Monday, July 28, 2008

"What if the mom comes on to me?"

The credits say Step Brothers was written by Adam McKay and Will Ferrell, but talk to McKay -- who directed the goofball dysfunctional family comedy about two grown guys (Ferrell and John C. Reilly) still living at home with their parents -- and he'll tell you that practically every scene was improvised.

"There was a load of improv on this one, way more than any film we’ve ever done. But it was built to hold that," McKay says. "The weird thing is, we'd go through our script, we'd rewrite it like 15 times and we'd do three read-throughs, so by the time we hit the stage that script was tight. But, man, the stuff we find out in the improv is always so good, so I would usually do three or four as written, and then do four or five improvs.

"There were days when the actors would come in exhausted and say, `Really? We’ve got to make up whole scenes?'

"`Yes you do, lets go.'

"We shot an obscene amount of footage on this movie. The DVD is going to be packed with material. It's the most improv I’ve ever done on any project I’ve ever worked on, including the show I did at Second City, which was based on improv."

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Berg on "Hancock," and, yes, on "Dune"

Peter Berg had to go a couple of rounds with the MPAA's ratings board to win a PG-13 rating for Hancock --the Will Smith super (anti-) hero blockbuster.

"They hate sexual intercourse," says the director. "They hate sex, and they hate the word f---. It’s really that simple."

There's also the issue of "general intensity," a catch-all category that had Berg trimming seconds from the movie's final hospital room scene. An opening sequence in which Smith's Hancock tries to kill himself was also excised -- "just very dark," says Berg. "And there’s a lovemaking scene with Hancock and a groupie which I thought was pretty hilarious. That will be on the DVD."

Berg, who went from acting (The Last Seduction, TV's Chicago Hope) to directing (Very Bad Things, a bachelor party nightmare, was his first), has a bunch of things in the works. Right up there is a new version of Frank Herbert's sci-fi classic, Dune. The same desert planet epic was adapted for the screen back in the Eighties: David Lynch directed, and Kyle MacLachlan , Virginia Madsen starred and a giant sand worm starred.

"We’re looking for writers right now," Berg reports. "That’s probably a couple of years off in the distance, but, yeah, I definitely want to do my interpretation."

And what of the Lynch Dune?

"I thought it was intresting, and I think it left the door open for some interpretation. My experience with Dune, reading the book in highschool, is [it's] kind of a more muscular adventure tale than I think has been realized onscreen. Something a little rougher and a little more muscular. And I think our worm’s going to be a bit more ferocious."

Berg is also doing a new TV series with Ron Moore, the creator of Battlestar Galactica, called Virtuality, that starts shooting next month.

"And then I think I might do a movie called Lone Survivor, a kind of Black Hawk Down-style film about a gunfight that the Navy Seals get into in Afghanistan."