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Why Taraji P. Henson Is the ‘Comedy Love Baby of Carol Burnett and Will Smith’

Taraji P. Henson'What Men Want' film
Rob Latour/Variety/REX/Shutterst

Taraji P. Henson not only stars in the movie “What Men Want,” but she says she does indeed know what men want.

“The same things women want,” Henson told Variety at the movie’s premiere on Monday night in Los Angeles. “Especially in a relationship. They want peace, quiet, they want food, they want unconditional love, trust, respect. That’s what we all want, right?”

Henson stars in the comedy, a gender-swapped remake of the 2000 movie starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt, as a sports agent who is able to read men’s minds after suffering a head injury. The PG-13 film includes several bedroom romps between Henson and her male co-stars.

“I just remember how uncomfortable they are,” Henson said. “It’s never fun doing those. I mean, it was better because it wasn’t romantical — I made that word up, romantical.”

“Twilight” alum Kellan Lutz plays a character named “Captain F—ktastic.” “I’m one of her love interests,” he said. “She put on the lipstick thick every take. I just had red all over my face — in the best ways.”

While Henson may not be known for comedic roles, director Adam Shankman proclaimed the Oscar nominee as “the comedy love baby of Carol Burnett and Will Smith.”

“She is fearless,” he said. “She does not care about looking foolish. She is physical. She’s just straight up courage. She’ll do anything, but she brings depth to it all. That’s what’s crazy—she brings depth to all of it.”

Producer Will Packer said he was approached by Paramount about heading up the remake. “Literally, there was nobody who came to mind other than Taraji P. Henson,” he said. “I know her as a comedic force of nature. A lot of people think of her for her dramatic roles because she’s amazing at it. But I know how funny she is and I know she’s been dying to do a comedy and this is the one. I’m glad I’m a part of her comedy coming out party.”

Erykah Badu appears in the movie as a psychic. “The last day I was with her, she was very tired and sleepy,” the singer said about working with Henson. “She was a trooper. She was just floating, just deliriously floating through and she nailed it every time. I learned so much from watching her and the other cast members. I’m new in this arena [but] comedy is my first love and I hope to do a lot more.”