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

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.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Dreamworks Abominable

    'Abominable' Release in Malaysia to be Abandoned

    Plans to release the increasingly controversial Chinese-U.S. co-produced animation film “Abominable” in Malaysia have been dropped, after the distributor said that it would not be cut. The film includes a scene which depicts a map showing the South China Sea and the so called ‘nine dash line’ which China uses claim to most of the [...]

  • Hui He

    RAI Com Takes World Sales on Italy/China Doc About Star Soprano Hui He (EXCLUSIVE)

    Italy’s RAI Com has taken world sales on high-profile documentary “Hui He, the Soprano From the Silk Road,” which is about the personal and artistic journey of one of the world’s leading sopranos and also marks a milestone Italian-Chinese co-production. Hui He was born and trained as a singer in the Chinese city of Xi’an, [...]

  • Bruce Springsteen arrives for the New

    Bruce Springsteen Returns to NJ Hometown for Surprise 'Western Stars' Introduction

    Bruce Springsteen returned to his hometown of Freehold, New Jersey to offer a surprise introduction to the first public multiplex viewing of his concert/documentary film, “Western Stars.” Dressed simply in a brown jacket, Springsteen took a moment to say a few words at the AMC Freehold 14 movie theater on Saturday night. “We knew we [...]

  • Backstage in Puglia del film SPACCAPIETRE:

    'Gomorrah' Star Salvatore Esposito Set For De Serio Twins' 'The Stonebreaker'

    Salvatore Esposito, the Italian star who plays young mob boss Genny Savastano in Italy’s hit TV series “Gomorrah,” will soon be hitting the big screen toplining upcoming drama “The Stonebreaker” by twin directorial duo Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio, who are known internationally for “Seven Acts of Mercy.” The De Serio twins are now in post on “Stonebreaker” [...]

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    Box Office: 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Tops 'Joker,' 'Zombieland'

    “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is on track to give Disney another first place finish after scoring $12.5 million in Friday’s domestic ticket sales. If estimates hold, the Angelina Jolie-led film should finish the weekend with about $38 million — well below earlier forecasts but enough to top holdover “Joker” and fellow newcomer “Zombieland: Double Tap.” [...]

  • Maelle Arnaud

    Lumière Chief Programmer Maelle Arnaud: 'Film History Doesn't Have Parity'

    LYON, France   — As the Lumière Institute’s head programmer since 2001, Maelle Arnaud helped launched the Lumière Festival in 2009 and has watched it grow in international esteem over the decade that followed. This year, the festival ran 190 films across 424 screenings in theaters all over town. The festival will come to a [...]

  • Girl with Green Eyes

    Talking Pictures TV: Bringing the Past Back to Life in the U.K.

    LYON, France – Since its launch in 2015, Talking Pictures TV has become the fastest-growing independent channel in the U.K. with a growing library of British film and TV titles that span five decades, according to founder Noel Cronin. Noel Cronin attended the Lumière Festival’s International Classic Film Market (MIFC) in Lyon, France, where he [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content