Director Malcolm Lee.

*Malcolm Lee’s name is synonymous with fine filmmaking. So going into “Barbershop: The Next Cut,” it was expected to be good, knowing sequels suck for the most part. But “…The Final Cut” far surpasses expectations.

In an exclusive interview with director Malcolm Lee, he talked about the challenges and joys of making one of the funniest, yet relevant films to hit the screens.

What were some of the challenges taking over the reigns of a successful franchise?

I knew it would be a challenge being in one room for 3½ weeks with mirrors on both sides. But I was amped for it. I love all these actors. As funny as those actors are, it’s challenging because with the script you have two to three pages of dialogue but it turns into 10 because of the adlibbing and riffing.

It’s great to hear and be funny in the moment but when you get to the editing room, and have to do 10 to 12 hours worth of dailies everyday, it’s taxing for my editor and me. But at the end of the day my joy comes when we finally get to a place where it’s all working.

Was adlibbing encouraged?

Oh, for sure! Listen, the first thing I said when I read the script was we’re going to cast really funny people. I don’t want the audience to ever forget no matter how heavy the subject matter might get, they’re watching a comedy. So you have to cast really funny people.

nicki minaj barbershop poster

 Did you get everyone you wanted for the cast?

Yes, and the new people jumped off the pages. I was very blessed to have such a great bunch of people come on board, and the old guard as well.

With Draya, I said it would be great if we got Nicki Minaj, but I didn’t think she would do it. It wasn’t a starring role, but a supporting and important one. Fortunately, she saw what she could do with the role and wanted to do it. So that was great.

Is ‘The Best Man’ sequel any closer to coming to the screens?

‘The Best Man’ sequel script is written, the desire on my part, the studio’s part, and the actors’ part to make it happen is there. It’s a matter of scheduling right now. Pretty much all the cast is working in television…and it’s great. The desire is there, we just have to find a way to put it all together.

“Barbershop: The Next Cut,” opens Friday. Cast also include Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Common, Regina Hall, Anthony Anderson, J.B. Smoove, Eve, Sean Patrick Harris, Chyna Layne, Michael Rainey Jr., Deon Cole, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Lamorne Morris, Tyga, Margot BinghamDiallo Thompson and Isaiah John.

Syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]

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