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For all of his adult life and then some, Marlon Wayans has been comfortable both in front of and behind movie and TV cameras, similar to his many celeb siblings. He’ll soon be starring in the brand new NBC family sitcom Marlon, partly based on his own life, and it sounds like the multi-hyphenate entertainer is dedicated to making everyone else involved with the show just as comfortable as he is. CinemaBlend recently spoke with the hilarious Marlon co-star Diallo Riddle, who explained to me why Wayans is so great as a TV boss.
I kid you not, Marlon is the most gracious performer I’ve ever worked with. I would say from the time I auditioned for him until the time that we shot the final episode of Season 1, he was just the nicest guy. And I know that’s super boring to say, but he just was. He’s so not worried…how can I put this? You work with a lot of people who act like the current project might be the final project if it doesn’t work out. That’s a thing. With Marlon, you get the sense that he’s like, ‘Hey, we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna try to make it funny, and if it doesn’t work, we’re gonna do the next thing.’ That level of calm from the guy at the top trickles all the way down to the P.A.s.
If only that business principle was the kind of thing that’s taught in schools, so that everyone could be so lucky as to only have positive things to say about bosses. (Not even just positive, either, but downright glowing.) Marlon was created by writer-actor Christopher Moynihan and Marlon Wayans, with both serving as writers and executive producers, and with Wayans also playing the title role, his voice and vision are clearly all over this thing. So it wouldn’t have been very fun for anyone had Wayans exuded some kind of uneven Marlon Brando presence on the set.
Considering Marlon Wayans’ career, which includes lots of spoof flicks and other forms of no-shame outrageousness, I don’t know that anyone would expect him to be a stone-faced monster on the set. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’d make the effort to be an inspiration of joy to everyone else. Here’s what else Diallo Riddle told me about working on Marlon.
I feel like we had a very happy set. It was a very creative set. And as a result, just speaking personally, I gave what I feel was my best performance, because I was never worried about, you know, the politics of being on a set and who likes who and which writer’s a screamer. We never had to worry about any of that stuff. And I know for a fact that everybody who worked on this season wants to come back, because Marlon, he sets the tone at the top.
Marlon has yet to premiere, so it’ll probably be a short while before NBC makes a decision about the sitcom’s future. But hopefully audiences react to it in such a way that the network gives the happy cast and crew what they’re looking for.
Marlon stars Marlon Wayans as a fun-loving father of two kids — Marley (Notlim Taylor) and Zachery (Amir O’Neil) — that he’s raising amicably with his ex-wife Ashley, played by Essence Atkins. (Diallo Riddle, meanwhile, excels as the oddball friend Stevie who gets all the weird jokes, which I loved.) The character Marlon is all about making videos for social media, which means he’s a ball of energy from opening credits to end credits, and apparently that’s just what Wayans is like. Riddle, a former writer for Jimmy Fallon‘s pre-Tonight Show talk show and current writer for Tracy Morgan’s new show, also talked about how Wayan’s kid-like approach was just excellent for the kids as anyone else.
He’s having so much fun, and everybody around him is having so much fun. I mean, those kid actors were loving coming to work. It was a blast just being around him entertaining them. And they’re based on his real-life children, so Marlon is a lot of who he seems to be on camera when he’s behind camera, and that’s actually a good thing. That ‘grace to all mankind’ energy really does make going to work a pleasant experience.
I don’t know how it can be done, but I’d like to at least try to extract some of that mindset, so that it can be passed on to others so that going to work never has to be a negative experience again. Until then, though, we’ll just have to rely on Wayans’ on-screen charisma to get us by.
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