David Wain

David Wain talks about the film, working with his friends and future projects

While David Wain doesn't have the household name of a Speilberg or Shyamalan, the filmmaker is one of the best comedic filmmakers in Hollywood. After shepherding the cult TV hit The State and other TV projects, the director made a huge smash in film with the wonderful comedy Wet Hot American Summer and then 2007's The Ten. Wain's latest film is the hilarious Role Models, which hits the shelves on DVD and Blu-ray on March 10. I had the chance to speak with the director over the phone and here's what he had to say.

The story was based off an earlier script by Timothy Dowling and W. Blake Herron. How did you first come across this script in the first place?

David Wain: Basically, Blake Herron had written the original original version, which was a drama about two characters. Then it was Tim Dowling who came in and really shaped it to what the story was about, with the four main characters. That was in development for a long time before I came aboard, and when I got involved, Sean William Scott and Paul Rudd had already been involved as well. Paul Rudd and I had started working on the script, so it was through Paul, who I had worked with before, that I became aware of it and came on board.

Oh, so Sean and Paul were already attached before you were?

David Wain: Correct.

So how far along was he working on it when you came aboard and what kinds of things were drastically different from the original draft to the film?

David Wain: Well, like I said, the first draft had almost no resemblance, because the first draft was a drama, not a comedy. So anything you saw in the movie was not in the first draft.

I remember reading about the film and Danny and Wheeler were beer reps.

David Wain: Right, but in the first draft there was nothing like that. It was a drama that had something to do with the Big Brother program. There were later drafts where, yeah, they were Budweiser reps, sort of a Wedding Crashers thing there. There were these two guys who were big partiers. They got into trouble and met with these kids and, you know, they teach them how to party. It was very different. Basically, Paul Rudd, Ken Marino and myself, once I came on board, we sat down and got a hold of the script and shaped it.

I really loved both Seann and Paul in this, so did you kind of know right away how they would both be together? I actually went to high school with Seann.

David Wain: Oh cool. Wow. That's awesome. You know what, I actually didn't know how that would work out, because they're both so completely different. What we tried to do, really, was embrace the fact that they're so different, not just as characters, but as actors. I think that was kind of the key to making the movie was showing ways to make this work. It's the perfect buddy movie.

You have quite an amazing supporting cast with Elizabeth Banks, Jane Lynch, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Bobb'e J. Thompson, who was just amazing and such a breakout role.

David Wain: Yeah.

boldWhat was it like working with these guys and what did they all bring to the table?

David Wain: Well, they each bring something completely different. Liz Banks is just a great comedic actress and can really do anything. We created this role kind of late in the game for her. You know, it's not the most interesting role, but we knew if we had Elizabeth Banks it would work. Jane Lynch, we kind of wrote that role for Jane Lynch, knowing that if Jane Lynch would do it, she would know what to do because no one could play that the way that she could. She did some improv, but more than that, we knew she would make that character so funny. Chris Mintz-Plasse is amazing, Ken Jeong, Joe Truglio, Kerri Kenney. We were really blessed with an amazing cast.

I actually just got off the phone with Ken and we were talking about the role-playing aspect of the movie. Where did that whole aspect of the story spring from?

David Wain: That was in the script before I got there. I couldn't actually tell you where or when, but they certainly took it and built on it a lot. They did a lot of research into that world and we wanted to make it as real as possible.

Are there any favorite or most memorable scenes that you filmed?

David Wain: Well, it was definitely a lot of fun shooting all that stuff at the end, with the battle, the king and everything. It was like shooting a big Braveheart action scene, but on a much, much lower budget. It was fun working with all the extras, they were really into it with all the makeup and stuff.

When I was talking to Ken, he was saying how similar it was working with you and working with Judd Apatow because you both surround yourself with so many familiar people. Is that something that makes it a lot easier for you, to surround yourself with people you've worked with before?

David Wain: Well, it's less of that it makes it easier - well, yes, it does. There is a comfort zone there, but they also just happen to be the best people I'm aware of. They're the funniest people around. I think other people are starting to realize that. I just pick the very very best people to work with, both in front of and behind the camera and I just happen to be blessed that many of them are my friends (Laughs).

Is there anything that you're in development with right now that you can possibly talk about at all?

David Wain: There is not much that I can really talk about. I'm hoping that the script that I'm working on will be the next movie.

I know there's still a pretty big fanbase for The State. Is there a possibility of bringing that back?

David Wain: There is. We did an all new show with all new material in San Francisco, just a couple of weeks ago. We might be touring at some point. Who knows. There's always something brewing. The eleven of us, we're like a family and we want to keep working together. It's very hard, logistically, with the schedules since we're all very busy. The DVD of the TV series is coming out, we think, this summer.

Finally, Role Models did really well in the theaters, but for those who might not have caught it on the big screen, what would you like to say to those people to pick it up on DVD?

David Wain: I would say, if you didn't see it in the theaters, maybe it was because you thought it was a sort-of typical, formulaic comedy. Check the reviews, and you'll see that it's not. A lot of the reviews said, what I think is funny, 'surprisingly great.' It's not nearly the formulaic comedy that it might look like from the posters or trailer.

I totally agree. Well, that's about all I have for you, David. Thanks so much for your time, and I enjoy your work.

David Wain: Thank you very much. Thank you.

You can catch all the non-formulaic hilarity (seriously) of Role Models when it hits the shelves on DVD and Blu-ray on March 10.