Thursday, November 6, 2008
Interview: DAVID WAIN
If you are reading this, you probably have heard of David Wain, and if you haven't... well... you have now. David Wain is an actor/writer/director behind such films and shows as Stella, Wainy Days, Wet Hot American Summer, The Ten, The State and now Role Models (Opening Friday).
I got the chance to interview Mr. Wain regarding Role Models and some other ventures, so without further ado... here it is!
MW: Where did the idea for Role Models come from? Were you ever in a similar situation to Danny and Wheeler?
DW: The main thing I relate to from Danny & Wheeler's situation is being suddenly forced, perhaps later in life than most others, to take an interest in a child's welfare over my own. For me it was because I had my first child this year. Role Models had been in development for years before I got involved, so I can't take credit for the idea!
MW: How much of the film's dialogue is improvised? Who were some of the actors that were consistently surprising?
DW: I'd say in the final cut, about 15-20% was improvised. The amount varied widely depending on the scene and the combination of actors and most of all on how good the script was! For example we were never quite happy with our script for a big dinner table scene between Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Ken Marino and Paul Rudd, so we wrote up a few bullet points on a piece of paper and entirely improvised. All the actors were funny and surprising in different ways throughout. One memorable example was Joe Lo Truglio, whose character "Kuzzik" was barely written on the page, but he kept throwing in the funniest things and we just kept rolling.
MW: As a screenwriter you have worked with Ken Marino in the past. What was it like also working with Timothy Dowling and Paul Rudd on the screenplay?
DW: Paul Rudd I'd worked with creatively on The Ten, where he was one of the producers, and to a lesser extent on everything else we've done together (Diggers, Stella, Wet Hot, etc), so it was an easy transition to be also writing with him, for both me and Ken. We didn't actually work on the film at the same time as Timothy Dowling. He did many drafts of the script, and created the broad storyline of the film, but was no longer involved when I came on board.
MW: How drastically did the film change from the 1st draft of the script to the version of that we see on screen?
DW: Well the very first draft of the script (then titled "Big Brother") was a drama (not a comedy) about a man named Tom and a boy named Lewis. Aside from the existence of a mentoring program, I don't think anything from that draft is in the final movie - BUT full disclosure, I never read that first draft.
MW: Since you have worked with Paul Rudd in the past, was the part of Danny written for him or did you hold auditions?
DW: Paul and Seann were both on board long before me. But I know that Paul re-conceived his character from scratch in his initial draft, and then the three of us (Rudd/Wain/Marino) developed and further fleshed out the Danny character in our subsequent passes.
MW: What was it like working with Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Bobb'e J. Thompson who play the two kids in the film? How is it different working with young actors than older ones?
DW: Well the two of them are very different from each other. Chris was 18 years old at the time, out of high school, so not really a kid at all. Even though it was only his second movie, he was very professional, funny and great. Bobb'e is a unique comedic actor - regardless of his age. He's also been in so many things that he was very comfortable on our set and my job was kind of to watch him go! Sometimes I would forget, however, that he's also an eleven-year-old kid, and kids sometimes need more attention to swings in energy, mood, etc.
MW: I noticed you have a cameo role in the background as another role model. How did you decide to cameo in that role?
DW: Basically I just wanted to be in the movie, but I didn't want to give myself too big a part so I could mainly concentrate on writing & directing.
MW: What films and other media inspired you to become a writer/actor/director?
DW: I listened incessantly to Steve Martin as a kid. And I watched his specials and SNL appearances over and over. Also all the Woody Allen movies. Those were the biggies for me as a kid. Then in college I was really inspired by Robert Altman & Spike Lee.
MW: Are there any projects coming in the future from you that you can comment on?
DW: I do the main voice on Superjail every Sunday night on Adult Swim; going on tour with STELLA comedy troupe starting November 30th; producing a web show called Children's Hospital coming in December; working on a TV version of my web series Wainy Days - all the latest on that stuff is at davidwain.com. Then I'm working on scripts for the next movie but don't know yet when or what that will turn out to be.
MW: If you were ever to pick another genre of film to work with, what would it be?
DW: I'd like to make a dark(ish) relationship drama along the lines of Husbands and Wives or Sex, Lies & Videotape.
MW: Do you have any words of advice to share with young filmmakers who may want to pursue a career similar to yours?
DW: There's certainly no one route to getting started in this business. But I'd repeat some advice I heard Woody Allen give, paraphrasing - work your ass off, and stay true to your voice, and don't focus on the money. If you do the work, you have any talent, and you keep your eyes on the prize, the money will come sooner or later.
Go see Role Models tomorrow in theaters everywhere! Read our review for Role Models HERE!