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Regina Hall on 'breastaurants,' 'Support the Girls' and the possibility of a 'Girls Trip' sequel

Regina Hall on 'breastaurants,' 'Support the Girls' and the possibility of a 'Girls Trip' sequel
Regina Hall's latest film, "Support the Girls," is a slice of life story about the general manager of a Hooters-style restaurant and a departure from the studio hit "Girls Trip." (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Regina Hall fasts on Mondays.

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She shows up to our interview at a restaurant in Sherman Oaks barefaced in a T-shirt and jeans, a bottle of agave syrup in hand to sweeten her tea, the only thing she orders.

"I make plans for my Tuesday food," she says. "Me and two other friends, we all fast on Mondays. And so by Monday night we're mad."

With seven upcoming projects, the veteran actress has very little to be upset about these days.

Up first is Magnolia Pictures' "Support the Girls," an indie comedy from director Andrew Bujalski (“Computer Chess,” “Results”), out Aug. 24. Hall stars as Lisa, the general manager of Double Whammies, a Hooters-style "breastaurant" in Austin, Texas.

The film is a drastic departure from last year's "Girls Trip," that over-the-top studio comedy that became a runaway hit and catapulted breakout star Tiffany Haddish to fame. Comparatively, "Support the Girls" employs light humor to explore gender and racial dynamics in the guise of a workplace comedy.

"It was a simple slice-of-life script," Hall said. "I think that humanity and people's day to day existence — there's a beauty to that."

Expect to see a lot more of Hall very soon — she’ll appear in Fox's politically charged young-adult novel adaptation "The Hate U Give," due out in October; "Black Monday," a Showtime series starring Don Cheadle, premiering next year; 2019's "Shaft" reboot starring Samuel L. Jackson; and "Little," a sendup of the 1988 Tom Hanks comedy “Big,” that she just wrapped shooting alongside Issa Rae and "black-ish" star Marsai Martin.

The Times caught up with Hall ahead of the "Support the Girls" premiere to talk breastaurants, upcoming projects and the possibility of a "Girls Trip" sequel.

The cast of "Support the Girls," portraying the staff of a Hooters-style restaurant. From left: Dylan Gelula, Shayna McHayle, Regina Hall, Haley Lu Richardson, John Elvis and AJ Michalka.
The cast of "Support the Girls," portraying the staff of a Hooters-style restaurant. From left: Dylan Gelula, Shayna McHayle, Regina Hall, Haley Lu Richardson, John Elvis and AJ Michalka. (Ryan Green / SXSW)

So are you a fan of restaurants like Hooters and Twin Peaks now?

I think now that I've experienced them, I get it. I can see the draw, I can see why people like them. It's a catch-22, it's complex. But I would totally eat in them, I know that much. As a matter of fact, I'm craving [Twin Peaks'] quesadillas and fried pickles. They had good food; I think that's what I was most shocked about. And very engaging service.

What did you learn talking to restaurant general managers while preparing for the role?

From the women, I learned that they really are nurturers. They are like little mommies. They have jewelry, tampons, pads — everything that you can think of in case the girls are in need; they're very protective of them. And the customers really like going there. I never think of those places as family-oriented, but their goal is to make everybody feel really comfortable and welcome, like a second home. And then after a while you do get desensitized. Like, I didn't notice their breasts really or the outfits anymore.

Was it fun playing a character who was less glamorous than the characters you normally play?

Yeah. I didn't have to do makeup. I mean, all she did was take her finger and swipe the eye shadow on. And then that lip liner. But I didn't have to do foundation. I was dead set on that choice and then when I looked at it I was, like, "Lisa looks crazy." But I wanted her to look like those people you see and they look kind of … they feel dated, they're kind of stuck. It felt right. For me, if it goes with the character then I love it.

What was it like going from an over-the-top studio comedy like "Girls Trip" to an understated indie like "Support the Girls"?

They're completely opposite, right? Except for the word "girls." Obviously, craft services was probably a little better on "Girls Trip" [laughs], but they were both great. I got to work with great women. The girls in "Support the Girls" are young and they had such a freshness in their energy. But I had a blast with my peers [in "Girls Trip"]. So they're different. Both had a story of "everything isn't what it seems."

How does working with your contemporaries compare to working with newbies?

They're all great for different reasons. I was a big fan of [Queen Latifah] and Jada [Pinkett Smith]. I didn't know Tiffany, but working with her I became a big fan. And with them I could just be crazy. On "Support the Girls" I felt like I had to be more of an example — I couldn't be acting wild; they could go home and tell their mama about me. I didn't have that with my peers.

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"Girls Trip" cast members, from left: Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish and Regina Hall.
"Girls Trip" cast members, from left: Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish and Regina Hall. (Michele K. Short / Universal Pictures)

What was your reaction when you saw what a runaway success "Girls Trip" became?

My dog died five days after that movie came out, so I was really too sad to celebrate it and it was kind of a blur. But nowadays when people come up or are, like, "I love the movie," I love it. I love that women were proud of it, but I really love that black women felt positively and accurately represented.

Do you keep in touch with the rest of the cast?

I do. It's challenging because they're always working. Jada's been traveling, but she and I have a playdate set. I just saw 'La when I was in Atlanta. Tiffany's in New York, we almost saw each other but she got there late and I had to catch a plane. We try to keep in touch; it's actually really nice. The Flossy Posse became real.

Do you think there will be a sequel?

Yeah, I think there could be a sequel. We're trying to see if all the elements can come together like a script and scheduling. But, yeah, we're all definitely in talks to make it happen.

Your next movie, "The Hate U Give," deals with some very serious subjects, including police shootings and protests. How do you think it’ll be received when it comes out?

I hope people will see it, it's a powerful movie. Amandla [Stenberg] was so great in it. Everyone is, but it's her story. There are already people who are, like, "We're not going to let this book be read," but I hope before people make a decision about the story they actually watch the movie.

You move pretty effortlessly between drama and comedy, what was it like being in the show within a show on "Insecure"?

Issa [Rae] and I have wanted to work together for a long time. My agent called me and was, like, "We have an offer for 'Insecure' and I was, like, "What do they want me to play, Issa's friend?" And they're, like, "It's the role of Ninny, a slave." [Laughs] And I was, like, "What?" And they sent it to me and I read it and it was hysterical.

And now you have your first regular TV series role in several years coming up soon in Showtime's "Black Monday." What brought you back?

Don Cheadle [laughs]. I love Don Cheadle. A big, big, big fan of his.

Had you been looking to do a cable or streaming series for a while?

Yeah, I was open to it because of the schedule. I love movies, but there's a time frame that becomes challenging for me, so this kind of fit everything that I wanted. And I loved that it was a world that we don't really see black women in — it's Wall Street. And I loved that it was period [the ‘80s].

I was [also] glad that she wasn't just the wife. I mean, [the characters] are not married at all, but you see these great scripts and then the [female character’s] story line is part of the man's. But she has her own story line — she was a trader, the only female trader at the firm. And I loved also that they made her much more like one of the guys. She's really smart. So as opposed to being — "C'mon guys, you shouldn't do that" — that mothering kind, she's slightly just as bad as they are.

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