With his latest film, â€œI Love You, Manâ€ having now taken in the region of $50 million at the U.S Box Office, writer/director John Hamburg says heâ€™s ready for more of a challenge.
â€œIâ€™m working on the sequel to The Readerâ€, jokes the filmmaker. â€œIn fact, I tried to do a little bit of punch-up on the script for the first. It was a good film, but itâ€™s like this – Winslet was good, but if Iâ€™d done it, then they wouldâ€™ve taken the box office tooâ€.
Hamburg is, of course, teasing. Heâ€™s got no plans to venture outside of his comfort zone. For now, heâ€™ll stick to laffers.
â€œI have no ability to do like a Revolutionary Roadâ€, says the writer/director of 2004â€™s â€œAlong Came Pollyâ€ and the writer of â€œMeet the Parentsâ€ and â€œZoolanderâ€.
â€œI Love You, Manâ€ has done wonders for Hamburgâ€™s career though, so you never know what heâ€™ll be offered next.
A comedy starring Paul Rudd and Jason Segel as a friendless groom who essentially hires someone to be his best man, â€œLove Youâ€ is something thatâ€™d been in the works for quite a while.
Producer Donald De Line says, â€œItâ€™s based on a story that weâ€™d been developing for many years. We had a great premise, but we never cracked the right screenplay or the right storyâ€.
Enter Hamburg, who injected his real-life experiences into the libretto.
â€œI had friends growing up, but wasnâ€™t really in a clique. Thereâ€™s really no way for you to meet a close male friend when youâ€™re an adult â€“ it felt like an interesting idea for a movieâ€, he says.
â€œI think any guy can relate to itâ€, adds De Line. â€œItâ€™s a very real phenomenon. Friendship is such an important element in oneâ€™s lifeâ€.
Segel and Rudd werenâ€™t attached to the project when Hamburg was commissioned to put pen to paper on it.
â€œWhen I write, I try not to think of actors. As long as the characters feel real to me, itâ€™s workingâ€, says the scribe. â€œWhen I finished it, Donald and I just had a couple of conversations and the only guys we really talked about for the parts of Peter and Sydney were Paul Rudd and Jason Segel.â€
Rudd and Segel, probably best known for their roles in Judd Apatow hits like â€œThe 40 Year-Old Virginâ€ and â€œKnocked Upâ€, bought a lot to their roles.
â€˜â€™There was a good combination of scripted and improv dialogueâ€, explains Hamburg. â€œThey were always super respective of the script but all of the cast were amazing improvisers so weâ€™d start with the script and then go off from there. Weâ€™d go on tangents and then maybe come back to the scriptâ€¦ or maybe not.â€
Needless to say, there are a lot of deleted scenes to look forward to on the DVD.
â€œThereâ€™s a lotâ€, says Hamburg. â€œThereâ€™s a bunch of takes of Paul Rudd trying to get out the word â€˜Later on, City Slickerâ€™. Paul has his own language in the film there are plenty of scenes of him doing his thing; heâ€™s a linguist. Thereâ€™s also a scene at Venice Beach where Paul and Jason argue over different topics whilst Paul cruises Jason around on his Vesper. Thereâ€™s a segment called â€˜Barry and Denise American Sweetheartsâ€™ with [Jon] Favreau and [Jamie] Pressly â€“ some really funny stuff they did that didnâ€™t make the movie. We just had too many characters and too many stories to tell. People unfortunately donâ€™t like sitting through a five-hour comedyâ€.
Thereâ€™s no sequel to this one, but there will be one to one of Hamburgâ€™s earlier films.
â€œIâ€™m writing a draft of Little Fockers, which is a follow-up to two films I co-wrote, Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers. Larry Stuckey wrote the first draft of it, and Iâ€™m taking that basis and putting my own spin on it. Production will begin on that movie this Summer. Itâ€™s going to be Ben [Stiller], [Robert] De Niro, and Owen Wilson. In fact, I think a lot of the people from the first two movies are going to be back. It wouldnâ€™t be the same movie with Rob Schneider in the leadâ€, he laughs.
De Lineâ€™s just as busy as his colleague.
Heâ€™s currently in Australia prepping â€œGreen Lantern. Martin Campbell is directing; Heâ€™s such a great director for us. It starts up mid September. I think weâ€™re going to shoot in Sydneyâ€¦ or Melbourne.â€
And sometime after that De Line hopes to put his stamp on a feature film version of Hanna-Barberaâ€™s â€œThe Jetsonâ€™sâ€.
â€œ[Robert] Rodriguez has done a great job of the scriptâ€, says the producer of such films as â€œThe Italian Jobâ€, â€œFools Goldâ€ and â€œBody of Liesâ€. â€˜â€™We will see what happens with that â€“ weâ€™re still trying to get that off the ground. It quite possibly could film in Austin â€“ and Orbit City, of course.
â€œAnd thereâ€™s other projects in various stages of developmentâ€, adds the producer. â€œHamburg may end up directing one or more of them; he just doesnâ€™t know it yet.â€
Hamburg, currently attached to direct Uniâ€™s â€œSecret Agent Manâ€, says heâ€™d be pleased to work with De Line again.
â€œ[I Love You, Man] was a really enjoyable experience to work on together. Donald and I are always on the same page â€“ and the actors were as well â€“ and it was just one of those projects that you just couldnâ€™t believe you were getting paid to show up to work and do.â€
- ASHLEY HILLARD