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About The Production
Writer/director/executive producer Malcolm D. Lee has long been interested in developing a Southern American family comedy to play out on the big screen. The filmmaker made his mark with 1999’s sleeper hit The Best Man and has since taken moviegoers from comedies such as a ’70s spy spoof with an agent named Undercover Brother to the coming-of-age story Roll Bounce. As he began to create the story of Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, however, he knew he would have to blend the humor that comes from going home with the drama that follows the fact that it’s no longer where you want to live.

Of his inspiration to create Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, Lee recalls that he wanted to write a film “about returning home and figuring out all the things that a man ran from as a child—things that actually made him a stronger person.” When he imagined a Southerner named Roscoe Jenkins, he knew he would start this character’s development as the stage-named “RJ Stevens, a talk-show host who’s got a very outrageous show. He’s lost his moral compass and hasn’t been home in nine years.”

Working with Lee on this project was producer Charles Castaldi. Their collaboration began when Malcolm Lee’s cousin, director Spike Lee, notified Castaldi that the burgeoning filmmaker was moving to Los Angeles and that the producer should take a look at his work. After attending a screening of Lee’s first film, Morningside Prep, Castaldi was eager to collaborate with the writer/director, and he worked with him on the story for the breakout hit The Best Man. Two years ago, Lee partnered with Castaldi to sell Lee’s script of Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins to Universal Pictures.

During his tenure as head of production at Universal, producer Scott Stuber had worked with Lee on both The Best Man and Undercover Brother. After he and producing partner Mary Parent opened their production studio, Stuber-Parent Productions, Lee and Castaldi sent them the script.

Remembers Stuber: “I thought it was a terrific screenplay. It was the first thing Malcolm had written since The Best Man. While the film is a really broad comedy, his voice keeps it rooted in something universal—the themes that come with how your relationship with your family evolves when you are grown and living your adult life.” Stuber particularly liked the fact that Lee wrote the role of RJ with actor Martin Lawrence in mind. “What was also attractive was an ensemble movie with a great lead character in RJ for Martin Lawrence, full of real people and real family we all know.”

Adds Castaldi, “Martin is somebody who understands what the Hollywood world has to offer, along with the importance of keeping grounded and staying connected to your family.”

Once the film was optioned by Universal, Lee sent the script to Lawrence’s office in hopes that he would sign on to the project. Lawrence was attracted to the idea that the role of the arrogant self-help guru offered not only comedy, but heartfelt drama. Impressed with the story, Lawrence met Lee for dinner and readily came aboard. Recalls Lawrence, “Malcolm’s really passionate about his work. We’re the team, but I call him ‘Coach,’ because he most definitely knows how to run a team.”

Casting Lawrence was something that had been in the minds of the producers from the beginning. Says Stuber: “Martin was someone we talked about all along; he’s obviously a terrific comedian. Between his incredible facial expressions and his perfect, yet original, comic timing, he is at the top of his game.”

In the story, Dr. RJ Stevens has taken America by storm, but he has turned his back on his roots…and his given surname in the proces

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