After directing some of the most beloved movie comedies of the past 15 years, the brotherly duo of Bobby and Peter Farrelly ("Dumb and Dumber," "There's Something About Mary") are at it again, this time with a remake of the cult classic, "The Heartbreak Kid." While in L.A. promoting the film, Bullz-Eye had a chance to sit down with the Brothers Farrelly and the cast (including Jerry Stiller, Danny McBride, Rob Corddry, Malin Ackerman, Michelle Monaghan, and Carlos Mencia) to discuss, among many things, the struggle to create a likable character and how to make strenuous sex scenes not so strenuous on your beautiful stars.
Jerry Stiller: I usually sit on a telephone book. I feel like I'm sinking slowly...
Reporter: Rob, was the bangs joke something that was created for you?
Rob Corddry: That was specifically tailored to my specific growth pattern. This is the way God made me.
Reporter: Jerry, how many times have you played Ben's dad on camera? How was this experience different than other ones?
Jerry Stiller: I did a movie with him, a short subject called "Shoeshine." I played a shoeshine man, he was a stockbroker, and the gist of it was that he was my son. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Short Subject, and was the epitome of working with my son. In this movie, I play his harebrained father who essentially has...problems. And Ben directed me in the movie where he plays the fashion model (2001's "Zoolander"). It's something called a gift. He's not chopped liver. Honestly, I don't like working with someone close to me because I'm afraid of screwing up. The only problem was doing the things I did in this movie. I felt they would think Ben's father was really like this.
Reporter: You're not a sex maniac?
Jerry Stiller: In my mind.
Reporter: You talk so dirty in this film. Was that awkward at all?
Jerry Stiller: I learned that from my wife.
Reporter: When Ben was single, what was your advice to him?
Jerry Stiller: I never had heart to heart talks with Ben. Our lives were so involved with show business and kids were there, hung around, were part of it and absorbed it in their own way.
Reporter: What do you think the key is to raising a child in Hollywood and keeping them on the right track?
Jerry Stiller: We stayed in New York because first of all I was afraid of Hollywood. They went to school, and got a life that nobody on the West Coast would've. And we prayed, Anne and I that all of this stuff would land in the right way.
Reporter: Danny, how did you decide upon your character's delivery?
Danny McBride: That's from growing up in Virginia.
Jerry Stiller: Your father's a Marine?
Danny McBride: He's not, he's a civilian, but he works on the base, though.
Jerry Stiller: (to reporters) Sorry, I don't mean to be doing your job.
Jerry Stiller, Danny McBride, and Rob Corddry leave. Bobby Farrelly and Michelle Monaghan enter.
Reporter: Michelle, what's easier for you to play: a comedic role like this, or a dramatic role?
Michelle Monaghan: I've never really done comedy before, so I was game. But you can't really prepare to be funny. On the day you just have to hope you'll be funny.
Reporter: You seem very at ease.
Michelle Monaghan: Thank you. I was drinking tequila the whole time.
Reporter: So much of the film is about misunderstandings. Was there ever a case where you said a little too much that'll give it away?
Bobby Farrelly: We spent a lot of time on the writing when she thinks his wife was murdered and Ben thinks she knows about his wife and she's cool with it. That's kind of a critical moment there, because if the audience doesn't know what the other's thinking, then the whole movie collapses.
Reporter: Bobby, how likable is Ben Stiller's character to you?
Bobby Farrelly: In most of our movies, we spend a lot of time trying to set up a guy that you do like enough that all these crazy things can happen and you like him as they happen. As the story unfolds, he is a bit of an anti-hero. There is no traditional happy ending to this movie because he didn't deserve one. He is the heartbreak kid. Hopefully you like him enough that you can understand him.
Reporter: How has Ben changed in ten years?
Bobby Farrelly: He's been so successful non stop in the last ten years, involved in so many good movies that he's more vocal about what his opinions are. He comes over and tells us his opinions are. And he's so smart, he's almost always right.
Reporter: Is it easier to make an R-rated movie now than it was back then?
Bobby Farrelly: I don't think it's easier. The beauty about "There's Something About Mary" was that people weren't expecting it. And after, it became more expected.
Reporter: What made you decide on Michelle?
Bobby Farrelly: We read Michelle for the Lila part. We had seen her in "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" and thought she'd be better for the girl who's really cool, grounded, and fun.
Reporter: Michelle, how did you feel about that?
Michelle Monaghan: I was just happy to get a role.
Bobby Farrelly: You wanted Mencia's role...
Michelle Monaghan: I wanted to play the role of the donkey for a while.
Bobby Farrelly: I don't think we ever got the total caliber of acting before than in this one.
Reporter: Michelle, was there anything too outrageous for your tastes?
Michelle Monaghan: No. Certainly not in this movie. I've got a pretty decent sense of humor, so I'm game for pretty much anything.
Reporter: Can you talk a little about working with Danny McBride?
Michelle Monaghan: Danny McBride is just about the best guy ever, he's just so, so funny. I think the funniest line he has is, "What are you smoking? The devil's lettuce?" I was like, "Oh shit, I totally have to use that."
Reporter: Bobby, I think every one of your movies except "Fever Pitch" have featured some kind of road trip. Why is that material you return to?
Bobby Farrelly: My brother and I are road trip guys -- still are, like when we get writer's block. It's good for this story -- if you think you want to get married, take a road trip with them and you'll find out an awful lot. It's hard to be in a car with someone for three or four days -- little tiny things will start to get on your nerves. It's like a microcosm for marriage.
Reporter: Michelle, have you gone on a road trip?
Michelle Monaghan: Yes, I have. And we're still married! (Holds up wedding ring)
Michelle and Bobby leave. Peter Farrelly and Malin Akerman enter.
Bullz-Eye: Peter, what's your connection with the original? You follow it closely up to a point, and then depart.
Peter Farrelly: Someone asked us to make that five years ago, and we said no. It's a classic. Then about two years ago, someone said there's a new draft you gotta read, and what they did was flip the original. It really opened the door for us. We didn't want to remake "The Heartbreak Kid" as it was. For us, the likeability factor made it a fuller story and permitted us to fit in our kind of humor. If you don't like our characters, our jokes don't work. That's one thing we've always known.
Reporter: Malin, those were the most strenuous sex scenes I've ever seen on film. Were they actually?
Malin Akerman: Peter, actually, performed them for me before. They were definitely some crazy positions I've never tried myself and don't think I would.
Reporter: Is the nudity something you're comfortable with?
Malin Akerman: I mean, comfortable enough. You're never completely comfortable but I'm definitely not prudish when it comes to those things. If the scene requires it, and it's for a reason and not gratuitous, then yeah, absolutely.
Reporter: How sympathetic are you to this character? A lot of times I found myself thinking, She's kinda cool.
Peter Farrelly: That's the trick -- we never wanted to lose her to the point where you don't give a shit about her. And we didn't want to let Eddie off the hook.
Reporter: Malin, was it fun to do the over-the-topness or where to know where the boundary is?
Malin Akerman: It is quite over the top, but you don't want to go too far or push too hard...
Peter Farrelly: Well, part of an actor's job is to go over the top at times. When we're making the movie, we have a sense of where we're going to, but we're not positive. So you push them to all limits. So when you get to the editing room, it's like having all different colors and you can try them all out. And the worst is realizing she should've gone further. And that's what good actors do. They're not afraid to embarrass themselves.
Reporter: When did you start writing strong comedic roles for women?
Peter Farrelly: Wow. Funny thing happened on "Dumb and Dumber." And we were reading actresses for the Lauren Holly role. Mariel Hemingway came in and said, "This is a piece of shit. This is garbage! You've got nothing here! Why would I want to play this woman? The guys get all the jokes!" She didn't get the part. But I remember thinking, She's right. You have to put yourself in the role of women, and by giving them humor, you're making them real.
Reporter: Was the snowball scene in the script when she read it?
Peter Farrelly: Yeah, but as written it was a very unfunny scene. It's not until you get in the editing room and cut it together and find the perfect sound effect...which by the way, when he hit her in the face, we tried about 50 sound effects before we came up with Henry Aaron hitting his 715th home run. It was the crack of the bat. BOOM! That's the sound.
Carlos Mencia enters.
Reporter: Did they try to find the least believable mustache for your character?
Carlos Mencia: It had to be big, bro. It had to be huge. It took me away from having to see myself in the mirror.
Reporter: How do you make sure (your character) is not a caricature when you're doing something this broad?
Carlos Mencia: I called my uncle Jose up, who's from Mexico. I talked to him in English for about two hours and completely ripped off his accent. To me, (my character) Uncle Tito's an authentic person because I know who he is and where he comes from.
Reporter: What is outrageous these days?
Carlos Mencia: I don't know. Doesn't that seem to change? It seems like ethnic jokes are bad and then they become good, and sex jokes are bad and then they become good. I think what I respect about (the Farrellys) is they do movies that they think are funny, and they incorporate scenes into the movie that they think are funny, and there's something to be said about that. They do what they think is funny, yet allow me as an actor to try things -- there was never a no. And Ben is such a giving actor -- I never knew he was that good. I mean, his level -- I've never seen anything like it. I never felt like I was acting, I always felt like I was reacting to him. It was great.
Moderator: Thank you, everybody.