‚ÄúThere she is!,‚ÄĚ Maya Rudolph practically squealed with glee when Tiffany Haddish began to break it down at the 2018 Academy Awards in March. Outside of Frances McDormand‚Äôs impassioned ‚Äúinclusion rider‚ÄĚ speech, it was the highlight of the night, prompting many to imagine a Rudolph/Haddish buddy comedy, not the least of which included Paul Thomas Anderson. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs a combustible combination, the two of them,‚ÄĚ Anderson told the L.A. Times¬†at the time, confirming he and Haddish had been talking about working together. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs what you dream of as a director.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúI haven‚Äôt talked to him in a while, I‚Äôve been busy,‚ÄĚ Haddish told IndieWire when asked about the status of the Anderson project. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm going to call him tonight. Just because you said that, I‚Äôm going to call him right when we finish.‚ÄĚ
She needs to make that call; we need her to make that call. Haddish was on her way to the premiere of her new film, ‚ÄúThe Oath,‚ÄĚ a clunky political comedy written and directed by Ike Barinholtz, best known for his work on ‚ÄúThe Mindy Project.‚ÄĚ Haddish plays supportive wife Kai to Barinholtz‚Äôs Chris, a broad caricature of a left-leaning news junkie. A consummate scene-stealer, Haddish manages to eke out a few laughs from a slew of disappointed-wife routines. (There‚Äôs a lot of: ‚ÄúCan I talk to you in the other room for a second?‚ÄĚ)
‚ÄúThe Oath‚ÄĚ sets up an alternate dystopian reality (just close enough to our current one to be sufficiently unnerving), in which the government has demanded all citizens sign a loyalty oath to the White House. Produced by Sean McKittrick (‚ÄúGet Out‚ÄĚ), ‚ÄúThe Oath‚ÄĚ clearly reaches for dark satirical heights but ultimately falls far short.
As political tensions rise, the comedy devolves, and a Thanksgiving argument ends in a bloody hostage situation. Haddish needed no training for the bone-crunching fight scenes. ‚ÄúI didn‚Äôt have to do a lot of those, ‚Äôcause I already know how to fight,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúYou forgot where I‚Äôm from, huh? I‚Äôm from South Central, girl.‚ÄĚ
When asked about her own feelings about the current president, Haddish demurred. ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt feel nothing. I was always taught that if you don‚Äôt have nothing nice to say, don‚Äôt say nothing at all,‚ÄĚ she said, saying something. ‚ÄúHis hair has been looking good lately though.¬†I want to know who do his weave. His hair is popping.‚ÄĚ
In the Kevin Hart vehicle ‚ÄúNight School,‚ÄĚ opening this weekend, Haddish‚Äôs infectious magic is confined again to playing the straight woman. Haddish plays a teacher in ‚ÄúNight School,‚ÄĚ another woman whose job it is to nag a man, boss him around, and ultimately ‚ÄĒ help him grow. Once again, Haddish in her brilliance, manages to squeeze a personality into tough-as-nails Carrie, and she finds a far better scene partner in Hart than in Barinholtz.
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
Like Kai, Carrie is the sensible, responsible, mature one. The same could be said for her character in the Tracy Morgan TV series, ‚ÄúThe Last O.G.,‚ÄĚ though she is able to flex a bit more comedic muscle there. (‚ÄúNobody‚Äôs Fool,‚ÄĚ a new Tyler Perry movie out in November, appears to play more to Haddish‚Äôs strengths.)
Her three biggest roles this year are nothing like her ‚ÄúGirls Trip‚ÄĚ character, Dina, the wildly unhinged party girl who singlehandedly made that movie the highest-grossing comedy of 2017.¬† Of course, Haddish and her team may want to show dramatic range, to avoid getting pigeonholed into playing knockoff Dinas for the rest of her career. They seem to have over-corrected, but Haddish said she likes playing straight characters, and gave a broad description of the kinds of projects she turns down.
‚ÄúI say ‚Äėno‚Äô to projects that don‚Äôt resonate with my soul. Don‚Äôt make me feel that good,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúI still like projects that seem to have a lot of heart, and be funny if it‚Äôs going to be a comedy, and if it‚Äôs going to be a drama it needs to captivate me, and really just resonate with my spirit. Everything don‚Äôt do that.‚ÄĚ
We may have to wait until next fall for the great dramatic ascendance of Tiffany Haddish, serious actress. In ‚ÄúThe Kitchen,‚ÄĚ she stars opposite Elisabeth Moss and Melissa McCarthy as three mob wives who take up their husbands‚Äô places when they get locked up. Set in the 1970s and directed by ‚ÄúStraight Outta Compton‚ÄĚ scribe Andrea Berloff, Haddish praised McCarthy as a ‚Äúphenomenal actress,‚ÄĚ adding ‚ÄúI¬†can‚Äôt wait for the world to see it.‚ÄĚ
As for the future, Haddish has a few ideas about the ideal project: ‚ÄúI would love to do Mystery Girl, or play Wonder Woman‚Äôs sister, ‚Äôcause she has a sister. In the 1978 issue of ‚ÄėWonder Woman,‚Äô she has a sister named Nubia. She has a black sister. Only person that could kill her. They don‚Äôt tell you that though, too much,‚ÄĚ she said, adding: ‚ÄúMe and Gal Gadot. That would be sold out.‚ÄĚ