Ashley chats to De Line and Hamburg

With his latest film, “I Love You, Man” having now taken in the region of $50 million at the U.S Box Office, writer/director John Hamburg says he’s ready for more of a challenge.

“I’m working on the sequel to The Reader”, jokes the filmmaker. “In fact, I tried to do a little bit of punch-up on the script for the first. It was a good film, but it’s like this – Winslet was good, but if I’d done it, then they would’ve taken the box office too”.

Hamburg is, of course, teasing. He’s got no plans to venture outside of his comfort zone. For now, he’ll stick to laffers.

“I have no ability to do like a Revolutionary Road”, says the writer/director of 2004’s “Along Came Polly” and the writer of “Meet the Parents” and “Zoolander”.

“I Love You, Man” has done wonders for Hamburg’s career though, so you never know what he’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, “Love You” is something that’d been in the works for quite a while.

Producer Donald De Line says, “It’s based on a story that we’d been developing for many years. We had a great premise, but we never cracked the right screenplay or the right story”.

Enter Hamburg, who injected his real-life experiences into the libretto.

“I had friends growing up, but wasn’t really in a clique. There’s really no way for you to meet a close male friend when you’re an adult – it felt like an interesting idea for a movie”, he says.

“I think any guy can relate to it”, adds De Line. “It’s a very real phenomenon. Friendship is such an important element in one’s life”.

Segel and Rudd weren’t attached to the project when Hamburg was commissioned to put pen to paper on it.

“When I write, I try not to think of actors. As long as the characters feel real to me, it’s working”, says the scribe. “When 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.”

Rudd and Segel, probably best known for their roles in Judd Apatow hits like “The 40 Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up”, bought a lot to their roles.

‘’There was a good combination of scripted and improv dialogue”, explains Hamburg. “They were always super respective of the script but all of the cast were amazing improvisers so we’d start with the script and then go off from there. We’d go on tangents and then maybe come back to the script… or maybe not.”

Needless to say, there are a lot of deleted scenes to look forward to on the DVD.

“There’s a lot”, says Hamburg. “There’s a bunch of takes of Paul Rudd trying to get out the word ‘Later on, City Slicker’. Paul has his own language in the film there are plenty of scenes of him doing his thing; he’s a linguist. There’s also a scene at Venice Beach where Paul and Jason argue over different topics whilst Paul cruises Jason around on his Vesper. There’s a segment called ‘Barry and Denise American Sweethearts’ with [Jon] Favreau and [Jamie] Pressly – some really funny stuff they did that didn’t make the movie. We just had too many characters and too many stories to tell. People unfortunately don’t like sitting through a five-hour comedy”.

There’s no sequel to this one, but there will be one to one of Hamburg’s earlier films.

“I’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 I’m taking that basis and putting my own spin on it. Production will begin on that movie this Summer. It’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 wouldn’t be the same movie with Rob Schneider in the lead”, he laughs.

De Line’s just as busy as his colleague.

He’s currently in Australia prepping “Green Lantern. Martin Campbell is directing; He’s such a great director for us. It starts up mid September. I think we’re going to shoot in Sydney… or Melbourne.”

And sometime after that De Line hopes to put his stamp on a feature film version of Hanna-Barbera’s “The Jetson’s”.

“[Robert] Rodriguez has done a great job of the script”, says the producer of such films as “The Italian Job”, “Fools Gold” and “Body of Lies”. ‘’We will see what happens with that – we’re still trying to get that off the ground. It quite possibly could film in Austin – and Orbit City, of course.

“And there’s other projects in various stages of development”, adds the producer. “Hamburg may end up directing one or more of them; he just doesn’t know it yet.”

Hamburg, currently attached to direct Uni’s “Secret Agent Man”, says he’d be pleased to work with De Line again.

“[I Love You, Man] was a really enjoyable experience to work on together. Donald and I are always on the same page – and the actors were as well – and it was just one of those projects that you just couldn’t believe you were getting paid to show up to work and do.”

- ASHLEY HILLARD