Girls Trip became a huge hit in 2017, grossing $137 million worldwide, leaving fans begging for a sequel, and turning Tiffany Haddish into a global star overnight.
So youd understand if its director felt a little bit of pressure to keep churning out the hits.
Malcolm D. Lees first post-Girls Trip release is the comedy Night School starring Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish – but he insists that he treated it like any other movie.
When asked by Metro.co.uk if he was feeling the pressure, Lee said: Not really. I think its always pressure to do any movie, and I want to make the best product I possibly can. Thats why I push so hard, I shoot a little bit more than the actors may want, because when I get to the editing room, I want to have a lot of different choices.
I just wanted to make a good comedy with heart – not just Kevin Hart – and emotional pull and stakes other than just trying to make people laugh. If youre invested in the character and their story and their journey, the laughs are going to be that much better.
After playing party girl Dina in Girls Trip, Tiffany takes a much different role in Night School, playing teacher Carrie, who is tasked with getting Teddy (Hart) his high school diploma.
And although the actresss profile has skyrocketed since Girls Trip, Malcolm doesnt think shes changed that much – in that she was always confident.
Tiffany did not ever lack in confidence. I think its a little bit of a different role for her, even though we see shades of Dina from Girls Trip in Carrie, she has to play a straighter role here, its more plot driven and character driven in this movie. So Im very proud of her that shes able to make that transition and not just be the comedic fastball that we were looking for in Girls Trip, and be a co-starring lead.
She meets her match in Hart, who brings the belly laughs with his portrayal of a former high school joker struggling in a class of misfits.
But while the laughs are laid on thick and fast, theres plenty of heart in the movie, with learning difficulties and insecurities addressed.
Lee told us: I didnt realise how good an actor Kevin was – I knew he was really funny, but it was good to realise how good a technical actor he was, and hes just such an everyman. He plays such a good put upon person. And to have to be that foil for him, Tiffany is such a bundle of energy who, like in the movie, he says shes such a brick wall, and will not go for his BS.
How unwilling is Carrie to take Teddys BS? Well, the scenes in which she body slams him in a ring to drill his studies into his head are pretty clear.
Talking about the fight scenes, Malcolm laughed: Well, [Kevins] so tiny, so it was quite easy to do! That was a great addition to the movie that we needed to have at the end of our second act to ratchet it up a notch and key in on Teddys learning, because hes not a traditional learning student. He doesnt have those kind of skills, but here was a why to physicalise his learning style.
Night School is in cinemas on 28 September.
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