ET joins the duo as they reflect on their journey from 'The Best Man' to their new series, 'The Final Chapters.'
If there's one particular scene that fans will never forget from 1999's The Best Man, it's the slap that occurs between Nia Long and Taye Diggs. And according to the former, that's totally her co-star's fault!
ET sat with the duo as they reflected on their journey from The Best Man to The Best Man: The Final Chapters and reminisced about "Slap Gate."
The iconic scene in question occurs after Harper (Diggs) attempts to hide Lance's (Morris Chestnut) copy of Unfinished Business during the latter's bachelor party. The novelist is worried that Lance will read the book and realize his fiancée, Mia (Monica Calhoun), slept with Harper in college to get Lance back for his numerous infidelities. Unfortunately, Lance finds the book in Harper's coat and learns the truth. Enraged, he attacks Harper and nearly throws him off the balcony before Quentin (Terrence Howard) is able to talk him down. Still, Lance calls off the wedding.
Badly beaten with a hurt ego, Harper heads to Jordan's (Long) apartment and puts the blame on her for circulating the book before its debut. In turn, Jordan smacks Harper on the side of his face and berates him for airing out his own dirty laundry. She also chews him out for leading her on.
Since the film premiered, Diggs has maintained that the "Woo!" Harper lets out when Jordan slaps him is his actual reaction to the hit -- which landed rather harshly in real life.
"I told him that he needed to turn his face when the slap was coming," Long claimed when ET's Kevin Frazier asked the duo to look back on the classic scene.
"Now I don't remember that," Diggs responded diplomatically, "But there was a lot of pressure -- I [had] just come off of How Stella Got Her Groove Back, and [Long] was very scantily clad...I don't remember [her saying] that. But what matters is that it worked and we're still talking about it."
"But then he talked s**t about it, that was the problem," Long pointed out. "He talked s**t like 'Nia Long slapped the s**t out of me' and I thought he was really mad at me."
Diggs protested that his comments were just "press," but noted it was also "true [because] you slapped the s**t out of me... I wasn't expecting it"
"Was it not in the script?" Long responded incredulously.
To be fair to Long, it was in the script that she slap Diggs. But as Howard revealed to Essence earlier this month, her aim might have struck a bit more heavily than intended because of his advice.
"Oh, that was my fault," Howard told Diggs in conversation for the outlet's The Best Man Men's Roundtable. "You and Nia were working and I came over to you guys and I was like, 'I don't believe none of that s**t. Whatever you all are doing, it's just crazy. You all are not connecting.'"
Diggs said he thought Howard was kidding, to which the actor admitted he was "dead serious."
"Nia was like, 'How f**king dare you come over and say that. Don't come and give me notes. Don't give me no damn notes.' So I go back and I'm watching, and then the scene happens," Howard recalled.
"All I could do was go, 'Woo!' Because I thought Malcolm was going to cut and he didn't cut," Diggs said, reflecting on the moment. "I remember thinking, 'What is going on in this set? It's so unprofessional.' You know what I mean? But it wasn't until afterwards that I realized that it was a really great moment and it made that scene."
The moment helped cement the film's status as unforgettable, and led to a sequel in 2013 and Peacock's upcoming series. Diggs, Sanaa Lathan, Long, Chestnut, Melissa De Sousa, Regina Hall, Howard and Harold Perrineau, reprise their iconic roles for the show, catching fans up on their favorite dysfunctional group as they come into a new era of their lives.
Based on the Universal movies by writer-director Malcolm D. Lee, The Final Chapters follows Harper, Robyn (Lathan), Jordan, Lance, Quentin, Shelby (De Sousa), Candace (Hall) and Murch (Perrineau) as their relationships evolve and past grievances resurface in the unpredictable stages of midlife crisis meets midlife renaissance.
The limited series brings several recurring guest stars together with our favorite dysfunctional friend group as Harper is given the opportunity to turn his debut novel that kicked off the wild ride over 20 years ago, Unfinished Business, into a movie.
Long noted that the key difference between the franchise's first installment and their final project mainly stems from the changing landscape of media and the stories being told. "This felt different because it was a contemporary story about educated, progressive Black people," she said, adding that while the characters she previously portrayed were also important to her, the Best Man budget and the story felt "bigger."
"This was the first time we saw a group of Black friends doing amazing things and [showcasing that] we have many subcultures within our culture," she said.
Diggs added on, saying, "Yeah and this was one of the first movies that did that and I was amazed -- I read the script and I was like, 'I don’t care who’s doing it, I just need to be a part of it because I am this guy and I had never seen anybody like me in the movies before.'"
And, according to the cast, the series will be the official end of their journey altogether.
"We've had a ball and, who knows, but I know we definitely feel a sense of a rightful circle," Hall said when asked whether the series will really serve as the end of the eightsome's journey.
"Without a doubt," Chestnut agreed with his co-star, noting that although most people never even expected the film to have a sequel (2013's The Best Man Holiday), let alone a spinoff series, there's a finality to the show. "I think one of the differences here is instead of getting two hours, the audience is getting basically...eight hours and eight episodes. So, I think everything comes full circle and you put a bow on it. I think they will be satisfied."
The Best Man: Final Chapters premieres on Dec. 22.
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