I always feel like I’m a hard worker except when Marlon Wayans phones. He’s promoting “A Haunted House 2” (he produced it and stars in it); a TV show, “Second Generation Wayans”; and his viral-video site WhatTheFunny.com.
“You make me feel like I’m retired,” I said.
“My brothers call me ‘worky turkey’ because ever since I was 8 years old and I worked in this pizza shop, I haven’t stopped working. I love working,” he said.
Wayans always tells his two kids “the true talent” they should strive for is “to work hard.”
“You can apply work ethic to anything,” Wayans said. “You can apply that to passion and be successful at anything if the opportunity comes your way. And if the opportunity doesn’t come your way, work a little harder to create the opportunity.”
Of course, some of you will say Wayans, 41, was born into a big showbiz family. But Wayans told me he and brother Shawn have had to win people over who already loved the family’s older legends Keenen and Damon.
“Keenen and Damon — they were developed artists before they came into the mainstream,” he said. “They were 30-something before they cracked it.
“But me and Shawn, everybody saw the first thing we did,” he said. “We were easy targets when we started.”
But Wayans has this great expression about how some people find success harder than others.
“You know, some guys get an opportunity, and they ride a wave. Other guys gotta make the ocean.”
Wayans can spin gold out of hay. He produced last year’s “A Haunted House” on the tiny budget (for movies) of $2.5 million.
He traveled the nation promoting it. Critics didn’t love the parody comedy, but viewers did. It grossed $60 million.
This Friday, “A Haunted House 2” comes out with comedy whiz Jaime Pressly and comedian Gabriel Iglesias, plus comedy greats from the first film, Essence Atkins and Cedric the Entertainer.
Trailers for the film look funny. Wayans said the set was fun.
“Jaime came on set with really dirty feet. I took a picture of her feet and Instagrammed it and called it ‘porno feet,’ because it looked like she was walking around a porn set all day. Her feet were just so filthily dirty.”
Pressly laughed at that goof, Wayans said. She’s a good sport.
“She’s like Lucille Ball. She’s a throwback to that era when they were beautiful and funny,” Wayans said.
Wayans and his co-stars brought a script to the set, but he asked everyone to punch up the laughs with their own improvisations.
He said Kym Whitley, portraying a church lady, was grateful to be set free creatively.
“Everything we used for her part in the movie, she improvised,” Wayans said. “She started breaking down crying, like, ‘They don’t let me do this in Hollywood.’ ”
But Wayans never worried about the freestyle performances the actors would turn in because it’s all about casting.
“There’s a saying in this book, ‘Good to Great’: Make sure you’ve got the right people on the bus, so no matter what direction you change, those people are good people to have on the bus,” Wayans said.
So there’s your daily inspiration from Marlon Wayans. Do you have the right people on your bus?
Doug Elfman’s column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.