Back in March 2015, Screen Rant visited the set of the upcoming film When the Bough Breaks, which tells the story of a married couple who hire a surrogate mother to have their baby. Things take a turn for the worse when the surrogate, Anna (Jaz Sinclair), becomes obsessed with the father (Morris Chestnut), and husband and wife are forced to endure a sadistic game with their futures at stake.
Regina Hall plays Laura Taylor, the wife at the center of the narrative. During the visit, we got an opportunity to talk with her about how When the Bough Breaks is different from her other films, portraying her character, and what she would like to do next with her career.
Anything you can tell us about what you’re filming today?
Today I can say we’re filming something that is the culmination of a lot of the events of the movie. It takes place at a lake house that Morris and I own and all of us are working today so it’s kind of a nice dramatic summation of everything.
Does it feel like a benefit to work with someone from a previous film like Best Man Holiday? Do you work off that previous relationship?
You know each other. You’re friends. I’ve known Morris, it’s really comfortable, is what it is. And even though you know each other, I worked with him in the Best Man, I don’t ever have this kind of time with him. I’m usually spending my time with Harold and he’s spending his time with Monica and the guys so this is a totally different thing but the friendship you have those sets is the same. So it’s good, he can tell me if I’m f***ing up … vice versa.
This is a serious role for you as opposed to comedic?
Um … I guess yeah. I guess I’m just not known for them. The roles I’ve done that you’ve seen. I think I was serious in Law Abiding Citizen, some others that you’ve seen, it’s just that kind of the first thing … it’s interesting because it’s not like Best Man was comedic at all but because it was a role that was my first bigger piece, a breakout role, people certainly think of you as comedic. It’s nice to do both. This is, I’d like to say I’m having fun, I am having fun, but I’ve never been so distraught in my life. I feel distraught!
Is the character emotional draining?
She has her emotional ups and downs. The movie takes place over the course of a year, so yeah, you’ve kind of got to go through what the character goes through even if you don’t want to. So it definitely feels different than when I’m making a comedy, you know what I mean?
Does it take more energy?
It’s not more energy, it’s a different kind of energy. Comedy you have to be alert, when you work with comedians. I’m not a comedian and when you’re working with stand ups you have to be quick and you have to be alert so it’s a different kind of preparation. I have to hear everything because I don’t know what Kevin is going to say. This is more in touch with your own emotional landscape. But they’re both great and they both have their own … I think because I’m more of a naturally lovely person I have to go into things in a different space but I think you invest in everything. The problem with comedy is that if your timing is off it doesn’t work. And then ya’ll are talking about it in the audience saying ‘that wasn’t funny.’ So it’s different because it has to be right. It’s like hurdling in the Olympics.
Is there anything you’re pulling from to draw this emotion?
Yeah, there are things I pull form personally for sure. Certain things which have actually happened, some things I have to imagine. It’s interesting, some times I’ve used stuff and then it just won’t work anymore and I have to go to something else. But I do both. And this, I love Laura, she’s amazing. She goes through a lot and that is life. You pull from … it doesn’t just have to be your own life, the circumstances in life that you, I think that’s why watching a movie is such an experience. You don’t have to go through the exact same thing but there are things you can imagine in your own life going that way. I know all men did during Fatal Attraction (laughs). Any man who was unfaithful was like ‘huh!’
Physically how does this compare to other roles? Are you kicking Jaz’s butt?
No, you know, no. She’s pregnant with my child so I can’t touch her. That’s another hard thing, as Laura it’s easy. I read the script and said to the director ‘I don’t hit her once?’ Out of reflex. No, and that’s what’s wonderful about Laura. She’s a woman who really wants her child. I was talking one day in rehearsal about a woman in DC, someone carjacked her car … that was like a double thing, carjacked her car, like someone gunstole her gun … but her baby was in the car and the guy didn’t know and she held onto the bumper and she died. She was dragged to death. So it makes you think about the lengths a mother really goes through for her children. I think Laura, though she’s not carrying the baby, the moment it has life she’s like ‘that’s my baby’ so she can’t do that.
Do you think she’s blinded because she wants that baby?
A little, or a lot. And what do you do now? Even if I knew what do I do? And maybe Laura would do things differently but I think to know when it’s a decision you made and to say ‘oh well.’ She’s got the baby so it puts her and Morris’s character in a very difficult position.
Did you do research into any real life cases?
No, I did research into fertility and into what Laura had gone through before because she’s had miscarriages, they’ve done in vitro before. Emotionally what it does to a woman who goes through that, what it takes, how long that process is. I did hear of a case of a woman … I do know physically it makes a lot of a changes, but until the script I didn’t know legally it was the surrogates baby until it’s born and she resigns over the rights. Even if it’s your egg. Life doesn’t literally begin until it’s in the womb so until then it’s the carrier’s baby.
What do you think about professional roles that characters play? As portrayals for black characters what did you think about those?
I didn’t think about it. The script wasn’t written for any race in particular. It could have been white, actually it was because that was her original description. I liked it because it lent itself to what was at stake in the movie. I’m a chef but I’m building a new restaurant and that causes me to be away. I liked it not because of the role but because what they do it makes everything in the movie make sense. What Morris ends up doing, legally what it costs him. But I didn’t think about it, it just makes sense.
You were talking about how intense it is – was it more than you thought it would be?
Yeah, I think so. More than when I read it. You read it and you are kind of reading it objectively but once you do it you drop in and kind of talk to the director and you see the depth of he wants certain things spoken to, and then you meet everyone else. You can’t really, you’re in it until it’s over.
What would you say to people who try to compare this to Hand that Rocks the Cradle type of film?
I don’t know. There will always be comparisons but just on its own we’ll be great. Our director is so smart, he’s done such great work. I look at it and it’s not just what’s on paper, it’s everything, it’s the whole world of the movie. It stands alone. I mean there are things and as an actress I looked – there was one scene I was ‘culturally, I don’t know. I think black women who will go ‘Laura!’” I was doing that. So every culture, it’s just different, it’s a different movie but I loved those movies so if we’re compared to that that’s where I want it to be.
How is it working with Jaz?
She’s great. She’s young, 21 and just the fact that she’s come in and had the range to do this character, she’s fantastic and I think she’s going to be an amazing shiny ‘who is that.’ She does a great job and what she had to do was and she is young and it was hard to find someone that young who could play the role and play the range and what it taught me was I’m not going to hire a … I’m not hiring an attractive 30 year old woman to come to my house. But because she can play so young I’m almost maternal with her … that’s okay. There was a moment when I come home and I go ‘who’s this, I didn’t hire her.’ But it’s okay because it’s done then and I think that’s what’s amazing, she brings an innocence but then a darkness and you go wow! There’s a lot of wonderful older actresses but I wouldn’t have hired them. I’m not that desperate. She does have a wonderful innocence and a wonderful range and I think it’s important to be part of someone’s first big break and I think we’ll see a lot of her.
You have been shooting for 30 plus days in New Orleans, how has that been?
New Orleans has a lot of history, a lot of energy, the vibrations are very specific. I was actually very happy we got to shoot here. I feel like it has its own character. I kept heading for desert and I thought the audience would eventually be like ‘I think Laura’s pregnant, it must be twins.’ I’m trying not to eat all the food here.
Have you hung out any?
I really haven’t. We’ve had a tough schedule. We did have Mardi Gras because we had 4 days off. We went to French quarter, but on my weekends I’m just like ‘trying to make it ya’ll.’
Can you talk any about the marriage between Laura and John? Are they a loving, solid relationship?
They are a loving, solid couple. He is a husband to die for. It’s so beautiful to have that and obviously they’re going through challenging times but it’s wonderful to see a couple and to see a man who loves his wife.
Is Jaz living in the home? How did that even begin?
How much can I say? Jaz comes through a service, first with a video, and I’m like ‘I like her, I think she’s great.’ Morris is not skeptical because of her he’s just a good man and she’s the one alight. And she seems fine, she’s in a relationship of her own and engaged and so we take her in. And there’s something she said that was really heartwarming. It’s wonderful and then she goes into our guest house. And she sees this life with a loving husband and she wants to emulate it.
She wants your life.
Honey, Anna wants it all. And you see the slow evolution of that.
And John stays honest for the whole thing?
You’ll see where he goes.
Recently with many projects it seems like you’re being more sought out. How has that been for your career?
It’s always nice to work, period. I’ve always done a lot of roles, it’s always nice to work. But it’s nice for there to be evolution in your career. That is wonderful and especially when people tell you as you get older it will be harder, it’s wonderful for it to be the opposite. But I think slow and steady was the right pace for my career. When I look at who I worked with and what I did I think it’s been the right pace. Sooner would have been, for Regina, too much. It’s been right for me to be able to gauge. To go back and forth. I love to go back and forth. When you do a broad comedy, when you do four of them, just that I was never pigeonholed into that it’s been great. People say ‘let’s give her a chance to see if you can do that.’ I’ve gotten to work with great people, to keep learning and keep working on it. It’s really nice to get a bigger trailer (laughs).
A lot of your peers have seen success on TV – is that something you’re looking at?
I do stuff by what speaks to me. I’m sure my friends, the characters they play, whether it’s television or film, that speaks to you. If there are someone television, there have been but it also speaks to time. 22 episodes of television is 9 months, and I do like doing films as well. So I’d have to see which would be better. But great work is great work, doesn’t matter where it is. So if it was something I love …
Is there a genre of film you’re still looking to get into?
Porn (laughs). I love all of them. Every time you work, I just did a little movie and I loved it and never would have thought of that but I haven’t done a franchise. But those shoot for 9 months, but it would be fun to do. It’s really weird, I was talking to Dinah and I was like ‘I’ve got to go get my ass kicked today’ and she was shooting and she said ‘I’ve got to go and shoot someone.’ That’s her 9 to 5 and it sounds so weird but it’s great. But there are a lot of things to play with.
Any interest in writing?
I do. I’ve just started one and it’s a comedy. It’ll be interesting.
Out of all the men you’ve played along, who have you had the best connection with?
I’ve been lucky. I don’t know if I was a ho in the last life (laughs) but I like everyone. Kevin and I are great, Morris has been great, but I’ve had wonderful male co-starts – Jermaine Clement who I just met – they’re all different but they’re all great. Some of them you don’t know when you’re going to walk into a movie. I’ve been really fortunate.
When people see you on the streets …
Regina King! (laughs). And I go ‘no.’ And they go ‘you look just like her’ and I go no. But it allows me to correct them. They are going ‘are you telling the truth’ and I go ‘I promise you I am not her.’
Who’s the best kisser?
Gosh, it’s been pretty good. A lot of my costars are married or engaged so they hold back. I used to not believe but you do have a room full of people watching so it’s not romantic. You’re not really … Morris’ wife was here the other day and I was like ‘I’m about to get on them lips, Pam!’ (laughs) and she was like Noo! But they’re all sweet. It’s very generous to go ‘go be married to my husband.’
Any marriage or engagement in the future?
Are you shooting anything after this?
I think I may be if negotiations go well. We were going to, the schedule changed a little, we were going to shoot Best Man and it got pushed, we’re doing it next year. And then I’m doing Barbershop.
Before you mentioned earlier some stuff would stop working for you, how is that?
I don’t have to always use stuff that really happened, sometimes I can play with imagination and I can do a pretend ‘I know what’s going on). I have some girlfriends who can be a ball of tears in 30 seconds but I have to come into it and work around. But you’ve got to gage it, you can just be up in every scene. It’s gauging where your character is so that when something happens you guys still care.
Someone give her a baby please!
Everyday it’s like jumping off a cliff, every job is like that. I hope I’m funny and then people expect you to be funny and you have to not even care. I really have to sit and throw all this away. You do have expectations internally. You have to plan it out but it has to be organic.
Coming up who are some actresses to watch?
I just watch animal shows and nature shows. I watch the show about the lions, my brother has tried to get me stop watching them because I get so emotional. I’m just telling you, the animal shows. I watch How to Get Away with Murder and Empire. I watching Whoopi Goldberg because she’s someone I always liked as she vacillated between drama and comedy. And she wasn’t, her work wasn’t based on her sexuality. She never worried about aging. But I’ll tell you this, ya’ll gotta TiVo Orangutan Island. They don’t have their mother, they’ve been shot down for palm oil, so Donald the Orangutan and he doesn’t know how you got rid of mosquitos and he got malaria and had to get a transfusion and then he got sick again. And his best friend waited every single episode! And Donald died! I’m telling you. Watch it.
When the Bough Breaks hits U.S. theaters on September 9, 2016.
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