Derek Luke, Jill Scott join forces in back-to-back projects

Fox Searchlight Pictures photo by TONY RIVETTI JR. -- Derek Luke stars as William in 'Baggage Claim.'
Fox Searchlight Pictures photo by TONY RIVETTI JR. -- Derek Luke stars as William in 'Baggage Claim.'

“Baggage Claim,” the second feature film from playwright turned filmmaker David E. Talbert, is a rare romantic comedy featuring an African-American cast.

Jill Scott co-stars in the film as leading lady Paula Patton’s best friend, Gail Best. The singer-actress from Philadelphia loves the movie’s warm, hopeful story.

“It’s something sweet-hearted,” Scott said from Los Angeles. “That’s such a dramatic difference for a black movie these days.”

A great ensemble cast featuring Derek Luke, Taye Diggs, Boris Kodjoe, Adam Brody, Trey Songz, Djimon Honsou and Jenifer Lewis surrounds Scott and Patton in “Baggage Claim.”

Luke co-stars as William Wright, next-door neighbor and childhood friend of Patton’s single-lady flight attendant, Montana Moore. He and Scott had a great time on the movie’s set with their fellow cast members.

“Oh, my God,” Luke said. “It was like showing up in ‘Roots’ or a Halle Berry movie. Even though I had never worked with some of them, it felt like a reunion, like being in the schoolyard with your favorite people.”

Luke and Scott especially enjoyed working with Lewis, a veteran actress who’s appeared in more than 60 films and made more than 200 TV appearances.

“One day,” Scott said, “you’re going to work and there’s Jenifer Lewis. She’s in this trailer and she’s loud and funny and telling these great stories about such an amazing life.”

Following “Baggage Claim” filming, Luke and Scott worked together again, shooting a TV pilot, “Second Sight,” in New Orleans.

“I love Jill’s Philly vibe,” Luke said. “And she just smokes it in the movie.”

Both Luke and his wife read the script for “Baggage Claim.” When his spouse blushes while she’s reading a script, the actor said, he knows it’s right for him.

Originally, Luke was asked to play a part other than William, one of several other characters in the film who are potential love matches for Montana.

“I responded back to them and said, ‘Hey, I’m not as interested in this role as the William role,’ ” Luke recalled. “William really resonates with me. At first they had a different vision, but I went in there after I prayed and prepared. David liked what he saw.”

Scott believes that “Baggage Claim” writer-director Talbert has many more movies ahead of him.

“Because this movie is not in any way, shape or form a stereotypical black film,” she explained. “It’s just a good film, period. Because David is writing stories that are fantastic but also centered in something real, the hope for love. I see a huge future for him.”