Exclusive: Director Seth Gordon Talks HORRIBLE BOSSES

     April 12, 2011

Director Seth Gordon interview HORRIBLE BOSSES slice

When you put Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Jason Sudeikis (Saturday Night Live) and Jason Bateman (Teen Wolf Too, Silver Spoons) in a movie together, you automatically have my interest.  When you add Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, Donald Sutherland and Julie Bowen to the cast of Horrible Bosses, it becomes a must see film.  In the film – which arrives this summer – Bateman, Sudeikis & Day play friends that decide to kill their bosses who are played by Spacey, Farrell & Aniston. With this being a comedy, needless to say, nothing goes according to plan.

While the trailer hasn’t yet been released, at CinemaCon I got an early look at it and I also did a set visit last year.  Based on the footage and what I know about the plot, I’m extremely confident Horrible Bosses is going to be very funny and worth checking out.  Shortly after watching the trailer, I got to interview director Seth Gordon backstage.  We talked about how the editing has been going, how the project came together, filming in L.A. and how that helped land his cast, the test screening process, when will folks see a trailer, and a lot more.  Hit the jump to either read or listen to the interview.

four_christmases_movie_image_director_seth_gordonClick here for the audio, otherwise the full transcript is below.  Horrible Bosses gets released July 8.

Collider:  How has the editing process been going for you?

Seth Gordon:  The editing is going wonderful.  We are basically done.  You know, a lot of it was discovering in their performances the thread to follow in tone.  There is a tonal tightrope walk in the movie because it’s about a pretty heavy notion that, of course, doesn’t ever happen.  They don’t succeed in any of what they attempt.  So setting that up in a way that is relatable to everybody that also allows for the comedy – you got to be careful.  You have to keep it on earth and in reality.

I did the set visit for the film and I was there for the scene in the bar with Kenny Somerfield.  What I thought was interesting is how you recorded the scene in a lot of different ways.

Gordon:  The big thing was that we did a dark-dark version and a light-light version.

How often did you do that?

Gordon:  It was rare.

How did that scene come together?  I think I ruined a take when I was there from laughing so hard.

Gordon:  It comes together really well.  It’s a bit of a less is more thing with him because what he pitches is so outlandish that it doesn’t have to go very far before the audience is like. “Whoa!”  Then, I added a little other thing from the bartender, which helps wrap it up really well.  That was a fun day.  That was a good day to come.

I laughed a lot that day.  Can you talk about how you got attached to the project and how it all came together?

Gordon:  I read the script in November and I was crying from laughing because it was so funny.  It’s really rare that I even laugh out loud at a script, and it was so funny that I just had to do it.  I went and talked to the studio and I said, “I really think the way to make this is with an ensemble of comedians.  Then, when we approach people to play the bosses it should be people that you don’t traditionally associate with these roles in some way.”  So that is what lead to Colin [Farrell], Jaime [Foxx], and Jennifer [Aniston].  For Kevin Spacey, it was just that he is so perfect as “that guy” that there was sort of nobody else that could do it in my opinion.  He’s wonderful and he plays that character wonderfully.

horrible_bosses_movie_image_charlie_day_jason_sudeikis_jason_bateman_01Sometimes on a project you get one person on board and then the dominoes all start to fall.  How did that process happen with this movie?

Gordon:  It was these three guys.  Simultaneously, we went out and asked them.  They all started to commit and then Jennifer jumped on board.  The dominoes were starting to fall and then she committed.  Then, we were home free.

You filmed the movie in Los Angeles.  How was that process like for you since so many films are filming in other states these days?

Gordon:  I loved it.  I had just had a son.  So, it allowed me to see him.

A lot of people talk about how if you film in L.A. you can get a better cast because people like working at home.

Gordon:  That was definitively…we got in line early for a rebate and that is exactly the strategy that we went for.

Have you begun test screening the film?  How has that been going and is it nerve wracking for you?

Gordon:   It’s fine.  There is a reason why they invited us here today.  I’m really confident.  It plays well and the audiences love it.  So I went into that preview bullish and excited as opposed to sweating bullets, which is probably the healthier response to the situation.  In this situation, I just felt that my friends had seen it, and I had watched it with some crowds of strangers that were sort of in a more protected environment before the proper preview.  So we walked into that situation knowing that we were getting good laughs.

How did the test screening process possibly influence any editing or scenes?

horrible-bosses-movie-image-scan-charlie-day-jennifer-aniston-01Gordon:  It didn’t influence any of the scene work at all.  I knew from the outset what this movie is so it’s not like…you know…that.  [laughs] It’s not Sundance.  I’ve been a part of projects that have done that kind of slightly more artistic, or independent, or however you want to characterize it “thing”.  This was from the get a big, fun, comedy.  So I walked into that with that intention and clear expectation that if we stacked the cards in the right way they would fall, and that’s what happened.

You talked about tone earlier, but there is an element when you talk about killing your boss.  Can you talk about where the comedy line is and how far you push it in certain directions?

Gordon:  A favorite film of mine is Office Space and I love The Hangover.  That is a really good comedy from character in that film, and that is true of Office Space too.  For me, it all starts with character and figuring out who these guys are, how they are distinct, and who is the best pairing with each of them comedically  That is where I went to Spacey/[Jason]Bateman and then it was about who was good for Julie [Bowen], and it was clearly Charlie [Day].   So that process of understanding the comedy from the character is how we got to where we needed to go.

When are audiences going to be able to see the trailer that we saw today?

Gordon:  I think never because that was a special one.  You can’t put “Motherfucker Jones”…that would be red band probably.  But that trailer today was special, and it will be that minus a few things.  I think it’s pretty soon.  I think it may be on The Hangover 2.

I’m sure that will be a moment for you.

Gordon:  If that ends up being true and that comes to pass – I will be pretty happy.

horrible-bosses-movie-image-scan-kevin-spacey-jason-bateman-charlie-day-01Warner Bros seems to like keeping you in their little family after you start making movies for them.

Gordon:  They do seem loyal, don’t they?

They do.  I’ve noticed this from a lot of filmmakers.  Since you’re almost done with your movie is there anything else bubbling up for you? Are you reading any scripts?

Gordon:  Honestly, I just need to finish this film because I have to see my kid.  I’m just trying to be very sober about whatever I read so that I can pick something that really gets to something important.  That is how I am approaching the rest.

A lot of people don’t seem to understand that when you commit to a movie it’s going to be 18 months of your life.

Gordon:  At least.

Where you are living and breathing the movie.

Gordon:  Yes, and I feel fortunate to have chosen this one because it’s one of those things that unfolds deeper and deeper reasons of why it was a good idea.  That might not have been the case, but it’s a big part of them and their dynamic.

Can you talk about working with the 3 of them? They are all really funny.

Gordon:  Crazy funny and different in their funny.  Bateman is so dry and Charlie is such a good writer and is always finding new ways of getting at the stuff.  [Jason] Sudeikis really knows how to go with him and he will pop that bubble with something really cutting and so smart.

Director Seth GordonHow much time did you guys spend rehearsing before filming?  How much did you find beforehand or was it a lot of discovery on set?

Gordon:  We read the script together twice and then we shot it.  So there was no rehearsal per say.

So it was just jumping into the pool?

Gordon:  Oh, yeah, but I think that is the best way, especially with comedies.  You just go and read it.  You’re present and actually listening.  They aren’t like chess pieces you move around.  It’s like they bring the characters to life and you watch what is happening.  Then, you find better ways to do each of those scenes and how to get at the intentions that are underneath.

I have to wrap with you, but I have to revisit an earlier work of yours.  Are you surprised by the everlasting interest in King of Kong?

Gordon:  Staggered!  Kong was a….I shot that myself on a cheap camera and cut it myself.  I thought it was the stupidest waste of time that I had potentially ever committed to.  It absolutely changed my life.  It’s stunning how much that film has stuck with people and, according to emails I get, have impacted them.  I feel very lucky to have been a part of something like that.

People are still keeping track of who has the highest score.

Gordon:  There was a “Kong Off” last week.  Billy [Mitchell] got 7th, Steve [Wiebe] got 2nd, and the plastic surgeon that came out of nowhere got 1st. So it will never die.

For more on Horrible Bosses, here’s my video interview with Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis and Jason Bateman at CinemCon.

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