Which actors are returning for Bad Boys for Life aka Bad Boys 3? The franchise’s original installment premiered 25 years ago, and was followed by the sequel in 2003. Fans of the buddy-cop series are likely curious which characters are back for Bad Boys for Life.
The first two Bad Boys movies feature Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as Miami detectives chasing down underworld figures and corrupt law enforcement officials. Noted blockbuster filmmaker Michael Bay directed the original Bad Boys for a mere $19 million, as both Smith and Lawrence were mostly known for their television work at the time and weren’t considered bankable leads. The casting of two up-and-coming black actors also differentiated Bad Boys from the typical action flick, and the film’s commercial success (and cultural impact) ultimately led to a sequel, also directed by Bay. For the second feature, producer Jerry Bruckheimer invested $130 million, a number that was doubled at the box office.
After years in development hell, Bad Boys for Life will finally release in 2020. Interestingly, however, Bay has been replaced by directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, and three people are credited for writing the screenplay, including Joe Carnahan (who previously dropped out as director due to creative clashes). But not everything has changed, as both leads are back and will be joined by performers from the first two films.
Will Smith reprises his role as Mike Lowrey, a smooth-talking and stylish detective who knows a thing or two about the Miami drug scene. When the original Bad Boys premiered, Smith was mostly known for starring in NBC’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. By the 2003 sequel, he was a proper blockbuster movie star, and had even earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for Ali. In 2019, Smith portrayed Genie in Aladdin and had dual roles in Gemini Man. He also voiced Lance Sterling in Spies in Disguise.
Martin Lawrence returns as Marcus Burnett, a charismatic family man with a younger sister, Sydney, who Mike romanced in the sequel. In the early ‘90s, Lawrence rose to fame as the lead on Fox’s Martin, and for bit roles in films like House Party and Boomerang. After overcoming some personal issues throughout the decade, Lawrence sustained a successful career during the 2000s, but mostly starred in family-oriented comedies rather than action blockbusters. In 2019, The Beach Bum marked Lawrence’s first movie role since the 2011 franchise film Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son.
As the title characters’ superior, Joe Pantoliano plays Conrad Howard for the third time in Bad Boys for Life. Many fans of ’80s classics know him from performances in Goonies and La Bamba. Pantoliano has also appeared in modern hits like The Matrix and Memento. In recent years, he’s had roles in Netflix’s Sense8 and Happy Anniversary.
Theresa Randle makes her third franchise appearance as Marcus’ wife, Theresa Burnett. In the early ‘90s, prior to Bad Boys, Randle appeared in notable films such as King of New York, Malcolm X, and Beverly Hills Cop III. After delivering an acclaimed performance in the 1997 film Spawn, though, she’s only appeared in a handful of films. Bad Boys for Life marks Randle’s first movie role in 10 years.
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