Actor Faizon Love Sues Universal for Cutting Black Stars Out of ‘Couples Retreat’ Publicity Posters

From left: Faizon Love, Kali Hawk, Jon Favreau, Kristin Davis, Malin Akerman, Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell in "Couples Retreat." Universal
Universal

Actor Faizon Love is suing Universal Studios for cutting him and his fellow black co-star Kali Hawk out of international publicity posters for the 2009 film, Couples Retreat.

The 52-year-old actor filed a lawsuit on Wednesday stating that he was “aghast” when he saw himself and Hawk removed from publicity posters overseas, according to a report by The Hollywood Reporter.

“Universal Studios had no problem featuring Black actors in the comedic film. But when it came to publicizing the film to international audiences, Universal Studios chose to segregate the motion picture’s White and Black actors…” the lawsuit states. “Rather than enjoy maximum visibility with the film’s release, Mr. Love was demoted to the proverbial ‘Invisible Man,’ as penned by Ralph Ellison,” the complaint continued, referring to Ralph Ellison’s civil rights novel.

“Although Couples Retreat achieved a first-place box office opening weekend ranking, and went on a spectacular run that grossed more than $171 million worldwide, Universal Studios placed Mr. Love in the back seat of the ride enjoyed by his six White costars,” the suit added.

Universal Studios had apologized when the doctored poster was first exposed, and according to Love, went on to promise him “lucrative, career-making film roles” in the future, which he says have never materialized.

The lawsuit also accuses Universal of fraud, breach of contract, and violation of California’s fair employment act and civil rights law.

The suit goes on to accuse the film’s lead actor Vince Vaughn of telling Love “that making a big deal about his removal from the poster would not be good for his career.”

Love explained his reasoning for filing the lawsuit more than a decade after the film’s release in a tweet on Thursday.

“People ask why now? One because Universal is still using the edited poster to promote the movie overseas, two no one said any thing when they went back ten years and ask [Kevin Hart] to explain his ‘tweet’ that kept him from hosting the Oscars… not one person said why now…” wrote Love.

The actor was referring to comedian and A-list actor Kevin Hart, who stepped down from hosting the 91st Academy Awards in 2018 amid a backlash over the resurfacing of previous gay jokes and tweets.

Love told Variety that he is seeking redress on behalf of black actors who have been mistreated by the industry.

“They have not only hurt me financially, they have hurt me in a deeper way by dismissing me because of my blackness — and they have hurt all Black performers by continuing to perpetuate racism in the movie industry,” said Love. “I want to ensure that future generations don’t have to endure the racism and whitewashing that I have experienced.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, on Parler at @alana, and on Instagram.

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