In bringing The Honeymooners to the big screen, costars Gabrielle Union and Regina Hall faced considerable challenges.The two actresses had to elude the shadows of classic TV icons Audrey Meadows and Joyce Randolph, who played Alice and Trixie. They also had to turn two white '50s housewives into modern, independent black women. What's more, the Gabrielle Union of take-no-bull, Deliver Us from Eva fame — who married NFL player Chris Howard in 2001 — definitely had to forget her own marital habits to play Alice.
"[Alice] is so different from me as a wife," Union explains. "I'm not as forgiving. I tend to speak and then I think about what I just said, whereas this role took me back to the advice my mom gave me before I got married. She was like, 'You're in for a rude awakening; you're going to have to sacrifice some battles to win the war.' That's Alice. It was kind of hard to find that balance, because I'm not like that in my own marriage at all."
Hall fought and won her own battle while playing Trixie, Ed Norton's wife and Alice's gal pal and neighbor. "Trixie didn't have that much to do [in the TV series]," explains the Scary Movie star. But for the film, Hall saw Trixie's role as important "to show more of the friendship [between couples].
"Basically a lot of what you see in the movie are Regina's own words," Union points out. "She did every take differently. I don't know if that was more for our entertainment; she was trying to make us laugh... There were so many moments in the movie where they just let her go [and ad lib]. She's good at it. Her talent expanded the role of Trixie beyond what was originally there."
Shooting the Brooklyn-set movie all the way in Ireland — where production costs are cheaper — probably helped form a believable on-screen friendship between the actresses. "We just became so close," says Union. "We were literally living on top of each other." "It's good, because we stayed friends," Hall chimes in. "Sometimes you do a movie and you never speak to the people again."
When recalling the "hardships" of filming far away from the comforts of home, their bond is evident. Groans Hall: "Ireland can't be the new Toronto! At least not for black women; our hair can't stand it."
"But maybe it could be because they let us eat over there," Union adds. "And they encourage carbohydrates."
"For one meal, they'd give like three different sides of potatoes," Hall laughs. "They have corn on pizza!"
Maybe someone should write a buddy comedy for these two and forget the husbands!