The In-Laws Co-Stars are on the “Road” to More Movies Together

By Sean Driscoll

At the recent press junket for their new film The In-Laws, Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks discussed working together again real soon… but not necessarily as their characters in the new summer comedy.

Both actors seemed like they had a fun time working together and shooting the film. “He takes his comedy very seriously,” Douglas said of his co-star. “It was probably as good a time as I’ve had on any picture at all. And all the support should go to Andy Fleming, too. Andy Fleming is a very very talented director. Both of us were kind of attracted to Dick… um, to the movie Dick (which was directed by Fleming).”

Brooks jumped in immediately laughing, and quickly instructed the press, “Take out ‘both of us.’” Earlier in the interview, Albert Brooks explained how his thong scene went.

“How it went?” the actor responded to a question. “It went right up my ass--it’s a thong. It was exactly how it appeared in the movie. There were no tricks and there was no getting out of it.”

His co-star pointed out that there were some computerized alterations done to the scene for advertisements, and Brooks put his own spin on the process. “In a trailer that’s shown with other PG movies, you have to cover the little crack,” he explained to a room roaring with laughter. “So they CGI’d a little more red. Can you imagine? So now there’s a bunch of people who went to see Daddy Day Care who think I have a manufactured ass. Two kids came up to me and said ‘How do you shit?’”

When asked if he took the Kathy Bates approach of having a few drinks before his revealing scene (as she did in About Schmidt), Brooks responded, “No, I actually watched her nude scene.”

When I asked Michael Douglas about filming action sequences now, as opposed to years ago, he discussed the use of green screens. Brooks took the opportunity to poke a little fun at him.

“Michael never left Bermuda,” he laughed. “I met him on the last day.”

“Albert and I got to know each other very well on the parachute scene,” Douglas answered. “He and I were together very closely. We talked about politics, holidays, life, our kids, what kind of breathe mints we used, things like that…”

“Is that a safety bar, or are you happy to see me?” Brooks added.

The comedian also described his personal experience with meeting his own in-laws. “I’ll tell you the honest truth,” he said. “My father-in-law’s a surgeon, and three weeks before the wedding he took my gallbladder out… I just sort of knew it was in there, and I decided I can get it (the operation) for free.”

“He’s a brilliant guy,” he continued. “But, you know, he said to my wife, ‘I’ve seen everything--you can marry him.’”

Both actors also discussed animated features coming to theaters this summer. Brooks provides the voice for the lead character in Finding Nemo, and Douglas’ wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, voices a character in upcoming Dreamworks film of the Sinbad tale. The process and politics behind making animated films seem to be something that neither actor is happy with.

“I’m not just a voice, I’m the voice.,” Brooks explains. “Well that I did because I have children. Because, as my colleagues say, ‘You don’t work for scale and no billing unless you have little kids.’”

Comparing Nemo to his previous works, like his comedy Mother, Brooks said, “You know, my kids weren’t walking around the house going ‘Debbie Reynolds got robbed!’ So I wanted to do something that they would (see). The whole fun of this is (that) in a week from now, I’m gonna take them to the El Capitan theater, and they’re gonna sit on my lap, and that experience is gonna be why I did that movie.”

“It’s acting, but it’s different,” the actor continued. “Because you do a total of about 70 hours over the course of a year. It’s way beyond takes, because they just say to you very nicely, ‘Well now that was good. Give us everything in your brain that you’ve ever thought of.’”

When Douglas was asked if he would ever lend his voice to such a project, he provided a quick and definite answer. “No,” he said. “I resent the whole way they treat these things, because… without naming them (the studio executives)--“

“Name them, Michael,” Brooks encouraged. “I have spelling (of names) and everything.”

“What they do is they keep a list of talent who has small children,” Douglas described. “And they approach you at that time, and they sign away… they take your name and your likeness…they pay you nothing. It’s a way to rip off talent on a big scale.”

Brooks agreed. “They’re allowed to, for eternity, duplicate your voice if you don’t want to do it. And many other offers come to you. I mean, I’ve turned down McDonald’s commercials, because they just don’t want to pay you, but they want you to do the McDonalds (ads)… and I said ‘No thank you.’ So they got this actor Jeff Arnell, who does Kevin Pollak doing me, and now a little fish is going ‘Oh my God, a hamburger!’ It’s not even me!”

Regardless of his issues, Brooks explained that it was still a project he had to do. “With this company,” he said. “The word ‘Pixar’ and underwater was sort of too enticing. I knew just from the beginning that it would be spectacular, visually... and I’m happy I did it. I mean, I’ll see afterward what my kids think. (It would) be funny after the movie if my kids think, ‘Debbie Reynolds was robbed.’”

In terms of future projects, Albert Brooks said that he was “writing something” and was on a second draft. The two men even discussed working together again.

“He’s bringing back the ‘road movies,’” Douglas explained, referring to the old Bob Hope and Bing Crosby classics. “Yeah, Road to Iran.”

Brooks discussed the fun of such films, and explained what kind of enjoyable work it would be for both actors. “We go,” he explained. “We have to defuse the nuclear reactor, and pick up chicks.”

Later in the day, Director Andy Fleming confirmed that the stars were seriously pitching the premise to Warner Brothers executives. “I loved working with Albert and Michael so much,” he said. “They’re pitching Road to Iran in the other room.”

Fleming discussed working with a dream cast of young actors like Robin Tunney and Ryan Reynolds, and veterans like Brooks, Douglas, and Candice Bergen. Fleming’s previous work includes the television show Gross Pointe, and teen films like Dick and The Craft. He describes The In-Laws as “the first movie I’ve done that doesn’t have a scene by the lockers after chemistry.”

Reynolds and Lindsay Sloane also had praise for their fellow cast members. Sloane said that Albert Brooks “lived up to all expectations.”

“He doesn’t disappoint,” she explained. “He is everything that you, as a fan, want him to be and more.”

Reynolds, who explained that he was from “the SARS-free Vancouver,” entered the room in an Astroboy tee shirt. When one member of the press mentioned the proposed live action version of the cartoon, Reynolds explained that he knew of the project, but was not attached.

“I’d have to work really hard to be a small Japanese boy,” he explained.

When asked about what attracted him to The In-Laws, Reynolds immediately mentioned the involvement of Albert Brooks. The young actor said that if he heard Brooks was attached, he would “do a Snickers commercial.”

I asked him what it was like, being a young man in comedy and working with a legend like Brooks on a daily basis.

“Shit, it’s like a dream come true,” he said. “I mean, he’s Albert Brooks. He is Lost in America, Broadcast News, and Defending Your Life. Growing up, it was all about Albert Brooks movies and MASH in my house. (With) my brothers, it was all we watched… the marathon… you know, Hawkeye-Pierce-Apalooza. It was just great.”

“The thing I looked forward (to) the most wasn’t even the role,” he continued. “It wasn’t like a role I truly had to stretch for or anything, but it was just the camaraderie… getting to sit around the set and ask him anything.”

Reynolds also has wonderful things about David Suchet, who is hilarious in The In-Laws as the homosexually repressed villain. Reynolds enjoyed working with Suchet so much that he had Atom Egoyan hire the actor to play the villain in Reynolds’ next movie, the comedy-action heist film Foolproof. Reynolds said that Suchet was “such a testament to great, incredible human spirit in this business.”

Reynolds is about to shoot Waiting, a comedy with Anna Faris, Busta Rhymes, Luis Guzman, and Jay Mohr. He explained that the film is about waiters who are not the usual “I’m really an actor” type of people who aspire to be something other than what they are. The characters in this film really want to be waiters.

The In-Laws opens in theaters on May 23rd.

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Brian B.