By Ashley Bland
Comedian and actor, Mike Epps, as well as actor, Wood Harris engaged in a conference interview based on their involvement in the upcoming comedy, “Next Day Air” on Tuesday, April 13. “I feel like Ice Cube has really helped me and he’s shown me the ropes without showing me the ropes, you know what I’m saying? It’s been such a learning process for me, and I’ve been soaking it up and using it,” said Epps when asked who was his favorite person to work with and why. Gangster rapper Ice Cube, also known for his triumphs as an actor, screenwriter, and producer, has placed Epps in leading roles in popular urban films such as “Next Friday,” “All About the Benjamins,” and “Friday After Next.”
Harris, who portrays the character Guch in the film, had this to say when asked about the similarities in between his role in the film and that of his character Avon Barksdale on HBO’s “The Wire,” “It’s like reading a science fiction book and then you’re reading a history book, those are two different things so you can’t expect the same things out of them. So I get a lot of consideration for those ‘bad guy’ roles but this was a labor of love, I know the writers and I’m one of the producers’ friends. A lot of the cast are people I know.”
In Epps’ case, his role in the film holds a sense of an entertaining thrill. He said,“I play the role of Brody and I’m playing a guy who is a down guy, I’m down with everything. You know, robbery, murder, selling drugs, but at the same time I don’t have a lot of sense.”
Donald Faison also contributed to the film portraying the character Leo and although he took part in the phone conference he was not available to be interviewed. The three have had a great deal of history working together. When asked if there was any healthy competition during the filming process Harris said, “Nah man, you know, the set for “Next Day Air” was like a basketball game. We came with a team that worked well together; everyone came in wanting to win the game fair. It was one of my best experiences. It’s not healthy to have competitive actors but occasionally, people who you work with for some reason, try to steal the scene. I think we should make the best scene we can make.”
When asked what the most challenging aspect of their character was and their favorite scene in which they participated in the film both actors. Epps and Harris had this to say: “Nothing about my role was really hard because I’ve always had those skills anyway so I have been just looking for the opportunity to do it. My favorite part of the movie is the stand-off because nobody knew it was going to happen and when we all got there it was tensed,” said Epps. “You know to be honest with you, I come from Chicago, Illinois, so I guess I
come from a humble background. I can relate to the urban market rather easily,” said Harris. “That doesn’t mean that there’s not a lot of homework to do but it does mean a lot of homework has been done in my experiences. I don’t have to mock it so I’m not going to fake it. I’m going to draw from experiences as much as I can whether they’re mine or someone else’s.”
“The thing that struck me the most was the scene where we go into the bank and make our request which was day one of shooting. I had the most fun working with Mike Epps though, everyday.” Epps has been playing comedic roles since 1997 when he made is debut performance as Mike in the film “Strays.”
Out of the 28 different projects that he has worked on, three of those roles are ones in which he portrayed a character named Reggie.
“That was my step-father’s name, I don’t know why they keep giving me that name. But it’s what I do, I live to make movies and I love to make people happy and laugh,” said Epps.
Harris who is currently pursuing a Doctrine in Natural Patenting Medicine and is an ambassador for Healthier, a fundraising organization for medicine targeting the Latin and black community continues to expand his repertoire saying, “I also have a lot of opportunity in music, so I’m currently weighing those opportunities. I’m looking forward to see what comes of these things in the future.” Harris also hopes to start some filming on the “college circuit” so that students will be able to get to know him better as an activist for the youth.
As for Epps, he mentioned producing his own film and hopes of working with Denzel Washington in the future.
The comedy, “Next Day Air”, directed by acclaimed music video director Benny Boom and starring Epps, Harris, Faison as well as Emmy nominated Mos Def and Golden Globe winner Debbie Allen, willbe in theaters May, 8, 2009.