Courtesy of Frank Masi
"For an action figure, it's pretty damn good," Marlon Wayans says of the buff figurine modeled in his likeness to promote (and merchandise the hell out of) G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. "It's a little darker than I am—looks like Eddie Murphy and I had a kid. But it's still handsome."
It's not like the youngest Wayans brother is on familiar ground, though. His signature parts in White Chicks, Little Man, and Scary Movie were never meant to be immortalized in hard plastic. Yet here he is, the summer's unlikeliest action star: a rubber-faced goof who packed on 25 pounds of muscle to play Ripcord, battling Cobra and flexing his pecs alongside Channing Tatum. "I had a stuntman, but [director] Stephen Sommers doesn't believe in them," Wayans says. "So he had me dangling off a 20-story crane in 90-mile-per-hour gusts. My mother told me not to do dumb shit like that—and for once in my life I wished I'd listened to her.
Wayans' career could have taken this turn much earlier: He was cast as Robin in 1992's Batman Returns but was subsequently written out of the script. When that fell through, he went to work for the family business: writing for In Living Color, starring in the sitcom The Wayans Bros., and churning out a string of what he affectionately calls "broad comedies." His assertion that those parts added to his "versatility" might seem laughable if not for the fact that he displayed serious chops portraying a junkie in Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream, a performance hailed as much for its depth and vulnerability as for its utter improbability. "When people saw me do Requiem, they said, 'What the fuck is the dude from the WB doing in this?'"
Wayans hopes G.I. Joe will be another small step toward convincing people there's more to him than his sight-gag comedies. For the time being he's on "spoof hiatus," and his goal is to follow the father of his action-figure love child: "I want to do what Eddie Murphy did in Beverly Hills Cop. How genius is it that one guy can tell the jokes, shoot the bad guy, save the day, get the girl—and you just love him for it?"
G.I. Joe trailer