The Many Parts Of Martin Lawrence

Empire Australasia|January 2020

The Many Parts Of Martin Lawrence
As the comedian makes a bigscreen comeback, he talks us through his greatest roles
Amon Warmann

It’s been eight years since Martin Lawrence — once one of the most popular movie stars in the world — has made a film. That was Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, a film which really tested the integrity of the Big Momma’s House franchise. But, after almost a decade out, Lawrence is back in a big way. There’s next January’s Bad Boys For Life, which will see him return alongside Will Smith, but first he crops up in an extended cameo in the new Harmony Korine film, The Beach Bum, playing a character called Captain Wack. So we asked him to talk us through some of his standout movies…

DO THE RIGHT THING (1989)

Lawrence’s first role, as the loudmouth Cee, came in Spike Lee’s classic snapshot of New York City life…

“It’s great. It’s the movie that started my career, and I had a lot of fun doing it. I thank Spike for the opportunity, and it’s great. I remember Robi Reed was the casting director and Spike was in town. He came to the Comedy Act Theater, which was a famous comedy club here in Los Angeles. And he was coming to look at [US comic and actor] Robin Harris at the time.

And so we met at a hotel and he was talking to Robin, and Robin told him he should take a look at me at the comedy club. And I performed that night and then he cast me in the movie. On set he mainly told me to do me and have fun. I remember that my character [Cee] talked with a lisp. And I remember I wasn’t gonna do it. And Spike said, ‘What happened to the lisp?’ I said, ‘I’m not gonna do it,’ and he said, ‘No, no, do that!’ and that’s why Cee talked the way he did.”

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January 2020