In a rough year for studio comedies, Girls Trip brings some welcome relief, delivering major laughs, a $30 million opening weekend, and a breakout star. Stand-up comedian Tiffany Haddish plays Dina, the loose cannon in a group of now-older college friends (the others being Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, and Jada Pinkett Smith) who reunite for a trip to New Orleans. It’s a terrific ensemble but Haddish effortlessly steals every scene, including one moment — a sex-act demonstration involving a grapefruit and a banana — that seems destined to rank with the hair-gel gag in There’s Something About Mary and the diarrhea scene in Bridesmaids as an R-rated comedy milestone.
The outrageous comedy of Girls Trip is grounded in the characters’ believable and complicated friendship, and Haddish brings layers of childlike sweetness and hard-won loyalty to Dina’s raunchy persona. Though she’s appeared in other films (notably 2016’s Key and Peele vehicle Keanu), Haddish is best known for her TV work, including The Carmichael Show, Real Husbands of Hollywood, and VH1’s Hip-Hop Squares. Now, Girls Trip is taking Haddish to a new level of visibility, and when Yahoo Movies caught up with her, she was excitedly preparing for her first appearance on a late-night talk show (Jimmy Kimmel Live, where she slayed with a story about taking Jada and Will Smith on a New Orleans swamp tour). In a freewheeling conversation, Haddish talked to Yahoo Movies about her favorite improvised Girls Trip scene, trading comedy tips with Queen Latifah, and of course, the challenge of “grapefruiting.” [Note: Interview contains explicit language.]
So, have you been reading the Girls Trip reviews?
Some of them that people have been sending to me, I’ve been seeing them. I don’t go out and look because, you know, I don’t want to look for any trouble. [Laughs] There might be something bad, and then I’ll be like, ‘Now I gotta write this writer. Now I gotta write them and tell them my story and why I behave the way that I do.’ [In a ‘writer’ voice:] Tiffany Haddish, not only is she filthy, she likes to write letters!
Basically everyone agrees that you’re the breakout star of this film. Has your life changed? Did you wake up this morning all sparkly?
Girl, no. My credit score’s still the same. I don’t know, I feel like I’ve been sleepwalking the whole time, like I’m living this dream, I’m doing all this press, going here, going there, and it’s my dream come true. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I don’t think my life has changed too much because I’ve been living my dream for quite some time now.
Your character Dina is so sweet and such a loose cannon at the same time. What made you feel a connection to her?
Well, I feel like Dina is bipolar. And I think we all have that friend that’s like, one minute she’s extra cool, fun to be around, the next minute you’re like, “Why did I bring her with me?” And I have friends like that. I don’t know, I might be that friend! I just love the character, and she reminds me of myself a lot. She’s like me times ten. Some things that Dina does I probably wouldn’t do, like I’m not into golden showers, personally. But Dina is! [Laughs] But I have grapefruited before, I’m not gonna lie on that. So that right there, we got a lot in common.
Everybody is obsessed with the grapefruit scene.
I was obsessed with it when I read it in the script! When I read it in the script, I was like, Aw yeah, I can’t wait to do this, I gotta get this job! I’m a pro at this! Nobody else will do it just it the way I would do it!
How do you prep for a moment like that?
You know, you just reflect on the past, and just think, what would a guy like? What would be entertaining to a man? And then do that, and then do a little bit of the opposite of that. [Laughs] Have fun with it. I don’t know. Anyone I’ve ever grapefruited has been deeply in love with me because I like to play with my food. [Laughs] I really do that! I go [makes loud slurping noises].
See, this is a print interview and I can’t transcribe that! “Haddish makes sexy but kind of disturbing noises.”
[Laughs] This is a great interview.
You’ve said that the grapefruit bit took a few takes. How long were you actually doing that scene?
I would say three hours total with them having to wipe my face off every time, get all the pulp off my face. “Reset!”
‘Girls Trip’: Watch a clip (NSFW; explicit language):
What was your favorite scene to shoot?
The dancing scenes were my favorite. And the scene where it’s the four of us and I’m telling Ryan what I would do to her husband [after finding out he cheated on her]. Like, “Yeah girl, I got your back, I’ll get a Q-tip and I’ll stick it in his pee-pee hole” — all that stuff.
Did you improvise some of that?
A lot of it, yeah. Because I think I was just supposed to say “Timberland boots” and “hot grits.” But I added a bunch of extra stuff to it. Even the part where you don’t even see me on camera, where I’m like, “But I will s–t in his shoes, though.” [Laughs] A lot of that I pulled from my own life. There’s some stuff they cut out, I was so mad. I saw it in the original cut, but I guess they cut it out because maybe they were thinking like, man, women might really try this. But it was a thing that I said where like, “Yeah girl, first I’m gonna give him an Ambien, and then I’m gonna burn your name in his penis, and put salt in it and mud, and then we tell these bitches to keep your name out they mouth. [Laughs] “That’s keloid, yeah! It’ll be ribbed for your pleasure — but you tell these bitches to keep your name out they mouth.” To me that’s the funniest thing in the world. And I’ve said that to men before, like “Yeah, let me find out you’re cheating on me, I’ma burn my name in your penis.”
I love that you had that list ready to go!
Yes, girl. I have a full revenge list. Like, put crickets in a dude’s car. Buy some crickets, put them in his car, and then he just hear crickets all the time. And you put lettuce under the seat so you feed the crickets, and they make cricket babies, and you can’t get them out.
That’s so creative!
Oh yeah, I got a lot of them, girl. Put ants in his bed, right? Just buy a box of ants and just let ‘em loose in the bed. Put sugar cubes all in the bed. If he try to cheat on you, bring another woman in the house, right, and they’re rolling around in the bed, and she’s like “Something’s so crawly!” and then they turn on the lights, and ants, all over them! Yeah. Mmmhmm. Now if you really want to get revenge, you get you some centipedes, put centipedes in the bed. Then he’ll never sleep in the bed again! [Laughs]
Now I’m just imagining the looks you get when you walk into your local pet store.
You can order them off of Amazon! You can order centipedes. And worms. But I think pooping in his shoes is the best way, because you know, men put you through a lot of crap, and you can make them walk in that crap they put you through. See I got a lot of revenge things, cuz I’ve been hurt, so I think of a lot of things, and then I’m like, no, I’ll let God handle it. And God usually does way better than me. So they’re just thoughts.
Sometimes with female-driven comedies, studios get nervous about being too explicit. Did the director ever tell you that you needed to dial it back?
I mean, occasionally, not too often. More so, if we were coming in at 5 in the morning — and I was so happy to be at work — sometimes I’d be super cheery and chipper and talking a lot and it’s early in the morning, and maybe people ain’t feeling like that right at that moment, and then somebody might be like, “Uh, Tiff, turn it down.” I’m like, “Oh, OK, I’m sorry. I’ll be quiet!” But as far as dialing it back, every time we would do the scenes, first I would play it like it says in the script and then I would add a little something and either they’d keep it or not.
You all really go for it. I love Queen Latifah making out with a lamp — everyone gets those great moments.
I told her to put her feet up! When she has her feet up in the air? I told her, “You should put your feet up in the air when you got the lamp on you!” She’s like, “I’ma try it.” We were always suggesting stuff to each other. I love [director] Malcolm [D. Lee] because he let us play. And it’s so funny because Jada, she’s so much like her character, sometimes she said things like, “I don’t know if I feel comfortable saying ‘bitch’ right here. I don’t know if I feel comfortable….” Like Jada — stop it, you’re from Baltimore! Come on now. [Laughs]
I have to ask about the scene where you unleash your bladder while you’re on a zipline. How did they do it, and was it as fun as it looked?
We had to do some training beforehand, like how to be on a zipline, and they had these tubes down our backs. And I was telling them, “Hey, you guys, I can drink enough water, I don’t need these tubes, I can do this myself.” And they were like “No, we don’t want any hazardous issues.” [Laughs] But I was like, “I’m pretty sure I’m clean, you guys!” But we did that overnight, we started shooting at probably midnight, and we were peeing on real people. I mean we didn’t pee pee, it was just Gatorade. But it was fun. It was really, really fun.
‘Girls Trip’: Watch a trailer:
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