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Garcelle's breakthrough was in her role as the sexy "Francesca" on The WB's comedy series "The Jamie Foxx Show." A rising starlet with a beautiful smile and an impossible figure, it may come as little surprise to those who have seen actress Garcelle Beauvais that the model-turned-actress was voted one of "The Ten Sexiest Women of 2001" by readers of Black Men Magazine, but take a look beyond the surface and you'll see that Beauvais has the talents to back up her beauty. A Haitian native and the youngest of seven siblings( five sisters and two brothers), Beauvais' mother relocated to Massachusetts with her children following her divorce from their father. Beauvais' first years in the U.S. were spent in boarding school while her mother supported the family by attending nursing school. With little knowledge of the English language, the French and Creole-speaking youngster slowly began the process of educating herself by taking in episodes of Sesame Street. Though going from being a member of the social majority in Haiti to being a minority in America, it was the change of climate that proved most jarring to young Beauvais. Roles in numerous school plays fueled a love for performing, and it wasn't long before the family opted for a more familiar climate in Miami when Beauvais was 16. A subsequent move to New York the following year found the emerging model gaining an increasing presence on the catwalk and numerous Essence and Ebony layouts. Early television appearances on such popular shows as Miami Vice, Family Matters, and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air found Beauvais refining her skills in front of the camera, and it wasn't long before she was appearing in such high-profile films as Manhunter (1986) and Coming to America (1988). An ideal role in the Aaron Spelling-produced television series Models Inc. found Beauvais combining both her modeling and acting experience, and after settling into a role in The Jamie Foxx Show in 1996, she would once again hit the big screen with Wild Wild West (1999) and Double Take (2001). Having previously appeared as ADA Valerie Heywood in the popular television police drama NYPD Blue, Beauvais expanded her role by joining the series full-time in 2001. A feature role in Bad Company (2002) opposite Chris Tucker found Beauvais' feature career taking off, and hinted for great things to come in the emerging actress' future. Garcelle was born on November 26, 1966, in St. Marc, Haiti. When not in front of the camera, Garcelle's active life includes raising her son, Oliver, and working out by playing tennis, volleyball and doing Pilates. She also recently completed filming the Disney/Touchstone feature Black Sheep, opposite Chris Rock and Anthony Hopkins, for director Joel Schumacher.
Beauvais-Nilon resides in Los Angeles with her husband, Mike Nilon, her son, Oliver, and golden retriever Shadow.
More fast facts about Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon
Mother:Maria Claire, teacher. Father: Axel
Born in Haiti,raised in Massachusetts and Miama,Flordia.
Began modeling at age 17 in New York City.
Once a part of the L.A. comedy troupe,The Groundlings
Divorced from producer Daniel Saunders after six years of marriage.
Son Oliver (with Saunders) was born in 1992.
Married agent Mark Nilon in May 2001.
Meet Garcelle Beauvais
Where you’ve seen her:
On the short-lived series Models Inc., sharing the screen with Will Smith in Wild Wild West, and as sexy secretary Fancy Munroe on The Jamie Foxx Show.
But you still play doctor, right?
“I didn’t really give up modeling; I just gravitated toward acting because I wanted to get into something that would be more long-term and challenging. People always go, ‘Oh, God, another model trying to become an actress.’ But what do you expect—that I would go to medical school? It’s a natural progression.”
How to win her over:
“If there’s music, candles, and flowers—you know, the whole package—that’ll do it. That’s a sure bet with me,”
Can you send a few to us?
“If I ever actually do nudity in a movie, though, it will be strictly for me: to immortalize my body because, hey, it ain’t going to be like this forever. For now a few Polaroids will do just fine.”
Hot and sexy Garcelle Beauvais
Garcelle Beauvais's career is booming right now. After a successful run on The Jamie Foxx show as Francesca "Fancy" Monroe, she got an audition and landed a spot on NYPD Blue as Valerie Heywood, an ADA. Though it's the most important role of her life, it is among her least glamorous since ADAs are not known for wearing makeup.
She almost didn't get the NYPD Blue gig though, as she was offered and tempted by Aaron Spelling's short-lived NBC series Titans, before deciding that it was the wrong direction for her career. The regular job is a welcome break for the extremely beautiful Garcelle, who has appeared as the typical love interest in shows such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (which led to her role alongside Will Smith in Wild, Wild, West), Dream On and Family Matters.
If you're wondering if Garcelle has modeled before, the answer is yes. She was a Ford Model in New York for a while and appeared in campaigns for Avon, Mary Kay Cosmetics and Clairol, along with catalog appearances for Macy's, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom. Our guess is that either career would have made her famous.
Though critics stereotype model-turned-actresses as being below average performers, Garcelle Beauvais wants to change that image (an image that has been changing thanks to strong performances by Angie Harmon and Garcelle-look-alike Michael Michele). She must have done something right to catch the attention of very picky NYPD producer Steven Bochco. No doubt, her thousand watt smile had something to do with it. With Garcelle, her friendly persona will win you over, but her acting is what will convince you that you were right to be won over by her charm.
At 5'9", she can just as easily intimidate a man, as make him fall in love with her. But sexy? Oh yes, put a thermometer on her and it will break. She is a major, major babe (sorry all you English profs, there is no other way to describe her). Her work as a model made her job of being on the covers of Ebony and Essence magazines a catwalk. Speaking of catwalks, she was also as well in runway couture shows for Calvin Klein and Isaac Mizrahi.
Among her other notable credits are small roles in Eddie Murphy's Coming to America and in a Michael Mann directed episode of Miami Vice.
Nothing but applause from us and our voting panel. If she could hear us now, we would only say as snobbishly as possible, "Bravo, Garcelle, Bravo." Then, we would fall asleep again and dream a dream that will never come true (that Garcelle is in, of course). Luckily for Garcelle, she has a knack (and body) for catching a photographer's attention. She dresses with sex appeal, and manages to make almost every major entertainment show or magazine's best dressed list. That leads to this earth-shattering thought: Why don't they ever have a "best undressed" list, you know, to change the formula around before it gets stale?
In Good Hands with Bad Company : An interview with Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon
What do Andie McDowell, Renee Russo, and Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon have in common? All three actresses started their careers as models before they became well known for their acting roles. The difference between Garcelle and the other actresses is that she took a different path to get where she’s at now. She spent some time working on her acting range while doing a comedy show on TV, and now she’s on a drama show. With both shows on her resume, it enabled her to get a spot in the new Jerry Bruckheimer film BAD COMPANY, an action pact comedy-drama starring Chris Rock and Sir Anthony Hopkins. In an interview with blackfilm.com, Garcelle talks about the film and the choices she’s made in her life so far.
WM:Can you talk about your character in the film?
GBN: I play Nicole and she’s a CNN reporter. She’s also Chris Rock’s love interest and she comes back in his life to sort of “claim her man” and he’s having a hard time and he’s not falling for all her little tricks and the seductions and you know, he’s fightin’ it. And for good reason.
WM:Did you get to go to Prague? Did you like it a lot?
GBN: It was beautiful. It was absolutely beautiful. It was like nothing I have ever seen really. I mean, the structure and the buildings just phenomenal. My only thing about Prague is I didn’t enjoy the food. Everything was goulash, everything was cheese, really heavy and another interesting aspect is that they don’t have a lot of Black people there. So, it was interesting to be in a place; ‘cause here in America or LA in a big city you don’t think about it on a daily basis; so going there and watching people react you know, differently or whisper or that was you know, wow, right, I’m not in the States, I’m not, you know, it was different.
WM:Can you talk about the big event that occurred just before you went. I mean I am still trying to figure out. You gave up your honeymoon? What happened?
GBN: I got married on Saturday and I was on the plane on Monday to go to Prague without my husband. He came to visit but it’s hard when you are waking up at 5 am to go work to be on your honeymoon, it’s not very sexy (laughter). It just wouldn’t have worked! So we went afterwards. When I got back to the States we went to the Bahamas.
WM:What was his reaction seeing his wife up on that screen in that black sexy towel?
GBN: He’s okay. (Laughter) he’s all right. I mean I have love scenes on NYPD Blue with Henry Simmons and if he can get over that he can get over anything.
WM:Did you know Chris Rock? Did you have any close encounters before?
GBN: Social encounters, never worked together but you know, wanted to and I had to actually read with him for the part. I read with Joel first and then read with Chris.
WM:Okay, so how’d you like working with him?
GBN: He was great. At first I thought, you know, okay a comedian. I’ve worked with comedians in the past and I thought, “Oh, is he going to be on,” is he always going to be…. And with Chris I found that he was really laid back and there was a real guy there. He had quiet moments. He wasn’t always on or had to be always the funny one and I enjoyed that. I thought it was really refreshing.
WM:How was it working with Joel (Schumacher)?
GBN: I love Joel. I’ve always wanted to work with Joel. So, to get to work with him... He’s very nurturing. He made sure that I was okay, you know, really sweet and always had nice stories. I enjoyed the experience. And, what was great with Joel is because he’s so good at what he does that if we did something in two takes we all felt like we had it. We moved on. Which is unheard of, because sometimes you know, you’re doing something ten times and you lose it and you know, the momentum, but he was actually. He was great. I’d do it anytime.
WM:What was that other guy you were with on the set, Sir Anthony?
GBN: Oh, Tony! Tony Hopkins. A consummate actor, just classy. You know. At first I thought it would be very intimidating working with him but he was great. He came on, told everybody to call him Tony; he didn’t have a big entourage, he was just, you know, a regular guy who had a great, great body of work.
WM:Having done NYPD Blue and then doing that kind of subject matter even though your involvement wasn’t in the whole espionage aspect, tell me about the similarities and the differences in doing a cop show and this film?
GBN: I would think the similarities is just the fact that we deal with things that are sort of on the surface with what’s going on in the world and with cops on a daily basis especially after September 11th which is a little touchy subject. I think the fact that the movie has comedy, you know, comedic elements to it and in the end, we win and people can take light of it and it’s not a downer, if you will, it’s a fun ride.
WM:Are you now going to be doing more movies?
GBN: I would like to. I like working on TV ‘cause I have a family. It’s important for me to be home, but, you know, on my hiatus’ if I can squeeze in a movie, better, you know that’s great, but I don’t want to give up my day job. I like my day job.
WM:What is the climate of Hollywood now, with the wins of Halle Berry and Denzel?
GBN: Awesome. It was a great, great night for us. It was a great step forward. I know I was screaming and crying. It was just like, it was just about time. You know. And I hope I can get to the point one day when it’s not so focused on the color of their skin, but just the fact that they’re great actors and they deserve to win. You know, so it’s a stepping stone everyday. We’re getting closer to the goal of being “equal” in this industry. You know, just getting to do good work. That’s what we want to do. It’s not about “oh, we want to be in a Black film or a white film, we just want to be in good films and continue to work.
WM:Is it strange making a movie about terrorism in the aftermath of September 11?
GBN: Well, we actually shot it before but yeah. Absolutely. It’s almost like; it was not a foreshadowing of what, you know, happened. It was just a really touchy time. I knew the movie would get pushed back once everything happened and I knew it wouldn’t go away because it’s funny because it’s also, because it’s a comedic element to it that it wouldn’t just be put on the shelf and never seen.
WM:You went from comedy to NYPD Blue on TV. Did you feel you had to work a little extra harder to prove yourself?
GBN: Oh, yeah. I mean I’ve always had to prove myself. Because one, I started off as a model and people don’t want to take you seriously if you’ve done that. So getting Jaime Foxx was definitely a great thing for me ‘cause I hadn’t done comedy to that extent. But also, then wanting to do something totally different after Jaime Foxx and getting a show like NYPD Blue where everybody knows it’s like actors, actors. You know, it was hard driving on the lot. The first day was very intimidating. My first scene was with Dennis Franz and I thought “he’s going to eat me alive” I’m never going to get out of there and I absolutely had to rise to the occasion.
WM:Are you looking at other scripts for films at this point?
GBN: Yes, I am. I’m looking at all types of things, but I want to do things that I’m not going to regret. I have a boy that I’m raising. I want to do good stuff and I think because I have a day job, I can be picky about what I do so that I don’t have to take anything. You know? So when the right things come along, I’ll work.
WM:What was it like working with Jamie (Foxx)?
GBN: Jamie Foxx? He’s crazy. He’s literally crazy. He was a goofball. I mean he’d come in and you’d have to hear all these stories about what he did over the weekend and some of it you wanted to hear and some of it was like, too much information J. But he’s great and he’s really talented and I’m happy that he gets to show how talented he is. I think “Any Given Sunday” proved that he’s an actor and I think “ALI” is another stepping stone for him and he’s really talented. People just have to give him a shot. You know.
WM:Is there a role out there that you would like to put your footprints into?
GBN: Yeah. I would love to do an action film where I am the bad guy and I get to kick butt. I would love to do a romantic comedy. I just want to, I don’t have to be elite in a movie. If it’s a good character and if it’s a good ensemble cast, that’s all good to me.
WM:Is Hollywood overcoming the stigma that being a model, coming from a beauty world that you won’t be accepted as a serious actress?
GBN: Sure, I think now it’s a little easier because we have women that have made it. But, yeah starting off, people didn’t want to meet with you. You walk into a casting office and you can see them rolling their eyes; like oh, yeah, sure. But you just got to stick to it and keep going to class and proving that you just got to persevere. That’s the bottom line. You just have to keep doing it.
WM:Did you audition for the Jamie Foxx Show?
GBN: Oh, yeah. They had actually they had started to cast the characters and they had seen a bunch of actresses in LA and for some reason they just weren’t happy with what they were getting, so they had another casting session and that’s when I came along. What I found out later, a lot of the actresses felt like, the producers felt like they were competing to be funny with Jamie and I had never really done comedy so I wasn’t competing. I was perfectly happy to let him do his thing and just sort of be the straight man and I think that’s probably why I got the role; is that I didn’t, you know, I could just set him up and he could just go with it.
WM:Who were some of the actress you looked at or you admired growing up?
GBN: I would say the main person would be definitely Diahann Carroll for me. Because I thought she always presented herself as an intelligent woman. As a strong woman and the fact that she was allowed to work and be a beautiful woman at the time where Black women weren’t put in that position. You didn’t get those roles. You were either the maids or something similar. You just didn’t get them. So for me watching her be who she is and being allowed to do her thing was it for me. Diahann Carroll was it.
WM:Any projects lined up?
GBN: Yes. I did a film called “Second String” that comes out next year with Jon Voight, Gil Bellows and Richard T. Jones. I play Richard T. Jones’ wife. It’s a movie about football players and she doesn’t want him to give up. She loves the lifestyle of being the wife of a football player and hanging out with the women and the jewels and the cars and the houses and she doesn’t want to give that up so, she’s a tough cookie.
WM:Is there a role you would not do?
GBN: There are a lot of roles I won’t do. I won’t do anything that’s degrading, I won’t do anything that’s that my son, couldn’t – where it’s embarrassing to him, embarrassing to my family and luckily the fact that I have a day job I can be picky on what I do. There are definitely a lot of things that I have passed on. And having a safety net of having a regular job has helped. If I didn’t have a job and I needed a certain industry, who’s to say.
WM:You’ve worked with a fair amount of comedians. Is there any advice you can give somebody working with comics?
GBN: You just gotta let them go. Cause you never know what they’re going to do. With Jaime Foxx we’d rehearse all week and once the audience came in, his adrenalin just went to another level so you sort of had to go with it. And just wait for a cue. It’s great improv work.
WM:Which is harder, drama or comedy?
GBN: Comedy’s hard because it’s all about timing. Because I was sort of like the straight man. It worked. I like drama. I tend to gravitate more to that.
WM:Do you have another big screen project in the works?
GBN: I’m taking the summer off to be with my family. That’s what I’m doing. I just shot a Neutrogena campaign and it’s the first time they’ve used a Black spokesperson. I just did that and now I’m just going to hang out. Be a wife and a mom.
WM:Why should anyone see BAD COMPANY?
GBN: It’s a fun ride. Anthony Hopkins is a strong actor. You have Chris Rock who’s funny but yet serious and this is a Jerry Brookheimer film. So, run, scream, and jump. It’s all there.
Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon wears a lot of pantsuits on TV's NYPD Blue. What's her offscreen style?
Unlike her tailored, tough-as-nails character, assistant district attorney Valerie Haywood of ABC's hit series, Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon, 36, loves to look ladylike. Off-camera, Beauvais-Nilon has a more feminine fashion flair. "I grew up in a household where women dressed up," says the Haitian-born actress. "I wasn't allowed to wear jeans to school." These days you might find her in jeans, but you can bet they'll be paired with a smart cashmere sweater. For bedtime she favors "cosabella boy shorts and a men's ribbed tank." And her best style moment? A silver Elie Saab dress she wore to the Oscars a few years back. "It was just right on—really beautiful and glamorous."
Garcelle Beauvais: Jammie Foxx Show
On the WB's Jamie Foxx Show, Garcelle Beauvais, 32, plays the object of comedian Foxx's unrequited love. An actress on one of the few shows starring people of color, Beauvais sounds off on the state of television today.
Does the lack of diversity in this fall's TV pilots upset you?
"I'm totally outraged by it. I think in this day and age, for them not to have shows that feature black people is ridiculous. We watch TV. We support the sponsors. We buy the stuff they're selling during the commercials. I don't understand why they wouldn't try to appeal to us as well."
Your idea of the perfect show?
"One where color wouldn't be an issue, where people happened to be black or happened to be white."
You're a single mother. Any advice for other single parents?
"Don't be so hard on yourself. Realize that even if you were in a full family, you wouldn't be able to make it to everything."
How's the L.A. dating scene?
"I've been seeing someone for a year now, but I have to say dating in L.A. is horrible. Everyone is so guarded. I had a lot of Saturday nights where me and my girlfriends would rent movies and eat sushi and say, 'Where are the men?' "
Did you enjoy "seducing" Will Smith in Wild, Wild West?
"I got to make out with Will for 14 hours. It was a lot of fun."
Did he make you laugh?
"Oh, yes. We were in a big tank of water and in between shots the two of us would stay in it. There were tons of people around us and he was cracking jokes."
Garcelle Beauvais: Double Take
Daryl Chase (Orlando Jones) has it all -- a fine NYC apartment, designer suits, a prestigious job with a Wall Street Banking firm, a runway-model girlfriend named Chloe Kitt (Garcelle Beauvais), and a super-competent assistant (Vivica A. Fox) who anticipates his every need. But for all his worldly goods and breezy confidence, Daryl's got another thing coming, in the form of con man Freddy Tiffany (Eddie Griffin). Appearing first as a sidewalk breakdancer, wearing the requisite bright orange tracksuit and busting his moves outside Daryl's swank condo, Freddy improbably begins popping up repeatedly throughout the banker's well-ordered day ("This is some easy-ass shit!," he exclaims, on seeing the office, "Your fancy furniture and what-not!"). This day and Daryl's comfy lifestyle are breaking down seriously, and according to some familiar, if barmy, devices. By the time Daryl is assaulted by a Mexican hitman and on the run from the NYPD, you see where this movie is headed: the out-of-touch rich guy will get his comeuppance at the hands of his new acquaintance.
Indeed, Double Take is, for the most part, just what it looks like. If you've seen Bad Boys, Rush Hour, Blue Streak, or even 1988's Midnight Run (not incidentally, written by Double Take's writer-director, George Gallo), you've seen most everything this movie has to offer -- undercover missions and mistaken identities, bad cops and sneering drug dealers, psycho mafiosos and inept feds, competing egos and big guns, barely-clad beautiful women and some more big guns. Even the "twists" are routine: it won't surprise anyone that these nascent buddies aren't entirely who they appear to be, and their ostensibly unrelated dilemmas are actually closely connected.
At the same time, and as its title suggests, Double Take is a film that asks you to look again. And it does have a few tricks up its sleeve (emphasis on few). For one thing, it has an unlikely source. It's based on a 1957 drama starring Rod Steiger, Across the Bridge, which was in turn based on a Graham Greene novel. From this foundation, Double Take lifts basic plot elements, mostly having to do with Daryl taking Freddy's identity in order to flee to Mexico, where, he learns, Freddy is himself a wanted man. And why is Daryl going to Mexico? Here you have to bear with the script's many implausibilities -- after the Mexican hitman episode, he's advised by a CIA agent named McReady (Gary Grubbs), who has conveniently appeared to save him from the hitman, to go to Mexico. In an understandable panic-- as he notes, he's a black man being hunted by the cops in Manhattan -- Daryl agrees. He leaves Chloe and his credit cards behind and tries to board a train from Penn Station (that's right, a train to Mexico). At the station, he spots evil-looking suits everywhere, so when he (again!) runs into Freddy, who notes right away that Daryl looks scared: "You got the NYPD-shoot-a-nigger-41-times-in-the-ass look!" Just so, Daryl pleads with Mr. Streetwise to help him scam his way South. At Freddy's suggestion, they exchange clothes and IDs, at which point Freddy starts teaching Daryl how to walk and talk "black" ("Put a little pep in your step!"). The switch allows the actors to imitate each other's characters: Griffin does the Harvard-educated, suave and snooty executive, and Jones acts the foul-mouthed, crotch-grabbing, gold-toothed fool. The switch leads to a number of outsized comic exercises, including the challenge that Daryl issues to a nonplussed dining car waiter, in the scene running in the film's omnipresent ads: "What!?! No Schlitz Malt Liquor!? You ain't representin'! You ain't keepin' it rrreeeaaal!"
Strangely, in a movie that so conspicuously flouts reality -- there's really not a reasonable plot turn or believable physical stunt in sight -- this question of keeping it real ends up being front and center. Certainly, the question of what constitutes a genuine "black" identity has come up a lot in mainstream movies and TV, especially in relation to class (Livin' Large, Strictly Business, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air were early, notorious attempts to ask this question). In its own irreverent and frankly preposterous way, Double Take expands the parameters of this question, by revealing that any reality, in any culture and any movie genre, comes down to a matter of accepted conventions. What's "real" is what's believed and accepted at the moment, usually by the people with the power to enforce what they believe. The point that Double Take makes is this: once you throw the conventions out the window, all bets are off. And then anything can pass for real, even Freddy's patently absurd interpretations of events and unlikely master-spy abilities.
This is not to say that Double Take holds together as anything resembling a realistic film. It does not. Irreverent and silly, it careens between being a not-very-suspenseful thriller and a broadly slapstick comedy, piling up all the usual action scenes, including the car chase, the shoot-out, the exploding truck, the assault by a team of sweaty, mustachioed Mexican border guards (though I will say that, compared to the last two U.S. movies I've seen set in Mexico, Traffic and All the Pretty Horses, Double Take may be least offensive regarding such stereotypes, precisely because it is so hyper-conscious of them as stereotypes). Double Take accelerates these predictable moments until they reach a kind of hyper-real warp speed (Malcolm Campbell's editing in these scenes is breakneck) and sets them to an appropriately bizarre, wha-wha '70s-style score by Graeme Revell.
At the center of all this ruckus are the entirely unbelievable protagonists, whom Jones and Griffin more or less keep afloat by sheer force of will and a decent chemistry between them. While Jones has obvious mainstream appeal (even if you are sick to death of those obnoxious 7-Up commercials), the lesser known Eddie Griffin may be a harder sell for a Touchstone marketing campaign -- though again, judging by the deluge of ads, it appears they've reached a strategy). And Griffin does some with a fanbase who love his spastic comedy and undeniable electricity on screen, all underscored by Jones' well-timed straight-man reactions. That all their feuding will lead to a solid partnership is, of course, the film's foregone conclusion. Since Daryl is the one learning the righteous lesson, to trust his fellow black man, the film reassures viewers early on that Freddy is worthy. In particular, he has a straight-up weird but also adorable affection for a fluffy white doggie named Delores, who loves him in return. Their relationship is both cute (repeated shots of her tippy-tippying on her little toenails) and crude (repeated occasions where she's referred to as a "bitch" or Freddy's "little white girlfriend"), a mix that unexpectedly humanizes Freddy, while again, demonstrating that reality is probably overrated.
Garcelle Beauvais: Bad Company
Chris Rock first appears in Bad Company playing Kevin, a self-consciously suave, designer-suited, Harvard-educated CIA agent. Here he is in Prague, setting up a deal to purchase a thermonuclear device from Vas (Peter Stormare), whom you know is untrustworthy because he's flanked by Eurotrashy thugs and speaks with the corniest of movie-Russian accents. Kevin himself appears to be just this side of shady, too, but it's hard to tell if he's supposed to be acting so stiffly and unconvincingly, or if this is Rock's idea of Bondish urbanity.
By the time Kevin's mentor-partner, the top-coated Gaylord Oakes (Anthony Hopkins), arrives on the scene, it's clear that the deal will not be going down quite as planned. That is, the action was slowing down, just 4 minutes into the movie. I was kind of hoping that Blade would come slamming in the front door to sort things out, but no, these jet-setting secret agent types are more nuanced than that. After a few harrumphs and menacing glances, they agree to meet again with cash and device in hand. Kevin and Oakes part ways on the dark street outside; a funeral procession happens by, mournful chorus included. Gee, you think that maybe trouble is brewing?
Cut to the chase, literally: Kevin is pursued by masked assassins in a car, who actually don't catch him, even though he's running uphill. (Apparently, phenomenal running skills are in favor over at the CIA: by the end of Bad Company, Oakes -- played by Anthony Hopkins, mind you -- will be sprinting three blocks in downtown NYC to track down a nuclear bomb.) No matter his speed: the heroic and noble Kevin doesn't want to "compromise the mission," and throws himself over Oakes when still another shooter in a helicopter. Oakes then spends the rest of the film feeling guilty about the whole business.
Not guilty enough, however, to stop him from recruiting Kevin's twin brother Jake (also played by Chris Rock) to stand in for dead brother during the last crucial moments of this nuclear deal, in order to trap Dragan (Matthew Marsh), the man who killed Kevin and is trying to buy or steal the device from Vas. Dragan is, by the way, a terrorist (of the Eastern-Euro variety), which means that shortly, the bomb will be in play, the President will be at the Superbowl, and Ben Affleck will be choppering in to deliver coordinates and... Oh no. That was last week's pushed-back-from-fall-2001-terrorist-threat-movie. This week's is simultaneously less and more, less explosive and more preposterous, less self-important and more cynical. If you can assume the inanity -- Pookie as a CIA operative -- perhaps you'll have an easier go of it.
The jokes, tepid as they are, start coming almost as soon as Kevin's dead, as Oakes' somber face cuts to Kevin's twin brother, Jake, a speed-chess hustler/ticket scalper. Working a couple of scams in Washington Square Park, he's certainly less ridiculous than Kevin, and so, more inviting as your point of identification, not least because he cops an attitude toward the CIA, at least at the beginning. His obnoxiousness is framed, in part, by his clichéd projects background ("We were so poor," he quips, "we used to lick food stamps for dinner"). How lucky for Jake that his brother -- whom he never knew existed, as they were orphaned at birth and sent off to different foster homes -- has been brutally murdered. How tedious, though, for you, as Rock appears to be recycling ideas from Down to Earth, a movie that everyone would honestly rather forget.
This premise -- the class-and-race-based fish-out-of-water business -- is obviously far-fetched (and so the source of some vague comedy), and gets a pseudo-boost from the fact that he's desperate for cash money because his amazing girlfriend Julie (played by the amazing Kerry Washington, who needs to be doing more than playing distressed damsel-bait, which she inevitably becomes in this movie) is leaving him for a new job and old boyfriend in Seattle. To convince her to stay, Jake takes the CIA gig for $100,000 (evidently, he's not quite so savvy as he supposes, to settle for this piddly sum), even though, of course, he can't tell her what he's doing because you never tell your girlfriend what you're doing when you're in a movie like this.
And what exactly is a movie "like this"? Somewhere long a continuum of the standard black-white buddy flick (in which staid white partner learns to live again from wisecracking black partner); La Femme Nikita (where the incredibly naturally gifted young secret agent in training is not apprised of anything that's at stake, including impending death and threats to his loved ones) and Bait or Enemy of the State (where the target of an surveillance operation is a young black man who is, by definition, on the run from whatever generally oppressive and specially abusive system you want to imagine -- cops, CIA, terrorists).
The point of Bad Company -- which title refers to what, exactly? The CIA? Kevin's friends? Jake's friends? Anthony Hopkins' management? -- appears to be that through his extraordinary trials, Jake will learn to be a better person (better husband material, better sequel material, better son material for his foster mom, played by typecast Irma P. Hall), because he will know how to select wine, appreciate classical music ("You mean like Run-DMC?" he asks), and, no doubt, run fast and hard and ever-impressively.
Directed by Joel Schumacher and produced by the overextended Jerry Bruckheimer (please! take a breath), the movie slides quickly down its slippery illogical slope. Once Jake learns his super-agent etiquette and passes as Kevin in his fancy NYC apartment house, he's shipped off to Prague to meet with Vas. Surprise, no one tells him that Kevin's girl is there, and so he walks into his hotel suite there to find the luscious Nicole (Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon), a CNN reporter from whom he must hide his secret, lest she bust his cover. She works very hard to seduce him -- lingerie in the boudoir, bare foot in his crotch at dinner, deep tongue kissing in the hallway, and oh yes, showering at his place -- but he is Chris Rock and this is a comedy-action picture, so the liaison ends in silly efforts to escape thugs carrying loud and large automatic weapons by falling down a laundry chute (and how many action-pix have used this tired bit of business?).
Enter Oakes and his smoothly efficient crew of computer geeks and cold-blooded killers, including pretty boy Seale (Gabriel Macht) and the apparently irrelevant Swanson (Brooke Smith, here turned into Queen of Reaction Shots; she has only three lines of dialogue, but lots of stern looks, plus a perversely undeveloped romance with Oakes). This particular rescue allows Hopkins a remarkably Eastwoodian moment, as Oakes arrives on the scene, chewing gum while shooting an enemy dead.
But such tilting toward cool comes to naught, as Rock concurrently works overtime to maintain a loony-tunes affect (screaming during the inevitable car chase, ducking during numerous shoot-outs, cracking wise during a completely incongruous got-girls-in-my-swank-hotel-room scene, under Roy Orbison's "Oh, Pretty Woman"). The fact that Bad Company was postponed after 9-11 suggests that the distributors were for a moment sensitive to questions of taste, ironic twisting, and timing. Now, while the subject matter might be less immediately traumatic, the twisting has turned painful. Bad Company's unwieldy mix of genres and rhythms makes everyone look uncomfortable. However hard Rock and Hopkins work to make sense of the very tired black-white/young-old/ironic-earnest buddy formula, Bad Company's timing is still off.