‘What Men Want’ Cast: When Taraji P.Henson Puts Her Magical Talent To Use

Wanna feel old? “What Women Want” – the legendary comedy in which Mel Gibson wears his polo shirts tucked into his pleated pants – is more than 20 years old! Now, following the gender-flipped trend, our childhood movie is getting a remake. That said, everyone is curious about ‘What Men Want’ cast and whether they can power through the comic cliché of the gig like the old cast did. 

Before Watching The Remake…

Let’s stop for a moment and pay homage to its predecessor, “What Women Want” – one of the classic romcoms in the 2000s. 

“I’ve always disliked being a man”, said writer Paul Theroux. “The whole idea of manhood in America is pitiful, a little like having to wear an ill-fitting coat for one’s entire life.” And what is that coat made out of? Will-power, independence, combativeness, and buried emotions. Three single words “Be a man” are more than enough to send shivers up one’s spine. We instantly think of a typical Marlboro man, with high blood pressure and egotism. Worst of all is the self-absorbed chauvinist pig who prides himself on understanding all ladies but is completely unaware of the fact that he has been at war with them for most of his life. 

And that’s exactly who Nick Marshall (played by Mel Gibson) is. Working as a successful advertising executive, most people don’t know he is also a consummate philanderer. While his ex-wife (Lauren Holly) is on honeymoon with her new husband, Nick has to take care of his 15-year-old daughter Alex who can’t wait to lose her virginity. 

After accidentally electrocuting himself in the bathtub, though, Nick gains the ability to read women’s minds. Instead of using this gift to be more empathetic, Nick abuses it to thrive in love and career. Back to that ill-fitting suit!

Out of envy, Nick attempts to seduce his new boss Darcy (Helen Hunt), who got the promotion he desperately wanted. His conspiracy is to sabotage Darcy’s work by reading her thoughts and selling all of her ideas as his own. As the plan begins to work, though, he finds himself falling for Darcy and everything goes off the rail. 

‘What Women Want’ (2000) Trailer

“What Women Want” is Gibson’s second-highest-grossing film as an actor, behind only Signs. The movie hasn’t aged as well, I admit, and some scenes might feel off-putting for audiences of the 2020s. Nonetheless, “What Women Want” picks up the themes of toxic masculinity and gender equality, which are relevant every now and then. Those are depicted by a clever concept, lovable acting, and witty jokes, making the movie a perfect gig to watch on all occasions. Just like movie critic, Hillel Italie wrote, “After leaving the theater, you will find yourself turning all ear towards the women in your life and listening hard.”

The MVP of “What Women Want”, undoubtedly, is Mel Gibson. The actor had found the right pace for this movie, doing justice to both the character’s obnoxious and charismatic sides. Redditors agree that although “What Women Want” isn’t quite Oscar material, Mel Gibson gives what may be the most entertaining big-star performance of its year. No surprise that the rom-com took his career to a whole new level.

Mel Gibson Has Done A Good Job, But So Do ‘What Men Want’ Cast

Mel Gibson Has Done A Good Job, But So Do ‘What Men Want’ Cast
‘What Men Want’ Poster – Source: My Hot Posters

Movie reboots are often underestimated, especially when it is remade from a cult classic like “What Men Want”. That said, “What Women Want” faced a tremendous amount of criticism ever since the project was announced. Nonetheless, with a North American domestic gross of $182 million and a worldwide gross of $374 million against a budget of $70 million, the movie became a box office’s success and managed to prove its potential. 

This is, in large part, thanks to the notable faces in ‘What Men Want’ cast. We got ‘Karate Kid’ star Taraji P.Henson who unexpectedly rocked the comedy genre like a supernova engine that could. We got Pete Davidson and Tracy Morgan, who made us laugh for years on Saturday Night’s Lives alongside Bob Odenkirk. Of course, it would be a huge mistake if we don’t mention Josh Brener, the young actor with a charming acting style and impressive portfolio. 

Ultimately, what men want is still a mystery, but we can reveal some interesting facts about ‘What Men Want’ cast and their roles in the movie right now. Hold on to your socks! 

‘What Men Want’ Cast – Taraji P.Henson

Loyal fans of TV series are all familiar with Taraji P.Henson, the fiery lady from Washington D.C. Having risen to fame from the role in Empire as the ruthless matriarch Cookie Lyon, Henson won herself the first Emmy in 2016. Since then, she has been a household name, appeared in various projects such as Hidden Figures, Hustle & Flow, and the famous TV show Person Of Interest. 

Looking at her filmography, you will notice one thing: All of her characters share a strong will and a hardened exterior. It’s not just an act but also who she is in real life – a fighter. However, ‘What Men Want’ director Adam Shankman recognized her funny bone, and that’s why he thought she was perfect for the lead role. 

In the movie, Henson played Ali – a dedicated sports agent who works tirelessly but feels undervalued by her male supervisors. Desperate to find a way to succeed in a world full of men, Ali drinks a strange concoction that grants her the ability to read male minds. Using her new gift, Ali begins to turn the tables on her colleagues as she races to sign the next basketball superstar. 

‘What Men Want’ Cast - Taraji P.Henson
Taraji As Ali – Source: LOVEBSCOTT

As director Adam Shankman explained in an interview with Cinema Blend, Henson’s Ali and Gibson’s Nick have significant differences. “In her circumstances, the problems were really external and his problems were more internal. The villain of the piece is sort of our culture and the world around us but there’s not with any victim in it, it’s just a matter of approach”, he said. 

Pete Davidson 

Best known for his role in “Saturday Night Live”, this talented fella marks his name in the show’s history as the youngest cast member in the 40th season. Still, it’s his romance that makes the most headlines. Davidson was engaged to Ariana Grande for a short time and was recently spotted leaving a party with Kate Beckinsale. 

Little did we know, Pete Davidson has a difficult childhood. After losing his father on 9/11, 7-year-old Pete was devastated and later acted out in school as a way to express his grief. He got into a lot of trouble and even struggled with suicidal thoughts. Fortunately, the music of Kid Cudi saved his life. Later on, the young boy harbored the dream of being a comedian and dropped out of college to pursue his career. 

Pete Davidson
Pete As Danny – Source: Screen Rant

In ‘What Men Want’, Davidson starred as Danny, another sports agent. According to the actor, he initially wanted the role of Brandonbut later realized he “can’t act”. In the end, he got the role that has six lines only. 

Tracy Morgan 

Just like Davidson, Tracy Morgan kickstarted his career on Saturday Night Live. However, he only caught the public’s attention after playing a parody version of himself on ’30 Rock’. 

Interestingly, it is not the lead actress Taraji P.Henson but Tracy Morgan who has the most impressive net worth among ‘What Men Want’ cast. As of 2022, the Brooklyn native has obtained a whopping fortune of $70 million. Morgan mostly amassed this fortune from various comedy-related appearances on Comedy Central programs, such as ‘One Mic’, ‘Punked’, and ‘First Sunday’. 

Tracy Morgan
Tracy Morgan As Joe – Source: Screen Rant

In ‘What Men Want’, the versatile actor picked up the role of Joe “Dolla” Barry, the father of an NBA rookie. Just as what we expect from him, Morgan admitted improvising a lot for this role. 

‘What Men Want’ Cast – Josh Brener 

‘What Men Want’ Cast - Josh Brener
Josh Brener As Brandon Wallace – Source: Screen Rant

Netflix fans will recognize this guy right away: He has appeared twice on “The Big Bang Theory” as Stuart Bloom’s friend and colleague Dale. Aside from that, he also starred as  Nelson “Big Head” Bighetti in the HBO comedy series Silicon Valley. What a perfect nerdy portfolio, and his role as Brandon Wallace – Ali’s assistant – in “What Men Want” further adds to that. 

‘What Men Want’ Cast – Aldis Hodge

Hodge is best known for his roles of Alec Hardison on the TNT series ‘Leverage’, MC Ren in the 2015 biopic ‘Straight Outta Compton’, Levi Jackson in the 2016 film ‘Hidden Figures’, and most notably, Noah in the WGN America series ‘Underground’. What I remember most about him, though, is his Jack Lamasse in the third season “Black Mirror.” It reveals a sicker, darker side of this man we have never seen before. 

‘What Men Want’ Cast - Aldis Hodge
Aldis Hodge As Ali – Source: Screen Rant

In ‘What Men Want’, Hodge is back to his casual self: He played the role of Will – a single dad who has feelings for Ali. Will was the main source of humor for the movie, and Hodge’s charming portrayal suits the laughable script perfectly.

“There’s Way Too Much Estrogen On Television These Days”

On Rotten Tomatoes, ‘What Men Want’ only receives a 41% Tomameters and an audience score of 31%. Pouring new wine into old wineskins is never a wise move in Hollywood, and just like its predecessor, “What Men Want” is not an Oscar material. 

But, well, it doesn’t have to be. Movies like ‘She’s The Man’ and ‘What Men Want’, aside from an entertainment purpose, have fulfilled their role as a pleasing addition to the modern feminist movement. It shines an interpretive light on the stories of women who are struggling in the workplace dynamics, in an entertaining and light-hearted way. Most of all, it proves the potential of ‘What Men Want’ cast – mainly Taraji P.Henson. A fun rom-com to lap up along with your snacks on a Sunday evening, that’s it. 

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