It’s no secret that Marlon Wayans can transform into unrecognizable characters for his films. Audiences have seen the New York native transform into a bleached blonde socialite in the 2004 smash-hit “White Chicks” and into an infant-sized criminal in the 2006 film “Little Man”. But Wayans’ latest film, “Sextuplets” may be his most complicated achievement yet.
Marlon Wayans talks new film “Sextuplets” and tackling seven characters
Netflix’s “Sextuplets” follows the story of expecting father, Alan, who finds the address of his long lost mother, and discovers he actually has five other displaced siblings and embarks on a lively journey to reconnect them all. The whopping seven main roles are all played by Wayans, and the seasoned actor had big plans when he took on this project.
“I think it was the challenge that initially intrigued me of playing seven characters and seeing if I could make them all different, and seeing if I could build seven characters that you actually like or care about,” says Wayans. “Even though it’s the same guy doing it, the minute you meet the other brothers I wanted you to forget that it was the same guy playing both roles. When I met Russell, I didn’t feel like I was meeting Marlon, I felt like I was meeting somebody completely different. Then Dawn, after the first initial look at her, I really started forgetting that it was me in all of these roles. It became a fun journey— that was my whole goal, if I could forget that it was me then I think it would be enjoyable for the audience.”
When Wayans first received the script, it took some time to create the seven unique characters from the film. Although they are all related, every single character had their own voice, ticks and style that were as colorful and unique as you could imagine. “These characters came from a script Mike Glock had written, and when I read the script I thought it could be fun. Once we did our re-write and put our flavor on it, I simultaneously started thinking about their voices and what [each character] would look like— there was a lot that went into this. It’s a silly, slapstick comedy but there are layers.”
If you think that taking on a film where you have to transform into seven different people daily for almost two months sounds rigorous, you’d be absolutely right.
“Everything was a challenge. The heat, the weight of the costume, fatigue—just everything. It’s a lot doing a movie like this. I would go in at 3 o’clock in the morning and be in makeup for about 6 or 7 hours. After makeup, I worked sometimes 15- 18 hours and then another hour and a half to take the makeup off. I would go home and sleep for two to three hours and then go back to set to do the same thing for 50 days. The only days I really had some sleep were the days I was Alan. It was very tough, but it was fun and in between when they said action and cut, I had the best time,” says Wayans.
Aside from the challenges that came from makeup and the hours of filming, a lot of thought, work and talent had to come into play when Wayans’ only scene partner was himself. “Sometimes people were standing there and sometimes there was just a stick. Making movies is making believe, but this movie really made make-believe believable,” says Wayans. ” We filmed it where the camera was moving, and the people were moving and I was interacting with myself. I was passing me things and I was grabbing things from myself—-so it was very hard to do. With all of the camera work and CGI that went into it, we basically did an ‘Avengers’ type shoot on a ‘Soul Plane’ budget.”
The film is reminiscent of a Wayans’ comedy. There’s over-the-top antics that involve car chases, stolen kidneys and a parking lot brawl, lots of back and forth between polar opposite personalities and family undertones that give the comedic storyline a little more flavor.
For Wayans, the family aspect is what he hopes audiences will take away from the film, other than just slap-stick laughter. “Any movie I do that’s a comedy— I want people to laugh and feel good about the laughs they had. But with ‘Sextuplets’, it’s also the overall message about family. Go home, hug your brothers and sisters and go call your cousin. Just keep a smile on your face no matter what, we’re on borrowed time so just enjoy every moment.”
Will the 47-year-old ever tackle a project like this again? “Just know if I did, someone paid me a lot of money to do it. But if I’m inspired that also helps me get through it. You’ve got to be a special kind of performer for this,” says Wayans.
What about what comes next, what challenges could an actor possibly get into after playing seven in-depth roles? “What do you do with the guy who can do anything? Everything.”
“Sextuplets” is available to stream on Netflix