Hollywood can be a cruel, cruel world. One minute you are walking the red carpet, the next, you are down and out, no work for years and pretty much forgotten. We’ve seen it happen time and time again, but there are shining examples of actors who have bucked that system.
In 1999, a young director by the name of Malcolm D. Lee made his feature film debut with The Best Man featuring a cast of young, up and coming African American actors. The film went on to be a huge hit. In 2013, Lee returned with the same cast and scored another hit with the sequel, The Best Man Holiday.
Now, in 2022, writer/director/producer Malcolm D. Lee looks to close the book on this storied franchise with the Peacock limited series The Best Man: The Final Chapters premiering December 22nd on the streaming service.
One of the actors who has been along for the ride from the beginning is Harold Perrineau. You may know him from such little shows as Oz, LOST, Constantine, The Rookie and currently leading the cast in the hit Epix series FROM.
We had the chance to sit down with the busy actor to talk about returning to the role of Julian, what it was like coming together with the cast after so many years and if this is truly the final chapter for the franchise.
Harold Perrineau – When we did the first one, we just thought we did that one and kept it moving. We were all very proud of that first film and we all just went out and had our careers. Around 2012, Malcolm took us all out to dinner and said that he had an idea for a sequel and we were all on board for the sequel.
While we were doing the second film, he had started talking about doing a third one and that was the first time we heard of it. Again, we were very proud of this film and the idea of the third one came up. The script wasn’t totally ready and many of us had a lot of commitments, so that went away for a while. Again, in his brilliance, Malcolm came up with the idea of doing a limited series. He’s such a great writer and brought in more great writers and producers. We had no idea we would be back here years later doing this limited series, but it’s been great.
Pop Culture Principle – The entire cast had such chemistry in the first two films. When you first got on set for the limited series, did that chemistry pick right back up?
Harold Perrineau – That is 100 percent right and the same thing happened with The Best Man: Holiday. We get back on the set and it’s just like we never left. It was just the right combination of people. The first film we did, we just got along really well. We all met Regina for the first time during the first film and she was just great. When we picked up to do this limited series; that may have been a problem for some folks because we were laughing and playing on set. It’s hard to get work done like that! We have a good time together. It’s a great group of people.
Pop Culture Principle – Does the limited series pick up right after the events of The Best Man: Holiday or does it jump ahead in time?
Harold Perrineau – We pick up at the end of The Best Man: Holiday when Quinton tells us that he is getting married. So, we pick up right around there with him about to get married and the whole wedding situation. Those are the first two episodes and then after that, we flash forward to present day.
Pop Culture Principle – Where do you find Julian and Candace in the series once we pick up to present day?
Harold Perrineau – Well, we want the audience to check out the show on Peacock, but I will say that Candace and Murch are always a strong couple. They are really great. They are opening up more schools and Candace receives an award and she also is considering going back to school and continuing her education. Also, there are some issues for Murch with Quinton’s wedding.
Pop Culture Principle – Do you see these characters dealing with the dreaded mid-life crisis or are they finally discovering who they are at this point in their lives?
Harold Perrineau – I don’t see any of them as having any sort of mid-life crisis. Certainly, there are things that are happening that are age appropriate and there are things that are happening that are emotionally appropriate. For instance, the way that Lance is handling his grief is really about his grief and not about his age. The way that Shelby is dealing with some of her issues is about what she’s feeling and not more about her age. I think all the things that are happening to them are them still discovering themselves about their own relationships and their friendships. These friendships have been going on for decades. All those things require time and dedication and real compassion and understanding. It’s hard for two people to be in a long term relationship let alone eight people to be in one that lasts a long time, so they are all figuring that stuff out.
Pop Culture Principle – Do you feel this being a series gives the audience more of a chance to see these characters get fleshed out more and learn more about them than we would with a film?
Harold Perrineau – I’ve seen all eight episodes and I just enjoyed hanging out with all of these characters. You get enough time with everybody that you feel satiated and feel good about it. If it’s the last time we come back, you feel like we did it. If we come back again, then you will get some more. Each person gets some extra time were we go with them through whatever struggle they are dealing with in this limited series. You really love all these characters and it feels like being at home.
Pop Culture Principle – What’s so fantastic about this series is that not only were you able to get everyone back from the first two films, but since the last film, everyone has continued to thrive and still be successful in a very difficult industry. Would you agree?
Harold Perrineau – I think I will have to co-sign that comment. It is a really hard business and that each one of us is still out here, still working and still working at high levels doing great work is incredible. I’m really proud of each of us as our characters in The Best Man, but as individuals as well. We have all been out there putting in great work. It’s also a real testament to Malcolm’s casting in the first place. He cast a bunch of actors that were, not to pat myself on the back, but cast a bunch of really great actors and I feel fortunate to be included in this group.
Pop Culture Principle – How important has this franchise been when it comes to representation in the industry?
Harold Perrineau – It’s one of the things that I’ve been hollering about since the first one. At that time, we still were seeing mostly films were black characters were really marginalized. One of the things that I thought was great about The Best Man when it first came out, the revolutionary act was that this film was just about friends. Not friends with guns or friends in the hood, but just friends.
All of the stuff that they say is possible in America as far as being upperly mobile, educated, fun, sometimes making mistakes and having the right to make mistakes and just being human and not being stereotyped and for me and many of us, that was revolutionary. I talk about it all the time, representation on screen is really important and you can’t hammer that home enough. There has been representation for a certain part of our country for as long as the film industry has been around.
So, now that we are starting to really look at the country as a whole, we get to hear all these other voices and not just in some marginal way, but in some very real life ways and I think that’s what The Best Man helped lead into for films. I think it was one of the early films that we could share our stories written by us, for us and to us that the whole world can actually connect with because they are just people.
Pop Culture Principle – If the Harold Perrineau who stepped on the set for The Best Man: The Final Chapters could go back in time and give any advice to the Harold Perrineau who stepped on set for the first time for The Best Man, what would he say?
Harold Perrineau – That’s an interesting question. I would definitely tell that Harold to relax and to just lean into the funny. It’s ok. I was really scared about the comedy in the first film and I had an entire conversation with Malcolm about it. There was a scene in the first movie where I was being dragged through the church and Malcolm told me to trust him that it would be funny and he was right. I would just tell him to relax.
Pop Culture Principle – Without any spoilers, what can fans look forward to with The Best Man: The Final Chapters?
Harold Perrineau – We are definitely going to be exploring all of our friendships again and what they mean. We are going back to explore Harper’s book which is now going to be made into a movie and this story seems to always cause some kind of problem somewhere in their relationships. We are going to deal with new relationships that maybe you expected or didn’t expect. Also, these are now solidly professional people with families and so those difficulties, struggles and joys are things that we are going to explore as well. Bottom line, the series is really great and I could watch it over and over and I hope the audience feels that way as well.
Pop Culture Principle – Is this indeed the final chapter for The Best Man franchise?
Harold Perrineau – I’ll just say what Malcolm says that the final chapters is in the title. If this is the final chapter, I think everyone will be really satisfied. We didn’t get let down one bit. Each movie and now the series, each one elevated just a little bit more. I think that everyone is going to be really happy about it, but if it does come back, we can talk about that too.
Pop Culture Principle – If this is the final chapter for The Best Man franchise, looking back, what are you most proud of?
Harold Perrineau – The idea of getting to see people of color just be people and just be friends. I’m proud that this franchise has never fallen into any kind of stereotype. These characters have always been authentic, original and interesting. I’ve also like the different ways that black masculinity has been shown in the series and black female femininity as well. I’m really proud of all those things that we touched on in this franchise. I really believe the stories and that they are all relatable. I’m really proud to be a part of this franchise and everyone involved.
A huge thank you to Harold Perrineau for taking the time to talk with us. The Best Man: The Final Chapters premieres on Peacock on December 22nd!
**Red carpet photo courtesy of Arnold Turner/Peacock**
**All other photos courtesy of Clifton Prescod/Jocelyn Prescod/Nicolas Cordone/Peacock**