On The Count Of Three Shares A Strange Connection With A Morgan Freeman Movie

The trailer for "On the Count of Three" contains subject matter related to mental health and suicide. If you or a loved one is in crisis, please reach out to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or the Crisis Text Line (Text TALK to 741741) to talk to someone who can help.

Given twenty-four hours to live, most folks' to-do lists would vary individually. On the posse cut from Mase's "Harlem World" album, Jadakiss raps that his final meal would include fried chicken and a cold Nantucket, while Black Rob would spend his last moments with his children. Gregg Champion's underseen 1990 action-comedy "Short Time" sees a cop, believing himself to be terminally ill, going balls-to-the-wall in dangerous line-of-duty situations so that his family gets a big insurance payout. The wild, often understandable choices people make when staring down death often make for such good storytelling that an entire second-chance subgenre of action films is dedicated to the concept. Humor often gives way to tender moments as people learn to carpe that diem before it's too late to right the wrongs in their lives.

The concept has been one that intrigued Jarrod Carmichael for years. The American multi-hyphenate has showcased his ability to straddle absurdity and discomfort in his numerous HBO stand-up comedy specials; the latest, "Rothaniel," dropped this year and Carmichael hosted SNL in April to mark the occasion. His newest offering walks a similar path as his comedic work — dark, funny, and intensely vulnerable. "On the Count of Three," directed by and starring Carmichael opposite "Piercing" star Christopher Abbot, centers around two depressed friends who make a suicide pact and embark on a journey to make the most of their final day alive. Speaking with Variety, the North Carolina native reveals the roots of the story as a variant on not just the 24 hours to live conceit, but a more gritty, authentic approach to the 2007 Rob Reiner-helmed buddy-comedy "The Bucket List."

...the truer, more abrasive version of what you'd actually do with your last day.

Jerrod Carmichael has no fear when it comes to confronting uncomfortable issues. His NBC series "The Carmichael Show" — on which he acted as co-showrunner, co-writer, producer, and star — laid bare an array of issues facing Black Americans including LGBTQ subjects, the 2nd Amendment, and the Black Lives Matter movement, all wrapped up in his signature boundary-pushing but ultimately hopeful storytelling style. The series ended in 2017, but according to the buzz around its 2021 Sundance debut, "On the Count of Three" continues to walk this tightrope in its chronicle of friends stumbling into the sunset, to high praise.

Asked how he came upon Ari Katcher and Ryan Welch's script, Carmichael tells Variety just how far their collective working relationship goes back, and how much messier The Bucket List would be if led by more realistic, average Joes:

"Ari Katcher and I have such a close working relationship that there are ideas and things we've been kicking around for years. This one is from — I'd have to go check my email to see what year it was, but it was an idea he talked about: What would these two guys do on their last day alive? And I remember talking about that movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, 'The Bucket List,' riffing on that premise, but thinking of the truer, more abrasive version of what you'd actually do with your last day.

"I met Ryan Welch through Ari. They grew up together in Alaska. Ryan's someone I used to bring with me to stand-up gigs, to tell me what he thought, because I love and trust his mind. He helped me and Ari out when we were writing the 'Django' script for Tarantino. So, yeah, when we were finished with 'The Carmichael Show,' we finally had time to focus on a film. Ari and Ryan wrote this funny and thoughtful script, and we said, 'Let's take this out.'"

"On the Count of Three" releases in theaters on May 13, 2022.