WATCH: Martin Lawrence And Will Smith On The Poignant “Big Reach” At The Center Of ‘Bad Boys: Ride Or Die’

The actors discuss the iconic improv that has helped define their blockbuster franchise, and the deeper messages conveyed beneath its action and comedy

Bad Boys: Ride or Die hits theaters later this week, and the fourth installment in the buddy cop action comedy has already been billed as the most fun ride thus far.

The franchise’s endurance across nearly thirty years and four increasingly crowd-pleasing films can first and foremost be credited to its main stars’ palpable chemistry. As Mike Lowry and Marcus Burnett, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are the quintessential comedy/action buddy cop duo.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – MAY 31: Martin Lawrence and Will Smith pose during a photoshoot for the movie ‘Bad Boys: Ride or Die’ at Angel de la Independencia on May 31, 2024 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

With each actor being a comedic genius in their own right, many of the golden moments from Bad Boys lore that get the biggest audience laughs were – perhaps unsurprisingly – not even originally noted in the script. The two are notorious for going off-script and letting their banter lead the narrative through improv. For Lawrence and Smith, one of their favorite improvisations came in 2003’s Bad Boys II, as Reggie [Dennis Greene] arrived at the Burnett home to take Marcus’ daughter on a date.

“Literally every word of that scene was improv,” Smith tells ESSENCE. “To do that, and it turn out to be the signature iconic scene…it was just full-on letting it rip. Just out on that comedic limb, and every take is different, it’s just beautiful.” 

The moment, which Lawrence notes was actually Greene’s first time in front of the lens as he wasn’t even an actor, blossomed into a full sub-plot within the Bad Boys universe – which has a major payoff for attentive fans during the film’s action this time around.

WATCH: Martin Lawrence And Will Smith On The Poignant “Big Reach” At The Center Of ‘Bad Boys: Ride Or Die’
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – MAY 30: Dennis Greene attends the Los Angeles Premiere of Columbia Pictures’ “Bad Boys: Ride Or Die” at the TCL Chinese Theater on May 30, 2024 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Getty Images for Sony Pictures)

“In cinema, there are very few payoffs as good as the one in this movie,” Smith says of the character’s arc, which promises to be a treat for those who have been down with the Bad Boys since day one. “No spoiler alert, but for audiences who have been fans of this franchise, you will scream and cheer out loud at a scene in this movie.”

Another treat for fans is the film’s underlying message of fate, destiny, and trust in the Universe, packaged through that signature comedy and action that only Smith and Lawrence can deliver. 

“We don’t compromise being a popcorn movie, but I love the idea of having something that poignant that we’re trying to say in a Bad Boys movie, and just hiding it under the beauty and comedy of what we’re trying to do for a Summer audience.” 

Bad Boys: Ride Or Die opens in theaters nationwide on June 5, 2024.

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