David Wain interview: They Came Together
David Wain chats to us about Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, They Came Together, and a Role Models sequel...
David Wain’s latest film, They Came Together, is on DVD and on-demand now. It’s a spoof of the romantic comedy genre, starring regular collaborator Paul Rudd alongside Amy Poehler. Wain, also known for the likes of Wet Hot American Summer, Role Models and The Ten, spared us some time to talk about his new movie…
To badly quote Robert De Niro in Backdraft, in order to hate something, you’ve got to love it a little. But I got little hate and lots of love for romcoms in They Came Together. Would that be fair?
Yes, that’s correct. I’ve loved this genre my whole life, from the great ones (The Graduate, Annie Hall, Tootsie, etc) to the more forgotten more formulaic ones that serve up their own brand of genre comfort.
Talking of De Niro, is Paul Rudd your own personal De Niro? Is he the collaborator who you most enjoy working with?
Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone had their own personal De Niro? For me I’m just lucky to have someone who’s such a great actor and who’s so great to work with also repeatedly agree to be in my movies! He really is such a smart funny talented guy I’d happily do many more with him.
Did working with Amy Poehler on this one lead into Old Soul? How did she come to They Came Together?
I’ve known Amy since she arrived with her group Upright Citizens Brigade in New York in the mid ’90’s. The first time I worked with her was on my first movie Wet Hot American Summer and we staged a “radio show” version of that movie at the San Francisco Sketchfest in 2012. So since the cast of Wet Hot was there anyway, we gathered many of them together to do a casual audience reading of They Came Together, which was a screenplay Michael Showalter and I had written years before, but had put on the shelf. This is one reason why so many Wet Hot alums (Rudd, Poehler, Meloni, Black, Marino) are in They Came Together.
So when Old Soul (the recent NBC pilot produced & co-written by Poehler) came around, I expressed interest in directing it and Amy & Co. brought me on board.
It’s a brief cut you’ve come up with, something that flies in the face of many conventional comedies. What have we missed out on that’s sat in outtakes somewhere? And how hard is to edit a film that’s pulling the leg of a genre?
There are more than 30 deleted scenes on the DVD – and that’s not even all of them – to give you an idea of how much we cut out. Yes it’s a very hard process to hit the right tone in a comedy of this sort. One thing we’ve observed over the years is that no matter how funny a movie is, it tends to dip at a certain point if it goes on too long and/or the story isn’t compelling. So it was imperitive for us to keep it short and well structured.
So: after this, it must be a Hugh Grant movie next. Have you got the Bridget Jones 3 call yet?
I haven’t but maybe they just don’t have my number. I’m ready, Hugh.
Can you recommend us a few good romcoms that tend to fly under people’s radar?
So many. Off the top of my head – Crossing Delancey, Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist, Crazy/Beautiful, High Fidelity, Sleepwalk with Me and I’ll throw in my own movie Wanderlust. Oh and Lynn Shelton’s upcoming movie Laggies.
Role Models is clearly brilliant, and one of the best comedies to come out of the Hollywood system in years. But how did you get it through? And where did you find Bobbe’ J Thompson?
Role Models was in already pre-production at Universal under the title Big Brothers when they lost their director and I was hired. Paul Rudd, Seann William Scott and Bobbe’ J were already cast. So Paul, Ken Marino and myself took the broad strokes of the existing script and rebuilt it from scratch, layering in our own sensibility. By that point we just had to shoot something so there wasn’t much time to overthink it!
To your knowledge, has Ben Affleck ever seen it, and is he a fan?
I don’t know!
Was there ever a temptation to go back to those characters?
Yes we’ve talked about it from time to time. We have some sequel ideas that would be a blast to do.
What’s coming up on your slate next?
I’m working on the editing of the 6th season of Children’s Hospital which will air next year, also completing the 2nd season of Newsreaders (both shows are on Adult Swim). I also did a bunch of small acting roles recently including the TV shows Married, Drunk History, Weird Loners, Broad City, Another Period and the upcoming movie Brother in Laws. And I have a new project that will be announced in the next month or so!
Finally, what’s your favourite Jason Statham movie?
Well let’s see… checking IMDB… the only Jason Statham movies I’ve ever seen are Collateral, The Pink Panther, and The Italian Job. And I really don’t remember him in any of them. So I guess my favorite was Collateral. Fascinating answer, huh?
David Wain, thank you very much!
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