SR: Mr. Brooks in your scenes with John Lithgow, were you improvising a lot?
AB: In rehearsal we got a chance to improvise a bit, that’s sort of the way it works. The idea that you get there and at the actual moment you’re making it up is sort of a fallacy, but you get a script and then you have time to throw that to the wind and see what comes back and then you can set things you really like. So a lot of things were said in rehearsal.
JA: I watched the dailies recently and the best line which Albert came up with on the fly is the fun part of loosening it up at the end after getting it scripted and then starting to play. We knew we wanted Albert’s character to be excited about how much money John makes. So I was watching the dailies and it’s my favorite wording of the joke in the movie because John plays an orthopedic surgeon and Albert says: “Every time I don’t see a hunchback, you make money.”
AB: Did I make that up when we were filming?
JA: Yes. You did.
AB: Then yes, is the answer to your question.
JA: Albert would actually email me jokes the night before which would top many of my jokes so I was very happy about that.
SR: How difficult is it keeping a straight face during shooting? What was the hardest scene to shoot without corpsing?
LM: The scene with Melissa McCarthy was the hardest scene to shoot without laughter. That was impossible.
PR: Yes, that was really hard.
LM: It was the weirdest thing, I had never experienced that. Usually it would be one time I would crack up and I would hold it together. But with her it was hours, we could not keep a straight face. And finally we just gave up and Judd said that he was using more than one camera so we could laugh because we couldn’t keep a straight face. And the crew was all laughing. It was ridiculous. She is the funniest person ever.
SR: After watching the outtakes of you both cracking up with Melissa during a scene, I coincidentally interviewed her husband (Ben Falcone) the next day on the set of Bad Words (Jason Bateman’s new film), and he told me Melissa would come home from shooting and say: “I think I went too far… I think they might not want me back…”
LM: Oh really! (Laughs) Because she said she wanted to slit me open…
PR: I’ve seen people in tears before that was something otherworldly. The crew had to leave the room. It was impossible. She just kept her composure through all of it.
MF: Was it her own stuff or did you throw jokes at her?
JD: It was a combination. Our executive producer, Paula Pell is from Saturday Night Live and she’s been there for sixteen years. She’s one of the funniest people ever. She had some really funny ones like you look like a bank commercial couple. But what happens with scenes like that, we know the scenes should be four minutes but by the end of the script, there is about eight minutes, we can kind of tell how we could compress it but we’re not sure, so we let it be a big scene. And Melissa is one of the best improvisers out there. The trick is to stop bursting into laughter is to stare at their foreheads.
LM: I tried that. Nothing worked.
SR: Your kids do a lot of cursing in the movie. Did you explain the difference that it’s okay if you’re in character?
LM: For Maude we don’t allow her to curse at home, I know she does at school so it was fun for her to do that at work. Which by the way, I didn’t think was a great idea but Judd thinks it’s funny.
LM: So that’s fun for her but then she gets home from work and she tries to use the F word or whatever and we have to shut her down.
Judd turns to Albert: Do you let your kids curse? If they did would you stop them?
AB: We don’t curse that much. I’m from another school of comedy.
(Judd bursts out laughing.)
LM: Do they do it at school? How old are your kids?
AB: My son is fourteen and my daughter will be thirteen next March. They don’t curse a lot, but they hear it a lot on YouTube unfortunately. We don’t do it in the house. We’re not a big Fu*k household.
MF: Do you monitor their Facebook account?
AB: My wife ensures there are no Facebook accounts.
JA: That you know of…
LM: But she never curses like that in front of us.
JA: She will try it. She’s like: “But everybody curses in Superbad.” She’s finally using it as revenge against me. I knew it would happen one day. “You make your whole living off of cursing. How can you not like cursing?”
SR: It’s brave to have a film called ‘This is 40’ because Hollywood tries to direct films towards the 18-24 demographic. Do you feel like your audience is growing up along with your movies so they are getting to the point where they are facing some of these issues now?
JA: We are about to find out!
AB: This is 40 is only the title for a few theaters. This is 18 is for a lot of theaters.
PR: I say we call it This is Zero Dark Forty.
SR: Paul, Judd has you in a few uncompromising positions… in one scene you are naked with your legs over head with a magnifying mirror blocking the point of entry shall we say… asking your wife to look at your hemorrhoid. Did you feel uncomfortable shooting that in front of a crew? Is there a time when you have refused to do that?
PR: (Laughs) That’s an interesting phrasing of the question! Someone asked me this once before and I’m sure there has been.
LM: You wouldn’t take off your shirt when you were sitting on the toilet.
JA: That’s right. We asked him if he would do the scene also without his shirt and he refused. That is the only time you’ve ever drawn the line.
PR: Here’s the thing… I’m not excited about any of it. I thought it would be funny but it’s embarrassing and horrifying but in the context of the movie and this is what we are all trying to go for, then I’ll do it. Certainly if it’s funny, there is no room for vanity. I was laughing as I was dying on the inside. I think the only way you can prepare for a scene like that is with a bottle of Gin!
SR: It’s the same question for you Leslie, is there anything that embarrasses you and where do you would draw a line?
LM: I’m pretty much game for anything.
JA: The ones you think I made her do, she thought of usually. We did try and get across the mystery disappearing in a relationship and people being totally open in a way that after many years, becomes disgusting and not sexy. We were trying to think of two examples, one was “will you look at this” (between my butt cheeks) and the other one was being on an iPad in the bathroom.
SR: What about the farting scene?
JA: Well, that was a Paul Rudd improvisation.
AB: And you don’t want to discover a horrible thing during a scene like a nurse coming over and saying: “We need to talk to you…” That’s not the place to discover that you are terminal. That was a funny scene but come to the monitor sir.
JA: We actually found something! With high def you can see all sorts of things now.
(Paul Rudd is cracking up).
AB: I ask for scenes like that because it kills two birds with one stone. Why do I need to make an appointment for a colonoscopy when I can have one in a movie?
PR: There’s a great line Michael Caine says: “Everytime I need a haircut, I just take a movie.”
This is 40 opens in theaters on December 21, 2012.