The actor says it takes a lot of work to pull off this role, but he's happy to give the people what they want.
Getting into the ample form that is Big Momma might be a drag in more ways than one, but for Martin Lawrence, it’s well worth it: Big Momma’s House made $117 million in 2000, and its sequel scored $70 million six years later. Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, opening Feb. 18, is poised to mine more box-office gold, mixing Momma with the youth appeal of a hot young supporting cast and cool musical elements. This time, FBI agent Malcolm Turner goes undercover as Big Momma at a girls’ performing arts school to search for important evidence, while his stepson, Trent (Brandon T. Jackson), having witnessed a murder, poses as her niece Charmaine.
“You can put Big Momma in many different situations, and as long as it’s humorous, funny, and it makes sense, you can have a lot of fun with her,” Lawrence tells BET.com, though he nevertheless dreads the daily makeup and costume transformation. “I can’t say that I look forward to getting into it, but it’s my job. It’s what I do. When it used to take three hours it used to just drive me crazy. But our makeup guy got it down to an hour and a half. I was able to just calm myself and go through the process.”
A scene in which Momma is nude except for a sheet was especially challenging. “I had to sit real still. They kept me cool with fans,” remembers Lawrence, who modeled Big Momma after his mother and grandmother, neither of whom were as big. “The advice and the heart and the warmth that Big Momma has comes from them.”
During filming on location in Atlanta, Lawrence didn’t have time or the inclination to hit the town. “When I’m playing Big Momma, it’s so much work that all I want to do when I’m finished is go back home and just relax and study my lines and get ready for the next day,” he says.
But the actor doesn’t rule out playing her again. “I never say never. It just depends on where we go from here. If it’s in demand and the people want to see it, then I’d love to give the people what they want,” Lawrence says, adding that if there’s a fourth film, Faizon Love, who plays Big Momma’s super-chunky suitor, “would most definitely have to come back.”
One idea would see Big Momma teaming up with another plus-size drag character, Madea. “Tyler [Perry] did tell me that he would love to make an appearance in Big Momma,” reveals Lawrence, who has other collaborations in the works. Lawrence and Jamie Foxx aim to reprise their characters Sheneneh (from Martin) and Wanda (from In Living Color) in The Skank Robbers. “They’re trying to work that script out,” says Lawrence, who calls Sheneneh “one of the most hilarious characters that I’ve played.”
Lawrence and Will Smith may reteam in Bad Boys 3, the script for which is being written. “We’re just waiting for it to come together. I think it’s going to happen, as long as we get [director] Michael Bay on board, and I hear he’s interested in doing it again. I know we’ll be blowing some more things up,” he adds with a laugh. “I’d just like to see us have a lot of fun, and me and Will stretch our acting range.“
As executive producer of Love That Girl!, Lawrence plans to make a guest appearance soon, and will launch a standup tour in April, with an eye toward recording it for a concert film.