JoBlo.com gets Raw with the WWE and the cast of MacGruber!
As you might be able to tell from the graphic above, I was lucky enough to spend some time with the cast of MACGRUBER - Will Forte, Kristen Wiig and Ryan Phillippe - as they prepared to host last night's WWE Raw (you can watch some highlights from the actual event - including a very staunch defense of New Jersey by MacGruber, here). I was scheduled to hang with some of the wrestlers that appear in the film as well like Big Show and Chris Jericho, but a good portion of the "Raw" lineup was stuck in Europe; a casualty of the volcano ash.
Our WWE contact assured us that our access was something they almost never allow. The wrestlers are obviously very private and take their preparation very seriously. I was honored to be allowed to walk around and meet some of the wrestlers who were there like Kane, Triple H and the Undertaker.
Before the show started, I sat down with Will, Kristen, Ryan, director Jorma Taccone and writer John Solomon to talk about the film, a Clancy T. Bachleratt and Jackie Snad movie, the nuttiness of Val Kilmer and the scars that come with filming rough sex and explosions.
I was down at SXSW for the screening and most of you guys were there. How nerve wrecking was that to come out and introduce the film with everyone just sitting there for the first screening. Luckily it went really well, but it still must have been insane to watch that.
JT: I had the best time sitting next to Will because most of the movie his mouth was open in pure shock and I assume elation because the response was so good.
WF: It was very exciting, very exciting. Part of the elation was tampered with a little stress because I was sitting next to my mom.
KW: Theres certain scenes in the movie that might be a little uncomfortable to watch with your mom.
WF: Its been a long time since shes seen me naked.
KW: She loved it though, she loved it.
Whats the biggest challenge of taking something thats like a minute long on television and making it I havent seen the film, what is it three hours long?
Wasnt the first cut like really long?
JT: No, our first script was really long. Our first script was 175 pages. That came out really quickly; I think that was in like four weeks, we wrote 175 pages.
WF: And two of those weeks were during SNL show weeks so we had an intense schedule and it was pretty crazy to try to pull double duty during those two weeks.
JT: I would say the biggest challenge I dont know exactly.
KW: The other hour and twenty minutes?
(Ed. note: At this point Jorma and writer John Solomon, who had been sitting in on the interview, had to leave to finish up editing a production piece for the show.)
What was it like working with Jorma, a first time director?
RP: He really is amazing one of the reasons I was so excited to do the movie is because of the edge and the flavor of the digital shorts and knowing that was going to be and it is the, film kind of has its own brand of cool. Like no matter what a big douche MacGruber is in the movie, you love him ultimately because of the charismatic Will Forte and the movie is cool it just is.
I thought it was great that MacGruber is kind of a goofball but you have to believe he can do some of the things he has his reputation for. Like the throat ripping. Youre not sure how real it is but then you see he really does it.
KW: And kind of in a clean way its like a Band-Aid.
That's a good point, people know MacGruber from the shorts, what are they going to see in the film that gives us more backstory?
WF: I think that goes back to the other question. We decided very early on not to worry about the sketch at all and that gives a lot of freedom to do whatever we wanted to do. So we didnt worry about the history of the sketch we just said lets do whatever needs to be done. And you know, theres not a ton of back story in the sketches so we could create whatever back story we wanted and it was all kind of open territory.
Did you guys get any weapons training? Did you get to go to a range and fire an M-16 and all that kind of jazz?
KW: He had to work with like rubber bands and just like, thumbtacks.
WF: We went to a textile mill.
KW: We went to Staples.
So I know you said you didnt want to worry about the sketches but this is a good opportunity to ask you of all the sketches which one do you think was the one that really just nailed it more than the other ones? Of the twelve or so MacGruber sketches, which one-
WF: My favorites are the uh, the Charles Barkley one which dealt with racism and the Shia LaBeouf one.
KW: I personally liked shooting the one with the ping pong balls.
WF: The one with Richard Dean Anderson both those, the Super Bowl commercial and the one we did for the show. It was so nice to be able to work with him because wed always wondered what he thought of the sketches for him to agree to do it then come and get his blessing was really awesome. Kristin didnt like him. They did not get along, he said something no Im just kidding.
KW: The set the door is attached so now we cant open it. And whenever Charles was like "Ill try to open the door," he'd just shake the door and all the walls on the whole set were moving.
WF: It was so nice because we had to do that the night of the college championship game so they brought a TV down for him. I still felt so bad for him during this championship game.
Kristen, can you tell us a little bit more about your character in the movie and how they developed her from the one-note bit in the skits?
KW: Yeah, they kind of as you know the movie takes place like ten or so years after the sketch so Ive sort of moved on and Ive started a singing/songwriting career. Which thankfully they wrote some really great songs for my character shes not that good so its kinda hard to play. The voice may be her but the lyrics and the keyboard. Uhm yeah, I got to do some action stuff and do a little lovemaking.
WF: She sustained some pretty serious injuries on the film. She got her arms all ripped out.
KW: I did, I still have scars on my arms.
WF: Sex scene goin on. There were just no pillows around.
KW: And the worst thing about it, in the end were doing that jumping explosion.
KW: No its not, is it? Well dont print that. Anyway, I was trying to do a stunt but the worst part is its not even worth it, I dont even go that high it looks like I did a bad job. So the scars are really worth it.
I think theres a lot of fascination in the press with comedy movies and improv and I thought it was fascinating that you guys filmed this with almost no improv because the shoot was so quick. Was the script locked? Or were you working on pages at night with [co-writer] John [Solomon]?
WF: That was the thing, we would have loved to do some improv and we got to go a little bit here and there but the shooting schedule was so compact that we just didnt get to do that much. So yeah, every aspect of this movie was pretty tight and compact so as a result we were kind of having to write as we were film and we never felt we got to the set and didnt have the best scene and version of the scene. We were always ready as far as that so it never bit us but yeah were pulling some pretty serious double duty.
Which other SNL sketches out there do you think are deserving of a feature film?
WF: Gilly, Target Lady...
KW: I think Jeff Montgomery would make an amazing, disturbing drama.
WF: Clancy T. Bachleratt and Jackie Snad would be good. They're these hillbilly singers who only sing songs about toddlers, jars of beer and Model T Fords.
How did this movie develop? Can you give us some insight into the process?
WF: Wed done the Super Bowl commercial and someone approached Lauren about it and he asked us if we had any interest and we thought he was crazy.
KW: I thought it was a good idea.
WF: Well, I think we had the same concerns that most people who hear, "Lets make a MacGruber movie" have its a 90 second short where they blow up in the end every time so we thought at least, we gotta see if we can think up any ideas. We started thinking abut stuff and coming up with stuff we were really having fun with and it all fell into place pretty quickly.
KW: Will, John and Jorma are the best writers Ive ever known. So I just knew it was gonna be really, really good.
RP: I got the script -
I was gonna say, how did you get into this?
RP: I got the script for the read through and I was like really, they want me to come read through? And I mean Im a huge SNL fan, from the time I was twelve years old Ive seen most of the episodes from then til now and I couldnt believe they were inviting me to do a read through with all these guys that Im such a big fan of and it so not the kind of movie Ive ever been associated with. But when I got the script I sat down, home alone and laughed at every single page. And I was so excited to go there and sit and read through it.
WF: Ryan is as far as Im concerned; Ryan is the MVP of the movie. Ryan did such an amazing job and without him we were just these two buffoons and he really like grounds the story and does such an amazing job with its so hard to play the kind of role that he plays and hes really funny in it and also just so credible and believable at the same time he did an amazing job.
RP: It was fun for Powers [Boothe] and I because we played it like we were in a serious action movie you know and what I love ultimately about the film is that it is to 80s action movies what AUSTIN POWERS was to the spy genre. Like were lampooning RAMBO and LETHAL WEAPON and DIE HARD. Theres elements of those movies in it and we played it as if we were in those movies, Powers and I. So, because of that you kind of experience it through my eyes because Im the only sane one.
KW: Yeah, you need someone kind of looking around like "What is he talking about" whenever he talks.
WF: When we had heard that he doing the movie we were so excited and with Val Kilmer? How did we ever get him to do the movie? I couldnt believe Ryan and Val I still think are borderline lunatics for doing this.
RP: Everyone said it would be the end of our careers on the internet as soon as we signed on.
WF: Really, it was such so fun.
RP: Val was so into it. Val would send Will threatening e-mails throughout the shooting of the movie he would tell him what he was gonna do to him.
WF: Val is just one of the funniest people of all time. Ive always been such a fan of his since REAL GENIUS.
Okay, give me the Powers Boothe story.
RP: We call him PBoothe, first of all.
WF: He came in and he was asking us questions. And were like "Youre Powers Booth, you tell us how we should play it!"
How is it to host Raw? Are you guys wrestling fans?
WF: Yes, it's very exciting. Oh my God, its nerve wrecking. We do live TV but this is a whole different ballgame.
Whats the SNL audience? Four-hundred people?
KW: I dont even think its that many.
RP: My son is gonna be stoked.
Does your son watch wrestling?
RP: Not really but he will watch this episode and I mean the fact that his dads in the room with some giants. Hes gonna love it. And it does bring out the thirteen year old in me cuz I was that whole Ultimate Warrior, that period of time was like Ricky The Dragon Steamboat I had all the dolls, I was so into it back then.
WF: We didnt have cable so we used to go down to like, the local video store and rent VHS copies of like Wrestlemania. I did that all the time so I didnt even know what order I was in but like, I would rent them whenever they were available.
Its not like LOST you dont need to watch it in order.
Do any of you guys want to get in the ring tonight?
RP: Its getting down, were all getting in.
Whats your finishing move then?
RP: I dont well MacGrubers got the throat rip Id imagine thats a finisher.
KW: I dont want to get in the ring Im just kidding.
RP: Im gonna go off the top rope.
KW: My move would be like "Hey look over there!" and then run away.
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