Mike Epps (Next Day Air)

Mike Epps (Next Day Air)
Shakefire had the opportunity to sit down with Mike Epps from the upcoming comedy, Next Day Air. Epps has had quite the sucessful career in films including Next Friday and the Resident Evil series, as well as a comedy tour across the nation. In his most recent role, he plays Brody, a bumbling criminal who winds up with ten bricks of cocaine, lending itself to some crazy antics.
[Shakefire]: How did you get involved?
[Mike Epps]: The script was written by a guy named Butter Combs. Butter was an undergrad. You know, like in Hollywood, they got these undergrad type writers. He told me about the script but you know in Hollywood people be telling you about scripts and you’ll be like, ‘aww, everybody has a script’. But I guess he did his homework. It’s always been a good script but he did his part in getting other people attached to it. Once I read the script, and knew who was involved in it like Wood Harris and Mos Def and stuff like that I automatically was impressed with wanting to be in it.
[SF]: What did you like about the character?
[ME]: What I liked about the character more so than anything was it was much different from what I usually play. I’m usually in movies that are all slap stick comedy the whole time. I like the fact that even though he was a bad guy he had a slight bit of innocence to him too. You feel sorry for him because he’s desperate, a little naive.

[SF]: What was a day on the set like for you?

[ME]: It was cool to work with all those different characters. Everybody was so different, that’s what made it good too. Mos Def was different from Donald Faison. It was just a different look. I’ve never worked with any of them before. And they all come from different worlds. Mos Def is a rapper, Donald Faison comes from TV, and Wood Harris.
[SF]: It seems like all of your scenes are happening in one room. Did you feel confined as an actor?
[ME]: Not really. The film was really shot in a way where you had so many stories into one film. As you could watch it, they would show us and then take you away and go through everybody’s own situation whether it was the Spanish guys all the way down in Mexico, back to the NDA guys, so it carried you in the film. It just didn’t stay on us in one room like Saw, it was more like you see us, and then you leave us.
[SF]: What was the chemistry between you and Wood Harris?
[ME]: Well we both come from the same region of the United States and that’s what really helped. We both had the same vision on how those characters are. We were doing people who we would really be in the city.
[SF]: You have your comedy tour, your movie promotions; what do like to do in your free time?
[ME]: Lately I’ve been getting into outdoors stuff; fishing, quail hunting. I go to Fairbanks, Alaska on a retreat. I’ve been doing it for three years. I go up and hunt some deer, bear; all kinds of stuff.
[SF]: Are you good at it?
[ME]: Not really. There’s still a part of me that doesn’t like to shoot animals. I shot a dear before in the butt. But bears and stuff like that I’m…
[SF]: Sounds like you need to get somebody to write that up.
[ME]: Naw, the guy who takes me will teach you so much stuff. Just because you got hungry you have to fish to get your own food. It’s like Survivor. I go on a week retreat like that. I don’t hear cell phones, people, traffic, nothing. It’s serenity; tranquility.
[SF]: How important has Atlanta been to your career?
[ME]: Atlanta was one of the first spots I hit when I first left my hometown. I only stayed in Atlanta for a year. People think that I’m from here and people think that I’ve lived her for such a long time. I only lived in Atlanta for ten months and then I moved to New York. But Atlanta was good because I started at the Comedy Act Theater, which is a great theater to do comedy, you know, Earthquake and all the rest of the others. Atlanta was one of my jump offs. I really didn’t get a real, real, break in the business until I had to audition for Friday. Everything you did is a build up to get you an opportunity to do some of the things you wanted to do. Laugh-a-palazzo was good for me. Nick Cannon came out of it along with different guys. The irony of it is that I had to audition to get in Next Friday. If I had not have been good, I wouldn’t have been in the role. I honestly say I worked to get where I’m at. All the other opportunities that I got up until that; I made their show look good too. I was funny, they put me on the show, I made their show good, and I had to audition and work for my movie roles.
[SF]: What do you do now to keep maintaining?
[ME]: I have writers, people who throw me jokes and I have acting coaches that I use when it’s time for me to put it down.
[SF]: Do you have a dream role?
[ME]: I would have loved to play Richard Pryor but the politics on that got screwed up. Right now I’m playing the role that I want to play and that’s my life. And theirs some kids out there that don’t know Richard Pryor that think I’m Richard Pryor so I’ll play into that.
[SF]: What’s the boldest move you’ve made in your career to make your dream come true?
[ME]: Leaving my hometown. I just left. I’ve always lived off faith, not money, not ego. Just…I’m gonna try. And if I fail, I tried and I won’t feel like I failed. I’ve been winging life with talent. And the talent part has saved me, kept me balanced. I’m truly blessed as one of the diamonds in the rough that was able to come up out of the ghetto. It takes more than just talent to make it. Its a million things working at one thing that helps you get to the top. When you’re coming from nothing, you don’t have anything, you don’t have mommas and daddies with money to send you to Hollywood, you don’t have family in Hollywood, you don’t know anybody in Hollywood, you don’t even know anybody in the city of Los Angeles, so to get up and move from Indiana to New York, the same place you don’t know, with maybe $1500, that’s a lot of heart. I had to say that to myself because you can run up in a Pizza Hut with some duct tape and tie everybody up. That’s a lot of heart too but that’s negative energy. Take that same energy and run up in Hollywood and duct tape the business. Duct tape the business to some chairs and take all the money and run up out of there. In that way, in a Hollywood way, not really in that way.


Matt Rodriguez
Interview by Matt Rodriguez
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