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NORBIT

Putting The Pieces Together (Continued)
Casting the three outrageous and dim-witted Latimore brothers, the filmmakers needed just the right combination of talented actors. As the town bullies who wreak havoc on the little town of Boiling Springs, Tennessee, these actors needed to not only create individual, comedic characters, but to be convincing as a family – albeit unconventional and gangsta-like – unit. 

Terry Crews, best known for his current role in the hit series "Everybody Hates Chris,” was cast to play Big Jack. On the surface, as Crews explains the character, he just wants to be taken seriously. But like a bull in a china shop, Big Jack intimidates the townspeople as he and his brothers extort money from the initially timid group.

"I was in the NFL for seven years, so I knew a lot of Big Jacks,” Crews begins with a smile. "There were Big Jacks everywhere. You go to the club, Big Jack walked in. You know what I mean? And I did base this character on a few people that I knew who scared the hell out of me. When I was coming up, there were people who had no clue that what they were saying offended everybody.”

With a strong background in improvisational theater, a long list of playing "heavies” as well as appearing in such comedic classics as "Friday After Next” and "Next Friday,” Clifton Powell was hand-picked by Eddie Murphy to inhabit the character of brother Earl. Playing the oldest, and yet smallest Latimore brother, Powell had great fun pulling from his diverse background to create his character.

"My co-stars are ex-football players,” comments Powell, "and I have been doing this a long time. So I think my presence, in general, is just very strong. That's why they cast me against these guys. When you are playing against these huge guys, you have to have a strong presence. I know how to turn it on and turn it off.”

As the "baby” brother, 6ft 6in., 305 lbs. ex-professional football player Lester "Rasta” Speight was cast as Blue. By far the biggest, most muscular brother, Rasta and director Robbins worked out a surprising personality trait for this bruiser – a Mike Tyson-inspired lisp.

"At first Brian wanted something like a high pitch, like Mike Tyson,” laughs Rasta. "But then we brought it down to my natural voice, but just a little higher. And then that seemed to fit better because we didn't want to make it too cartoonish.”

Powell, Crews and Speight had no trouble working as a cohesive unit. Both on screen and off, the three actors were in sync and enjoyed each other's camaraderie.

"The chemistry was there right from the beginning,” comments Speight. "Everybody just knew their part, knew what they needed to do, and it just came together. Because if the chemistry's not there, then it's not working, and then you know it's kind of flat. But not here, this is going to be hysterical.”

Adding to the hysterics on and off the set are Eddie Griffin and Katt Williams, two comedians/rappers who team up to play the retired pimps, Pope Sweet Jesus and Lord Have Mercy. Having turned over a new leaf, the two are proprietors of the local Rib Shak. Pope Sweet Jesus (Griffin) and Lord Have Mercy (Williams) are brought to life with riotous humor. 

As Williams notes, "The chemistry is already there. So it was just a fortunate situation for me. I mean I'm in an Eddie Murphy movie, with Eddie Griffin.”

"I've known Katt for a few years,” adds Griffin. "I like to call him a protégé. Let's put it like this, they couldn't have picked a better Lord Have Mercy.”

"I've never been around comedians like this,” Newton says about her co-stars. "I always thought comedians were supposed to be depressed people. These guys just want to make you laugh. They just have an effuse happiness, silliness and lightheartedness. They just want t

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