Set Visit: 30 Minutes or Less, Part 2!
Jesse Eisenberg has just been pistol whipped in the face.
And we're back with the second part of my visit to the set of 30 MINUTES OR LESS, the heist comedy from ZOMBIELAND director Ruben Fleischer. I'm watching the climactic scene of the movie being filmed, and after securing his girl and his safety, Eisenberg sprints away, only to be jacked in the face by Michael Pena, playing, Chango, an assassin.
As it turns out, the bad guys in this film (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson) have some problems of their own to deal with, a hired gun owed payment. Pena explains his character.
"He killed Danny McBride's father. He actually calls off the deal because McBride's like, yeah, can I bump it? Like it's a reservation at Sizzler's or something. I'm like no dude, you can't fucking bump it, fuck that, YOU became the hit, and then I go after Danny and with this scene over here, everything comes to a head, and I want to kill Danny, and then I see Nick Swardson and I'm like, fuck, I got to kill two guys. So yeah, it's kind of crazy, they're putting a fucking bomb on one dude to go rob a bank, to pay the other guy to kill his dad."
So yes, the plot is more initially complex than we realize, as the bad guys have their own devil chasing them, and in this scene they throw the cash to him, but he doesn't want to let them walk away. What ensues is an epic gun/flamethrower battle that unfortunately had been shot the night before we got there. We did get to see a lot of the footage that was shot, and stuntmen are completely engulfed in flames on the screen, though I won't say who they're supposed to be standing in for.
If there was pair of adjectives to best describe director Ruben Fleischer, it would be "calm and collected," but even he admits the fire stunts put him on edge. "I was really nervous about all the fire stuff, that was the thing I was dreading the whole time. It turned out not to be as scary as perhaps I thought it would be, but lighting people on fire is no joke. Not as scary as perhaps I thought it would be, but lighting people on fire is serious business."
This was a great scene to witness, but unfortunately with our limited time on set, we didn't get to see some of the other big action sequences from the film including a car chase through downtown Grand Rapids, and of course, the bank robbery itself.
Aziz Ansari was the most amped about that scene, which he claims was like living out a dream, which I suppose is just a tad bit disturbing. "It was so fun! I'm probably not going to rob a bank anytime, so this is as close as I'll get to doing that, and I see why people rob banks, it's very fun. You just bust in and start yelling shit at people and threatening to shoot them and stuff, it's so fun."
He describes the scene as what it would look like if two people tried to rob a bank after only seeing heist movies. HEAT comes up a lot when talking about this scene with the cast, and Ansari says it was his main inspiration. "The whole time we were shooting that I just watched Heat over and over again to like really get in that mindset, so it' s just like me trying to channel the dudes from Heat. That was always my favorite part of the movie, I just don't think there's really been like a bank robbery comedy, so that always seemed like an interesting concept to me. Ruben was really cool about just letting me do whatever I want."
In the scene we watched tonight, Ansari wasn't actually present, as his character is offscreen pretending to be a sniper, but he says he got to do a lot of improv as well, and Fleischer said that he actually wrote a lot of his own dialogue for the film. "Ruben is always like if you have any ideas, try them and when you start talking about improvising in movies, sometimes it gets a little like people imagine us just saying dumb stuff randomly like Whose Line is it Anyways or something [ed note: I take offense, that show is brilliant], but I try and think of it as like rewriting in the moment and seeing if there's any alternate jokes or anything like that, and Ruben our director's been really cool about pushing us to do as much of that as we can."
In fact all the actors had nothing but excellent things to say about Fleischer, who is probably the polar opposite of a Michael Bay-like tyrant on set, very easy going and open to any suggestions on how to make his film better. With the success of ZOMBIELAND, he remains humble and says that he picked a project of this scope on purpose. "The scale of it was something I was excited about too, it was really manageable. I think often directors who get a little bit of notoriety, on their second film bite off more than they can chew and make bad decisions and bad movies."
With the amount of comedic talent in this cast, it's hard to believe that 30 MINUTES OR LESS would be a bad movie, and hopefully will please audiences as much as ZOMBIELAND did. And as for another similarity to that movie? Fleischer declines to comment on a rumored cameo for THIRTY MINUTES saying only "The great thing about the Bill Murray cameo was that no one really saw it coming, so if there are any cameos in this , we'll try to make that happen as well." In that spirit, I'll keep my mouth shut and let you Google the rumors on your own if you like.
When asked if the film would toe the line and try to make extra cash by securing a PG-13 rating, our fears were tossed out immediately by the director, who says he doubts it would even be possible. "I don't know that the subject matter inherently would have allowed it. It's dark at times so I don't know if that would have even been a possibility." In fact, he thinks they could be a on a record pace for vulgarities, "I think Lebowski has the record for the most Fs, I think we might give them a run for their money. I'm almost a little bit nervous, there are so many F-words, hopefully the audience can sustain it." I have a feeling we'll be able to handle it.
As I sit watching Swardson test shoot the flamethrower, everyone shielding their eyes from the light and heat, Fleischer has a concluding statement for us as the overall message of the film, which is a bit more than a comedy with oversized weapons and action scenes. "It's really about if you only had one more day to live, what are you going to do with that day and what's most important to you. The take home is life is precious, and you just can't let it pass you by delivering pizzas."
No offense to you pizza guys out there.
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|Extra Tidbit:||Thanks to everyone for having us out there!|