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Casting The Film
Cast in the role of Mamma Jenkins was Academy Award® nominee Margaret Avery, famously known for her landmark role as the sultry Shug in Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple. Offers Lee, "Mamma Jenkins was written on the page to be kind of a sassy black woman. But after Margaret Avery came in, it was as if a light bulb went off. She grounded the character so much; she gave it so much dignity.”

Avery found combining the emotional drama of a woman who hasn't seen her son in years with the comedic one-liners always present in a Martin Lawrence film a formidable task. "She is a little different, and the challenge was that she has a lot of one- liners,” reflects Avery. "For me, it's easier to memorize a monologue than it is to figure out how to do that one line, because one line has to say a lot. It was a lot more homework for me.”

Lee believed legendary actor James Earl Jones to be the perfect actor to embody the attributes of the family's patriarch, Papa Jenkins; he pursued Jones for the film. "Papa Jenkins had to be somebody who would command a presence,” notes Lee. "Somebody that everybody would have to respect, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes.”

Jones appreciated the authenticity of RJ's family, and according to the actor, RJ's perceived problems with his family are reminiscent of many others. "What family doesn't have—especially among the male children—some unresolved problems, usually competition?” Jones offers. "Somebody lost out. And boy, you could spend the rest of your life making up for that.”

Michael Clarke Duncan was cast to play RJ's solid rock of a brother, Otis, who— after an injury sidelined his professional football career—remained behind in the country to become a pillar of the community. Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins gave Duncan a chance to work with Martin Lawrence for the first time in 10 years. They had previously spent time together…though not as actors. "I haven't worked with Martin, or for him, since I worked the television show Martin. I was security over there, and I hadn't seen him in a while. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity for us to get back together.”

Commends the writer/director, "Michael Clarke Duncan is one of the funniest people in this movie, and he's always ready to come up with something funny. He sometimes improvises more than the comedians, and his size alone intimidates you, just like his character Otis.”

It wasn't difficult to decide which actor to cast in the role of Betty, RJ's sassy and sexually charged sister; Lee wrote the script with comedienne Mo'Nique in mind. "She has been nothing short of spectacular in this film,” says Lee of his Betty. "She can always add something to [her lines]…and sometimes she'll go too far. It's easy to pull her back, because she's so creative. She's so funny, and she has no inhibitions whatsoever. When you're looking to cast a role as outrageous as Betty, she's the perfect fit.”

Of her character, Mo'Nique comments, "Betty is the only sister, which makes her the spoiled one. She's very opinionated and aggressive. She fights her brothers with no apology; she fights their girlfriends with no apology. Betty's a fighter, but you love her, because Betty is the person that says it all. She holds her tongue for nothing and nobody. She's the person everybody wants to be, but is too afraid to be. She loves her brothers; she loves her Otis; she loves her Roscoe.”

In fact, the relationship Michael Clarke Duncan's character has with his sister mirrors the one the actor has with his real-life sister. "We still argue like Betty and I do. There's absolutely no difference. You're still not above them at all; they let you know it every day.”

Comedian Cedric the Entertainer was tasked with playing RJ's competitive cousin (and lifelong nemesis), Clyde. Clyde and RJ had<

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