked like Martin was?

ME: Oh, no doubt. James Earl Jones is Darth Vader, baby. So you know he can be a lot of fun with.

BE: Every time I watch the film, I look at Martin's expression in the scenes that he's got with James Earl Jones and I just…it makes me laugh.

ME: Yeah, because he can't believe it, either.

BE: What about Michael Clarke Duncan? You wouldn't think he would have as much of a sense of humor as he seems to have.

ME: Well, he's hilarious, and he was great to work with.

BE: How many family reunions have you been to in your time?

ME: I've been to quite a few. You know, my family usually gets together.

BE: Like an annual thing?

ME: Yeah, an annual thing.

BE: Do you have sporting events at yours as well?

ME: Not really.

BE: Mostly just get-togethers and food?

ME: Yep.

"I enjoyed working on ('Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins'). You know, it had all those different talents come together. Me being a fan of Martin (Lawrence) all these years and working with Mo'Nique and Cedric (the Entertainer) and stuff, it just all gelled. It became a big family."

BE: You had not worked with Malcolm Lee before, had you?

ME: No. (Hesitates) Oh, yeah, I worked with Malcolm Lee in "Roll Bounce."

BE: Okay, that's right. Now, what was it like, comparing the two experiences? I mean, was this a different feel, given the type of film it was?

ME: Yeah, yeah. Different type of feel. Yeah, it was a different type of feel. I got a little bit more opportunity to be funny this time. "Roll Bounce" was cool, but it wasn't like it was with this.

BE: Do you prefer an ensemble comedy like this, or do you prefer getting a chance to sort of headline a film when you get the opportunity?

ME: I would rather headline when I get the opportunity, but ensemble like this was cool, I'll keep it.

BE: And you've done a few action films. You did the "Resident Evil" flicks. What was that like for you? I mean, they're certainly not comedic roles per se.

ME: No, but it was different. You know, I like to challenge myself and do different things sometimes. So when it came to me, I was, like, "Come on with it, I'll do it."

BE: What did you think of "The Grand"? I have yet to see it, but a lot of people whose opinions I trust really seem to love it.

ME: Yeah, I haven't seen it yet.

BE: We're also getting ready to do a piece about the multitude of movies based on T.V. shows. How do you think "The Honeymooners" worked as a comparison? I mean, do you think it helped bring the series to a new generation?

ME: No, I think it was a waste of time.

BE: You didn't enjoy the experience at all?

ME: No.

BE: I presume that was one that was much more scripted than ad-libbed.

ME: Yep.

BE: Is there a film from your resume that you think didn't get much love as it should have?

ME: "All About the Benjamins".

BE: That's your favorite of the bunch?

ME: Yep.

BE: I know you've got a personal stake in that, being one of the executive producers of it.

ME: Yep.

"('Resident Evil') was different. You know, I like to challenge myself and do different things sometimes. So when it came to me, I was, like, 'Come on with it, I'll do it.'"

BE: And is there a project you hope comes to fruition that hasn't yet? I mean, like it's been pitched to you but it's still on the table?

ME: A Richard Pryor script.

BE: Oh, really? Like a bio picture?

ME: Yeah.

BE: And how is "Next Day Air" looking? It looks like an interesting film, but it's definitely different from what you've just finished.

ME: Yeah, yeah, it's a different film. When it comes out, we'll really get to see what it really, really looks like.

BE: Alright, man, well, it's been a pleasure talking to you.

ME: Alright, thanks.

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