Set Visit: The Other Guys
It was almost 8am and the chill of mid-December was whipping through the avenues of New York City, feeling like an almost literal slap in the face from Mother Nature. Yet outside in the cold, in front of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, there were lines of preteen and teenage girls with nothing but smiles on their face. They were excited to be here. Too excited to be standing outside on a blustery winter day.
I was here to visit the set of THE OTHER GUYS, the upcoming Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg comedy. But as I walked by they weren't much phased by Will Ferrell or Mark Wahlberg as they entered. They were here patiently waiting...waiting...for a sign of Taylor Lautner who was hosting "Saturday Night Live."
So while everyone else was being kept at bay behind metal guardrails outside 30 Rock, I shuffled inside and made my way to the bank of elevators. NEW MOON heartthrob Lautner was on the 6th floor making his way through rehearsals with the SNL cast but I had no time to stop and say hello (besides the elevators are locked). I was up to the 26th floor to see what Ferrell, Wahlberg and director Adam McKay were up to on the set of their upcoming comedy.
In THE OTHER GUYS, Ferrell and Wahlberg star as a forensic accountant and a wanna-be hotshot detective who suddenly have a chance to step up into the big-time ranks of the NYPD. As you might imagine, things do go too smoothly.
As far as I know, not too many movies film inside 30 Rock. Especially not on the random 26th floor. Most of the floor was deserted. It looked like it had at one time been occupied by some business but was now mostly vacated. The walls were bare white and the rooms I peered in had only vague remembrances of a past office life (the occasional fern or motivational poster). Down the hall, however, was a room bustling with activity.
Two bay doors opened into a reception area for a Federal Reserve office set. This isn't where they were shooting today, so this was going to be my home for the next couple hours. Will, Mark, Rob Riggle, Michael Keaton and Damon Wayans, Jr. were all filming in an adjacent office that was just too small for me to fit into without getting in the way (and the last thing you want to do on a set is get in the way).
I set up shop behind Video Village, the bank of monitors that lets you see what the cameras are shooting, as they shoot them. This particular scene involved Wahlberg and Ferrell at a crime scene with a bunch of detectives and CSI-type workers in the background. Michael Keaton (the Captain) comes in and tells them that they're off the case and being demoted to traffic duty. They're obviously upset and that anger is only intensified when Riggle and Wayans come in directly afterward.
They're the new upstart cops who are trying to be the superstars of the force (taking after local heroes Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson, who we didn't see shooting on this day) and couldn't be more delighted that Ferrell and Wahlberg have been demoted. Earlier in the movie, Wahlberg's character gets in trouble for accidentally shooting Yankees player Derek Jeter. Riggle, eager to show off, says he was out partying with Jeter the night before. This launches into an improv-fueled scene that ends with Ferrell punching Wayans and Riggle perhaps going a little gay.
The scene would change every time with director McKay shouting out suggestions from behind the camera. Riggle's main joke "I did a shot with Derek Jeter and you SHOT Derek Jeter!" wasn't intended to be funny but the way he told it was hilarious. McKay kept telling the background actors to ham up the laughter as much as they could, "Pretend this was the funniest joke you've ever heard," he was telling the extras. After Ferrell loses his cool and punches Wayans, Riggle went off into an area that was completely unscripted.
Take after take he would get uncomfortably concerned with whether Wayans was OK. Touching his face, rubbing his chest, stroking his hair... Because all this was new and Riggle was coming up with most of it off the top of his head, Wayans had a hard time keeping up (and keeping a straight face). Later we talked to McKay and asked him whether it was written into the script that Riggle's character might be a little gay for his partner. He told us it wasn't even hinted at in the script - that was something Riggle came up with on his own.
I kept an eye on Wahlberg, who as you might expect is a pretty intense dude when in character, and even he had a hard time not cracking up around Riggle. The dude was on fire in this scene. I don't mean to insinuate we won't have great things from Ferrell in this movie, but this scene in particular was more about him staying quiet and seething with anger (which, to his credit, Ferrell does better than almost anyone) while Riggle goes nuts.
I got to speak with McKay, Wahlberg and Ferrell and Michael Keaton and we'll have all those interviews for you soon, which talk a lot more about the movie and their process.