WARNING: As you would expect from the Farrelly Brothers, this interview is extremely NSFW!
No matter your stance on movie sequels, the fact that Dumb and Dumber To arrives in theaters this week 20 years after the original was released is a pretty amazing feat. The sequel picks up basically right after the first film left off, in that Harry and Lloyd are still up to their idiotic tricks and have not changed one bit. And critics and naysayers be damned, the brothers Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary, The Three Stooges) had a ball returning to their beloved, dumb creations whether skeptics like it or not.
Screen Rant was lucky enough to spend some time with the jovial co-directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly recently at the end of a Dumber To press day in Los Angeles where we reminisced about the love and nostalgia for the original Dumb and Dumber (including a brief debate about its best lines), getting everyone together again 20 years later and why Jeff Daniels and his “charming butt” are the unsung heroes of the production. Plus: Why they invented new swear words to throw off the MPAA, details about a surprising, super-secret cameo and the typical Hollywood negotiating nonsense that prevented Jennifer Lawrence from appearing in the film.
Check out the trailer for Dumb and Dumber To followed by our interview with the Farrelly Brothers:
Screen Rant: You’re nearing the end of a long press day, I hope you’re still having fun talking about it?
Bobby: We’re so happy with this movie, I don’t know if you are but we are. It’s easy to talk about.
Peter: It’s nice not to have to talk people into movies like, “Oh this is a good movie, you should see it. It holds up”
SR: How do you think Harry and Lloyd have actually survived for this long?
Bobby: Eh, they’re pretty resilient. They’re pretty lucky too.
Peter: They have each other and they kind of just blow through life. They don’t cause trouble on purpose, they’re not into drugs and they don’t drink a lot – unless there’s booze there then they will. They never think about it until someone has a bottle of booze. “Hey, gimme that!” They’re not like guys who are just driving the street drinking a beer, so they have a fairly healthy lifestyle in that way.
Bobby: They’re basically drug free and they’re both zen.
Peter: They have no stress because they have no jobs and no wives and no kids. So if you look at their lives they are probably more in the moment than 99.9 percent of the people out there and I guess that’s the whole point of life, to live in the moment. They don’t have problems.
Bobby: If they have them they just ignore them.
Peter: Ignorance is bliss, that’s it. I wish I didn’t know so much.
SR: How often in the 20 years since the first one came out did you two talk about it, or how often did people bother you about making another one?
Peter: They didn’t bother us much. [Laughs]
Bobby: Less than we were hoping [Laughs]. Dumb and Dumber was a super fun project, it was our first project. It’s fun because you hear guys on something like ESPN saying “So you’re telling me there’s a chance!” People use those lines in their day-to-day life. You’ll see it on the cover of the New York Post “Dumb and Dumber” about two politicians or something. It got worked into the lexicon and it’s been fun.
SR: Yeah like “Samsonite,” any time I see that I think about the movie. Also I grew up in Colorado, you did wonderful things for Aspen…
Peter: Yeah. “The French are assholes.”
SR: [Laughs] So good. “John Denver…”
Peter: “That John Denver is full of shit!”
Bobby: [Laughs] That was a shot from behind, a good shot from behind.
Peter: Yeah, but remember? That didn’t get a laugh either in the first one. It’s a funny thing, we’ve been talking about how the movie has grown in stature because when it came out, the reviews were fair.
Bobby: Oh at best.
Peter: There were a lot of people saying, “This is the dumbing of America, this is the worst” but then there were some raves like Pauline Kael. She actually came out of retirement, she had retired a year earlier, and she came out of retirement to write a review and it was a rave. She said it was one of the smartest comedies, it was very sweet of her to do it. The thing people talked about was the toilet scene and the snowball in the face and stuff like that, but as years went on it’s all the little things, like the “John Denver” line and the “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”
Bobby: And “Big Gulps, eh?” Just all those lines became funnier.
Peter: Yeah, “No it’s a cardigan, but thanks for noticing.” Millions of those lines that when we tested it didn’t get big laughs. They’re not huge laughs, they grow on you. “So you’re telling me there’s a chance” never got a big laugh, it’s not that kind of joke but it’s the kind of joke that’s like, “Ha, that’s stupid.”
SR: Do you feel any of your other films have had that same slow burn into the public conscience?
Peter: I really do believe the Three Stooges kind of has that. There’s a little thing happening with that recently where kids are suddenly, I’m having people call me and say, “They just showed it at my kid’s school and the place was going crazy.” Dave Copeland told me that. There’s a lot of little dumb things in that and it didn’t do great when it came out – it did fine, but it didn’t break any records. But nothing like Dumb and Dumber.
Bobby: We made it at New Line Cinema and as soon as it came out, New Line got bought out by Ted Turner and so they did some kind of deal where it went right to TNT, right to TBS, and they showed it around the clock, so kids watched it and watched it and watched it. That didn’t happen with our other movies. We were lucky people watched it and watched it because the more they did, the more it became funnier and funnier.
Peter: There was a thing on ESPN, the “Top 10 Favorite Lines in Dumb and Dumber” and I could not believe what those lines were. They weren’t the ten I would’ve picked. Number one was “Big Gulps, eh?” But number one? I was shocked. Then we went online to look up “Best lines in Dumb and Dumber” and there’s a list of the “Best 100 lines in Dumb and Dumber.” Top 100 lines! I went through the whole thing and thought, “I didn’t think that was that funny!”
SR: Coming back to it, you guys have done groundbreaking work with several comedies, but is there something you can do with Harry and Lloyd that you can’t do with any other characters? Something you can get away with, more offensive or raunchy things just because of who they are?
Peter: Kind of. People ask us when we write, “How do you come up with the gags?” Well we don’t actually come up with the gags, we don’t think about that. They come later. First thing we think of is coming up with characters that you like enough that we can hang our gags on. And because you do like Harry and Lloyd particularly women, by the way, this is our highest-scoring movie with women by a longshot.
SR: It’s because they’re so innocent and not predatory.
Peter: Exactly. That’s why you can get away with, “Is it inside this turkey?”
Bobby: But a normal movie character, if they insult someone your reaction is, “Well, they’re kind of an asshole.” But when Lloyd says to the old lady, “Don’t you go dying on me!” You know it’s because he doesn’t know any better, he doesn’t mean anything by that. He doesn’t mean to be offensive, I think that’s why you can do stuff like that, they come from a good place. They don’t know any better.
Peter: No. Like, “Excuse me, sir.”
Bobby: The line to Kathleen Turner.
Peter: If that was busting her balls, that’s not nice. But it’s not busting her balls, they believe it. “Excuse me, sir!” [Laughs].
SR: The road to the sequel had to be a challenging endeavor across the board, but I’m wondering about the cameos. Were people begging to be in the movie and then how did you wrangle them?
Peter: People don’t beg us to do anything.
Bobby: Some of the people that were begging us were in the original, just because they had so much fun. “I want to be in the new one!” But our rule was basically, unless you’re the exact same character, we wouldn’t have you in because it wouldn’t make sense. The blind character in the wheelchair is the exact same character.
Peter: Yeah, it was the second job he’d ever had. We had a few people who were in the first one and wanted to be in the second, but you couldn’t do it again. We do have a really good cameo in there, I don’t know if you saw the credits…
SR: I did. And I didn’t know about that ahead of time, it seems like if you’ve got that person you should at least show his/her face! Is there going to be a scene on the DVD or Blu-ray with that reveal?
Peter: No. Nope. That was the whole point.
SR: How does that happen? How does he/she agree, “Oh I’ll come in for a day and not show my face?”
Bobby: They never get asked to be a glorified extra and we were nice enough to ask.
Peter: We were a little surprised they did it, let’s be honest.
SR: Did you know if they were going to show up?
Peter: Nah, they’ve shown up for us. We have their hotline.
Bobby: Yeah we have their 800 number, so we’ll call him/her and they’ll call us back within a month.
Peter: Always within a month. “Hey [name redacted], we have a cameo do you want it?” “Yeah, I’ll come in tomorrow.” “Really? Okay, great” It was great. But of course when they got there people were saying, “You should take the thing off” and we were like, “No no, that ruins it.” The whole point is to not mention anything and at the end credits, “What?”
SR: I bet they loved that idea.
Peter: Oh they loved it.
SR: Jennifer Lawrence, is that a cutting room floor situation or scheduling?
Bobby: She was down in Atlanta making a movie too when we were down there, but it just didn’t work. We would love to do a movie with Jennifer one day.
Peter: It was close to happening.
Bobby: We were talking about her for a much bigger part, but we couldn’t pull it off.
Peter: Yeah because she was doing Hunger Games down there and we were all around each other. She’s a huge fan of the first one, we went out to dinner with her and Jeff one night and everything Jeff said, she was like, “Oh my gosh you sounded just like Harry there! Say that again!” She was fascinated by it, so there was talk about it but it was complicated. She’s such a superstar and you know, agents.
SR: Darn agents in the way. This is a weird question but regarding Harry’s butt crack, 20 years have passed and, I should probably ask Jeff about this, but he has the same butt!
Bobby: He has a charming butt.
Peter: It is a charming butt.
SR: I’m amazed it hasn’t changed, because most men, all the dads I know lose their butts as they age…
Bobby: Yeah they become much less sightly but his held up really well, didn’t it?
SR: Was that something you had to check beforehand or a pleasant surprise?
Bobby: He comes from a long line of plumbers in his family, I think that’s it. [Laughs]
Peter: He does have kind of a, and I’m not kidding, it’s sort of a charming ass. It’s sloppy like a guy’s ass, but it’s a very fun, lovable ass. Yeah, and it did not change.
Bobby: [Laughs] It’s perfectly pale.
Peter: I always think of this, the funny shot of his ass that I always think about is not a bare ass shot, but when he had to go to the bathroom in the first one and he showed up at her house and he had those stupid jeans on and he’s in the thing and just sort of [gets up and demonstrates Daniels walking around stiffly with limited tight jeans movement] walking in the hallway, he had the village clothes on.
SR: Are there other things like that that you were excited to showcase or exploit again? There’s a quote in the press notes about the joy of watching both Mr. Carrey and Mr. Daniels’ intelligence melt off their faces when you say, “Action,” that kind of thing?
Bobby: For me it’s Jeff, because Jim can get goofy in a moment’s notice but Jeff is such a respected actor. The night before our first day of filming he won the Emmy for this powerful very serious role and then he comes here…
Peter: I tell you if you if you ever do a story with Jeff, he’s the most generous actor we’ve ever worked with by far. Actors are generally out for themselves, “How can I get this or that or a better shot?” And all he thinks about is, “How can we make Jim look better?” And I’m telling you, that’s the God’s honest truth. He really loves Jim.
Bobby: That’s how a straight man thinks, but he’s not a straight man.
Peter: No, he’s not a straight man. What he does is he reacts to what Jim’s doing but Jim likes to mix it up. Every take is different, so he’s playing a game where he’s reacting differently every time and Jim knows he can go anywhere and that guy’s going to follow him, he’ll be right there. And so Jim adores Jeff because he knows nobody can give him what Jeff’s giving him and Jeff’s making Jim’s performance better the way he’s reacting to it. I actually went into his trailer once or twice and said, “Hey I hope you don’t think we’re not giving you enough attention because we’re always talking to Jim, getting him going” and he goes, “No no no. Jim is nailing this thing, focus on him, I’m going to be right with him.” I was like, “Perfect.” He’s very cool.
SR: What was left on the cutting room floor that we can maybe look forward to seeing?
Peter: A lot of fun stuff. There was a backstory of Harry, what he’s been doing for 20 years. It was really fun but he had dated a little person for a time and describes, he says “Oh she’s so sexy. 36-24-36, that was just her head” and then he talks about getting into the whole New Age thing and we flashback, he says “I even wrote a book” and Jim says “You rode a bike?” And he says, “No, I wrote a book” and Jim says “A bike?” and Jeff says, “A book. A BOOK. You know, the things with the words?” And Jim says, “Oh yeah! Whatever happened to those?” “They’re still around” and cut to a book fair and he’s sitting there with all these other authors and his book is called “Eat, Sleep, Shit.”
SR: Is that something you’d put on the DVD?
Peter: Absolutely. We shot it, we just had to cut it.
SR: I get it, for time. I’m sure there’s other stuff, I got to speak with Ms. Kathleen Turner earlier and that was amazing…
Bobby: She’s great, isn’t she? She’s olllld school. Old school movie star.
WARNING: EXTREME NSFW language ahead. You have been warned.
SR: I wish she would teach all young women in Hollywood how to be.
Peter: First of all, we dressed her down for the movie. We put grease on her face, we fluffed her up and she was a trooper and went with it. There’s one joke that we had, when he says, “Did you have a C-section or did you have the baby au-snatch-er-al?” Well originally we had another line that we were going to use. We knew that if we put that line the MPAA was going to cut it, they were going to say, “You can’t say that, it’s PG-13” so we went one above it and what it was is, “Did you have a C-section or did you have a natural cuntal delivery?”
Peter: [Laughs] Yeah. Kathleen pulled us aside and said, “That is not going to be in the movie. That is where I draw the line.”
Peter: We said, “No we’re not putting that in the movie, we have to shoot it because we’re trying to get “au-snatch-er-al” and she goes, “Promise me.” I said, “It’s the truth, I’ll show you how much it’s the truth” and I called Jeff over, because she knows Jeff is the most stand up guy on the planet and I said, “Jeff I want you to hear what I’m telling her. ‘Cuntal’ is not going to be in the movie, ‘Au-snatch-er-al’ is in, Jeff wouldn’t lie to you.” And she goes, “Okay, I’m good with it.”
SR: I’ve never heard the word “cuntal”.
Peter: No we invented that word.
Bobby: Feel free to use it!
Dumb and Dumber To opens in U.S. theaters on November 14th, 2014.