How Marlon Wayans Conquered His Fears While Filming “The Curse Of Hollow Bridge”

Marlon WayansPhoto Credit: Netflix
Marlon Wayans has a lot of gumption. The actor, comedian, producer, and director currently stars in Netflix’s The Curse of Bridge Hollow, a scary movie that premiered on Oct. 14… despite actually hating being afraid. We sat down with the 50-year-old star (yeah, we can’t believe it either!) — who most recently starred as Ted White in MGM’s Aretha Franklin biopic, RESPECT, opposite Jennifer Hudson — about his role in Ben Affleck’s recently wrapped Nike drama for Amazon Studios, Skydance Sports and Mandalay Pictures, about his latest project, conquering his fears, and more.

Marlon WayansPhoto Credit: Mitchell McCormack / Trunk Archive

Netflix’s The Curse of Bridge Hollow premiered on October 14th. What was it like producing and starring in the film? Do you have any favorite memories from set?

I really enjoyed the experience. I enjoyed learning from the youth, from Priah [Ferguson] and the goth kids. It’s always fun when you produce a movie and star in it because you get to know the cast as well as the production team and we had a great experience. This is the sixth movie Rick [Alvarez] and I have produced together and this one had the biggest budget. It was great working with Jeff [Wadlow] and Nathan [Reimann]. Seeing it all come together and how much the audience is enjoying it always makes me happy. Every day on set is a memorable moment. No matter what set I’m on, I try to make the best of the day so I never have a favorite moment. The whole process is my favorite moment.

Are you into scary movies/being scared? What is the most terrifying paranormal thing that’s ever happened to you?

I actually hate being scared, but I love scary movies. I think that’s why I love comedy – I get to watch scary movies and, in order to quell my own fear, I think “what’s funny about this?” and it takes me out of the movie and makes me a comedian and a commentator and explorer of what’s funny. I’m trying to find a smile in that dark moment. I’ve never had any paranormal stuff happen to me, but I always wish it did. I want to talk to ghosts. I want to see my mom. I had a friend who died who owed me money.

You’ve been in the industry for a long time and have starred in both dramas and comedies. How do you balance navigating starring in both comedic and dramatic roles? Do you find the transition to be easy or difficult?

I’ve gotten to study both comedy and drama and really learn the craft and the science of both. I enjoy exploring all facets of performing, whether that be comedy, drama, standup, television, or movies. I enjoy it all. It’s not hard to balance, it just takes the same amount of commitment. When I do a project, I’m really committed to what I’m doing.

Marlon WayansPhoto Credit: Mitchell McCormack / Trunk Archive


You have two comedy specials streaming on HBO Max (Marlon Wayans: You Know What It Is and Marlon Wayans Presents: The Headliners) and one streaming on Netflix (Woke-ish). Talk to us about these specials and why you wanted to get into standup comedy.

I’m actually finishing editing my fourth special, GOD LOVES ME, and I don’t know what streamer that will be on. It’s really funny and a great journey. I’m getting really good at this standup comedy thing and the reason I started doing it is that I hit a point where I just wanted to get better as an artist. I never want to plateau; I want to keep growing. The biggest comedic stars have been standup comedians, so I went on a journey to add to my skillset. You have to stay a student in this game and you have to get better. That’s what I’m trying to do – trying to become a complete artist. Standup allows me to be the writer, producer, director, and star every night doing what I want to do. It allows me to hone my voice and my point of view. Having that audience ingrained in my head helps me know if something is funny before it leaves my mouth. My comedic instincts are on fire because I tour so much and I know how to make people laugh. I want to keep working the science of comedy and allow myself to further involve the business end as well. It’s all part of my journey. My best years are ahead of me.

How do you test your materials?

Some guys go out around town and practice their jokes. I don’t like bumping comics when I go out. I’m weird; I prefer to write and test out new jokes onstage on the weekends when I do shows. I wrote my last standup special literally on the road on a stage. It starts with a joke, and I was like “Oh there’s something in here” and I keep digging and by the next show, I’ll have seven minutes. I keep digging and by the next I’ll have 15, and before I know it, by the end of the weekend, I had 25 minutes of a new set. And then I just stayed on that topic and I kept digging and before I knew it, I had an hour and a half of material in four months. I decided to chop it down to an hour and over time I had two hours of material, so the set was bifurcated because one was about my mom and the other was about the Chris Rock/Will Smith slap. Don’t ask me how I weaved the two together, but I took them apart and realized I have two completely different sets here. I started working on that set and now I have that set done – I just filmed it – and I’m going to film the set about my mom probably later this year. I work on my material on the road in front of a paid audience and that’s weird. Most comics don’t do that. I’ve been writing for so long that I trust my instincts when it comes to creating. I stay free on the stage; that’s how I’ve written my last specials: on a stage in front of a paid audience.

You’ve never let yourself be pigeonholed as an actor. What makes you gravitate towards specific roles? What wheelhouse are you most comfortable in now after all these years, and how often do you let yourself accept roles in that genre?

I’m comfortable in all genres. I’m gravitating toward action. That’s what I want to get into now: doing action with comedy and with a character that has some dramatic scenes as well so I can showcase all that I do. I just love working with great material, great stories, great characters, and I want to work with the best directors. I’ve been fortunate to work with some really great directors and I want to work with the best in the game with the best scripts that they have and start getting those leading roles. These are my years to become classic; these are my Tom Hanks years, my Denzel [Washington] years, my Robin Williams years where you know who you are, and you’ve developed as an artist. People are familiar with your work, and you have an audience, but now you start getting opportunities and you work with the best directors who trust you with the best material and throw the big budgets at you and let you be the star that you’ve been grooming yourself to be.

Marlon WayansPhoto Credit: Mitchell McCormack / Trunk Archive

What can you tell us about the upcoming Nike project?

I don’t know how much they’re allowing people to talk about the project, but I will tell you this: I’ve worked with Matt Damon who is a hell of an actor. I’ve worked with Ben Affleck who is a hell of a director. I’m excited to see the movie. I know it’s going to be great; the script was great. More people should work with Ben Affleck – he knows what he wants as a director and he is really good at communicating with you and allows you to play. I really enjoyed the experience of working with Ben.

You play a pretty iconic coach. How did you fully step into his shoes, so to speak?

I watched footage, not too much of him coaching but of him talking. Did my research and found out where he’s from and what kind of accent I was going to give him. I don’t like doing impressions, I like to build the character from scratch, so I didn’t overstudy but I allowed myself to become. I changed my walk and how I held my hands and my posture. I worked with my acting coach for a few weeks to make sure I was dialed in. Whenever I do a project, I do the work, so I did the work and hopefully it turns out great.

Nike’s slogan is “Just do it.” What’s yours?

Just do the work.

What to you is the greatest luxury in life and why?

Being able to provide for my family and doing what I love. Sometimes you sit and think “I got paid to have fun, to do what I love”. If I could tell my kids anything, it would be to do what you love because you won’t work a day in your life. I’m just doing what I love and am able to afford security, safety, peace, and prosperity to all those I love and give them an opportunity for them to foster and chase their dreams.