How “The Best Man”‘s Cast Are Saying Goodbye to Their Franchise 20+ Years Later
It’s been 23 years since fans were introduced to Malcolm D. Lee’s “Black Pack” in his 1999 debut film, “The Best Man.” Now, the cast — including Taye Diggs (Harper), Morris Chestnut (Lance), Nia Long (Jordan), Sanaa Lathan (Robin), Melissa De Sousa (Shelby), Terrence Howard (Quentin), and Regina Hall (Candace) — are bidding farewell to their cult-classic franchise with Peacock’s “The Best Man: The Final Chapters,” an eight-part limited series that follows the college friend group in their older years as they navigate their evolving relationships and past grievances.
“It’s an opportunity to embrace them, see a reflection of themselves, and have some great nostalgia flowing.”
The backdrop of the show is, of course, Harper’s infamous novel “Unfinished Business,” which gets adapted into a movie in the series, providing the perfect full-circle moment to close the book on “The Best Man.” “‘Unfinished Business’ was a key part of the ‘Best Man’ film. It felt right [to include] some 20-something years later if we’re revisiting and bringing this group and stories forward for a series,” co-showrunner Dayna Lynne North tells POPSUGAR. “It’s a way to connect the past to the present because, for me, this is not a reboot, it’s a ‘Where are they now?’ kind of thing. So ‘Unfinished Business’ and Harper, still a source of mess. The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Fans have been waiting for Peacock’s highly anticipated series ever since it was first announced in February 2021. Lee, the creator of the Best Man franchise, notes that the final installment was originally supposed to be a third and fourth film but thought a limited series was much better suited for what audiences have been “clamoring” for.
“They really feel an affinity to them, so I love that people still want to see them and I still have something to say about these characters,” Lee says. “That’s rare. I think [viewers] are going to appreciate this time, especially around the holidays, to spend time with old friends that they met back in 1999. It’s an opportunity to embrace them, see a reflection of themselves, and have some great nostalgia flowing.”
The “Best Man” cast credit Lee’s genius writing as the reason their franchise has lasted so long. “It started on the page,” De Sousa remarks. “He wrote a great script for the first movie, he wrote great characters, and he picked the right actors. It’s literally one of those things that you can’t explain. It was magic. We wouldn’t have known from day one that it would’ve lasted all of these years.”
Hall adds, “I think people really got invested in those characters and they’ve grown up with us, so they’ve watched us go through things that they’ve gone through. The good thing about the franchise is that it’s had enough time between each reincarnation for people to experience them at different stages in their lives.”
“We wouldn’t have known from day one that it would’ve lasted all of these years.”
The fervor of “The Best Man” has largely remained in fans’ hearts because every member of the cast has been booked and busy since 1999. “One of the things that have helped sustain the interest is when you look at the cast from the very first ‘Best Man,’ we’ve all continued to go on and do so many other things,” Chestnut explains. “Our fan bases from the other things have continued to grow, so when we came together for the second [movie], it brought all the fans back. They’ve seen all the films throughout the years, so not only have they followed us in the movies, they’ve followed our careers on different paths, [too].”
All these years later, the cast find comfort in knowing their franchise is iconic enough to last another 20-plus years for the next generation to enjoy. Looking back at “The Best Man,” some of them still laugh at their favorite scenes from the film. “My favorite one is my first Shelby scene where you’re introduced to the character,” De Sousa shares. “Because I remember at the premiere, that scene, the audience burst into applause after my first scene: ‘I’m watching you, Harper.’ I can’t ever repeat that, I don’t know how that happened — some of it was improv on my part — but it’s one of my favorite moments of my career.”
Meanwhile, Chestnut, Long, and Hall note that the latter may have had the best scene of them all. “We talked about the stripper scene with Candace,” Chestnut quips with a laugh, while Long adds, “That was a long night. I was so proud of Regina. I always think of her and how this was one of her first roles and she came in and just owned that strip scene and I was in awe of her like, ‘Holy sh*t. I don’t know if I could do that.'”
There are plenty more beloved scenes the Best Man franchise has gifted us over the years — from all the guys lip-syncing New Edition’s “Can You Stand the Rain?” in “The Best Man Holiday” and Lance’s smooth and sexy entrance in the first movie, to Jordan’s iconic “I don’t want to hear about no godd*mn peas” line (and her slap for Harper heard around the world). Now, the hope is that “The Best Man: The Final Chapters,” now streaming on Peacock, will offer fans more warm memories.
Ahead, take a nostalgic look back at “The Best Man” cast’s careers and where they are today.