After twelve cups of coffee, I had the chance to catch the press junket for “The Other Guys” with attendee’s Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton and Director Adam McKay. They were hilarious and in form for an early Saturday morning. Then again, I wouldn’t expect anything less and was delighted to be entertained as they promoted their film that hits theaters shortly.
How’d you all get together?
AM: We all like to smoke out. We like to burn it down on pretty weekly basis. Michael Keaton has a van and we would meet with Michael and just be burning rope, like thick clouds of smoke.
WF: Basically the three of us went to dinner.
MW: They were kissing and I-
WF: Adam and I had talked about for years the idea of working with Mark in a comedy. We found him to not only be such a good actor but funny at times in some of the roles that he’s done. We all sat down, had a dinner and said would you ever wanna do a movie with us and Mark was like great. We talked about doing the “other guys” on a force that no one cares about, no one wants to listen about and kind of have their chance to step forward and prove that they can actually do something.
EM: Mark, were you in right away?
MW: Yeah, I didn’t even wanna read the script. They said would you be interested in doing a movie? I said yeah and they said, do you wanna hear the idea first? And I said if you wanna tell me, if not we can just order dinner and drink some more wine. Literally, I’ve always wanted to do a comedy and to get an opportunity to work with these guys was just a dream come true.
AM: It was one of those weird movies where we always had an idea of who we are thinking of but never does it happen. And this is kind of the first time it happened.
In the press notes it says you wrote the script between eight and ten weeks? What is your writing process like?
AM: That’s probably for a vomit sloppy first draft. And it’s a little deceiving, Chris Henchy and I wrote that first draft but then Will was very involved and came and did the rewrites with us.
EM: Then I came in and cleaned it all up. That took about two days, I’m not gonna lie.
Adam, how did you decide to use the Ponzi scheme in the story?
AM: Well, we talked about this idea while we were doing this movie because the cop buddy genre is almost dead in a weird way. It started to get so stale towards the end and there had been a bunch that hadn’t sort of hit in the early nineties, so it was a tough thing. The one thing we said is that the reason you could do this is that the perception of crime has changed. So the fact that Bernie Madoff just stole ninety billion dollars and that these banks basically stole a trillion dollars. All the sudden, drug smuggling and those things kind of got quaint. So we thought it was great idea to sort of involve that. We felt that it was the only crime you could have in it. The problem is a lot of its on paper and a lot of it happens through wrong term lobbying and a really dry kind of thing. So, we kind of had to give it some muscle to it. But we felt it was essential, even though it’s not the main part of the movie, the reality of that, makes you care about what they’re doing in crucial scenes. So yeah, it was very important.
When you were shooting scenes, did you find that knowing you had to eventually snap back to the theme and plot of a buddy cop movie keep things in line and from maybe getting a little too fuzzy?
AM: Yeah, well you know there are certain beats you have to hit, like you’re saying. There are scenes where Coogan has to be taken in the car and then you know there are scenes where you kinda just go off. If it’s Mark saying a monologue to Will or will chewing out Mark, ya know, you have room there. So you sort of identify the areas where you can get kinda fuzzy and crazy.
WF: But this is probably the most plot driven movie that we’ve done.
Mr. Walberg, you’re the only one who has cop movie experience. Were you a resource or did you just watch them diddle around and enjoy their ignorance?
MW: Exactly. No, obviously I had a lot of fun making this movie. I certainly felt very comfortable when it came to anything cop-ish or action, but with all the other stuff I basically just wanted to follow their lead.
AM: It was funny we’d be filming a big action scene and Will and I were like “Wow, look at this! We’re breaking a window.” And Mark would just come over and just be yawning, “yeah we did this one time except I was being shot out of a cannon and I was on fire.” Ya know what, Mark, let us have our fun, please.
There were a lot of action sequences taken in this, what was the trickiest one to set up and execute?
AM: You use a mixture of second unit and we shot a lot first unit. The opening chase was pretty crazy; there were a lot of things in that so we story boarded that over and over again. The one that was the most fun and tricky was the conference room shoot out cause we shot that. First unit shot that and that was another one we had to story board. We had to go through dry runs like six, seven times cause once you shot that setup, it was done. That was the most expensive set we had in the movie. Those were both the most fun and at the same time the trickiest.
And how was it for Mark?
MW: Naw, just strap me up and pull me around. It was fine.
AM: It was an old hat for him.
WF: Keep in mind, I had to run out of there pretty quickly. I had to run. I had to duck. I had to do things too.
The fight scene you shot in the conference room, was that a homage to John Woo?
AM: I think you can’t do any action without in some way paying homage to John Woo. I mean he’s just the guy that sort of invented that next level of poetic nasty action. Our DP actually shot a couple of John Woo movies and my script supervisor worked on it. So we actually were talking about John Woo and I love when he plays the beautiful song to counter the nasty action. We could’ve done that for the whole movie, we did it with the “Monday, Monday” in the end. But yeah, I never got tired of it. John Woo’s around any action scene being shot.
Did anyone have a particular favorite scene to film?
WF: I’m gonna have to say Ava and Mark and I at the dinner table for the first time, discussing our relationship. The combination of Eva’s earnestness and Mark’s just general dumbfounded reaction, that any of this could be possible, And then my characters nonchalance about it as well. That was a scene that we could have filmed all day long.
Mark did you have any input on the shooting of Derek Jeter?
MW: No, but I was certainly thrilled. I felt bad after because he’s such a nice guy but we are going to screen the movie in Boston on the third of August and I cannot wait. I just became a legend in Boston.
WF: I gotta make sure I send ahead my shipment of Lakers caps to have at the thing, note to self.
I was wondering if any of you could name your favorite cop movie of any time?
EM: I’m gonna go with Michael Mann’s “Thief,” absolutely.
WF: Turner and Hooch.
AM: “Collision Course” would be mine.
MW: Probably “French Connection” or “Serpico.”
MK: There’s a little movie, not really a cop movie per say, but there’s a little film Dustin Hoffman did years ago called “Straight Time.” It’s really great.
AM: “Homicide” by David Mamet, that’s another one. That’s a really great one.
Eva, you’ve done action, drama, comedy. Is there one you’re more comfortable with? Or do you just enjoy them all?
EM: I think it’s really about who you work with, for me. I’ve never had more fun than I have on this set and I’m not just saying that. McKay’s like my Scorsese and that would make Anchorman what? My-
MW: Raging Bull.
EM: So, I definitely have so much fun here and I felt really, just at home. It’s just about the people you work with, I think, for me anyway.
Mark, could you talk about the Entourage movie?
MW: We hope to do one but we still have another season and a half to go. So, they could certainly mess it up before we get an opportunity.
I thought the end credits were brilliant. Talk about making us laugh for ninety minutes and then saying here’s the real joke?
AM: The nice thing about credits if you do them when you’re done with the movie. So we finished the movie and then looked at it and we sort of hit on some of these financial things. But it’s not a partisan issue; it’s not a right wing, left wing issue. It’s just kinda what’s going on. I thought is there a fun way to sort of say, “Hey you just laughed but by the way this is ridiculously awful,” and at the same time still have it be fun. So, Picture Mill did our credits, I said could you show us some statistics because they are all striking and so outrageous but do it in almost a pink panther animated kind of way and they came up with that idea. I love the way they pulled it off. I think it’s a perfect kind of balance.
- Katie Crocker