Marlon Wayans Was Initially ‘Insulted’ By the Script For ‘Requiem For a Dream’

Requiem for a Dream was a critical success in 2000, impressing critics and moviegoers with the actors’ performances, the musical score, and visual style. However, one person was not initially impressed with the script: actor Marlon Wayans. 

Marlon Wayans in front of a blue background
Marlon Wayans | Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

‘Requiem for a Dream’ tells the story of drug addiction

Based on a 1978 novel of the same name, Requiem for a Dream tells the story of four characters — played by Wayans, Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, and Jennifer Connelly — as they navigate the physical and mental effects drug addiction has on them. 

Directed and co-written by Darren Aronofsky, the movie premiered at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival and scored Burstyn a Best Actress nom from the Academy. Requiem for a Dream earned a little more than $7 million at the box office worldwide. 

While many love the dark and gritty depiction of drug addiction, Wayans recently revealed that he was not a fan of the screenplay when he first read it. 

Marlon Wayans’ first reaction to script: ‘I was kind of insulted’

“I read the script for Requiem,” Wayans told GQ in an interview about his most iconic roles.

“I was mad as a Black guy. Brothers don’t even talk like that. I was kind of insulted, like, come on! Who still talks jive? This is 1990-something; how about they update the language? But this is a Hubert Selby book, and they wanted to be authentic.”

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He continued,

“I wasn’t really feeling it, but my agent was like, ‘Yo, you gotta reread this. I’m gonna send you the book.’ And I read this book, the same thing. And then he sent me the movie Pi, and when I saw Pi, instantly, I was like, ‘Wow, this director is amazing, I wanna know what his vision is.’”

Pi, a 1998 psychological thriller, was Aronofsky’s feature directorial debut and earned him the Directing Award at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival, as well as the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay and the Gotham Open Palm Award. 

“We had a meeting,” Wayans said, referring to Aronofsky. “He told me about the language, and he wanted to keep it authentic and create its own world. And I was like, ‘OK, I’m with it.’ I saw the vision.” However, Aronofsky had his own reservations about adding Wayans to the movie. 

How Marlon Wayans convinced Darren Aronofsky to give him the role

The actor explained, “He was like, ‘Yeah, all that’s nice, but you’re not getting this role. Nobody on the WB network is gonna be on this.’” At the time, Wayans was finishing out the last season of WB sitcom The Wayans Bros. He starred in the show alongside his brother, Shawn Wayans.

Wayans was not willing to give up on the role, though. “I auditioned five times,” he explained.

“I wore the same outfit. I didn’t wash for three days. I made my own fake drug kit. Smoking cigarettes, which, you know, I don’t do.”

“My boys were like, ‘Why are you talking like that?’” Wayans laughed. “My friends are actors, too. They had no idea I was just doing my character. When I got the role, they were like, ‘I really thought you was going through something. I almost called to get you in rehab.’”

Going back to the auditions, Wayans said, “The fifth time, [Aronofsky] saw that I was serious, and I got the role.”

Wayans’ performance earned him Supporting Actor nominations from the Black Reel Awards, Chlotrudis Awards, and Fangoria Chainsaw Awards. Looks like the fifth time was the charm for the actor! 

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