“It’s not the same movie that the first one was,” promises Malcolm Lee, the writer/director of The Best Man Holiday, the follow-up to his breakout 1999 film The Best Man. The ensemble film, which starred Nia Long, Taye Diggs, Morris Chestnut, Monica Calhoun, Sanaa Lathan, Harold Perrineau, Melissa De Sousa, Regina Hall and Terrence Howard, struck a chord that resonated with black audiences who saw themselves and their friends in the movie’s colorful, smart and complex characters. And now, in what’s becoming a historic year for black film releases, the entire crew is back to do it again on November 15th.
Related: Best Man Holiday World Premiere
For Lee, who went on to direct several films including Roll Bounce (2005), Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins (2008) and this year’s Scary Movie 5, Holiday is coming right at the time he anticipated. “I never wanted to do a sequel as fast as most sequels get made,” he says adamantly during a break from filming in Toronto at the home that is the film’s centerpiece. “I said back then [that I didn’t] want to revisit these characters for [at least] another 10 years.”
About two years ago, Lee gathered the actors—who are still friendly and keep in touch—to pitch the film to them first. “I wasn’t going to do it without [all]of them,” Lee says. “I wanted these nine actors to reunite.” They all signed on.
But, even with the extraordinary fortuity of having everybody on board, Universal Pictures didn’t intially jump. “The studio was actually kind of hesitant about it,” says Sanaa Lathan, seated with good friend Regina Hall, in the midst of a long day of filming. “So we all came together and did a table read for the studio, live and in person.” Sold.