The stars of ‘Last Vegas’ on avoiding temptation while shooting in Sin City

Have you ever had any variation on the stress dream where you’re going to do something that you’re not prepared for in any way? Like you show up for a test, and not only do you realize that you’re not ready for the test, but you’ve never been in the classroom before, it’s in a language you don’t speak, and you’re naked?

Well, now imagine you’re sitting across from Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline and Michael Douglas when it happens.

That was my Saturday morning in Las Vegas recently. Thanks to a profound miscommunication, there was no screening of the film for me when I got to Vegas. I saw “Bad Grandpa,” which was also doing interviews in town at the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino across the street from Aria, where the “Last Vegas” interviews were taking place, but not “Last Vegas,” so it became clear that I’d have to do the interviews without knowing what we were discussing.

In the entire time I’ve been here at HitFix, I’ve never walked into an interview unprepared. There was nothing I could do about it. I had not seen the film, and so there was no way for me to ask specific questions to the cast or the crew. All I could do was try to have a little fun and not embarrass myself.

Jerry Ferrara and Romany Malco are the youngest main members of the film’s ensemble, and they were paired for interviews. I like both of them in general, and it was an easy enough conversation. Talking to Mary Steenburgen is a real pleasure, no two ways about it, and we talked a bit about how lovely it was that she got to play the one romantic lead opposite Christopher Lloyd in his career. And Jon Turtletaub, the film’s director, was in a good mood and seemed okay with the more general conversation we had.

But when I walked into that last room of the day with that Mount Rushmore waiting for me, they weren’t having any. I walked in, and every bit of general chat went right out of my head and I realized I couldn’t ask them anything specific about their work. Now that I’ve seen the film, I would have opened talking to Morgan Freeman about his big drunk scene in the film, and I would have talked to De Niro and Douglas about my own enduring affection for Mary Steenburgen and asked about her unique voice as a performer and what makes her so timelessly appealing. I would have taken cues from them. I would have asked Kevin Kline about the film’s surprisingly open attitudes towards the transvestite character played by Roger Bart and the very casual way the film gets it right. I would have had plenty to talk about with them.

But sitting there with them… that’s not really what happened. I spent the entire drive back to LA, which happened about 20 minutes after the interview ended, just cringing because of how badly it went. I’ve interviewed Morgan Freeman before, and the last time was a particularly good encounter, I thought. But he stared at me for most of this interview like I farted in his car. It was mortifying.

So I guess now that I’ve crashed and burned with Robert De Niro burning a hole in me as it happened, I have to take comfort in the fact that there will never be an interview I do that goes worse than this one. Can’t happen. It’s the combination of being utterly unprepared and it being this particular panel of guys.

Regardless, here’s my review of the film, which I finally caught up with a few days later, in case you missed it yesterday.

“Last Vegas” opens on Friday in theaters everywhere.