The comedian is making his TV comeback and just locked down a big-screen role opposite Taraji P. Henson.
Nearly four years have passed since the devastating crash that left Tracy Morgan in a coma for nearly two weeks and took the life of one of his close friends. The comedian is well-loved by audiences for his zany Saturday Night Live characters, including Brian Fellow (my personal favorite), and his role as loose-cannon sketch comedy star Tracy Jordan on 30 Rock. So it’s impossible not to root for Morgan, who suffered a traumatic brain injury when a Walmart truck hit the vehicle containing him and several others, to make an epic comeback following months of treatment.
Fortunately, 2018 is looking like the Tracy Morgan Renaissance — can we call it the Morganaissance? His new sitcom, The Last O.G., co-starring woman of the moment Tiffany Haddish, premieres Tuesday, April 4 on TBS. Fittingly, The Last O.G. is also about a man making a comeback, albeit of a very different kind. Morgan’s character is being released from prison after 15 years behind bars. The show was shelved at a different network after Morgan’s accident, so three cheers for him being able to bring the project to life following his recovery.
In addition to the sitcom, Morgan has just locked down a big-screen role opposite another one of Hollywood’s coolest women. Morgan is set to play a “LaVar Ball-esque” character opposite Taraji P. Henson in What Men Want, the gender-swapped remake of director Nancy Meyers’s 2000 romantic comedy What Women Want. In that film, a sexist exec played by Mel Gibson gets the power to hear everything women are thinking and decides to use it to his advantage. Because it’s a Nancy Meyers film, there’s also a lot of rich white people-friendly interior decor and romance. Needless to say, this version promises to be quite different.
Set to be directed by Adam Shankman (Hairspray, Rock of Ages), What Men Want will tell the story of a female sports agent (Henson) who feels like the men in her profession are keeping her from getting ahead. However, everything changes when all of a sudden, she can hear everything the men are actually thinking. Like Gibson before her, she decides to use this for business advantage — namely, securing a rising NBA superstar as a client. Morgan will be playing that star’s overbearing father.
Now, you might be asking yourself, “What the hell does LaVar Ball-esque even mean?” Well, allow me to tell you. LaVar Ball is probably one of the most insufferable figures in sports right now, a caricature of everything we hate about over-the-top “momagers” and “dadagers” whose antics take the spotlight away from the child they are purportedly trying to help succeed. Ball is extra-insufferable because he has not one, but three talented basketball-playing sons to shepherd through their careers, as well as a sports apparel company called Big Baller Brand that he uses to sell $495 shoes and generate more hype around his sons.
If Tracy Morgan were still on SNL right now, you can bet he’d have a LaVar Ball impersonation in his pocket, ready to go whenever Ball inevitably had his next outburst. He’s the perfect performer to bring a character in this vein to life and make you laugh at his absurdity (instead of groan, the way the real LaVar Ball does). I’m sure he and the fiery Henson will have hilarious chemistry together. And Henson has proven herself capable of fronting everything from Oscar-bait to action flicks, so I’m excited to see her take on a leading role in a romantic comedy, especially one that will allow her to channel the ambition and smarts that made her such as a breakout as Cookie Lyon on Empire. Seeing a tough woman trying to get ahead in the cutthroat, male-dominated world of sports sounds refreshing and empowering, despite the film being a remake of another movie that wasn’t terribly good in the first place.
What Men Want is scheduled for release in January 2019, which annoyingly already feels like a death knell for a film that hasn’t even started shooting yet. Nonetheless, whatever you think about the film’s subject matter, you cannot deny that it’s great to see Tracy Morgan landing big roles after everything he has been through. Let the Morganaissance continue to flourish!