Michael Jai White has to be one of the hardest working people in
Hollywood, with a career that now spans over 30 years of television, movies
and stage production. But he was always one of those actors who, while
everybody had heard of him, most people weren’t sure what features he’d
been in. When Black Dynamite hit last year, all of that changed, at least
as far as the internet was concerned. Between that, and his role as Jax in
the Mortal Kombat: Rebirth short (Jackson Briggs), film geeks everywhere
are anxious to see what he does next.
His most recent role was as one of the ensemble cast behind Tyler Perrys
newest film, “Why Did I Get Married Too?”, (which is a sequel to “Why Did I
Get Married?”, and actually did better business at the box office than the
original). Reprising his role of Marcus (the TV sports commentator who
speaks only in football metaphors), Michael took time out of his insane
schedule to sit down with us and talk briefly about the DVD release of this
film, and some of his upcoming projects.
AV: Because this was a sequel, how was it coming back to the cast you previously worked with? Was it like coming to a family reunion?
MJW: Black Hollywood is small, so we all knew each other even before the first movie was shot. Its funny, but Tasha (Tasha Smith, who plays Marcus wife Angela in the film) and I dated for 10 years before this movie in real life. We never fought once during that entire time, but in the movie all we do is fight!
AV: What was it like working with Tyler Perry again?
MJW: Actually, this is about the fourth time Ive had the chance to work with Tyler. I worked with him to get House of Payne of the ground and was in two episodes on that show. I was also in an episode of The Tyler Perry show earlier this year. I have lots of love for the man, he is great to work with.
AV: After watching Black Dynamite, it was obvious that you could do comedy and do it well. For the DVD release of Why did I get married too?, will there be an outtakes reel?
MJW: Im not sure, but the cast was super funny and I hope some of the stuff that happened on set makes it onto the DVD (we checked out the feature list and there are a few shorts, Girl Talk: The Women of “Married”, and Male Bonding: The Men of “Married” where I hope we get to see some of this)
AV: Speaking of Black Dynamite, do we have any hope of seeing a sequel?
MJW: I dont know if you knew this or not, but I co-wrote this movie and was involved with its production on top of actually being in the movie. The only thing holding a sequel back would be me having the time to do one, but its definitely happening.
AV: I know with some films though getting the funding together to make a sequel can be tough
MJW: Financing is not a problem, and the team who I worked with to do the first movie is working on the second one as we speak.
AV: Given the box office success of this latest chapter, do you think there will be more Married films?
MJW: Tyler has mentioned it, he thinks that the characters have more to say. For me, I would enjoy exploring the character more.
AV: What kind of preparations do you have to make for a film like Why Did I Get Married Too?
MJW: Well, every movie is different, but I dont do ANY special physical preparation for any of my movies. I work out regularly anyways, and I have made martial arts part of my everyday life style. (TRIVIA: Michael Jai White holds black belts in following martial arts: Shotokan Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Okinawan Kobudo, Goju Ryu, Tang Soo Do, Wushu and Kyokushin Karate) I keep my characters themselves in my back pocket, Im always thinking about them. So to get prepared for Marcus took me just a few days.
AV: Many of our readers know you from the more genre-type roles youve done, from Spawn to doing the voice of Green Lantern in the Justice League cartoon series, and now that awesome Mortal Kombat: Rebirth short. Is there any chance of us getting to see you do something similar in the future?
MJW: Well, the guy who put the Mortal Kombat short together is pushing to get it made into a feature. I get updates from the director as things develop, and I would definitely want to play Jax in the full feature.
AV: It seems like the Super hero genre isnt going away any time soon. You had a small role in the Dark Knight, is there a particular franchise youd like to star in or a particular role youd like to do?
MJW: Absolutely. Its a no-brainer for me. Being able to star in one of these kind of movies would be a career-defining role for me. Id love to be doing more action films, but studio heads are too removed from the consumers. No one is making real action films anymore. The studio heads take formulas that work in drama or comedy and try to apply them to the action genre, and the results arent good. Those formulas dont work in action movies. If John Wayne or Steve McQueen had to start their careers in this day and age, theyd never have gotten careers because the studios dont get what an action hero is anymore. There have been some exceptions, like Daniel Craig in the new James Bond films and Matt Damon, but those are few and far between.
AV: What are the next projects we can expect to see you in?
MJW: I just finished shooting a movie called We the Party, which was put together by Mario Van Peebles, but Im not sure when this one is coming out. (listed as still in production) I am directing a movie called Beatdown and have been very busy with this. In fact, if I wasnt here interviewing, Id be out working on it still.
I also have another project that is being put together by the same creative team that did Black Dynamite. I dont want to say too much, but its going to be one that crosses several genres and has zombies in it.
AV: Heh, ok I will let you get back to work now. Thank you so much for your time!
MJW: Youre welcome, thanks for taking the time.