An epic conversation on ‘Bridesmaids,’ ‘The Office’ and ‘Dumb Jock’ with Paul Feig

12.12.11 6 years ago

Universal Pictures

The Golden Globes and SAG Awards nomination announcements are right around the corner and one film that could be a major surprise is “Bridesmaids.” Sure, Melissa McCarthy seems like as shoe-in for a best supporting actress nomination for SAG and possibly the HFPA, but a best ensemble (SAG) and best picture – comedy or musical (Golden Globes) could also be in the works too. Screenwriters Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo may also find their way to a WGA Awards nomination in the original screenplay category.  This all comes after McCarthy has already been lauded today by the Boston Society of Film Critics and the New York Online Film Critics.  It seems appropriate then, that I share a long and intriguing conversation I had last month with the film’s director, Paul Feig.

Friendly, candid and energetic, Feig took some time off from working on his next project, currently titled “Dumb Jock” (and also starring McCarthy), to talk about his big movie hit.  The creator of “Freaks and Geeks” and regular director of such TV shows as “Nurse Jackie,” “The Office” and “Arrested Development,” Feig didn’t have much luck on the big screen (“Unaccompanied Minors,” “I Am David”) until “Bridesmaids” because the surprise hit of the summer beginning in May.  Feig made it no secret he would love to see his actors rewarded and was keen on discussing Melissa McCarthy’s breakthrough role (for more on McCarthy and Feig’s “SNL” sit in click here).  Our chat also focused on “Dumb Jock,” the chances of a “Bridesmaids” sequel, directing Steve Carell’s final episode on “The Office” and much more.

Awards Campaign:  Let’s talk about ‘Bridesmaids.’ Did you ever in a million years think it would explode at the box office the way it did?  

Paul Feig: Not really.  I mean, we always hoped it will, but I think my benchmark was like if I could just do something and make $100 million, I”d be so happy because I”ve had so many things bomb and lost people money and not done well.  So, that was really the figure I had in my head. And so, when we sailed to pass that, it was like, ‘Holy shit.’  Then you start creating new benchmarks, like ‘I hope we beat this movie.’ It’s almost like being at the table at the casino. ‘O.K., if I could just win $500 I”m going to walk away from the table.’ ‘Well, maybe I can turn it into $1,000.’  But, it was really exciting.

Paul Feig: When we were doing it, it felt like we were onto something just because the girls were so funny and the cast was so great.  But you just never know if people are going to show up for it.  When we did our first test screening  — we did eight test screenings over the course of editing — even that first test screening went really well.  But then my last movie – we made this Christmas movie [‘Unaccompanied Minors’] because we didn”t have any money.  I mean, [that movie was] testing in the mid-90″s.  So you”re like, ‘Shit, we”re a hit, but people didn”t show up.’ So, you can make it as good as you want, but [that doesn’t mean it’s gonna do well in theaters].  

Awards Campaign: Most of Judd’s movies do tons of multiple takes.  Was that the same for you on ‘Bridesmaids’?  Did you hit the editing room with lots of options for each scene?

Paul Feig:  In a way, but you get through that by knowing it”s all about the story.  So, when we cut the first version of the movie, we don”t even worry about the comedy.  I mean, if the comedy in a scene comes in it comes in, but it”s all about make sure this works, that we”re buying every beat.  The hard part is being controlled enough to say, ‘This joke is so fucking funny, but it”s hurting the scene.  It”s throwing off the build of the scene.’  I mean a perfect example is when Annie [Kristen Wiig] meets Lillian [Maya Rudolph] at the party when then Annie meets Helen [Rose Byrne] for the first time.  Lillian”s like, ‘Oh, there”s Helen,’ and then you see her turn around and we shot so much stuff of Helen taking kind of pot shots at Annie, but in this kind of very sweet way of like, ‘Oh, did you just come from work?’  And everyone had opinions about wanting that set to be funny and people had their favorite jokes and the execs at the studio had things that they liked.  But, very specifically, Bill and I, Bill Kerr, the editor and I said, ‘You know what?  As funny as all these moments are we’re just about to go into a scene where they get into this weird contest like of each other.  And if we go into that knowing there”s already a weird competition between them, then we”re just getting the same information just in a more outrageous way.’   Let her meet Helen and then [think] ‘Oh she”s so nice, but she”s so pretty, that”s perfect.’  And she”s you know kind of being nice and gracious and then to hear your best friend go, ‘She”s great, isn”t she?’  And like, ‘Yeah, she”s awesome.’  You just want to lay that groundwork like her going like, ‘Uh oh, something”s wrong.’  But that takes a lot of self-control as a storyteller because it”s going to be so easy to put this hilarious runs like ‘So you own a jewelry store?’  ‘No I work in one.’  ‘Oh, you work in one that you own?’  ‘No, I work in one.’  ‘Oh, what”s the name of it?’  ‘I think I”ve heard of that.’ But also, to an audience, Helen is villainous no matter what she does.  She”s not doing anything that bad. She”s just invested in Lillian the way that, you know, Annie is.  

Awards Campaign: One of the things I always hear about the film is that Rose Byrne a surprise and many people did not know or forgot she can do comedy.  And, only a couple weeks later she was excellent in ‘X-Men: First Class’ where it”s 180 degrees from ‘Bridesmaids.’  Where did you guys even get the idea that she would be someone who could come in with these other ladies who are all comedy sort of veterans and click with them?

Paul Feig: You know what it was?  The one thing I was always scared of in the film, because I hate arch characters and stereotypes, was always walking that line of ‘Oh, she”s perfect,’ [but not sympathetic].  So, we saw a lot of really funny women for that role and no matter what they did, no matter how well they played it, it always came up just villainous.  It just came up too arch and I just kept going, ‘I think we got to get like a real’ — no, I wouldn”t say a real actor.

Awards Campaign: A dramatic actor.

Paul Feig: Yeah, a dramatic actor could do this, who can just ground it.  And Judd had just done ‘Get Him to the Greek.’

Awards Campaign: Oh, that”s right.  She was in ‘Greek.’

Paul Feig: Yeah, But I don”t know if it was Judd”s idea or Nick”s idea to put her in that.  So, they really did  the legwork.  She could be funny because he Judd was like, ‘Go downstairs to the editing room and ask Bill,’ who was editing, Bill Kerr, our editor, was editing ‘Greek’ at the time and he said have him pull up Rose”s scenes for you.  ‘Cause I love Rose Byrne but I was like, ‘Could she be funny and grounded?’  I watched her do that role and it was so funny that I was like, ‘Holy shit.’  Okay, this is great.  She seemed like she likes to create characters.  Then I got together with her for a lunch.  And she started talking about some friends she had who were very similar to Helen. And them see started creating this character with an American accent, but I wanted her to use her own Australian accent just how I make Chris O”Dowd do his real Irish accent and Matt Lucas do his real English accent.  I don”t like when people put on an accent because I think they lose some part of themselves.  But, she so wanted to play it American ’cause I think she likes to really create and inhabit a character and I”m so glad she did just because you have no idea she”s Australian.  It was the perfect accent.

Awards Campaign: Now that I think about it, dramatic actresses have played this sort of role before..  Rachel McAdams is not a comedic actress but she was the villain in ‘Mean GIrls.’

Paul Feig: Right.

Awards Campaign: But in that movie, she plays the, the evil sort of bad girl but you actually have a little bit of sympathy for her because she”s not so arch that you think she’s a caricature.

Paul Feig: That”s what you need.  You need them to be redeemable.  I mean, it”s the theory I go from and everything I write, everything I do is the George Bernard Shaw quote, ‘All men mean well.’  That”s the key to everything.  The worst villain in the world has some well intentioned interests [even if it’s their own]. So, you have to face everybody from that point of view and for me it was always, ‘O.K., Helen”s issue is that she liked Lillian so much that she”s looking at Annie as like one of those old friends that drags you down, the toxic friend.  The person who won”t let you get to the next point in your life.’  So, she and her very kind of hidden ways decide, ‘I”m just going to try to phase this friend out of her life in a very nice way and just kind of push her off.’  That”s where the battle comes, but it”s a very pure reason.  It”s not, ‘I”m going to [expletive] over her friend.’ Having that motivation — it”s always going to play villainous because she”s against our hero. But, that”s how you”re able to redeem her in the car when she just breaks down.  You”re like, ‘Ah, it”s cool.’  That’s why I love the moment that we put it early in where you’re kind of wanting to hate her and then the kids tell her to fuck off.  There”s that moment of, ‘Oh, oh, O.K..  That seems hellish.’

Awards Campaign: You immediately have sympathy for Helen in the scene and that starts to build in the film because before then you sort of been like, ‘Oh, I know that bitchy girl.’  

Paul Feig: Yeah.  Because I wanted it to be a little bit like as an audience member you”re like, ‘Is she bad or is she not bad?  Did she just say something fucked up to her or did she say nice?’  I liked that.  I almost don”t even like that we have some moments where you kind of see behind the mask a little bit as far as [when] she is mean, because Annie”s coming from such a bad place where you can just create enemies where they don”t exist.  

Awards Campaign: Well as great as Rose is it’s funny that Maya is, for most of the film, is playing this straight woman, like the ‘straight man.’ She doesn”t get many jokes at all and she”s perfect in that sort of way.  But at what point did you know, ‘Oh, these other actresses can steal the movie.’

Paul Feig: We knew we had something great when we went into the rehearsal process.  Honestly.  The auditions, too, but it was especially in the rehearsal process because they”re just like ‘Holy shit. What is she doing?’  And everything was kind of blowing our minds.  The biggest physicalization of this was the scene where [Melissa McCarthy] beats the shit out of Annie on the couch to kind of straighten her out. It wasn”t in the script when we hired her.  There was this plot line where Annie kept getting these calls from this collection center based out of Mumbai.  So just any one would keep calling her up like, ‘You owe this’ and she’s hanging up or saying, ‘Oh, I”m sorry, nobody”s here.’  And then when she”s just down and out living at her mom”s house the woman from the collection company calls up and Annie tries to hang up and the woman goes, ‘Don”t you dare hang up!’ and she kind of gives her this lecture.  ‘You think your life is bad?’ And tells this terrible story about her life and how she pulled herself out.  And it was kind of funny, but it was always, ‘Why are we giving this huge epiphany scene to a third-party character that we don”t really care about?’ And so, I remember we were all sitting around going ‘Megan”s got to do it.  Megan”s the character.’ Melissa helped create this kind of tough badass. This character who”s physically imposing.  So, it was like, ‘It makes perfect sense.’  So, that was kind of when we realized, ‘We”ve got something and we”d be crazy to not kind of squeeze as much of the juice out of Megan as we can.’

Awards Campaign: So, I”m assuming you never shot the other scenes.  You just went with it.

Paul Feig: No.

Awards Campaign: The reaction to Melissa’s performance was one of the most remarkable things I’ve seen in the industry.  I cover the movie biz, but I”ve never seen someone have a hit movie and then, no offense to the great work she does in TV, but it’s probably why she won the Emmy this year.  I mean, that”s what a lot of people think and it”s sort of like this Betty White-ish type of universal adoration.  When did you realize — I mean, obviously the box office was substantial — but when did you realize it might have touched a nerve even in the industry?

Paul Feig: The movie in general or…?

Awards Campaign: The movie in general and her.  

Paul Feig: I mean, pretty early on.  On the set we just knew.  We just were like killing it.  Really killing it.  And then it just became, ‘Can we assemble it correctly?’ And then the test screenings.  People just love her and she would test super high.  Her scores always tested like as high as Kristen”s.

Awards Campaign: Oh, wow.

Paul Feig: Yeah.  Like they would always belike neck and neck.  So you kind of knew but at the same time, she doesn”t look like your typical movie star.

Awards Campaign: Absolutely.

Paul Feig: So you kind of go, ‘Well, I hope people realize how great she is and I hope people can look past needing these standard looking woman to be stars of stuff.’  And Hollywood is smart enough to know if somebody”s beloved.  And same with Zach [Galifianakis].  Zach”s not your typical, you know, with a beard — I remember when I was an actor — characters just can”t have beards.  People will not watch people with beards.  They hate people with beards.  And suddenly, boom, here it is.  So it was nice that it just kind of took off, but it”s such a showy part and she is such a showy — I don”t mean that in a bad way — it”s just like it”s a very — what”s the term?  Not in your face.  It”s undeniable, you know, you can”t watch that and not go like, ‘Wow!  That”s amazing.’  To the point almost where I wish Kristen would be getting more award buzz because what she did is so hard. To make that character funny and likeable and real because that character doesn”t [expletive] up stuff. And there”s an audience.  Fuck, you hate that.  But she pulled off this balance of like you just like her so much and she pulls you in and she pushes you away, pulls you, and pushes you away.  It’s the same reason why Steve Carell didn”t win the Emmy because he makes it look easy.

Awards Campaign:  Yeah, that”s a good point.

Paul Feig: I mean, I always really wanted to be the one to help make her a star because I”d see her in these Indie films and she”s always great but I”d get really mad when they didn”t use her, all her skills.

Awards Campaign: Have you seen ‘Friends with Kids’ yet?

Paul Feig: No, no.  I”m dying to.

Awards Campaign: You would be very happy because even though it”s a supporting part, she has a pretty intense arc with Jon Hamm’s character.  They really pull it off.

Paul Feig: Oh, good.

Awards Campaign: I”m sort of bummed that that movie isn”t coming out sooner because I think it would help your argument for how great she is as an actress overall.

Paul Feig: Yeah, exactly.  Exactly.

Awards Campaign: But let”s say we just step back further.  The other thing that I”m always surprised with is how did it even get made? It’s all female and it”s written by two inexperienced female screenwriters. It”s about ‘Bridesmaids.’ It must be a chick flick. I mean, when Judd was pitching to Universal or Sony they must have been like, ‘No, sorry.’

Paul Feig: Oh, yeah, totally.

Awards Campaign: What do you think made Universal say, ‘Okay, we”re going to take a chance on whatever the budget was for this, $30 million, whatever, to make it happen.’?

Paul Feig: I don”t know what the flaccid point was because my history with it was [further down the road].  After ‘Knocked Up,’ she was so funny that Judd said ‘Write your own vehicle,’ which she did.  And then back in 2007, I went to the first table read of it because Judd said this might be something you”d be interesting in directing and I really liked the script.  It needed a lot of work, but I thought it was really great and a great showcase for her and I think at that time Universal was into it very much, A, because of Judd  — they trust him. And B, she was so funny in ‘Knocked Up.’  Judd then says ‘And I think she could carry her own film.’  Just like he did with Segal.  I mean, he tried to make Segal a star for years and it was finally Universal taking the chance.  I think it was that same thing.  It had paid off so many times that I think they were just willing to kind of take the runner at it, but it disappeared after 2007 for awhile.  I lost track of it and I remember calling Judd up like 2009 or 2008 going, ‘What”s up with Kristen”s movie?’ And he was like, ‘Eh, it”s dead.’  I was like, ‘O.K.’  But then it popped up again at the beginning of last year and I honestly don”t quite know why it popped up other than I think there was a bit of ‘Let”s make this movie now, her breaks coming up.  It seems like it”s time.’  But I don”t quite know.  I”m actually not quite sure why they suddenly go like, ‘Now”s the time to make a women”s movie,’ ’cause I would go like, ‘O.K., what made money that was similar to it?’  And I can”t think of anything unless it was ‘The Hangover”s’ kind of about a wedding.

Awards Campaign: And so they re-pitched it?

Paul Feig: Well, ‘The Hangover’ for women.  Which I hated, yeah.  I mean, I didn”t mind it because if we”re going to be compared to something I”d love…

Awards Campaign: Yeah, after I saw the movie I would tell people who asked if it was that, ‘Not really.’

Paul Feig: But I think, Judd he”s created such a great thing for himself and for all of us, which is his name is the above the title and stars.  And that”s all you need to get a movie off the ground, is you need some name that people go, ‘Oh, I like that person.’  And generally it”s a star but, when you hear about a Judd Apatow movie you”d know what you”re going to get.  ‘It’s going to be really funny and it”s going to probably have people in i I don”t know, but who I”m going to end up really liking and following later.’  That is so freeing because then it allows me to do my favorite thing in the world which is to just cast the best people for the role just like we did in ‘Freaks and Geeks’ to throw open the door.  It doesn”t matter what people look like.  It doesn”t matter anything about them.  Let”s just find who is awesome and then adjust the script to them and get their skills.  And so that”s why it works.  Kristen and Annie and then the development that Judd and I did really gave them the best showcase to do stuff in a way that the audience would engage in it.  It”s such a hard to define math putting together a movie that works and it”s impossible to figure out solidly or every movie would be great.  It”s just a weird dance and sometimes the balance goes right, but I think you have more in your favor when you get a great cast and you let them inform the script as much as your writing does.  You know, we don”t go to a cast, we don”t cast until we have what we feel is a very strong script and story.  So we work the shit out of that for a long time, but then we”ll hit a point where we”ll go, ‘It”s working well.  It”s good.  So, now let”s start casting and see who we get and then that will be phase two of the writing. Once we have those people we”ll start rehearsing.  We”ll start improvising with them, letting them discover the characters and they”ll inform the characters for us and then we”ll start adjusting the script to them and we”ll get ideas from them.  There’s never an end point to where you go, ‘We”re locked, everyone.’ It’s constantly moving, all the way until we do the final cut and lock the final cut because there”s so many alternate things we can try different things in the editing room. Do all these test screenings.

Awards Campaign: You didn”t fear the test screening process?

Paul Feig: No, we embrace it.

Awards Campaign: Really?

Paul Feig: You have to.  I”m not saying it”s the way to do it for all movies, trust me.  But it”s for insurance.  You want to make sure that you have guaranteed laughs. Sometimes it”ll kill, sometimes it won”t, but it will still get a response.  So, we did eight test screenings over the course of months and months.

Awards Campaign: What was the biggest thing you learned about what audiences were responding to?

Paul Feig: Well we were lucky because that first screening went so well.  It was kind of like, ‘Wow the map worked out.’ I had been in other [test screenings for other films] where you go, ‘O.K, there”s a problem.  We got to figure out.  We never had that.’ That’s why the studio is able to be cool and we were able to kind of just go like, ‘Hey, let”s play around with this and that.’  The irony was actually that the first test screening we did out in Woodland Hills.

Awards Campaign: O.K., yeah.

Paul Feig: And then one in Paramus, New Jersey [the same night].  And so Judd and Kristen were at the one in Paramus and myself and then Barry Mendel andBill Kerr, the editor, were at the one here.  They started earlier in New York.  We”re sitting in the theater and we were kind of out of the box, rockin” the house.  It was like really rockin”.  So I was like ‘Holy shit, we”re killin”.’ And I was really nervous because it was the first time Kristen was seeing it there.  So I was like, ‘Oh, thank God.  It works.’

Awards Campaign: Oh, wow.  It was the first time, O.K.

Paul Feig: Then I”m e-mailing to Judd how”s it going expecting him to respond, ‘Home run.’  And he writes back like, ‘Not well.’  And I was, ‘What the fuck?’  We got the tape of the audience, really subdued crowd in New Jersey and then so his take on it was kind of like ‘We”ve got problems’ and we”re back here going ‘No we”re kind of great.’

Awards Campaign: It”s a West Coast movie.

Paul Feig: Yeah.  It’s good to hear that because sometimes something will work in one region and you got a hot crowd, but you want to make sure, ‘No I want to get that crowd rockin.  The one that is quiet.’

Awards Campaign: See that”s the danger, to me, is it”s a recruited audience.  It could just be sort of the wrong audience for the movie.

Paul Feig: But that”s why you have to do a bunch.  If you do one, yes, you”re in complete danger.  But by doing eight — and when I say eight test screenings, two of those were double screenings — it’s twelve really.  Or ten or whatever.  So you just got to the law of averages on your side.

Awards Campaign: Did it make Kristen nervous to see the movie?

Paul Feig: Well the great thing was, actually I think it unnerved Judd more than Kristen because they had tested ‘MacGyver’ there and had the same kind of response and she was much cooler.  She was kind of like,’Yeah, the New Jersey one is just — the audiences are weird there.’

Awards Campaign: See I would be never go back to New Jersey.

Paul Feig: Trust me, I was like ‘Stay out there.  But it was great because we just kind of kept refining and just knew, as Bill Kerr, the editor, says, ‘You don”t want one of your test screenings to be the premier.’

Awards Campaign: Yes.

Paul Feig: A lot of studios don”t want to give you the money to do all those test screenings and then some movies are just so big you don”t want word getting out but these days I”m not even afraid of that ’cause I think it”s not the way it used to be.

Awards Campaign: In terms of what way?  You don”t think that like…

Paul Feig: It always used to be like one test screening and a million of things come in [on sites on the internet].  People pull back from it.  I don”t know if they”re just pulling back on doing it or people are just kind of getting it more.

Awards Campaign: I think that most moviegoers, they just go on Facebook or they go on Twitter and you”re not seeing the response.  Maybe their friends hear about it and they find out about it that way.

Paul Feig: You”re totally right about that.  ‘Cause this is the movie that Twitter built a little bit because Universal very, very smartly in the run-up to our release, the months running up to the release, did about 300 word-of-mouth screenings all over the country. I mean, spread out over the course of a month and I have a list of when they were doing it but every time they would do it, when it ended I would type in Bridesmaids into Twitter and that”s when I was going like I think we might actually be okay with the crowd because just hundreds [of tweets] like, ‘Love this movie.’  Maybe 0.1001 percent would be like, ‘That sucked,’ or whatever.  I”d never seen anything like that.  So, the word just kind of spread like crazy.  And then occasionally I would re-tweet some stuff and Judd would re-tweet ’cause we got bigger audiences and then a newspaper would pick it up here and there.  

Awards Campaign: But here”s the quandary for you and no doubt Judd.  Judd does not like to do sequels.

Paul Feig: Right.

Awards Campaign: And I cannot imagine that after the first weekend that someone from Universal wasn’t pitching ‘Bridesmaids 2: The Honeymoon’ or something.  Is that just off the table or..?

Paul Feig: It”s not off the table, it”s just there is — Kristen”s not —

Awards Campaign: She”s not keen on it?

Paul Feig: Not at the moment.  But she”s also so busy with other stuff.  She just made ‘Imogene’ and she”s busy back on ‘SNL.’  She oddly announced she”s going to be in the Sean Penn”s movie that he”s directing.  So, she”s busy and there”s just a fear of making something that waters down the memory of the first one.  If we can figure out a great way to do it, I”d love to do it because those characters are so great.  It would be fun to visit them again, but —

Awards Campaign: But that”s the one thing Judd”s done.  Whether it”s ‘Get Him to the Greek’ or the new movie he has coming out he revisits the characters from ‘Knocked Up.’ Has that been discussed at all?  Possibly taking any of the characters putting them in a different context?

Paul Feig: I mean, we”ve talked about a lot of different things because there some project that he”s got that”s, you know, just the earliest stages and I occasionally look at it and go, that could be the sequel and it has nothing to do with the wedding or anything.  Judd and I could also sit down and write the sequel but nobody wants that.  Kristen and Annie wrote this movie and I love that they wrote this movie.  And I don”t think anybody”s like clamoring for it. ‘Oh, we want another ‘Bridesmaids’ written by the two dudes that were involved.’  This is a movie that means a lot to women.  That”s really exciting to me, you know.  And so bottom line is, I don”t know.  Obviously, there”s a big financial reason to want to do it but for better or worse it doesn”t drive us.

Awards Campaign: But your next picture or one of your next pictures is with Melissa, right?

Paul Feig: Yeah, yeah.

Awards Campaign: And is that soon or…

Paul Feig: Yeah, well I”m shooting that on her break from ‘Mike and Molly’ next April.

Awards Campaign: In April.  It doesn”t have a title though.

Paul Feig: Yeah, ‘Dumb Jock.’

Awards Campaign: That hasn”t really leaked out.

Paul Feig: It”s out some places but in others — ’cause I know at the last minute they got nervous like have we”ve cleared that name?’ but I use it all the time ’cause I like the title.

Awards Campaign: Can you give us the log line?

Paul Feig: I call it an unconventional love story, but it”s a story about the building of what will become the world”s strongest marriage with two unlikely people.

Awards Campaign: So Melissa is obviously one half of the marriage.

Paul Feig: Yeah. But it”s not even the marriage.  It”s a love story. It’s an origins story if you will of how these two people meet and how it takes off from there.

Awards Campaign: And have you cast the other character yet or are you still…?

Paul Feig: I know who I want to play it but it”s nobody”s locked down yet.  I wrote it with someone in mind, but Melissa definitely, even though there”s not an official deal, she is on board.  She”s very excited about it and I”ve been actually,consulting with her on drafts and when I wrote the first 30 pages I immediately sent them to her to like get her feedback on the character and all that.  And then I finished the first draft like a week and a half ago and the studio is really excited about it.  So, I”m doing a quick re-write to clean up some stuff and then, you know, hopefully that will get us kind of officially green lit.

Awards Campaign: And is an L.A. set story?

Paul Feig: New York. I think people will really like this movie.  It”s a movie that has not really been made in Hollywood that I can think of  Maybe in the Indie world or maybe in the foreign world, a similar type of story but not, yeah, not that I know of.  And I think it”s a story of Melissa that an audience will really want, especially women because it”s just a very real story.  Real, but funny story about somebody falling in love, finding where they don”t think it”s going to happen or it doesn”t seem like it would ever happen.  

Awards Campaign: I’d love to talk to you about Steve Carell’s final episode on ‘The Office.’ Did you get nervous directing that episode?  Simply because you knew it was going to be a momentous moment in TV history?

Paul Feig: It was a little nerve-wracking.  There was a big responsibility because, I mean, not as nervous as Greg Daniels was, I”ll tell you that.  I”ve got such a funny picture in my phone of Greg on the set and he”s literally lying on this couch face down. ‘Cause it was nerve-wracking and he wrote a great script.  But the big balance on that was Steve is the most loved and lovable man in the world.  And so the difference between Steve Carell leaving the cast of The Office is 180 degrees different than Michael Scott leaving Dunder Mifflin. What”s happening is every scene we go in to, everyone”s completely emotional.  Everyone would start crying and the tendencies are want to do every scene kind of like this big heavy thing and Greg very heads up realized early on the cast can”t be sadder than the audience is.  And so that was the math.  It was the hardest of like, no, Kelly could care less if Michael left and DJ”s character, you know, he doesn”t really care.  But Jim would care and Pam would care and Dwight would care, but everybody is like, ‘Yeah, okay, good-bye.’  So, it was really getting that map right.  But it was hard.  I mean, ’cause everybody was emotional the whole time, but I remember we shoot the talking heads kind of early in the week, generally.  And so like, Michael”s talking head, that was kind of like the second day in I think and I remember thinking ‘This is Steve Carell”s last time doing the talking heads on ‘The Office” and we all realized it and I knew Steve realized it and we were all doing it and we got to the last one, finished it and then we were going like, ‘I think we got it.’  And nobody said anything.  We didn”t say anything.  

Awards Campaign: So was the last thing you shot at the airport or was it on set?

Paul Feig: It was on set.  It was when he leaves the office.

Awards Campaign: The office?

Paul Feig: And it was really, you know, I live those for those kinds of moments.  It was just like my other proudest moment from the Office is the proposal, which is one of the most expensive shots in television history.  And nobody knows it.  That was all construction.  That was all built.  The freeway, everything.  Because we wanted to shoot it in New Jersey, but we wanted to have rain and you couldn’t rain on a working freeway so, we built that. We had it at giant parking lot in Glendale.  We built the entire, gas station, all this up.  And then, we has this huge oval track with the freeway lines and sort of the dividers.  And we knew it was going to be the one shot we were getting in so, I don’t know, like, 20 or 30 cars and trucks cycling around, you know, and we created this whole thing in the rain and then we had to just paint in the trees in the background, but, you know, it was productive.  

Awards Campaign: And everyone thought it was so easy.

Paul Feig: But I love working with Greg.  Greg and Judd are the two people in Hollywood I trust the most because I trust their quality and I trust the way that they want to tell a story and the way that they want the character to be real and grounded and three dimensional more than anybody else I’ve ever worked with.  And I’ve worked with great people, but I think it’s just we’re of the same sensibility.  You tend to trust the people that you agree with.  

“Bridesmaids” is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

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