Thursday, August 14, 2008

'SOUL MEN' DIRECTOR DEVASTATED OVER MAC, HAYES: Malcolm Lee says death of his two stars on the same weekend 'was surreal.'

*Malcolm D. Lee, director of the upcoming film "Soul Men," had an unspeakably horrible weekend dealing with the deaths of Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes, both of whom starred in his upcoming film, "Soul Men."

"It was surreal," Lee told ABC News. "It had to be some sort of bad dream that these two giants would die on the same weekend, and both would be in my movie."

"Soul Men", also starring Samuel L. Jackson, tells the story of two estranged soul singers (Mac and Jackson) who reunite to honor their deceased band leader.

Mac, 50, died Saturday from complications relating to pneumonia; Hayes, 65, died Sunday after collapsing at his home near Memphis. Citing paperwork from the singer's family doctor, the local sheriff's department said Hayes may have died from a stroke.

Already a classic photo: Bernie Mac, Isaac Hayes and Samuel L. Jackson from 'Soul Men.'

Though Lee and distributor The Weinstein Co. have announced no changes to the movie or its Nov. 14 release date, the director says he feels the pressure of creating a fitting farewell to both actors.

"This isn't like "Dark Knight," where Heath Ledger died while editing was in its infancy," Lee says. "Most of our editing is done. We'll go back and see if there is anything we can do better. But (Mac) left us with an indelible performance. I think I got him at the top of his game."

Mac plays a wisecracking counterpart to Jackson's dour character, while Hayes plays himself in "Soul Men." Lee says both roles "are emblematic, I think, of the men they were."

Lee, who first met Mac on the set of "The Original Kings of Comedy" (directed by Lee's cousin Spike), says Mac's character in "Soul Men" "is eternally positive, and that's the way he was in real life. (The movie) gave him an opportunity to be extremely raw and showcase his singing and dancing talent."

Hayes, meanwhile, "had to be in the movie," Lee says. "His impact on music is immeasurable. I've listened to his music my whole life; he changed what soul music could be. He's the man. They both were. I want my movie to be a tribute to both of them."

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