Chris Rock is in a good mood. The comedian, writer, actor, director and producer who is promoting his latest flick, Death at a Funeral, already has an idea of how he would like his own funeral to play out.

“I want all the living presidents there. I want them all to be in shorts, and I want Jay-Z to rap the eulogy,” jokes Rock at a press conference in Beverly Hills.

Based on director Frank Oz (Bowfinger) and writer Dean Craig’s funeral farce and transported from the English countryside to sunny Pasadena, Calif., Death at a Funeral, which was originally made in 2007, chronicles the chaotic misadventures of an extended family at their father’s funeral, and is a movie Rock cites as one of his favorite comedies – hence a remake.

“One of the reasons I wanted to remake it is that I saw the original movie in a little theater with 10 people, and we were laughing our asses off. It was amazing, and I thought the jokes would work in America,” Rock says. “It had a lot of funny parts, so I knew we would have a chance to cast a lot of funny people, and it was perfect for me. Death and funerals are something everyone relates to, and the comedy was good.”

With a cast that includes Martin Lawrence, Tracy Morgan and Luke Wilson, Regina Hall plays Rock’s onscreen wife, Zoe Saldana and Columbus Short are siblings and Rock and Lawrence star as contentious brothers who unite to plan their father’s funeral. Also featured are Keith David, James Marsden, Peter Dinklage, Danny Glover as the grouchy Uncle Russell and Loretta Devine (This Christmas) as the matriarch, Cynthia.

As the eldest son, Rock’s character Aaron, who anchors the film, has to deal with the eccentricities of his entire family as he takes on the responsibility of planning the service and writing the eulogy for their father. It’s a role which rings true for Rock, who also lost his father.

“I definitely thought about my father, and even though I didn’t give a eulogy at his funeral, I did think about him a little bit,” says Rock whose character has spent his life trying to please his parents and watching his famous novelist younger brother Ryan (Lawrence) garner all the praise.

“We thought it would be a little more interesting if the younger brother was more successful,” he adds. “It’s kind of uneasy, and Aaron’s dealing with the fact that Ryan is a very successful writer, something that he has always aspired to be.”

Directed by Neil LaBute (Lakeview Terrace, The Wicker Man), the writer/director who has built a stellar reputation with controversial dramas like In the Company of Men, Death at a Funeral is a faithful adaptation of the original, which garnered wide praise from critics.

“Just by having new actors in the roles makes it work differently. With a story as strong as the original, we didn’t try to reinvent the wheel,” claims LaBute. “We didn’t try to change that dynamic, but we had some new ideas. Although the ride ends in the same place, getting there is a little different. It starts at a higher level and then boils over to a much higher level before we all end up back in the same place.”

Dinklage, who reprises his role from the original movie, plays a mysterious guest who threatens to unveil an earth-shattering family secret. He was a huge asset to the remake.

“He has the same needs and desires as the character he played in the first film. He went through that experience and could say, ‘Oh, this is how we did that.’ He came up with another version of the character, and it’s a fun approach. Here, he played it a little rougher and a little more cavalier,” claims LaBute, who first worked with Rock 10 years ago on Nurse Betty when the comedian was just starting to transition into film acting.

“The work ethic required to make it all come together began at the top of the food chain with producer and star Chris Rock,” LaBute says. “Chris understands comedy, and he knew how to get a funny cast together. And, he trusted me enough to say, ‘I want you to do this,’” he continues.

For Rock, LaBute was the perfect director to tackle this remake.

“He’s a taskmaster and a perfectionist without being annoying,” affirms Rock. “I’ve been in a bunch of movies, but I’ve only starred in a few, and I knew he would be really helpful to me in building a performance [because] he knows exactly what he’s doing. We haggled over the script a bit, but once we agreed that it was his show, I went where he told me to go.”

Death at a Funeral brings together a collection of top comedic talents and skilled actors to play the extended clan of the story, and all of the eclectic cast credit funnyman Rock, who has a delightful brand of scathing humor, as being their attraction to join the production.

“The attraction for me was the fact that I’d get a chance to work with Chris,” says Devine. “I’m still a little nervous around him because he’ll say things like, ‘So were you in Sounder?’ I’m like, ‘Hell no, I wasn’t in no damn Sounder! Excuse me, that [movie] was 90 years ago!’ You never know what he is going to say, and you just never know whether he’s joking or not.”

As for Lawrence, who plays the self-absorbed younger brother, his longtime association with Rock was instrumental in bringing him onboard.

“My man Chris gave me a call personally, and when he first called I was like, ‘Sorry Chris, I can’t do that,’” jokes Lawrence. “But then he sent me the British version and I thought it was funny and when he told me I would be playing his brother, I knew I had to get involved. We go back to stand-up days performing together and after being on the road and hanging out every now and then, it was nice for us to come together years later and do a film together.”

A film about a dysfunctional family that reunites for a disastrous funeral, the British version of Death at a Funeral didn’t attract much of an audience in the United States. This is clearly something Rock intends to change with this remake.

“It seemed like we could make a different movie and the same movie at the same time,” Rock says. “The bones of the movie are pretty much the same. I don’t look at it as a remake. It’s more like a cover song. When you hear Bob Dylan’s ‘All Along the Watchtower’ next to Jimi Hendrix’s version, they’re the same song, but they’re totally different. This is a movie for everybody. I’ve remade a few movies, and they all have one thing in common – great endings. You have to make sure the ending is tight. If you don’t have a great ending, don’t remake the movie.”

“Expect to laugh,” adds LaBute. “We take a sacred cow, the funeral, and lampoon it a bit. It’s a funny take on family dynamics at a moment of real stress. It’s also a meditation on what it’s like to have siblings and how a house can be torn apart by an event like a funeral. We took normal situations and made them completely abnormal, and it’s fun to watch that play out on the screen.”

Death at a Funeral releases in theaters April 16.