Skip to content

Movies » Malcolm D. Lee discusses ‘Barbershop,’ Chicago’s crime and cousin Spike Lee

Malcolm D. Lee discusses ‘Barbershop,’ Chicago’s crime and cousin Spike Lee

ICE CUBE and director MALCOLM D. LEE on the set of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures' and New Line Cinema's comedy "BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT, " a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo Credit: Chuck Zlotnick)

ICE CUBE and director MALCOLM D. LEE on the set of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures’ and New Line Cinema’s comedy BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT,  a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo credit: Chuck Zlotnick)

Barbershop: The Next Cut is the third installment of the Barbershop franchise and sitting at the helm as director of the most impactful and thoughtful of the trio is Malcolm D. Lee. Writers delivered plausible depth and humor to the franchise.

“We know the movie is really good and audiences have responded very well to it. We feel like it’s the funniest of the franchise. Not only is it a humorous comedy, but we’re dealing with the some heavy issues in terms of gun violence in Chicago and in America in general,” Lee shares during an interview with rolling out at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills.

“You can’t set a movie in Chicago in 2016 and not talk about gun violence, gang violence and the issues that are plaguing that community. It is unfortunately a place that is under siege like many cities in America. Chicago, which is a great American city is faced with a lot of undue unrest,” he says of the importance of telling the story of violence in Chicago.

Lee, the cousin of fellow Black filmmaker Spike Lee who faced some backlash over Chi-Raq were coincidentally both creatively conveying Chicago’s present-day perils. “It just so happened we were shooting our films at the same time. I didn’t see his script; he didn’t see mine. We worked completely independent of one another. They are very different films. I think it’s something very relevant and [it] should be talked about. The gun violence in America is really strong right now. It has been for quite some time. Something has to be done about it. We had a premiere screening in Chicago and the response to the film was very, very positive. The people who are living on the South Side deserve recognition for what they are going through.”

Director MALCOLM D. LEE on the set of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures' and New Line Cinema's comedy "BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT, " a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo Credit: Chuck Zlotnick)

Director MALCOLM D. LEE on the set of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures’ and New Line Cinema’s comedy BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT,  a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo credit: Chuck Zlotnick)

Lee has been making films since the age of 12 in animation, video and Super 8 film formats and has been working professionally in the industry since age 17 as a production assistant, apprentice film editor, casting associate, assistant director, and director’s assistant. He gained entry New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, honed his craft as a director and writer, and went on to make the award-winning short film, Morningside Prep. Lee made his directorial debut with The Best Man, which opened to rave reviews by critics and audiences alike and scored a No.1 ranking at the box office in October of 1999.

Lee then directed the action comedy Undercover Brother with Eddie Griffin, Dave Chappelle and Neil Patrick Harris in May of 2002. His third feature, Roll Bounce for Fox Searchlight debuted September 2005, Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins (with Martin Lawrence) and Soul Men (with Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac) bowed in 2008. Lee scored his biggest box-office hit with the sequel to his first film in November of 2013, a banner year for Black films.

The Best Man Holiday grossed $30.5 million in its opening weekend alone pleasing audiences and shocking the industry with a game-changing debut. Another installment of The Best Man franchise is in the works.

On what it takes to have a successful franchise in Hollywood …
“It starts with elements people want to see. In both cases with Barbershop and Best Man, you have great talent behind and in front of the camera. I read the script, thought it was funny and relevant. I thought it was important to cast funny people. [They] delivered what was funny on the page and had the freedom to riff, come up with funny stuff in the moment.”

Barbershop: The Next Cut features a starring ensemble cast including Regina Hall (Think Like a Man), Anthony Anderson (TV’s “Black-ish”), Eve (Whip It) and JB Smoove (TV’s “The Millers”), with Oscar winner Common (best song, Selma) and Nicki Minaj (“The Other Woman”).

Barbershop: The Next Cut opens in theaters nationwide April 15, 2016.