Andrew Mogel & Jarrad Paul (Co-Writers/Co-Directors)
Interviewed by Harrison Pierce on 5/15/15
Q: What inspired the idea for Bad Bromance?
JP: We really started with Jack Black’s character: somebody who is obsessed with his high school persona and living in the past and [the question] of how far he would go to change that. And then it evolved from there and became about this reunion and getting this guy, Oliver Lawless – played by James Marsden – to come back for it. And then things took a turn…
AM: We liked the idea of this guy having a dumb plan and he keeps burying himself [in it] further and further, every step of the way.
Q. Did you write the script with any specific actors in mind?
AM: Jack was somebody we always thought would be perfect but never thought we could get. But when he agreed to do it, we definitely adjusted [the character] in that direction. Same with all of the other actors: when we cast them, we would adjust [their characters] accordingly.
Q. How did James Marsden come onto your radar for the role of former high school popular guy-turned-Hollywood actor Oliver Lawless?
JP: As soon as we found Jack, [James] was one of our first meetings and he really responded to the script. From the beginning, he was all over this character, down to the tiny details, like the bracelets he wanted [Oliver] to wear. So right away, we knew he was the perfect, perfect guy.
Q: On set, was your script sacred or did you let Jack and James and the other actors improvise?
AM: We were tight for time so we had to be cautious [about] getting what we absolutely needed. But when you have guys like that – and they’re both so incredible – you have to give them room to bring their stuff, which they did.
JP: All of the actors did: Jeffrey Tambor (“Bill Shurmur”) and Kathryn Hahn (“Stacey Landsman”), also. And we would have wanted more if we had time. But I think everybody was on board with: If our day goes perfectly, we’ll barely get what we need. So we didn’t have that much room to play.
Q: Was it a challenge for the cast to keep a straight face during any of the film’s more outrageous scenes?
AM: Definitely the “big scene” – or the “turn scene,” as it were. Jack and Marsden were having a hard time keeping it together for that.
Q: What did they do to loosen up for that unexpected moment of intimacy?
JP: Many, many shots of whiskey.
Q: The big “turn scene” leaves the straight and married Dan Landsman in a pretty confused state. Did you ever consider making the character a closeted gay guy? Or did you always want to handle it in this less conventional way?
JP: It was never really about that to us: It wasn’t about his sexuality as much as it was [about] his desperation for acceptance and how he deals with rejection. Having him spin out over being rejected, even over something he didn’t really want, was interesting.
Q. The movie’s soundtrack features a lot of great mid-90s songs. Can you talk about picking the right music for the film? And were there any songs you absolutely had to have?
JP: That INXS song in the reunion scene [“Never Tear Us Apart”] was the most important to us.
AM: Even if everything else had to be a song you’d never heard of, we needed that one. But the tricky thing with a [small budget] movie like this is that you need the reunion songs to be recognizable, but also [have] a timelessness to them. So it wasn’t just about nailing 1994; it was about that timeless reunion feeling. And those songs tend to not be cheap. So we were definitely worried about that aspect. And [music supervisor] Randall Poster was just incredible for us in that department.
Q: I asked Kathryn Hahn what it was like having two directors on set and she said you guys basically share the same brain. What’s the real secret to your co-directing dynamic?
JP: I think the secret is to kind of share the same brain. And we tend to share the same ideas and go in the same direction.
AM: And because we had such a familiarity with the material – we had lived with it for a while and had a long prep – we knew what we wanted and needed and were on the same page going in. So it felt very natural to be on the same page on set. And we didn’t have time to really disagree.
JP: If we ever had to discuss anything, it was: “Who’s going to be good cop and who’s going to be bad cop?” And Andy falls into the bad cop role very easily.
Q: Have either of you ever been to one of your high school reunions and, if so, what was that experience like?
AM: I hate to burst the bubble but I didn’t go.
JP: Neither of us did. I think we did this movie instead of going.
AM: And no one flew out here and begged us to come.
Q: Looking back, do you have a favorite memory from the making of The D Train?
JP: The last day, when we shot the “big scene.” That was a culminating moment for us in terms of getting the movie made.
AM: There was a rainstorm that night and the power went out for, like, three hours and we were all sitting around in the dark waiting. It was a pretty epic, crazy day.
JP: But once we completed that – and it was so much fun to do – it was such a celebratory, weight-lifted, huge moment in our lives.
Q: Finally, if you could crash the reunion of any fictional TV show or movie about high school, which would it be and why?
JP: I guess I would say the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) reunion.
AM: Or The Breakfast Club (1985) reunion.
JP: Yeah. The Breakfast Club. Those were the seminal high school movies for me.