The Source Magazine sat down with “About Last Night” Star Regina Hall to discuss her latest role. The Screen Gems film comes out in theaters nationwide on this Friday, Valentine’s Day. Check out what Hall told reporters at our roundtable.
Did you have fun playing this role?
I had a lot of fun! Yes, it was so much fun playing Joan, she was absolutely great!
You completely shine in this film, can you talk about the casting process and how this opportunity came about?
Clint Culpepper called me and he sent me a script and he said I have a script and I want you to look at – the role of Joan. It was after “Think Like A Man”. Actually I don’t know if you remember, but during the press for “Think Like A Man” our segment ended early and the guys were doing their segment and I kind of went and flirted with all of the guys. Well that went online and Clint who is the head of Screen Gems saw it and for whatever reason when he saw that he said “I think she should play Joan”. So whatever he saw he said I want you and Kevin to play the role of Joan and Bernie. Then I read the script and thought “Ok, great” because she was the opposite of Candice in “Think Like A Man”. The script was written by a woman, but not originally intended for an all African American cast. So it became this great opportunity to show a woman of color, completely free, unapologetic, smart, professional and empowered and yet they have a one night stand in the movie, but she’s only with that one man, she’s in a relationship with Bernie. She’s just a woman who lives through her emotions whatever they are. I just thought it would be fun to be able to do that especially since that’s so not me in my real life. Joan’s such a wild cannon. I watched the film for the first time in Atlanta with my mother and she watched it with her head in her hands, and I had to explain “No, mommy we’re not actually having sex”, I think for her it was close enough. I guess to her I’ll always be her little girl.
You’re so funny in this and I think about what most people have seen you in last being “Best Man Holliday” playing a very sweet and likable character, can you just talk about bringing out the laughs and the comedic side of this character? Also, what it was like working with Kevin Hart and how it was working off of each other?
Well that’s a big part of it, playing off of Kevin. We didn’t know that we were going to have that kind of chemistry. On the first day we shot all of the love scenes so all of that stuff was just done on the day. Kevin’s reaction to the hit where he can’t hear and all the screaming and the chicken mask that I wear in the love scene, that’s just all improv. She was originally supposed to be wearing a ski mask and they had all kinds of mask, so I’m like Kevin, I’m going to wear the chicken mask and make sounds like a chicken. Those kinds of things we just got to do and have fun with. What’s great about working with someone like Kevin is that he’s so amazingly talented and he wants you to shine, too. He’s not someone who feels like he has to be the only one. We just had this great opportunity. He could say Gin try this or I’d say Kev why don’t you try this and I was comfortable with him because we knew each other. We had all of those bed scenes and sometimes that can be awkward, but I’m like “oh It’s Kevin.” I think one time I got up and Kevin says “Hey, somebody get Regina a towel for her sand bags,” and then I said “they’re not as high as they once were but there’s no need to be rude of vocal about it” but because it’s a friend you get to do that. It was really fun to go from “Best Man Holiday” to this, probably because when you’re working with similar cast members you don’t want audiences to be like, “Oh I’ve seen that before.” You don’t want your audience to feel like they’re seeing you do something over and over. Which is also why I always try to change up my look or my hair so people can always feels like they’re experiencing something new, a little bit.
What was it like working with Director Steve Pink?
Working with Steve was great, he’s such a tremendous director and what I love most about him is that he gives you so much room. Obviously, he’s a professional, so we get the take for the studio that’s scripted, but then he let’s you go for it. You can have such an amazing collaboration with him because he offers stuff that’s funny and then with setting and the look of the movie. Steve will say things like “ok guys on this take Regina I’m going to get you from here, so just remember that you have all of this to work with”. He’s pretty wonderful and we were just so happy to have him and the sensibility that he bought to this movie so that it could feel different as well.
In this film your character Joan is so complex, but she’s a real and vulnerable character as well like so many other characters that we’re seeing played by black actresses on film and television right now. She also has that “We love her, but we also hate her thing going on.” Can you talk about how you feel as a black actress right now in Hollywood and what you loved about the character you played?
It was difficult playing Joan. Joan is comedic, but she has to be grounded enough for you to care about her. You have to care about Joan ending up with Bernie or it’s kind of for-not. But she still has to service the comedy in the movie. But then she also has to service being a friend to Debbie. And Joan is slightly a narcissist because in her moment she can only think about Joan. She does genuinely care about her friend. She loves her friend and she wants to see her happy. As long as she’s happy, too. She loves her, and it’s all happening so quickly for her with Debbie finding happiness and her breaking up that she acts in a way that is not in any way a true indication of how she really feels. Because she’s also going to be that friend who’s going to be there, too, no matter what. Joan lives in whatever emotion she’s having in the moment. It was me trying to balance something that all women could resonate with. Maybe it wasn’t fully them, maybe nobody is as crazy as Joan; but they have moments where they have been. Moments where you’ve been that angry. There’s no judgement with her, which is what I like, and there’s a protective nature that she has. The characters are so opposite, but there both excepting of each other and you want to create the feeling that they’ve known each other a long time.
What kind of preparation did you do for the role?
Figuring out who Joan was, you can know how Joan will react. Improv is just in the moment, but when you really figure out who Joan is then you can know how Joan will react, that’s how I prepared. She’s intelligent, she was not just a woman picking up a man, she didn’t need him financially. She was not gender ridden when it came to Bernie, what hurt her was that she thought that he liked her, too. They had a ting and yang thing going and it was just slightly wrong. Figuring out every little nuance and how she used her femininity in the world. You know there’s always that little girl who remains in us who you still have to nurture. I approached this how I saw the world in my twenty’s, seeing how she approached the world and was really inhibited, I would write things out and day dream a lot then I could just be free I could react as Joan more than I would react as Regina.
Where do you see the climate going for Black Actresses in Hollywood and what do you see yourself working on next?
I don’t know. It’s so hard. I always look for that thing that challenges me or that can capture what I can give and I never really know what that is. Joan was quite a surprise. And I watch so much stuff on television. Like, I’m loving Gabrielle Union on BET in “Being Mary Jane” and I’m also loving Kerry Washington in “Scandal” I’m just loving seeing all this amazing work. Maybe something comedic would be great, but I don’t know. I just saw this movie for the first time with my momma with her head down you know. I have to watch again without her voice in my head. I don’t know we’ll see, it’s an exciting thing to even know that people want to know what’s next for me. I’m also launching a doggy line that’s environmentally friendly called “Puff Puff Paws” that will launch later this year!
-Chasity Saunders (@itsmechasity)