Regina Hall is without doubt one of Hollywood’s queens of comedy.
While that status was solidified when Hall was named a co-host of the 2022 Oscars telecast alongside standup stalwarts Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes, it has been decades in the works.
The 51-year-old Washington, D.C., native made her screen debut as exotic dancer in 1999’s The Best Man, broke out in a big way with her scene-stealing turn as mouthy moviegoer Brenda in 2000’s Scary Movie, and has reliably delivered laughs in comedies like Malibu’s Most Wanted (2003), First Sunday (2008), Think Like a Man (2012) and Girls Trip (2017) ever since.
And Hall's dramatic range has especially been on display in more recent years. She earned some of the best reviews of her career for the 2018 indie-that-could Support the Girls, appeared in the powerful #BlackLivesMatter drama The Hate U Give the same year, and was one of the highlights of 2021’s Nicole Kidman-lead wellness-gone-wrong ensemble Nine Perfect Strangers.
This week’s mindful slow-burn horror thriller Master marks yet another departure for Hall, who in the past has bemoaned Hollywood’s tendency to box her into comedies. She plays the newly appointed “master” of a residence hall at an elite New England university who unravels the institution’s dark and troubled past.
“Every role has its own unique thing. I don’t know that I necessarily see comedy [or] drama, they’re not so different to me,” Hall tells us. “The interpretation of the material is different … but it’s not as different as its perceived.”
In our new episode of Role Recall (watch above), Hall shares memories from the making of some of her most popular projects. Some highlights:
On drinking during her audition for The Best Man:
“I was very nervous, and not being a dancer and then the other girls really being able to dance, and having to feel so exposed … [I drank] a little Alizé … a whole bottle. But what's crazy is I had a whole bottle of Alizé, but then when I started it all went away. I guess the adrenaline just dried up all the alcohol. You must really need a lot to [lose your inhibitions].”
On the rumor that she got her Scary Movie role after late singer Aaliyah turned it down:
“I wasn't aware that Aaliyah turned it down. I was aware that originally Christina Milian was [director Keenen Ivory Wayans’s] choice. But at that point, Brenda, she wasn't Brenda yet. That character was actually supposed to be kind of a snooty character. … When I read the script, I didn't interpret it that way for whatever reason. And so I actually got another part, which was [Shawn Wayans’s] cousin, and the cousin came to visit and he took her to the movies. They decided to take Brenda and make that one role.”
On joining Ally McBeal as she was cracking jokes about star Calista Flockhart’s weight in Scary Movie 2:
“It’s funny because we were shooting Scary Movie 2 right when I started simultaneously [on Ally McBeal]. So it hadn't come out yet. But I did say, ‘Yeah, it's all in [good humor].’ … I did [say something to Keenen] about it. I was like, ‘Wait a minute.’ But you know, he was like, ‘The show must go on.’”
On the surprisingly broad appeal of Girls Trip, which became a major box-office hit.
“I thought people would like it. I probably thought that it would have a more specific core audience as opposed to resonating with as many people as it did. I was really happy when men went to see it. I know a lot of men were like, ‘I didn't wanna see it. My girlfriend made me see it’ or ‘my wife made me see it’ or somebody made 'em see it. But I was happy that they found it funny and enjoyable. It had a larger audience than maybe I thought in the beginning.
“I'm always surprised by how many white women were like, ‘I saw Girls Trip.’ … All of them had a character [they related to], all of them have that friend group. I think that's what's so crazy is you realize people are just alike in so many ways, you know what I mean?”
Master is now streaming on Amazon Prime.
— Video produced by Anne Lilburn and edited by John Santo
Watch the Master trailer: