Baggage Claim interview/CP2

Felicia Haney | 9/19/2013, 12:09 p.m.
“Baggage Claim” is the story of Montana Moore (Paula Patton), an unlucky in love flight attendant who desperately wants to ...

I like the atmosphere to be light with anything I’m working on. I laugh a lot – at the beginning of takes, at the end of takes, in between takes… I like it when everyone feels like they’re there to work, but also have a good time. And I mostly write comedies, so if no one is laughing on set… Something’s wrong!

How did you get through shooting with Jennifer Lewis? She’s a riot!

Jennifer will have you in stitches. But, you know, Jennifer is an icon and she has earned the right to say what she wants, when she wants and how she wants it. My job is to support her and capture her magic. She’s that good.

You mentioned that Montana Moore is your favorite character. Why?

I grew up watching the Nora Ephron classics and even more recent, “Bridget Jones’ Diary.” So, I kind of love for the protagonist to be silly, goofy and clumsy yet hopeful and heartfelt. This is the first character I’ve gotten to create that was that open and free, but was still grounded. When Paula came in to talk to me about the project, I was still shooting “First Sunday” – that’s how long we’ve been working on this – and when she went to shake my hand she tripped over something. We were both laughing and I said to myself, “Oh my God, that’s Montana Moore.”

I guess some things just fall into your lap so to speak. And rumor has it, that’s kind of how you got started writing as well. I read that you got started writing after a bad break up in college. Most guys would be through with romance, but you don’t write like a man scorn. In fact, I also read that love stories are your thing…

I started writing these love poems after we broke up and listening to Al Green’s “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart.” Then one day, the record scratched. I looked at the pages that I was writing and thought, “hmmm, this aint that bad.” So, I moved on and started writing other things and just forgot about her. And, that’s how it started. Writing has been therapeutic for me; it’s just not something I do as a profession. It soothes me.

Where’d you go to college?

Went to Morgan State.

Had this break up not been the best thing that ever happened to you, what was your college career aspiration?

I was an on-air radio announcer. That’s what I did during and after college.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done for love?

After one break up, I called up my boy and said, “man, I need someone to talk to.” So, we hooked up and talked and walked the entire Wilshire Blvd. I don’t know if you know anything about Los Angeles, but that takes about two or more hours.” That’s about the craziest thing I’ve done. I’m not a sneak around the bushes type of guy.

I was going to ask if you’ve ever had a trash can moment (referring to the scene where Montana seeks refuge in Boris Kodjoe’s trash can).

No-no-no. I’ve thought about it! I’ve just never gone through with it. I think what’s funny about that part in the movie is that everybody’s thought about it and usually you have your friends to talk you off the ledge.

Has anyone ever done that to you?

Uhhhh… maybe! I could just not know about it. I don’t really do cray-cray. But, ironically I did get the idea for that whole scene from a real life situation. I overheard my wife on the phone with her girlfriend talking about how this man had flown her out to Chicago and what a great time they had then afterwards, he dropped her off at a hotel. My wife – who is Jill Scott’s character Gail in real life – said “A hotel?! Girl, he’s married. You better go to his house!” And that’s how that scene was born.

See scenes like this and other hilarious, heartfelt moments when “Baggage Claim” hits the big screen next Friday. Watch the trailer at www.foxsearchlight.com/baggageclaim