The writer, director, and actor talks about his latest project
Ed Burns has made the cross-over a reality. He started his career as the actor, writer, director, producer, and basically everything else on his first film, The Brother's McMullen in 1995. In a matter of 10 years, Ed has just about become the triple threat in Hollywood.
His newest venture is a real guy's tale, The Groomsmen, also starring Donal Logue, Matthew Lillard, Jon Leguizamo, and Jay Mohr as his best friends. Brittany Murphy plays his soon-to-be wife, and mother of their child.
Like most of his previous hits, Ed also wrote, directed, produced and starred in this film. Besides the obvious 'guys' time in the movie, some of the topics are pretty heavy; Donal (Jim) plays his alcoholic older brother, Jay (Mike) is his cousin who has that one girlfriend he can't get out of his mind, Matthew (Des) is the pseudo pushy dad, and Jon's (T.C.) character has to face his father again after leaving town abruptly eight years ago.
The idea for a couple of the themes of the film came from two places - his dad and his own experience. "I loosely based on my dad's approach to parenting. I saw Des as a much tougher guy than Matthew did. I wrote The Groomsmen as a broad comedy, with the big set pieces catching on fire, slipping on mud - I put it down because that's not me. A few years later, I got married and started experiencing those things that happen when you get married. My wife suggested I revisit the script and make it honest, and that's what I did. I wanted to make it why men in their 30's don't want to grow up."
Ed is married to Christy Turlington; he proposed to her while pregnant with their child. Knowing that the Brittany Murphy character is based on Christy, Ed says she was fine with their personal lives going into the film. "She had read the first draft, so she knew enough of the core of it. Brittany's character was greatly improved by her input, so it's great to have that female input. Brittany was there for five days, and she did us a huge favor by being in the film and I greatly appreciate it."
With such an amazing career that Ed has had, he still had to shoot The Groomsmen independently, even practically begging Brittany to appear in the movie just to make the money back in DVD sales. But why, with such an amazing cast, could he not get a studio to pick this film up prior to shooting even for a three million dollar budget? Ed says, "I don't know, I don't really know; the independent or the specialized film has changed so dramatically since I came in in the mid '90's. I just don't think there is enough money to be made; all those companies, they'll do the horror movie for six (million) and make forty (million)."
But Ed wasn't concerned with that - upset, but not concerned. The Groomsmen is a love letter to the suburbs of New York and the beauty it holds. He also wrote it as a look at the different aspects of fathers, having five different views of fathers - men, masculinity, and fatherhood. "That was another thing I wanted to look at, so not only as these guys related to their dads, then what it meant for Matt to be a dad, my character with it approaching, Donal with the inability to do it, Johnny Legs sort of making the choice to reconcile with his dad, so that was the other thematic thing we were looking for.
I actually thought at one point, Jay and his father's relationship was going to change and take a whole new direction; I won't give that away, but Ed seemed to agree with me. "That would have been good, maybe for the sequel; but that would have been too much to happen in five days, though."
After a 25 day shoot, behind and in front of the camera, there had to be one scene from The Groomsmen that was Ed's favorite. "By far, the guys in the garage playing Eddie Money 'Shaking' - it was the best day I've ever had on a set. So much fun, the guys were great, the ad-libbed the hell out of that, and that song is not on the soundtrack; we couldn't get that song cleared for the soundtrack."
And being such a huge music fan, and a great guitar player, I had to know how he would feel if someone came to him with a choice of staying with movies or switching solely to music. With not a hesitation, "Oh, I would let go of movies; look, between the new Strokes record or what's a dumb movie that just came out - all of them. Yeah, for me it would be a no-brainer."
Whether Ed would ever record an album, "I dabble and write songs, PT (Walkley) lets me play a little rhythm guitar, but I have no - I don't know, maybe. I say, 'why not, why not add another one to the list."
Well, right now, you can check him out in The Groomsmen; in limited cities now and expanding in the coming weeks, rated R.