Hi I’m Eric Conner senior instructor and New York Film Academy. And in this episode we bring you Jay Roach who you may know is the director of not one but two legendary comedic franchises Austin Powers and Meet the Parents.
The trickiest part for me was getting used to being sued like I got sued fifteen times I think or something personally. My name you are you’re now being sued for millions of dollars because you have invaded my privacy.
But his credits go far beyond.
And the Focker circle of trust his producing credits include Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy and Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat and Bruno.
His work on TV has leaned towards the political including the movie Recount based on the Bush-Gore election and Game Change the Sarah Palin John McCain satire. And that’s enough for you. He directed Bryan Cranston to an Oscar nomination in Trumbo. But as he informed our students. It took a long 10 years away from school before his career really took off.
You know it is a question and it’s the question I had. You know that took me 10 years to answer so no not to be discouraging. It still will work out but it might take a while. You know I did. I did so many different things to kind of weasel my way and including you know getting a job based on other people’s you know clips from other people’s movies. But one of the things that I find has been has not only worked for me but worked for many other people that have worked for me since since I came up. Was that the notion of getting work. Not in the typical way. Like becoming a P.A. or. A camera assistant or you know a producing assistant or something that’s on the set in the middle of the to me the very best gig can get out of film school is as a writing assistant. I got a gig from an old friend. Being a writing assistant for a guy named Pen Densham who produced Backdraft and a film which I wrote the story for called blown away and a few other things that they were they were kind of you know very much in the zone. And I was in the writing rooms just taking notes I’ve taught myself the type really fast. But beyond that I would help them organize the notes into manageable accessible information kind of documents and even sometimes took a shot and would organize the scenes in an outline order and try to present back to them here’s what I think you guys have in mind and eventually they said why are you kind of helping us write this why don’t you write a couple of these scenes. I wrote some stuff without credit and then one of them got really busy and got a gig doing a sci fi television show and he said why don’t you write the pilot. I have a story you write a pilot so I wrote a pilot it got picked up as a series. It did not turn out to be a good series and didn’t last very long. But again out of that I got to direct second unit and I got to direct scenes that the directors didn’t want to deal with but know it was my first shot at directing actors and I’ve hired since then a ton of writing assistants of my own.
Being an assistant might be considered just paying your dues. But to Mr. Roach it’s incredibly valuable to be to paraphrase Hamilton in the room where it happens .
Shawna Robertson who became Judd Apatow’s main producer did 40 year old virgin and a slew of his films. Larry Stuckey who has now become my writing partner Michael McCullers was our writing assistant on the first Austin Powers wrote the sequels for the second two just from being in those rooms where you are in touch with every decision that goes into getting the film created and made. And it’s an incredibly good way. You’re involved in casting you’re involved in the studio. You know all the politics you hear everything in that room on comedies the writing goes through the shoot it goes through post-production. So you’re kept involved through the shoot and you do get to end up on the set but you’re also the person up late at night. You know after everyone else has going to bed trying to make sense of the notes that came up in that rehearsal that day. You sit in rehearsals you actually get to see that the directors directing the actors because you’re improving in the rehearsals and turning that into script pages and as a writer producer I would only hire the smartest people young people who could if they were given a shot probably do better at writing. I always would always hire people I thought were smarter than us. So anyone who can get a hold of working writers and get that gig and I think that’s the best. The other big one is write scripts all the time shoot and write just every second. I didn’t have the opportunities you guys have of getting things seen a two minute comedy short can be seen by millions of people if it’s good now by just bumping it up on YouTube and try to avoid the kind of dead end jobs like PAing just I know so many people who went that production route and if you want to be a first AD or a line producer PAing is great if you want to write and produce just working as a writing assistant in the daytime and at night write your own movies and on the weekends shoot your movies with all your friends and that’s you. I can’t if you have any talent at all within a couple of years someone will figure out you have it and will give you a gig.
Along the way Mr. Roach was connected with SNL grad Mike Myers thanks to his literal rockstar wife Susanna Hoffs from the bangals. And from the union. Myers and Roach sprang our favorite 60s British spy.
Who is this Austin Powers.
The ultimate gentleman spy. Irresistible to women. Deadly to his enemies. A legend in his own time.
Allow myself to introduce. Myself.
We hold the world ransom for. One million dollars.
Do you really expect them to pay.
No Mr. Powers. I expect them to die.
I shall call him mini me.
Get in my belly.
You know I have one simple request and that is to have sharks with frickin laser beams attached to their heads.
Yeah baby yeah.
I had ten years to get ready for the leap because I graduated in 86 from USC film school graduate grad student and. I had done a few things I had written a little bit and I shot some second unit on some campy sci fi things and stuff. Mike Myers I knew him indirectly through our wives kind of knew each other. I had done some work on a very bizarre sort of psychological almost David Lynch style thriller was about Adolf Hitler and the psychology of evil. Mike saw that and said oh you should do Austin Powers. So that’s. And that’s true because he was he was a World War II history buff. We had things in common they just weren’t. You know James Bond derived comedies. It was a pretty big leap and he just kept saying to them I’m not going to do it unless this guy I think he is the guy and he is really the one who took the crazy leap then the studio went along with that risk. But Mike really staked everything so that’s how it happened.
The pitch for Austin Powers must have been tricky. It’s a riff on the James Bond formula but not a parody. It’s a comedy that would play many of its jokes as dry as a vodka martini. Shaken. Not stirred. Mr. Roach needed to convince the studio that his unusual vision for this comedy could work.
We had a lot of influences that was one of the thing to try to avoid just being a parody movie. We wanted it to seem like it was sort of derived from a lot of different influences the way I got the job because I didn’t really have a reel or anything to show but I cut together some clips from movies that I had been aware of that were sort of off center blow up you know which we ripped off heavily at the end with all the photographing but also a movie called the tenth victim with Marcelo Masrani and Ursula Andrus it was kind of a trippy pop art thriller or something. I mean I had to convince them that style could be funny and that it wouldn’t just be a parody because we didn’t want it to seem like I like those kind of films that are deliberately parody films that we hoped it would seem like as they say it was something else and you couldn’t quite trace all the DNA of it. So we used films like that and I showed those clips in a big meeting and said I don’t have anything to show to prove that I can do it but here’s some films I like. And they they they hired me based on liking the same films.
650 million dollars and two sequels later Austin Powers. Now seems like a no brainer. But when Mr. Roche and Mr. Myers were making the film success was anything but guaranteed. And if they listened to the test screenings we would never have had the shagadelic spy with danger as his middle name.
Says here name danger powers.
No no no no no danger’s my middle name.
It wasn’t that big of a hit. It never previewed Well we did some previews in this very room. People didn’t get it. At first it came out as a modest hit that summer and it could have just ended there. If Mike DeLuca had not been so brave I don’t know if you guys are familiar with the preview process but you do invite people to rooms like this. They come and watch the film fill out cards and do a focus group and you want to hit in a mainstream comedy at least in the 80s you know to get a sense that your film will be successful in the scoring process and we never got above 55. We started out at 48 and we worked our way up after three or four score previews and DeLuca said you know what. I know it’s not. Not everyone’s going to get this and we’ll just put extra money into marketing to kind of find the audience that will get it and we’ll take a shot. But most comedies there are many director careers that would have been stopped in their tracks after the first film. And it did become an acquired taste and people because it is weird. I mean it’s it’s kind of campy in a certain way. Camp isn’t that successful in America. Usually it’s know Mike’s looking right into the camera making mugging jokes and that’s not doesn’t usually work for American audiences so we didn’t expect it to work honestly we just made it because we love those films. And then the video took off in some weird way. And then Mike did this trailer for the second movie where he pretended to be sort of a Darth Vader kind of breathing because Star Wars was coming out that summer. And he did this long push in to the back of the chair on the spaceship and he turned around and it turned and he said Oh expecting someone else.
You were expecting someone else.
You know and he has the cat and it’s Dr. Evil and he says if you see one movie this summer see Star Wars but if you see two movies see Austin Powers.
If you see only one movie this summer see Star Wars. But if you see two movies see Austin Powers.
That’s right Mr Bigglesworth. We’re back.
And it exploded it was like a crazy phenomenon that one crazy teaser it wasn’t even a full trailer it was months before the movie came out. And that sort of fanned the video sales on the first one and then by the time the second came second one came out everybody was it was fun the midnight shows and the whole deal really a blast. But it was not predictable in any way. So once I was in that club I honestly was kind of naive about it. You know you take your first film for scale and you just. So I was so lucky to even get a break and Mike and I worked so closely together and it was like on the job training for me because he knew so much about comedy. He actually has a system in his mind you know having done SNL Second City and worked with Del Close and improv training. Lorne Michaels and SNL I mean he just hasn’t encyclopedic brain about comedy. He could give a master course you know that would blow your mind and why certain things are funny and why things that you think would be funny are not. You know and I learned while doing it. So then once you get in the club I started realizing wow this is actually a good club to be in. It was thrilling. It was really cool.
Austin Powers open numerous doors for Jay Roach eventually leading him to his next comedic trilogy. Meet The Parents. Despite the massive success and star power of Austin Powers one and two. Mr Roach admits that he did not feel any more confident when helming Meet The Parents.
In comedy confidence almost at least for me doesn’t exist. You are always insecure it’s why most people in comedy are pretty crazy and pretty neurotic because you. It just never feels funny enough. Unfortunately most of the films I’ve been involved with on the comedy side the scripts never come together entirely and you have to start shooting before you have the ending and so you’re kind of writing every night and. My mental health traced through my comedy films. They’re really deep dips every time especially in prep so and DeNiro scared the hell out of me and scared the hell out of you know Ben Stiller too which I saw in the dinner so this is going to work you know because he was intimidated then we did the sequel to Meet The Parents then it was Dustin Hoffman Barbra Streisand and we didn’t want to make a sequel unless we brought something new. But I felt like it was it was suicidal. They were known at the time as being kind of tricking people to harness. And they were sweet as pie. They were great you know. And most of the people once they get performing for each other one secret in comedy is just cast only funny people. The funniest especially in improv so that they always are playing with each other. And you can kind of just sort of set the table. A lot of comedy is around tables in those movies and just kind of get out of the way.
Confident or not. Mr Roach was able to finesse terrific comedic work from a trio of legendary performers who have been known to be well let’s just say at times difficult. Dustin Hoffman Barbra Streisand and the original Raging Bull Robert DeNiro.
You know Greg’s in medicine too.
Oh really. What field.
Not many men in your professional are there Greg.
No Jack. Not traditionally.
My father was never in the rare flower business. He was in the CIA for 34 years.
I’m a patient man that’s what 19 months in a Vietnamese prison camp will do to you.
I’m a sex therapist specializing in senior sexuality.
Look at this I married a teenager. At least you have the libido of a teenager.
I gave her a little matinee today.
Mom I’m truly not comfortable having this conversation with you. I’ve been telling you that since I was 11.
I will bring you down baby. I will bring you down to Chinatown.
You want to hear a story I milked a cat once.
I had no idea milk a cat.
Oh yeah you can milk anything with nipples.
I have nipples Greg. Could you milk me.
I did start to develop a kind of reputation for working with people who had been known as being tricky to work with but they often were so cool. And Bob was challenging for me only because I was projecting on to him the killer guy. He actually turned out to be an incredibly generous and cool guy. I always tried to keep Ben and him at each other’s throats if I could but it didn’t last long because Bob is really cool and he was even cooler on the second film because you had Streisand and Hoffman and all these people and they none of them wanted to disappoint each other so they were off often just performing for each other a lot of it’s situational and our situations turned out to be fun. And I actually got to ride on their coattails you know Ben has directed many times so to have a star who is capable of solving comedy problems with you. You know as almost like a fellow director in that moment is brilliant. It goes to what I was saying before. I don’t have any special you know charm. It’s more about I do so much homework to convince myself that it’s working because I’m so scared it’s not that if I can get over my own fear and terror and anxiety dreams that slowly eat away my organs then I can go on the set you know there’s nothing Burt Reynolds can do that’s scarier than what I’ve done to myself. But with all those guys they will push too hard. You know this isn’t good enough. Why. What’s going on. Why is that idiot standing over there in my eye line. And they’re right there. It’s not good enough until it’s good enough and none of those people are compromising easygoing people. They’re excellent and they demand excellence and if they know I’m just as scared about doing something less than excellent. I’m sort of invincible from an ego point of view I have no ego. So you try to hurt my ego. Good luck.
Mr. Roach’s approach to directing comedy requires both intricate planning and coverage while still letting the actors do their thing.
In film school you’re taught to kind of work it all out and Diagram it and I did that and there’s many jokes and Austin Powers that are very geometrical for example blocking his naked bits. Both his and Elizabeth’s. There’s geometry there that you know you could chart a NASA launch with as much time as we spent on lining things up. And some of the set pieces in the Austin films are so complex that they had to be pre blocked and previsualized you know I’d sit and just work it out and draw. I start with overhead diagrams just little circles with representing people moving around on various pieces of paper and then and then I start to storyboard it with a storyboard artist who I just act out what I see in the frame and how it will evolve. But I only do that in a super technical geometrical scenes for everything else. All the performance scenes you have to trust that when you get there. And if you’ve sold what matters in the scene and where the turning points are that the actors will tell you how to block it. You will say let’s just read it and then read it again. Now let’s start walking around and they are like iron filings around a magnet you know the right. Blocking emerges because there’s a forcefield in a way that is the right blocking and then it’s up to you to make sure the cameras in the right place. I only wish I could do more scenes where I didn’t cover so much. That’s one of the things I keep trying to work on in my evolution as director is I prefer long masters that evolve and. But in comedy if you don’t do oppositional angles you can’t cut out the crappy stuff in comedy you just don’t know what’s going to work and there’s such a high mortality rate if you don’t have the oppositional angles you can’t extract or expand the scenes so you’ll see in a lot of the cutting. I often set up an axis and stay on one side of it. The main thing is just trust the actors and don’t over puppeteer them.
Mr Roach appreciates what an actor brings to a project when he was pitching his political satire of the campaign he sold the film to studios on just the premise and the star power of Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell.
The campaign is an interesting story because we sold it on a pitch here at Warner Brothers and because it was myself Zach and will who’d come to me to ask me to do it all of us were in the room. Pitching a story and we only had about. Three paragraphs. And we told all the studios. We wanted. To make this film in about six months and we want you to greenlight it in the room or don’t take the pitch. So we got all of their it was very arrogant to do this but we got them all to each of the studios that were interested to put their not only their head of the studio and their creative executives but the head of marketing both domestic and international and head of publicity domestic international head of physical production. So we had like the quote unquote Green Light Committee that studios now have in the actual room listening to the pitch and we didn’t have the actors so Adam McKay Chris Henchy and myself had to sort of act out you know the parts and how they would go. And. We’re not good at that. So we had to we just had to have a hook you know and it was an example of where. OK it’s it’s two political candidates in the south kind of loser slacker incumbent who is just coasting along and an upstart played by Zach and they could picture that character we were talking about doing this slightly effeminate Southern conservative.
I am beholden to only one man and that is the greatest American that has ever lived. Jesus Christ.
And they’re just going to smear the crap out of each other in a relentless battle of negative campaigning until one of them dies. You know basically.
Marty Huggins can’t even take care of his own wife. So I did. That night Marty’s wife voted. Multiple times. I’m Cam Brady and I seductively app rove this message.
Zach and will two of the funniest guys on earth. What do you think. And that was the pitch but it was. It actually did. You could kind of picture what the movie became off of that pitch. It was a stupid way to from a directing standpoint to ever get into because you think Oh good we’ve got them hooked and we’re committed and we have a shoot date and a release date by three or four days later and then you go oh no we don’t have a script and we it was so excruciating again I swore I would never do that. But you know if you have a what I call a controlling idea of in your own mind of what is the hook and in Meet The Parents. You know I talk about it because that when we had a little more of a script but it was touch and go almost every day there was a threat to shut it down for different reasons budget reasons you know actor reasons. And for me it was so easy to say don’t know yeah but don’t forget it’s a guy who loves a girl so much and is sure he doesn’t he doesn’t deserve her. But he’s going to overcompensate and try so hard to get her that he’s just going to make it worse by sneaking and lying and becoming exactly the person no parent would want to have engaged to their daughter. And the person is going to come up against is a human lie detector a person who is a bulls**t detector meets a bulls**tter. How can you how can that not work. If it’s Ben Stiller and he’s you know the world’s most interesting bulls**tter and Robert DeNiro is an assassin a killer dressed in soft sweaters and a little cat and a waspy wife. That’s like that sounds funny. So that’s how you. If I if I know I can tell that story because as a director you become this sort of cult leader of the of the faith and whatever you’re doing if you can tell it with that much enthusiasm to not just the studio but to the to the DP who’s trying to convince you know to shoot it this way and you don’t want to shoot it that way and here’s why because this idea depends on this to work or the costume designer trying to sell you. You know you have to. You just have to keep organizing it. Back to that one controlling idea. And if the pitch is strong in the room when you first set it up you can keep pitching it to everybody who threatens that pitch or threatens that concept. All along the way until you know it sort of survives somehow. And. Turns into a movie.
One of Mr. Roach’s fondest collaborations was working with writer Douglas Adams. The remarkable mind behind the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
The extraordinary story of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy begins very simply. It begins. With a man. An earth man to be precise. Who no more knows his destiny than a tea leaf knows the history of the East India Company.
The answer to the ultimate question. Of Life. The universe and everything. Is. 42.
Sadly Mr. Adams did not get to see the final product.
I didn’t direct hitchhikers but the most amazing thing about nearly directing and then ending up producing it was working with Douglas Adams because he saw Austin one and had been trying for years to come up with screenplays for hitchhikers and a guy named Michael Nesmith from the Monkees introduced us. And you know and it was an amazing and an unbelievably transcendent experience working with him he’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. And just you know a brainiac and you were it was sort of like he’s very similar to John Cleese in my mind and how he looks at life and approaches life and I was such a Python fan anyway so I worked with him for quite a while and then he sort of struggled Disney didn’t get it and he died. He died you know having moved here ready to do it and it was very sad. And I just couldn’t face doing it without him. So I talked to two guys that I met. They came up with a really actually kind of a novel twist on it and invented a lot of new things on top of Douglas’s script. So it was that was that was actually a tricky one.
If there’s any modern talent that can match the genius of Douglas Adams it is Sacha Baron Cohen the man behind Borat and Bruno, Ali G and most recently who is America. Though finding the perfect vehicle for Mr. Cohen’s Kazakh creation turned out to be a very bumpy ride. Once they let Borat be Borat the resulting film shattered our funny bones.
My name Borat.
In Kazakhstan it is illegal for more than five woman to be in the same place. Except for in brothel or in grave.
I have come to make Pamela Anderson my wife.
This is Natalia. She is my sister she is number four prostitute in all of Kazakhstan.
My name is Borat I come from Kazakhstan. We support your war of terror.
It was hard to get a story and actually Trey Parker and Matt Stone worked with us for months on a more scripted version. But it was so scripted that it didn’t allow Sasha to do his live interaction with real people. So then we went back and started over with Sasha and all his writers. The trickiest part for me was getting used to being sued. I got sued fifteen times I think or something personally. My name you are you’re now being sued for millions of dollars because you have invaded my privacy. Yeah we did invade your privacy but we think we had a right to and. We won all the cases we weren’t at risk ourselves because they always indemnify you. He must be impossible to insure now based on how many times he’s been sued. Because even if you win the suits the legal expenses are high. He’d been doing it for ten years and if I come to you and I said I’m doing this movie with this this Kazakhi reporter don’t worry he’s a he’s just a representative of the youth of Kazakhstan and he’s come to America to figure it out you would say Oh OK that sounds good. So you would sign it and read probably the first three pages well on page 56 at the bottom it will say by signing this you agree that we can use your likeness even if the Kazakh journalist turns out not to be a Kazakh journalist. And even if the movie turns out not to be a documentary and even if it’s like it basically outlines everything he’s going to do and you agree to it without realizing that you are signing off to be in Borat the comedy movie lawyers now do seminars based on that contract. The crazy thing even people who didn’t sign it sued us people who had wandered like he was in New York City. He went after this one guy who was like a Wall Street executive or something. And the guy freaked out and like was chased down the road and Borat’s chasing him I want to kiss you. And that poor guy didn’t sign anything. Didn’t see the posters that say if you stand around in this area you could be filmed and still lost the lawsuit because the judge said what Sasha is doing is in the public good because it’s exposing racism homophobia anti-Semitism and the public good of the film overrides your individual right to privacy at that moment. I will say the one cool thing that I got to do in that movie I didn’t direct the film but I directed all of the publicity stunts after the movie when he was in the green thong on the beach in Cannes. When he went to the White House and we found out that the Prime Minister I guess of Kazakstan was coming to America well a couple weeks before he threatened to sue Sasha that was like thank you. That’s the best thing that could ever happen. So we went to the Kazakh embassy he’s in character found out the guy was coming over in D.C. and was being presented with this giant statue on the lawn of the embassy of Kazakhstan. So we thought oh great we’ll just show up too and see what happens and as they unveiled the statue it was the prime minister himself riding on a tiger carrying a hawk.
This week Washington is playing host to the president of Kazakstan a former Soviet republic.
Well the threat comes from Borat who may be Kazakhstan’s most famous representative even though he doesn’t really exist. And the guy who plays him isn’t really from there.
The unveiling today on the embassy lawn here of a Kazakh warrior riding a flying leopard provided just the right note of solemnity.
All the embassy they celebrated and they went to lunch well all the CNN NBC about two dozen media outlets were there on the risers facing where the podium was and they just were carrying it out. We ran it with a podium dropped it down and Sasha started giving a speech. My name is Borat I am here to present my movie film to President George Walker Bush.
I would like to make a comment. On the recent advertisements on television than in media. About my nation of Kazakhstan. Saying that women are treated equally and that the all religions are tolerated. These are disgusting fabrications. In fact main purpose of premier Nazerbayev’s visit to Washington is to promote this movie film. This screening will be followed by cocktail party at Hooters. On 825 7th streets. Thank you. I must now return to my embassy where I have talks with my government.
Well the embassy people called the cops who now had mostly gone to lunch following him and said There’s someone breaking into our embassy there’s someone trying to invade the embassy. So you see the cops in the background of the footage. Looking at the window saying where and he because here’s a politician giving a speech that’s supposed to be going on and they’re in the background trying to figure out who’s breaking into the embassy. He just kept going and going got publicized worldwide. Sacha Baron Cohen in front of the with the guy with the hawk in the background.
And if you like your comedy filthy, Borat has one scene so raunchy that you might never recover.
I’ve never seen an audience react to anything like the way they react to one scene in that movie which was the naked fight.
We got to go all over the world presenting this movie. I have never seen people laugh harder at anything and people were going ah oh my god. Took their clothes off and two people ran down to the screen and ran back high fiving the audience was like a tent revival people speaking in tongues or something and you could study that and figure out how to surf laughs. And you know it happens in previews in rooms like this where you sit and try and figure out OK got I’m laughing harder here how can we make them laugh harder here and keep going and surf that. For I think that goes on for you know two or three minutes that was scripted you know they had inappropriate positions they got into the only part that was unscripted was they run out into the hall chasing each other. And they go into the elevator. These ladies shriek and run out and then they’re still standing there and they’re there looking very guilty. The doors close and then the camera slowly pans over this guy just a civilian just trapped their. He was not he wasn’t he was not an actor and just was like what the hell is going on. The door opens they run out and then they run into a banquet style meeting room in a hotel filled with mortgage bankers who really were real mortgage bankers and they just run into the room and start fighting on stage naked.
We have a special guest here this evening. Ruth Bader is here.
In making two movies with Sasha he only broke character once in the middle of shooting after he can be in character for nine hours. But on the set if someone catches him out of character. We shut down that second because the gig’s up people know that day he broke character said don’t hurt Asamat don’t hurt him because the security guy was choking him. Was so pissed off that he was going. So that was real.
Just like Sacha Baron Cohen Jay Roach has to stay in character at all times when directing. His inner thoughts may be filled with fear uncertainty and despair. But he still needs to project that all is good. His advice if you have doubts with directing keep them to yourself.
I always get overwhelmed when I’m directing. There’s so many aspects to it and you’re in charge of everything. How do you deal with something like that. Do you actually share it with your actors or producer or do you just.
You don’t share it with anyone involved in the film. Because you have to actually be seen as being so calm and the grown up in the playground or you know or the insane asylum depending on what it is which is tough because you’re really most often if you I can on the set okay good let’s try it again. Yeah that’s good inside are cartoon characters running around hitting Bell pulling on alarms and trying to put out fires and getting the suicide machinery going you know because it just seems like you’re not going to survive it really feels like it’s going to kill you. Especially in prep for me once I’m shooting I actually do calm down a little bit but in prep it just doesn’t seem possible ever I mean it gets worse too because the expectations get higher you think it’s going to get easier in prep I’m usually a basket case. And I talked to my wife about it and she’s she’s pretty cool at keeping me calm. I’m trying to think of what’s the worst I’ve ever revealed. I mean when I got sick on Meet the Fockers was crazy because I was shooting a big scene with all the actors and at 3 o’clock I noticed my ankles are swelling up and by 8 o’clock I couldn’t move I couldn’t move all my joints were like you have the mumps in every joint. And I was the line producer took me to the hospital DeNiro knew these people at UCLA. So they were like shoving gunshot wound victims out of the way pregnant ladies out of the way. Get this guy in there you know they were dragging me right into it because they were they were afraid their movie was and it cost them half a million dollars to I was so stressed out. And so not sleeping. You know you can hide it but it’s going to get you. Comedy is so hard and it’s so much harder doing these HBO movies. You’d think the Sarah Palin movie would be scary. That was like that was so much fun. It was like Cause you know you’re not worrying every second is this funny enough because there’s nothing more painful than bombing you know and putting up some scene in a preview and thinking it’s going to be the ending finally got the ending. Oh thank god people are looking at it going I don’t know I don’t think it’s funny. What we just spent you know a week reshooting that ending you don’t like it cartoon characters running around again. So there’s nothing you can do except just prepare and know what you care about. Know what matters so much that all you can do is the best you can do and show up ready to fight for that and be persuasive and throw every ounce of your your energy and your charm and your you know your willingness to put yourself out and not be embarrassed and not have any ego and you have to have a tolerance for failure that is so high I always say in dailies on Meet The Parents everything we shot was terrible. It was terrible. It was like what is DeNiro doing why does he he would sometimes start mugging because the crew is laughing because he would he would think because they were laughing and I would be going what is going on and you know you get in the cutting room and you put in the one or point 0 5 percent that’s great. And it’s amazing with DeNiro. It’s amazing. You know it’s not just all that ninety nine point five percent that sucked. No one’s ever going to see that. So you were thinking about all that the whole time when you were you know trying to figure out which vein you would open first at the monitors that’s you don’t have to. It’s going to be OK if you just get that one point five percent of that day’s shoot. And you can make a great movie out of it. So you just have to be kind of stupidly optimistic and delusional. During the process and still fight for what you care about and that’s all you can do. You can’t you just have to trick yourself into thinking it’s going to be all right. And fight for what you what matters in the scene and you know sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve definitely had some. Stuff that didn’t work. That’s keeps me up but it works eventually.
Right now at some noisy dive bar. Someone is doing a terrible Austin Powers impression. We can’t blame Jay Roach for that but we can thank him for Goldmember. Gaylord Focker Julianne Moore’s Emmy winning work is Sarah Palin and the indelible side of Dalton Trumbo writing in a bathtub. We want to thank Mr Roach for sharing his story with us and thanks to all of you for listening. By the way if you got a little more time check out our previous episode with Bryan Cranston talking about his work on Jay Roach’s Trumbo.
With Trumbo. He was such a chain smoker. And he had. An affectation. You know and he went he went up and down. It was a fun thing.
This episode was based on the Q&A moderated and produced by Tova Laiter. To watch the full interview or to see our other Q&As. Check out our youtube channel at YouTube.com/NewYorkFilmAcademy. This episode was written by me Eric Conner. Edited and mixed by Kristian Hayden our creative director is David Andrew Nelson who also produced this episode with Kristian Hayden and myself. Executive produced by Tova Laiter Jean Sherlock and Dan Mackler. A special thanks to our events department Sajja Johnson and the staff and crew who made this possible. To learn more about our programs check us out at nyfa.edu. Be sure to subscribe on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen. See. You next time.
Release the sharks.
Dr. Evil. It’s about the sharks we tried to get some but it would have taken months to clear up the red tape.
You know. I have one simple request. And that is to have sharks with fricking the laser beams attached to their heads. Now evidently my cycloptic colleague informs me that cannot be done. Would you remind me what do I pay you people for. Honestly throw me a bone here. What do we have.
They are mutated sea bass.
Are they ill tempered.
Well that’s a start.