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INT: Jay Chandrasekhar


-- this set visit took place in January 2005 --

Set Visit / Seann William Scott / Johnny Knoxville /
Jay Chandrasekhar / Jessica Simpson

Jay Chandrasekhar is probably best known as the resident director of the comedy troupe Broken Lizard. The troupe was thrust into the spotlight with the belly aching funny SUPER TROOPERS and most recently managed to get Jordan Ladd topless (how’d they do that?) in CLUB DREAD. It’s these movies, which showcased him and the troupe’s comic sensibilities which made him a perfect fit for the vibe they were going for with DUKES OF HAZZARD, which is funny without being too goofy or a spoof. We had the chance to talk to Jay on set while the scene they were shooting was being prepped and he was very cool, laid back and funny.

JAY CHANDRASEKHAR

How good is Seann [William Scott] at the driving?

He's really fucking good. You'll see him, in this movie, do at least two reverse 180's. Just driving in reverse, you know, with cop cars all over the place. He can pull 180s, he can do 90° slides.

In the TV show, they had them sort of stand in wardrobe for every episode...

The movie is inspired by the TV show but it's really also inspired by SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT. That's the kind of vibe we're going for. Tough, macho, funny, but never really goofy. There are tons of funny things in the movie but they're all played kinda straight. The wardrobe then was plaid shirts and whatever. We're trying to have a little hint of it. I mean, Daisy still has her shorts.

[At this point Seann was on set] Is that his wardrobe right now that he's gonna be wearing?

Underneath that coat. You know, Boss Hogg still has the white suit. There are certain things that are so iconic you can't change them, I don't think, and we kept those things like the car and the flag on top of the car and the white suit and the shorts but the other stuff, it's set in modern day so you kinda wanna dress them a little more like people dress.

That's one question people were asking me? Is it set then or now?

Now. It's now with like a seventies inspired tinge.

You've got a lot of retro cars.

Well, this is like a muscle car race, which they have. They have these kind of things. Boss Hogg's car is still the same. Daisy's jeep is new. That wasn't such a crucial part of the show. I mean, there are gonna be DUKES OF HAZZARD fanatics that are gonna be like 'oh, why isn't her jeep the same?' Well, you know, it's not. In the first action scene, we kinda made the jumps and stunts in that sort of seventies style. You know, there were certain classic shots that they did that we used and then the other four or five big stunts are modern. There are jumps that are covered from certain angles that are just classic.

What's the hardest shot you've done so far?

It's just, there's so many cop cars. I mean, it's not as many as the BLUES BROTHERS but there's so many moving vehicles. It's the kind of shot where he [Seann William Scott] has to pull reverse 180s among all these cop cars. More than anything, it's scary. Anything can happen at anytime cause we got really fast cars going. Lotta metal flying around. These things can happen on set particularly in a movie with high speed chases.

How do you sling shot a police car?

The General Lee will sometimes sling shot.

Was doing it with the full on stunts and not CGI and all kinds of tricks, was that part of the sell for you to make an old fashioned stunt driven kinda movie?

That was the plan when we came into it. Try to have as many people do the actual driving as much as possible. Make it feel as real. I mean, in the seventies, they didn't have these digital effects so they just did them. We did most of them here [on set]. There are gonna be the occasional shot that was worth doing [in CGI] but for the most part, they're in these cars. And we've got [the RDV], we've got the stunt driver on top and we can go really fast. It's a new kind of picture vehicle.

How fast can you get this [the RDV] thing going?

You can go as fast as a car can go. You can fly around curves, you can bash into stuff. There's another car that we have called the Go Mobile, which is, the driver's in the front and then that, you have the camera in the car looking at the driver and looking out the back window. So you stage these big stunts that  are happening behind the car and this [the RDV] you stage the stuff in front. You can look 360 on this. They're both useful tools. And that other Go Mobile, you can bash cars into the side of it.

Instead of doing a rear screen projection, you're getting the real thing.

The way they've typically done it in the past is a process trailer which is like a truck with a hitch towing a car around and you can get that thing up to 25, 30 [miles per hour] and then it gets dangerous. There's a lot of accidents that happen on those process trailers. These are like solid...the Go Mobile is one unit so it's not gonna go anywhere. It's a much safer shooting thing and you can get that thing [Go Mobile] up to 80 miles an hour. You haven't really seen it...in THE BOURNE SUPREMACY you've seen it...but you don't really get to you know...in RONIN you've seen it. You don't see those sort of speeds with real actors in it very often.  So that's what we're trying to do.

Everybody' safe?

Yeah, it's really safe in those vehicles. There are things we've done that are like, you know, you hold your breathe and they've worked out for us but we sent these guys to driving school so they know how to...they can do it. But most of it is, you know, still a risk, you never know. 

Are you sneaking in the movie somewhere?

Oh yeah (laughs). I just.. [stops and gets back to the safety issue] I'm saying, you worry that an accident will happen.

I know there's talk that Catherine Bach may appear.

We talked to her. We haven't been able to work it out yet. We want her to but I haven't talked to her. I don't know her. I had a poster on my wall for a long time.

Does Jessica drive at all in the movie?

Yeah, she does. She knows how to pull 180s, reverse 180s. She does.

It must be cool, like five years ago you're doing something else and now you're doing a major movie.

Yeah, I mean, it's cool. Yeah, I was a huge fan of SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT and BLUES BROTHERS so it feels like a natural movie for me to make. SUPERTROOPERS is a film i made before and that certainly is inspired by SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT. It's intended to feel somewhat like that.

How is the humor going? Was that already in the script? Did you guys make it up?

The group that wrote...we wrote SUPER TROOPERS and rewrote this [DUKES OF HAZZARD] script. There's intended to be a lot of humor in it.

So you and the Broken Lizard guys rewrote it?

Yeah, and they all play little tiny parts in it.

Cameo by Penelope?

(laughs) Yeah, no, definitely not.

Have you gotten behind the wheel of the General Lee? Taken her out?

Amazingly, not yet. I can't believe I haven't yet. The last week I think everyone's gonna try to get a ride. You know, we're zooming and we're working hard. I mean, it's not 'hey, let's get on the General Lee'. There's no...I can't play. I will, believe me, I will.

Put one in your garage? Take it home?

Yeah, driving around West Hollywood with the confederate flag.

There is, though...what are you gonna do with 32 General Lee's?

We trashed a bunch of them.

How many have you gone through so far?

I don't know. I know at least 13 or 14 are done. I'm pretty sure. You never really know. You hear about them. Sometimes we see them, sometimes the second unit goes through them.

You did a 150 jump in one already, right?

Yeah, that was trashed. And then we decided to do it again. So then that one was trashed.

So it's trashed at the end of the shot but in the movie it's not completely trashed?

Well, it's the landing. In every General Lee you saw in the TV show, the bulk of those were trashed. It's the landing that's like, breaks the wheel or breaks the axle. Cars are not designed to go 150 feet and land. And what happens is that sometimes we get lucky and they'll land on all four tires and they'll go. But we did this jump onto a highway and it landed and it went like [gestures the car action] and it drilled the median. So, the wheel was broke. And the car was done. So it's like.. I don't know, they [the TV show] killed like a couple hundred General Lee's.

They went through like 200, 150 episodes. That's like 300 cars.

They supposedly used to leave' em in Southern California overnight. I've talked to some kids, people who are adults now, used to play in them and then they'd come and take them away the next day.

Do you have any down time because of getting the cars ready or has it all been ready when you needed it? 

In terms of shooting?

Yeah.

There's always twenty minutes. This [RDV rig] should have been ready. Something else is getting ready now but then we go to shoot it...

There's so many Chargers around, I'm sure, did you use any other cars from the original series at all?

We have three the TV guys gave us which were pristine.

General Lee's?

Yeah. What we were gonna do was send them back like three crushed ones (laughter). They said these can't be involved in anything serious. But there are people all over the country who have General Lee's.

Whose performances do you like so far? Anybody done more than you thought they would?

We were lucky to have a guy like Burt Reynolds in here, who I think, to me, is the reason why we made the movie. Because of SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT, those films. He's hilarious, he's funny, he's got that energy. 

Seeing him sit in the car and doing the shot, you must be loving it.

Well, someone brought by the car from SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT. Like an exact copy of it. One of the original ones. And he got in it. And it was really cool.

Was it easy to sell him to do this movie?

Well, he gets to play the Jackie Gleason part. He's well aware of the history of it. Yeah, I mean, he got a chance to play Boss Hogg. I think it's pretty cool. Willie Nelson has turned out to be a phenomenal actor.

Really? What was the last movie he made? Honeysuckle Rose?

No, no, he's done stuff since then. He was in WAG THE DOG. He was in ELECTRIC HORSEMAN. He was in a recent episode of MONK. [He was in] THE BIG BOUNCE. In this movie, he's got a much bigger part. He's acting. The guy knows his lines. He memorizes his lines by singing them, apparently. He's good. He's funny. The guy's a human joke machine. If you hang out with him on the set, he'll just fire joke after joke. He's got such a mind for jokes and they're funny. Some of them are dirty, you know, and some of them...

Some of them you can keep, some of them you can't keep? Or is this just off set?

Oh, it's just 'why'd the nun do this...?' you know, it's usually something bad. He's a funny guy. He's not exactly the guy you thought he'd be.

Has he told you any good Waylon Jennings stories?

I haven't heard any Waylon Jennings stories.

He is re-doing the theme song, correct?

Yes.

Is he gonna sing during the movie as well?

Possibly.

Lot of improvising?

Not a ton. Some. We don't have a lot of time to do that, you know. You can either get the script great or you can improvise, I feel like, you know. I know it's a big movie but I keep dreaming of the day when I have enough time to improvise but I never do.

Are you thinking about including outtakes like you know in SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT?

Probably should. I don't know if they've been played out at this point, I mean, everybody feels like they're over but then you watch them and you're like 'oh, I kinda like it'. If we have good ones [we'll include them].

Maybe you can parody some?

You know, TOY STORY did some great ones with the fake outtakes.

Do you have a favorite shot? Do you have a favorite scene that turned out really well that's been put together well?

There's a scene that surrounds this safe that they steal that's really pretty cool. I tend to be somebody who doesn't like to ruin surprises so...

Right, right, I don't want you to go there. As long as you're satisfied with how that turned out.

Oh, there are a lot of great scenes. A lot of it is second unit stuff so they made me look really good.

Source: JoBlo.com

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