Malcolm D. Lee always had a feeling his first film, 1999’s The Best Man, would have a sequel.
“People responded so positively and there were some questions left unanswered,” he said by phone from New York. “I thought, ‘Let’s see where these characters ended up, after getting married, having kids, having a mortgage, you know, getting some life experiences.”
And luckily, the stars of the relationship-centered dramedy were on board and available. Even though some of the bigger names — e.g., Terrence Howard, Nia Long, Taye Diggs, Morris Chestnut, Sanaa Lathan — were no longer in Lee’s budget.
“Our group of actors is really fantastic,” said Lee, who has since done big box office with Undercover Brother, Soul Men and Scary Movie. “I’m so happy they agreed to sign on for very little and allow us to put the money up on screen.”
Any ego issues this time around?
“Well, there are always things that are going to pop up,” admitted the writer/director, who is Spike Lee’s cousin. “But I will say when it was time to shoot and perform they brought their A-games.”
The father of three is happy with the sequel’s outcome and thinks audiences will be as well.
“We throw a lot in here — life’s peaks and valleys — and it should evoke tears, laughter, plus have some tension as well.”
And what about the curveball casting of Eddie Cibrian as Long’s suitor?
“I had to be careful about the part of Brian because a) he’s a newcomer to a sequel and b) you have a different race. It would have been easy to make him the quote-unquote white guy,” Lee explains. “But Eddie’s a man’s man and certainly a ladies man, so I thought he was a perfect pick. He’s comfortable in his own skin; he can take the ribbing and also be one of the guys.”
As for the rest of the stellar cast, it’s fortuitous that everyone stayed as handsome and beautiful as they were 14 years ago.
“Well, like the old saying goes, ‘They have movie-star looks,’ ” Lee says, adding with a laugh: “Good black don’t crack!”
So, can we expect another Best Man in say, the year 2027?
“If this is successful, who knows? We could do The Best Man: The Geritol Years and set it in a nursing home or something.”