I’m awesome. I wrote a book. It’s got little to do with movies. Download and read “Thank You, Goodnight” right HERE for free.
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Before we get started with the interview I thought I would begin with giving away some free stuff.
In support of this week’s release of Universal’s ROLE MODELS on DVD I have five copies to send to anyone living and who can write me an e-mail to Christopher_Stipp@yahoo.com. One entry per e-mail address (some of you really get into this and while I appreciate your enthusiasm I cannot let you think this is Publisher’s Clearing House so keep it to one) and, just to make things interesting, I have a first runner-up prize for a handful of hopefuls: an official ROLE MODELS bottle opener w/ custom blue LED flashlight built into it. What better way to show you can open a beer bottle and then navigate your way through a darkened beer garden than with this nifty piece of electronica.
Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott star in Role Models as Danny and Wheeler, two salesmen who trash a company truck on an energy drink-fueled bender. Upon their arrest, the court gives them a choice: do hard time or spend 150 service hours with a mentorship program. After one day with the kids, however, jail doesn’t look half bad. Surrounded by annoying do-gooders, Danny struggles with his every neurotic impulse to guide Augie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) through the trials of becoming a man. Unfortunately, the guy just dumped by his girlfriend (Elizabeth Banks) has only sarcasm to offer a bashful 16-year-old obsessed with medieval role play. Meanwhile, charming Wheeler tries to trade in an addiction to partying and women to assist a fifth-grader named Ronnie (Bobb’e J. Thompson) redirect his foul-mouthed ways. It would probably help if Ronnie’s new mentor wasn’t an overgrown adolescent whose idea of quality time includes keggers in Venice Beach. Once the center’s ex-con director (Jane Lynch) gives them an ultimatum, Danny and Wheeler are forced to tailor their brand of immature wisdom to their charges. And if they can just make it through probation without getting thrown in jail, the world’s worst role models will prove that, sometimes, it takes a village idiot to raise a child.
MISS MARCH INTERVIEW
These three were a delight.
One of the problems with seeing a movie before interviewing those who were in it is that sometimes, once in a great while, the film doesn’t live up to what either you or I would consider, in this case, a breakthrough of comedic proportions. That’s not to say the film doesn’t have its moments. However, I thought it best to stick to questions about Zach Cregger and Trevor Moore’s (WHITEST KIDS U’KNOW) triple threat of writing, directing and acting in their first feature film.
They proved to be affable and quite open about the process of making the movie and when the interview starts with Zach giving Playboy Playmate Sara Jean Underwood shit for texting during a previous interview it was a good enough entry point for me.
MISS MARCH opens everywhere today, March 13th.
SARA JEAN UNDERWOOD: He called me out and said I was rude at one point, so…
CHRISTOPHER STIPP: Really? Why did he say you were rude?
ZACH CREGGER: Would you be offended if someone was texting while you were interviewing?
CS: Well, it would make me feel bad on the inside.
CS: I would never say it but…
UNDERWOOD: So unprofessional! Thank you for calling me out. I will never do it again.
CS: Texting when someone is interviewing you. That’s hardcore.
UNDERWOOD: I was trying to be sure they had a booth tonight at the club. I was working.
[I intentionally turn away from Sara]
CS: So what I’m going to do is focus on this part of the table to avoid…
CREGGER: Aaaand….I’m going to text.
CS: So, where did this come from? Did the two of you go into a room and say, “Let’s make a movie”?
CREGGER: Well, originally, somebody wrote the script for Trevor and I and gave it to Fox and Fox brought it to us and said, “Would you like to re-write this movie and direct it?” So we read the script and were not wild about doing a road trip/sex comedy. Just not our sort of thing. So we were really hesitant, but then we thought about it a lot and decided that we could turn it into a challenge – a writing challenge – and say, “OK, can we take this model that has been done and try and put our stamp on it, push it as far as we can and make it something that we would enjoy and hopefully that others who enjoy our show would enjoy as well.”
That was our motivation for accepting.
And so we threw out the script they gave us, the only similarities, every character is different except for Hefner.
TREVOR MOORE: Hefner wasn’t even in the original script
CS: Really? A movie abut a girl who becomes a Playboy Playmate doesn’t have Hef in it?
CREGGER: He wasn’t, you’re right. Originally, they get stuck in a ravine outside the mansion and they have to get rescued by…
MOORE: I honestly never made it past more than 25 pages of the original script.
CREGGER: I did but out of pure morbid curiosity.
UNDERWOOD: I feel bad for the guy who wrote it.
CREGGER: He’s a great guy.
MOORE: We know him and actually it should be said that we don’t think that it was his intention – we think it was his intention just to get us to re-write it. He was basically saying, “I think this is a good idea. Here’s a script. You guys take it and do whatever you want with it.”
I think the big thing that was kind of the idea that made us think that maybe we could make this something that would be worthwhile for us to do, was the idea of instead of having both characters being obsessed with getting laid – which is in every road trip sex comedy, we thought we’d have it just be about putting sex on a pedestal and having an unhealthy viewpoint on sex. So it happens on both ends of the spectrum. The Eugene character is terrified of sex and he is put up as this thing that it starts to hurt his relationship with his girlfriend. Then he begins to hold past partners against her. Then on the other side of that coin, we have the Tucker character who has a good girl, a girl that is probably right for him but he can’t accept that because he doesn’t think he’s lived enough yet, or doesn’t have enough notches in his belt. So, it’s really about these two, completely opposite, but also, completely wrong viewpoints on sex and finding a middle ground in the middle of probably where they both should be.
CS: When you went to do it, and [looking over to Sara] I’ll pull you into this one because I can see you are not texting right now…
UNDERWOOD: You have my undivided attention.
CS: There are moments in the film where there is a lot of, for lack of a better word, gags. You shit the floor, Craig Robinson’s nuts…
MOORE: Lack of nuts.
CS: Yes, lack of nuts and all that. How did you block with Sara and say, “This is kind of the idea of what we want to do, comedically, but we want to make it funny and not go over the top.” Coming from a comedy background in sketch comedy, where do you know where that line is between what’s really funny or what someone would look at and say, “They are just being obnoxious at this point”?
MOORE: You just have to go with your gut. It’s kind of like a fingerprint. Everybody’s personal style – it’s just something that is your sensibility. Where you think the line is or how you would tell that joke and hopefully enough people are on that same page that you are. There are some people who would go like that joke could go even more low brow or some people – like the way we did it was too low brow.
CREGGER: Our rule is that if it makes us laugh out loud while we’re writing then it probably will go in.
CS: And during the process of writing, getting Craig Robinson, getting Hugh Hefner in the picture, how hard was that coming from a couple guys that have a sketch show and will you be in our movie? How hard was that to get everyone on board?
CREGGER: Craig just auditioned.
MOORE: It was his first audition after Knocked Up. He came in and auditioned. It was one of those things where we had a couple options of people, different comedians who had come in and done well and would have been fun but then Craig just came in and right off the bat basically was the character you see in the movie. Just got the character, was him from the very beginning. The art direction for Craig would be like, “Remember what you said back there, use that, do that again.” It was very little direction for him because he really got the character. As soon as he left and shut the door, it was like, “Call his agent, call his agent.” We knew right off that bat that he was the guy.
CS: How did you know she was right?
MOORE: We did the movie without Playboy’s involvement originally. We had Robert Wagner playing Hefner. We shot it because when you are dealing with a company as iconic as Playboy you don’t know how seriously they are going to take their image and don’t know who much they are going to micro-manage the script. That was our paranoia. So we were like, “Let’s just do it without Playboy being involved.” Then, when we screened it, the movie tested well all the way through except when Hefner would come out and then there was just a disconnect. Even though Robert Wagner did an awesome job they were just thinking, “Why didn’t they get Hugh Hefner? That’s weird.”
CREGGER: Especially with the TV show now and Hef’s more in the limelight now than in the last 10 years.
MOORE: Yeah, so you can just see in the eyes that, that’s not happening. So we knew it was a problem and knew we had to see if Hefner would actually do it. We showed him the movie and we were really lucky that he liked it, wanted to be in it, and didn’t want to change anything. Our fears were for naught. He was totally down to do it the way we had written it. Then he sent us some reels of some Playboy Playmates and we saw some footage that Sara had done and there was something that was just very likable and sweet about Sara.
CS: There was. Sara is very sweet on camera. Very demure. Not that I’ve met any other playmates but the kind of vibe that they put out is that they are beautiful and have a certain air but with Sara it was very natural…and kind of like the girl next door for lack of a better word.
MOORE: It was an instant likability – I don’t want to say anything bad about other playmates, but there is more of an instant likability than other playmates. That’s really good for doing this movie and the point of the movie in some way in that the Cindy character is not a bad person because she’s in Playboy so meeting another playmate like that just reinforces.
CS: And that part, the moment in the movie when Hugh talks about the ugly girl next door, how many takes did that take because it looked, for a comedy, it looked very natural for him. I can see that if he delivered that it could seem kind of stilted, or awkward but it seemed very natural, very easy.
CREGGER: Not that many. I think maybe three or four. He was just really eager to cooperate. If he did a take and you wanted him to do it different, he was fine. You never know what you’re going to get when dealing with someone like that. He used to be so powerful. No incentive for him to be in this movie other than really wanting to help us out. He just came out of I’m going to help these guys and make it as good as possible. He was enthusiastic which is why he came across that way.
MOORE: What we didn’t know until yesterday, Sara said the day before he was studying his lines and taking it very seriously and trying to get it down. It was really kind of impressive.
UNDERWOOD: He said it was the most lines he’s had in a movie. He said he’s done cameos. But he had a lot of lines in that and he was really nervous about it.
MOORE: I think that was amazing that this guy has other stuff to do. This is not a make or break to his career.
CS: I’m shocked. The last time I saw him was probably in Beverly Hills Cops II. That’s the last time I saw him on screen.
CREGGER: He was in House Bunny.
CS: Didn’t see it. I’m sorry. Last movie that was aimed at the ladies I did see was HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU.
UNDERWOOD: Was that good?
CS: It was pretty awful.
CREGGER: But they had so many stars in it.
CS: You would think! Obnoxious. You two both have co-directing credits on this. How was the relationship? Anything along the lines of “I don’t know about this”, “I don’t agree with that?” Or was that not an issue?
MOORE: We wrote it together so by the time that you are shooting, we already voiced the characters while we were writing it. Kind of like acting it out as we were writing it. So, there’s not a whole lot left up to discussion by the time we are on the set, except for angles and camera equipment and stuff like that. So the beginning of each day we just walk though and set that up and it was pretty good.
CS: Seeing the film – the finished product – you are used to doing half hours at a time, how was it now looking at the finished product and seeing what you have on screen? Did you get everything you wanted to get or did you say, oh, I wish I would have gotten something different here?
CREGGER: I can’t help but think that. That’s just how it happens when you do this. When I watch it I see every little thing I wish I could change. Not that I don’t like the movie, it’s just when you slave over something…I wish I could have another tweeking. Just the nature of the beast. Got to let the baby go. But there are also things that work very well. In a couple of years I’ll be able to watch it without any of that stuff.
CS: How do you feel about the filmmaking process itself when you compare it to your television work?
MOORE: There’s pros and cons to it. I think by nature I enjoy television a little more because of the immediacy of it. I love writing and I love writing something, shooting it and throwing it out there. Immediate audience feedback on it. But this you have to do something for two years. I do like doing movies but to direct something again it would have to be something I really, really cared about and thought that I need to direct this or else it won’t have the right tone. I think the next thing I would want to direct is a wise kids movie because I don’t think that is something you could turn over to just another director. We would have to direct that. But, I’m interested in just writing stuff and not directing it unless it’s a pet project.
CS: Sara, as a bonus for you not texting the whole time, I’ll give you the final question real fast. Your experience on the film, what did you take away from working with these two?
UNDERWOOD: They make fun of me every time I say it like I’m brown nosing, but it was exciting to be in it. They wrote it, directed it and stared in it and they are really talented and I think they are upcoming stars and I think that it’s cool to be a part of their first movie. They have some much more cool stuff ahead of them.
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