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Malcolm D. Lee Reflects on The Best Man More Than 20 Years Later

The Best Man

More than twenty years ago, The Best Man with an all-African American cast went into theaters with much fanfare. The story didn’t place the cast in an urban setting, gang violence, or other black cliches. The movie marked as a relatable story in depiction as regular people.

After the completion of the movie, director Malcolm D. Lee knew he created something special. More than a decade later, the same cast graced the big screen once again with its sequel with The Best Man Holiday. Now, black audiences are clamoring for more as it was recently announced for a series revolving around those favorite characters.

Today marks the launch of Hollywood Homecoming, a new digital series from the American Black Film Festival. The inaugural episode celebrates The Best Man with its movie director, Malcolm D. Lee, with the cast including Morris Chestnut, Monica Calhoun, Melissa De Sousa, Taye Diggs, Terence Howard, and Harold Perrineau.

Audiences can walk down memory lane by streaming it on ABFF PLAY, a free streaming platform. Also, it’ll be simulcast on IMDB Homepage. The episode airs at 6 p.m. EST/3 p.m. PST.

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LRM Online’s Gig Patta participated in a roundtable discussion with director Malcolm D. Lee about his experiences with the movie that started his career.

I asked the director whether the casting or the chemistry contributed more to the film.

“I think it’s a combination. When you look at The Best Man, all those actors having where they’ve been in their careers with this opportunity. They were all pretty much have the same level of experience,” he said. “They were very excited to take this on. There was a real joy for them to showcase themselves. They trusted the script. They trusted me.”

One of the things Lee credited for the movie was that it broke conventional wisdom. At the time, the Hollywood industry backs away from the all-black cast from the fear that it wouldn’t generate any ticket sales or revenues at the box office. The Best Man proved that wisdom to be wrong and opened plenty of doors down the road for others.

“The energy was in a weird place at the time where they weren’t really putting much stock into African-American cast movies. This false notion from Harvey Weinstein, who said black movies don’t make money. They’re not successful. Don’t do it. This is bad business,” Lee stated.

He continued, “There were some movies with African-American casts that didn’t do so well. Guess what? Amazing movies fail all the time. Tyler Perry proved to us that he’s got his audience. People want to see him. When they made Think Like A Man, people came out to the theaters. When they made Jumping the Broom, people came out.”

In the end, he concluded that The Best Man and its sequel was a passion project for everyone.

“The chemistry with the cast is that they wanted it to be great. They weren’t getting paid a lot of money. They felt like they had something to prove and they provide it,” he said. “They were some of the greatest actors that ever graced the big screen and it became a second launch pad for many of them.”

Malcolm D. Lee went on to direct some of the best movies in drama and comedy, including Girls Trip, Night School, Barbershop: The Next Cut, Scary Movie V, and Soul Men. His next film is the highly anticipated movie this summer with Space Jam: A New Legacy.

Source: LRM Online Exclusive, ABFF


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