On a sunny Georgia morning in June, Taraji P. Henson is having some hassle. There are 10 extra shoot days left on her subsequent function movie, What Men Need, and a pivotal scene is being shot at a luxurious automotive firm’s headquarters. The setting is the sports activities company the place Henson’s character, Ali Davis, is tough at work. A phalanx of fits march on command because the cameras roll, capturing the ocean of testosterone that Davis is attempting to make waves in. By all accounts Henson is the consummate skilled, however she’s stumbling over one line in a scene with Josh Brener, who performs her assistant Brandon.
“We have been f*cking wonderful and on time,” she says extra to herself than the crew after a hiccup. The cameras roll once more and the phrase “poppy seed bagels” journeys her up. “See what occurs?” She laments after the earlier flawless take. She fumbles yet one more time. “Fuck. Sorry.”
Filmmaking is a grueling train in repetition, which is why you want affected person and tenacious personalities to make it work, and Taraji is simply that.
“Placing Taraji within the Mel Gibson position is simply improbable and making her type of a Jerry McGuire character makes it extra enjoyable,” says director Adam Shankman (Step Up, Glee, Hairspray). “What makes Taraji so sensible is that she is humorous in a manner I may by no means have hoped for. If Lucille Ball and Sandy Bullock had slightly Black child, it might be Taraji Henson.”
“Taraji is likely one of the most pretty folks I’ve ever met,” provides co-star Jason Jones, who performs ‘“sports activities douche” Ethan Fowler. “I am going Taraji, my kids, then Barack Obama, then my spouse. In that order, because the nicest folks I do know.”
As nice as Taraji is, her character, Ali Davis, is much from it—not less than at first. The hard-nosed sports activities agent was raised by a single father who educated boxers (therefore the identify) and her mantra is to hit arduous and hit first.
“Ali, she’s robust, but it surely’s not that she’s even attempting to. It’s simply how she was raised,” says Henson. “Her father is a single dad, mom left, so she has points there with being gentle and female. She was raised round loads of boxers, her dad owns a boxing gymnasium so she comes with loads of testosterone. She’s a fighter, metaphorically talking and in actual life. I determine with that combat in her. I really feel like I’m at all times combating in life and this trade.”
Whereas it’s billed as an R-Rated comedy, the themes that run all through What Men Need are well timed and trustworthy. Instances have modified loads because the 2000 unique starring Mel Gibson, each in movie and in the true phrase.
“It’s very poignant,” says Henson. “Every part we’re speaking about within the trade, throughout the globe, no matter profession you’re in, there’s at all times that query of whether or not I’ll be paid the identical quantity as a person even when I’m doing the [same] work or excelling in my place. It’s unlucky that we’re nonetheless having this dialog, however I really feel empowered when I’ve scripts that hit on topics that we’re coping with in life. As a result of artwork imitates life. And loads of occasions folks get their life-changing messages by means of movie, visible artwork they see. You by no means know the way artwork is gonna impact somebody, and that’s why I take what I do critically. I like selecting tasks that may assist change the course of mankind for the higher.”
Henson’s Davis is having as arduous a time in love as she is at work and is attempting to shut one other cope with a single father named Will, performed by Aldis Hodge.
“They gave me a listing of fellows and [asked] who do you wish to work with, I noticed Aldis’ identify and straight away I mentioned him,” she says of her Hidden Figures co-star. “He’s charming, he’s charismatic, he simply has what it takes to play this character and make him plausible and likable.”
“It’s superior. The first time we labored collectively, we weren’t in a position to work as carefully or in the identical area,” says Hodge. “So the factor that I really like about that is that we really get to sq. off one-on-one and it’s been a blast. They each educate one another one thing about love and relationships on the finish of the day.”
Rounding issues out each on set and within the movie in a manner solely he can is Tracy Morgan, who performs Joe “Dolla” Barry. If you happen to hear any music enjoying on set it’s most likely Morgan along with his boombox, and he positively helps to maintain issues on beat.
“My character is loosely based mostly on that man Lavar Ball. He’s a hustler and is all about his model. I do know folks like that. My uncle is like that. He’s all about his model.”
Whereas Barry offers Ali a tough time within the movie, Morgan echoes his solid mate’s sentiments about working with Henson. “Working with Taraji, she’s a fearless chief, and I like that. She offers you encouragement and given me someplace heat and secure to work. I really feel protected right here.”
What Men Need is shaping as much as be a career-defining second for the veteran actress and nobody sounds extra smitten by its final result than her.
“I used to be simply blown away that Paramount considered me for this movie, for the remake. I’ve been dying to do an precise comedy and lead a comedy, so this was like godsend. [What Women Want] was one in every of my all time favorites, it’s a basic. After they discuss remakes, that was one which was at all times at the back of my thoughts. ‘How would that movie would prove if a lady may [hear men’s thoughts]?’ It’s fascinating what you set out into the universe. Watch out, as a result of it will possibly come again to you.”
What Men Need from Paramount Studios can be in theaters January 11, 2019.