Actress Sanaa Lathan may be best known for her role in the 2000 romance film “Love & Basketball” starring opposite her leading man actor Omar Epps.
But a year prior, the actress made a noticeable impression on audiences who fell in love with her in the complicated love story weaved through Black friendships in “The Best Man.” Lathan stars as Robyn, the love interest to Taye Diggs’ character Harper. The rest of the cast was rounded out by equally swoon-worthy talents such as Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Mia Morgan, Terrance Howard, Melissa DeSousa and actor Harold Perrineau.
However, in a recent interview for the “Jemele Hill Is Unbothered” podcast, Lathan revealed when it was time to audition for the film, producers had her in mind for a completely different role.
“It’s funny because they wanted me to come in for Candy, for Regina Hall’s part, yeah,” said Lathan.
Candy’s role was arguably the sexiest, considering she was a stripper paying her way through college. Portraying someone as risqué as Candy would have been a huge departure from the roles Lathan had taken on up until that point. But while most actors gravitate toward the new, different and unexpected role, Lathan knew there was no way she could audition for the part.
“It was actually a good kind of like little stepping into your worst lesson for me because I really just responded to Robyn more and I remember asking them could I audition for Robyn, and then they said yes,” she recalled. She went on to explain that while she had experience in the industry she was still somewhat wet behind the ears and did not have the bargaining power of a more established actor. But she didn’t let that stop her from going for the role she really wanted.
“That was not a thing because there’s so many rules when you’re first getting into the business, you have to do it this way and that was not a thing that I knew was possible. So, that was great and then I got the part, and loved her, she had so much of me, the little hippie that I have in her,” she continued.
When asked if she had been ready to possibly audition for Candy, strip tease included, Lathan laughingly responded, “Well I would have had to…well, I don’t know if I would have gotten that.”
The Malcom D. Lee film hit theaters in 1999 and made an astounding $34 million at the box office. It also solidified Lathan and other cast members as some of Hollywood’s go-to Black actors, as well as earned the production a sequel, “The Best Man Holiday,” more than a decade later.
On social, “Best Man” fans found the revelation to be interesting, with some struggling to see the women’s roles reversed.
“Nope the right person got the right role”
“It could have worked that way too”
“This is interesting. Sanaa’s roles have been cute at best: respectable, lady-like, middle class. It’s hard to envision her in a sexy role. Would love to see her in a different light.”
As for when audiences can expect to see “The Best Man” cast together again, Lathan said the time is coming. In February of this year it was announced that “The Best Man: Final Chapters” would be released as a limited series on the NBC streaming platform, Peacock. Though an official date has yet to be announced, Lathan says work already has begun.
“They’re writing the scripts now,” she said. “All the gang will be back and we’re all just so excited because we all feel like family now. I mean it has been, I think when we did ‘Best Man Holiday’ it was 15 years, and we were joking then like, ‘Yeah, then we’ll do the third one it’ll be like ‘Best Man: Old Folks Home.’ ”