Marlon Wayans on Why You'll Never See a Black 'Revenant': "F— the Bear"
The 'Fifty Shades of Black' producer and star tells THR how it feels to climb "mountains with weights on your back."
What do you think about the Oscar nominations controversy?
It is ridiculous. Look, it's not the first time it's happened. As a producer, writer and a star, I think that as we move forward in making movies, it's one of my quests to try and make more movies that are of the caliber and of the material for those kinds of awards. There are movies that should have been [nominated]: Beasts of No Nation is one of them; Idris [Elba] was wonderful in that. Will [Smith] was great in Concussion. Straight Outta Compton had a lot of great elements to it, too.
Yeah, it'd be nice to have more color and diversity at the Oscars, but then again, without obstacles, what is the objective? These are the things that, for me, puts fire under my ass. I don't point fingers; I accept it and I just take on challenges. The time and energy I could put into boycotting or complaining, I'll just put into making several films. There's a door they bolted shut, and I'm determined to kick it open. I'm not gonna knock politely — you bust it open.
I think it's a calling to all young filmmakers and to all of the Spike Lees and the Antoine Fuquas and all the other great filmmakers that we have to [say], "Let's get on a mission." Because when we're determined to do something, because of all the trials and tribulations that we've gone through as a black people, it just makes us better, especially when we become united. And I guarantee you, one day in the years to come, there will be a blackout at the Oscars [nominations announcement]. Look, it's called the Oscars — it's named after a white guy! It's not like it's the Jamals or the Leroy Awards!
Part of it too is we need bigger budgets to do movies. We're working with $25 million, $30 million — I did mine for $5 million. It's not the same big scope, hundred-something-million-dollar Revenant. That production would've been shut down! "F— the bear, kill the bear, just put John Johnson in the bear costume and have him growl. We don’t need this many Indians! Just get one Puerto Rican and paint her Indian color, and that'll be the Indian!" We don't get the same quality because we don't have the same budgets. But just over time, little by little, inch by inch, we'll get there. When you climb mountains with weights on your back, it just makes the journey that much more sweet when you get to the top. You get to sit down, talk about all you had to go through, and it's a much more interesting story.
But I hear what Spike and Jada [Pinkett-Smith] are saying — why is it always the little people that are complaining? Always people under 5 feet! Spike, Jada, [next is] Kevin Hart gonna be joining the whole thing? — I hear what they're saying. I heard someone say [of Pinkett-Smith], "Well, she just mad because her husband didn't get nominated," which is hilarious because I know Jada and I know black women, and when you do their man wrong, they go, "No! I'm gon' talk to Oscar! You get motherf—in' Oscar on the phone, I'mma talk to him! No, f— writing a letter, I'm talkin' to Oscar: 'Why wasn't my man nominated? That was the best performance. The babies cried, Willow and Jaden cried, the other one was DJing so he couldn't hear the movie, but the other two cried! He deserves it!"
Jada is a great voice, she's a friend. What she's pointing out — my job is different than hers: she pokes the holes, and I spackle things with comedy. We need somebody to go, "Hey, there's a whole in the dam," and we need other people to go, "Let me spackle it up," and we need engineers to go in and re-engineer the whole dam before it gets out of control and there's a big flood. That's the institution of the Academy and of our film industry, to try and give us the tools to do some of that. But my call is to make more movies and try to make the best movies I can, and just make people laugh. I wish that comedies — comedies are snubbed. What happened to comedies? There should be a separate category.
Do you think it is productive for people to boycott the Oscars, as Jada says she will? And will you be watching?
It depends what everybody is doing. If everyone is boycotting, please send me the memo! I don't want to be the only brother watching and tweeting, "Y'all watching the Oscars?" Meanwhile, all of Black Twitter is like, "Are you out your damn mind?!"
I think everybody has their approach. I can't judge anybody for doing what they do and how they do it, and all you can do is lend your support and love. Everybody attacks it in the way they know best. If everybody sits out, I'll sit out.
Do I want to watch the Oscars? Sure! I want to see what Chris Rock got to say about all this! I just want to watch the monologue, because they gave him a whole lot of material! I would place him in every [nominated] movie, just always place a black guy. Inappropriate, doesn't matter. The bear from The Revenant, … as Mad Max.
I think he'll have fun. Everybody has a job, and our job as comedians is to find the light in all dark situations, because that's why we're put here. Others is to march. And if we're called to march, we'll march with them. But when it's all said and done, we're gonna find all the comedy.