When Marlon Wayans signed on to star in his latest film “Sextuplets,” which dropped on Netflix two weeks ago, it wasn’t about the funny.
“I read the script and thought, ‘this would be a great acting challenge,’” Wayans told The American when he visited St. Louis on a promotional tour for the film.
“‘If I could play all these different characters and make them all different, yet similar, I think I would be a great triumph for me as an actor.’”
He thought the funny would come through the characters, but his first order of business for the film, written by Mike Glock and Rick Alvarez and directed by Michael Tiddes, was to get a handle on breathing life into the half-dozen-plus characters he was responsible for bringing to the screen.
“Sextuplets,” follows Allen, a successful ad agency executive, on his quest to find his family roots for the sake of finding medical and other pertinent background information ahead of the birth of he and his wife’s unborn child.
Over the course of his journey, Allen finds that he is by far, the most stable among the sextuplets. The siblings grew up not knowing any of the others existed.
They range from an overweight recluse who is addicted to 80s television and cereal to an albino criminal mastermind who has been off the grid for several years.
“I liked Ethan because him and Allen were identical,” Wayans said of Allen’s fast-talking con artist brother. “Being in the makeup, its easy to lose yourself in the character. With Ethan, there is no makeup – but he was totally different.”
For Wayans it was the makeup – not playing against seven different characters (he also plays the sextuplets’ mother) – was the biggest challenge in creating the film.
“It’s 60 pounds, 50 pounds and then its like hotter than anywhere else on earth inside that makeup,” Wayans said. “It’s just very uncomfortable. That and the lack of sleep were the worst.”
There is typically a lot of “hurry up and wait” during the filmmaking process, where actors kickback in their trailers to kill time between the scenes they are in.
Wayans was in every scene.
“I had no lull,” Wayans said. “My turnaround was three hours. I had to be back on set.”
The idea of it seems unimaginable – at least for everyone else.
“That’s how you know you are supposed to do something,” Wayans said. “I had no apprehensions. I was just like ‘I’m going to do it.’ If you step outside of the process, it’s overwhelming to even think about. But if you just do the work, it kind of comes easy.”
Critics have not been kind to the film – which Wayans has come to expect over the years, but declares the film a fan favorite.
“The critics will always hate me, but with the audience I’ve never heard such positive feedback,” Wayans said. “Whenever I post about the movie, just read the comments. They love this movie – hands down my favorite. If you are a fan of mine, I feel like it’s my best work to date.”
In a perfect world, people will watch “Sextuplets” and have a smile on their faces and feel good about what they saw when the credits roll and be grateful for their family, regardless of how outrageous the dynamic might be.
“I come from a big family and so this is some of me in this story,” Wayans said. “And the gift of it – the elixir is – that your family is your family.
No matter how much they may get on your nerves, ruin your car or steal your kidney – at the end of the day, your family is going to always have your back.”
Sextuplets is currently streaming on Netflix.