When “The Best Man” was released in 1999, featuring a group of up-and-coming and attractive young black actors including Taye Diggs, Nia Long and Terrence Howard, it was not only a box office success but also a fresh perspective on the film, following its ups and downs. Friendship, jobs, and love through the lens of young black professionals.
“I remember reading that script and feeling, ‘Oh, this is something I’ve never seen before.'” Diggs, who plays Harper, is a successful author. “I’ve never seen a project where I saw myself.”
However, Morris Chestnut says that at the time he was just grateful for the work and everything that came after was a welcome bonus.
“As an actor, you’re happy to just have a job. You want to work. You want to have a paying job. First, you do things no one else has ever seen. I had no idea it would still be around to this day.”
Director and writer Malcolm D. Now, he’s wrapping up the story with an eight-episode limited series on Peacock called “The Best Man: The Final Chapters.”
Lee originally envisioned two more films to tie the stories together, but he says with a series, there’s more real estate for storytelling. He used some of his ideas for the movie sequences on the show and had the ability to expand that further and find additional stories for the characters.
“You get a little more time to expand on their story and delve deeper into their home lives, their careers, their personal struggles and their triumphs. (The films) were the impetus, but it grew into something else.”
Regina Hall says the series gives each character an arc “as opposed to feeding one story, the group. But to be honest, I would have enjoyed any iteration of it. I would have enjoyed it as a movie.”
“For me, it’s just about the characters and the honesty in the relationships they have and the love they develop for each other and their trials and tribulations.”
More time was a welcome idea for Melissa De Souza, who wanted a reprise of her role as Shelby, the bossy reality TV star.
It was not only necessary, it was required. I said, “Listen, if we’re going to do this, it can’t be the same thing over and over again. You have to see all sides of it. You have to show why it is the way it is. You have to see a real woman who has passions and struggles and fears, and they did. “
Moving on to television, Lee selected “Insecure” writer and executive producer Dyna Lynn North to lead the show.
“I’ve been a fan of the franchise my entire adult life. I liken it to going from the stands, watching your favorite team, to LeBron[James]or someone being like, ‘Hey, you, fan. You want to come down and play with us, you know what I mean?'” North said. “I felt like I was going from my cheap seat down in the stadium.. It was really an honor and a lot of fun because I loved these characters from the moment I met them.”
While every character in “The Best Man” franchise weaves a tangled web, the catalyst for drama in each iteration of “The Best Man” is Harper’s novel, “Unfinished Business.” Inspired by his group of friends, the book reveals some explosive secrets, including how Harper once had a one-night stand with his favorite fiancée, Lance (Maurice Chestnut).
In “Best Man’s Vacation”, Lance is still bitter about the book’s revelations. In the series, Harper could see “Unfinished Business” made into a movie. He wants to be up for any potential drama and get his friends’ blessing for the project, and what better time to ask for it than at a wedding for their friend Quentin (Terrence Howard).
Lee describes Harper’s book as “the magic prop.”
“I was very strategic on the first Best Man by trying to create something that was something interesting. I called it a magic prop because it kept being passed on to friends and then fell into the wrong hands.
“The Unfinished Business book definitely caused drama this time around, too. Although that’s not what the series is about, it’s about these people and their relationships, but it’s a good drive.”