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As Marlon Wayans sees it, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra has everything he and the audience could possibly ask for. Not only is he a black character who doesn't die in the first five minutes, not only does he get to romance the pretty red-haired girl, but the movie features both kick-ass ninjas and a girl-on-girl fight.
What more could audiences want? In our phone interview last weekend, Wayans admitted that the fanboys would be the toughest audience for the movie, but he felt confident that, no matter what the critical reviews said, the audience would come out satisfied. Read below as we talk about his role as Ripcord, his experiences inside "the devil's condom," and why everyone from Darren Aronofsky to Stephen Sommers is willing to take a chance and cast him. G.I. Joe, as you must know by now, opens today.
I haven't been able to see the movie yet. What's your best sell for it?
Some movies ypu've got ot sell. This is one that sells itself. You see that trailer and you go, wow. I was with a buch of 36-year-old black guys watching the Super Bowl [when the first G.I. Joe trailer aired]. [They said] 'I'm going to take my kids too, but I'm there! I don't care what wifey say, she coming too!' It was good to see that kidn of excitement and exhilaration. We love it. They're always a good gauge. It lookse xciting. It's got everything a summer movie should have. It's got action, adventure, romance, a little bit of humor, great special effects, and two kick-ass ninjas, and two fine girls in a girl fight. My son can't wait.
Do you feel good about kids seeing it?
It's family friendly. It's not cartoony. It's cool enough for an 18 year old to go, 'Oh wow,' but it's soft enough for a kid to go, 'Oh wow.' There's not a lot of blood. There's more explosions than there is blood. Blood is gory, and it's not for kids.
You have a balance of action and romance in the film, with your character's relationship with Scarlett. How'd you work that out?
It's great to be a black guy in an action fim that do't' die in the first 5 minutes. I get to be a hero. I get to get the girl and help save the day. Ripcord likes Scarlett, and he thinks she's pretty and hot and likes the red hair, she's interesting, she's smart. Who can't fall in love with a girl with a crossbow. Crossbows are sexy. Crossbows are the new Gucci purse. Everybody's gonna be rocking crossbows. We get along, and it's a really cute romance.
Which is harder the action or the romance?
The romance part is easy. You get to flirt with a pretty girl. That's a good day at the office. All the working out, all the preparation, all that stuff is the hard part. The hardest part about the film is probably the working out, the weapons training, the combat training. I still can't fight.
Channing Tatum has described the accelerator suits you guys wore as the "devil's condom." Did you feel that way about it too?
Devil's condom, that's a great description for what we wore. I'm glad it looks cool. When you actually put it on, it is the most uncomfortable thing that was ever created. Your hands swell after an hour. After an hour and half, your feet swell up. After two hours you start getting dizzy. you can't breathe because there's Plexiglass in your face. There's these two little fans that are going, they're supposed to be supplying you oxygen. It sounds like a fly is caught in your ear. The mask fogs up, then there's no defogger. [But] it looks really good, and I'd probably do it again.
How different is it working on a big action movie like this, as opposed to a smaller budget comedy?
For one, your craft services is better. Your lunch is a whole lot better. I think it's the same thing. The only difference is, big action movies like this kind of sell themselves. The other ones, you've got to pull the boulder on your back and walk uphill. This one is more of a downhill freefall. It has a huge following already. Stephen [Sommers, the director] really came through with his vision.
Were you nervous about branching out like this into an action movie?
When I did Requiem for a Dream, people was like 'Darren Aronofsky, what you smoking?' I think everything I do, people are going to question that. It's because I'm known for comedy. [But] I'm a theatrically trained actor. I went to a performing arts high school, we learned Shakespeare, I did Fences. When you train, you can do anything. Once again for me, it's always a chance to showcase what more I can do, my versatility. It's fun to play a hero with humor.
There's been bad buzz on this film that seems to be turning around now. What do you think when you hear stuff like that about a film you're working on?
Instinctually, people are going to hate until they see. It's always great when you've got something to prove. It's good when you get critical acclaim, [but] the fanboys are the hardest to please. They don't play around. Those guys, they call them comic book geeks, but they're really the tastemakers. For me, I think it's great for us to be behind. When you walk in with low expectations, you can only be blown away.
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