CinemaBlend participates in affiliate programs with various companies. We may earn a commission when you click on or make purchases via links.
If you have ever had an acquaintance who soon became more of a nuisance that only seemed harder and harder to get rid of, then you can relate to what Lil Rel Howery and Yvonne Orji’s characters end up going through in Vacation Friends, after they meet with John Cena and Meredith Hagner's couple on a Mexican holiday. This raunchy, Hulu exclusive comedy, directed by Silicon Valley producer Clay Tarver, has actually been in development for a little while, with Hot Tub Time Machine director Steve Pink signed on to helm and Chris Pratt and Anna Faris attached to star back in 2014. Let us take a look at the Vacation Friends cast that came to be, starting with one of Hollywood’s most successful wrestlers turned actors.
John Cena (Ron)
Playing a reckless, trigger-happy ignoramus like Ron in Vacation Friends seems like a recurring theme for John Cena, at least with his 2021 movies so far, having gone bad for F9: The Fast Saga and gone hilariously douchey for James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad as Peacemaker.
The WWE star made his uncredited debut in a movie about wrestling (2000’s Ready to Rumble), landed his first lead role with 2006’s The Marine, and later opted for more humorous roles like Lucas Cruikshank’s father in the Fred movies or Amy Schumer’s ill-fated date in 2015’s Trainwreck amid playing more military personnel in 2017’s The Wall, and Bumblebee in 2018. Now, Cena is working on an actioner with Jackie Chan called Snafu, a spy thriller from director Matthew Vaughn called Argyle, and will reprise Peacemaker in a self-titled spin-off series for HBO Max.
Lil Rel Howery (Marcus)
Playing Ron’s reluctant “best friend” Marcus in Vacation Friends is Lil Rel Howery, who has also mastered various genres in his time on the A-list, which he achieved after stealing the show in Jordan Peele’s Get Out in 2017, after first getting noticed in a supporting role on NBC’s The Carmichael Show.
The comedian got his own short-lived sitcom, Rel, on Fox in 2018, the same year he appeared in comedies Tag and Uncle Drew and the thriller Bird Box for Netflix - the home of other recent Howery films, Fatherhood and Bad Trip, released in 2021. Speaking of, 2021 has proven to be another diverse year for the actor, with roles in the Oscar-winning Judas and the Black Messiah and action-comedy hit Free Guy, and his 2022 movies appear to be no exception, including the comedy I Love My Dad and the Ben Affleck-led thriller Deep Water.
Yvonne Orji (Emily)
Yvonne Orji worked with Lil Rel Howery prior to playing his fiancée, Emily, in Vacation Friends, when he scored a recurring spot on the hit HBO comedy Insecure (starring creator Issa Rae), for which she received an Emmy nomination for her role as Molly Carter.
The Nigerian-American actress has also guested in the Jane the Virgin cast for a couple of episodes, appeared opposite Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish in 2018’s Night School, played a few characters on A Black Lady Sketch Show, and had a big part in the sci-fi coming-of-age romance Spontaneous in 2020. Right now, she is working on a sci-fi animated series called My Dad the Bounty Hunter, which is being made for Netflix.
Meredith Hagner (Kyla)
Meredith Hagner, the real-life spouse of another superhero TV show actor (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier cast member Wyatt Russell), previously appeared in another raunchy, Hulu exclusive comedy in 2020 (Palm Springs) before playing John Cena’s onscreen wife, Kyla, in Vacation Friends.
She debuted on As the World Turns in 2006 and made her film debut in the 2010 rom-com Going the Distance before landing starring roles on short-lived series like FX’s boxing drama Lights Out and TBS sitcom Men at Work, and recurring roles on hits like HBO’s Veep, and Younger, which is now a Paramount+ exclusive. You can also see Hagner in serious movies like Brightburn or Netflix’s Horse Girl, comedies like The Oath or Netflix’s Set It Up, or a mix of both with Search Party, Season 4 of which is streaming on HBO Max.
Robert Wisdom (Emily's Dad)
Playing Yvonne Orji's father in Vacation Friends Robert Wisdom, who has has led a prolific career on the big and small screen for decades after his first major gig with Face/Off in 1997. He starred in the Jamie Foxx-led music biopic Ray in 2004, appeared as Howard “Bunny” Colvin with HBO’s The Wire cast, had a recurring role in Supernatural, and made a hilarious guest appearance among the How I Met Your Mother cast as a tough laser tag arena manager.
Years after his brief appearance in The Dark Knight Rises, Wisdom returned to comic book adaptations with HBO’s Watchmen miniseries and the Hulu exclusive Marvel TV show Helstrom, before co-starring with Marvel movies star Michael B. Jordan for the upcoming drama, A Journal for Jordan, from director Denzel Washington.
Anna Maria Horsford (Nancy)
Another soap opera veteran in the Vacation Friends cast (from Guiding Light and The Bold and the Beautiful more recently) is Anna Maria Horsford, who also starred in sitcoms like Amen, The Wayans Brothers, and Method Man and Red Man’ short-lived, self-titled Fox series. She first worked with the rappers-turned-actors in 2001’s How High, her second stoner comedy after appearing in 1995’s Friday as Mrs. Jones (whom she reprised in 2002’s Friday After Next), but her more acclaimed work on the big screen includes dramas like Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, or the Alex Cross movie Along Came a Spider with Morgan Freeman. Horsford has done many TV appearances more recently, such as a recurring on TBS’ The Last OG and guest spots on the HBO Max original Hacks, and FX’s Emmy-winning drama, Pose.
Andrew Bachelor (TBA)
Streaming exclusives like The Babysitter movies or the sitcom Sneakerheads on Netflix have become a claim to fame for Vacation Friends star Andrew Bachelor, who first rose to fame as YouTuber King Bach before appearing on TV hits like House of Lies, The Mindy Project, and Black Jesus on Adult Swim.
The Canadian actor made his film debut playing himself in 2015’s We Are Your Friends before starring in back-to-back parodies Fifty Shades of Black and Meet the Blacks in 2016, and playing himself again in the 2019 Airplane!-esque parody Airplane Mode (which featured many other viral stars, such as co-writer Logan Paul). In addition to comedies The House Next Door: Meet the Blacks 2, and music video cameos, Bachelor has turned in dramatic performances, too, like on The Walking Dead, 2020 disaster thriller Greenland, and upcoming sports drama National Champions, which also stars Lil Rel Howery.
Lynn Whitfield (TBA)
Veteran actress Lynn Whitfield has also led a versatile career since her debut recurring role on Hill Street Blues and her first big screen gig in the 1983 comedy Doctor Detroit with Dan Aykroyd. This led to the 1985 western, Silverado, her Emmy-winning performance in the title role of the 1991 HBO biopic The Josephine Baker Story, Chris Rock’s 2003 political satire Head of State, and Tyler Perry’s 2006 comedy Madea’s Family Reunion. Outside of Vacation Friends, Whitfield’s most notable projects since the Oprah Winfrey-produced drama Greenleaf ended in 2020 include Tales from the Hood 3, and Nicolas Cage’s upcoming action comedy The Retirement Plan.
Tawny Newsome (TBA)
Vacation Friends star Tawny Newsome first worked with Lil Rel Howery on an episode of The Carmichael Show (when she was still best-known for TV guest appearances) before joining IFC’s Brockmire cast, lending her voice to Spies in Disguise and an episode of Big Mouth, or doing of an episode of Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone reboot.
The Space Force star would go later go where no one has gone before both as the lead of the animated comedy Star Trek: Lower Decks, and as co-host of the podcast Star Trek: The Pod Directive with her Bajillion Dollar Propertie$ co-star Paul F. Tompkins. Newsome appeared in the doomsday dramedy How It Ends in 2021, will star in the Netflix miniseries True Story with Kevin Hart, and is playing Mariah Carey in the upcoming sci-fi comedy, Scroll Wheel of Time.
Kamal Bolden (TBA)
Former Hertz Rent-A-Car manager Kamal Bolden has many projects in common with his Vacation Friends co-stars, such as his guest spot on Lights Out (starring Meredith Hagner), two appearances on Insecure (starring Yvonne Orji), an episode of The Resident (like Lynn Whitfield), and recurring roles on Rosewood and Chicago Fire (Robert Wisdom appeared on both the short-lived detective drama and the Chicago Fire spin-off Chicago P.D. numerous times).
You may also recognize him from TNT’s hit procedural Major Crimes, the 2015 holiday comedy The Night Before (also starring Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the Amazon Prime original biopic Elvis & Nixon, starring Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey in the respective title roles. Bolden will next star in the poignant drama 61st Street, which is executive produced by Michael B. Jordan and is expected to premiere on AMC in 2022.
If you were not interested before in streaming Vacation Friends when it becomes available on Hulu on Friday, August 27, 2021, perhaps learning about its stacked, highly talented, and diverse cast might have changed your mind.
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
Your Daily Blend of Entertainment News
Thank you for signing up to CinemaBlend. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.