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Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys 4

Ahead of the release of Bad Boys For Life earlier in 2020, both Will Smith and Martin Lawrence had been candid about wanting to do right by the franchise. However, if you wondered why we had to wait eons and eons – OK 17 years – between the release of Bad Boys 2 and Bad Boys For Life, Martin Lawrence will happily point a finger directly at his a-list co-star.

In fact, during a Q&A with #CRWN on Tidal, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence talked about the path to bringing Bad Boys For Life to fruition and Lawrence in particular told a funny story about how the project ultimately came together from his perspective. He revealed:

It took so long because of this guy [points at Will Smith]. He wouldn’t do the script unless it was right. He would call me one month and say, ‘I think we’re there.’ Then he would call me six months later, ‘It’s not there yet but I think we’re almost there.’ The he called me two years later, ‘We’re finally there.’ Then, we finally got it made.

So, while his account of how Bad Boys For Life came together did not touch on what was going on during that full 17 years between movies, it does give a clear and funny picture of the dynamic the two had while the movie was still in its early stages. Will Smith seemed to want to make sure the project was pitch perfect.

Martin Lawrence, on the other hand, is semi-retired at this point. He’ll maybe take a movie or TV project a year if he’s really feeling like it, but he didn’t star in anything beyond a video short between 2014’s Partners and 2019’s The Beach Bum. So I just picture him hanging out at his house and occasionally fielding calls from Will Smith about maybe eventually getting the gang back together.

Meanwhile, during the #CRWN event, Will Smith also talked about why he was so precise about the script and why he felt like the movie needed to have an impact if it was going to come together, noting,

These first two movies – at the time we did the first one ’95 – it was two black guys in a movie. That was a big deal back then. And it was like just what Bad Boys meant to the community and then we came back with Bad Boys 2 and it worked. I just didn’t want to wreck the franchise, you know. I had felt like I had other sequels in my career that I didn’t feel like, I didn’t land it. I just wanted to protect this franchise, that the story was right, that it had something to say, that it was funny, and that it deserved to be made again… The Bad Boys had to come correct.

This comment echoes comments Will Smith has made previously about Bad Boys For Life. He’s said he didn’t want to make a sequel for a sequels sake, which is similar to what he said here, although it’s super interesting to hear his commentary on the franchise’s lasting impact and how that affected the end product.

Ultimately, Bad Boys For Life rode into theaters in January and did very well both domestically and worldwide. The movie eventually brought in over $425 million worldwide on a relatively middling $90 million budget. (It honestly has some great action for that price point as well.)

It’s currently on Digital early and will be available in hard copies, including 4K on April 21. So if you missed it in theaters and are looking for something to do, now is a great time to give Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah’s movie a watch, particularly now that Bad Boys 4 seems to be coming. Although there’s no telling how long we’ll have to wait for that one…