Fired Up Set Visit

After we spoke with Eric Christian Olsen and Nicholas D'Agosto, we just sat back and watched this insane process of wrangling together this sea of lovely young women and getting them in the right spots. After it appeared everyone had settled into place, they went through this same sequence in many different ways. One way they had to all say the same thing in unison, one way they had to look like they're saying it but not actually say anything. Another sequence they had to all clap and cheer... and another where they just had to look like they were clapping and cheering. All of this was done to the direction of first-time helmer Will Gluck and John Michael Higgins' character, talking through one of those big megaphone cheerleader cone things. It was quite surreal.

After they got done with the big segment with all of the extras involved, we see them all leaving and the camera stays on Olsen and D'Agosto, as Olsen breaks into a hilarious rendition of "Kiss You All Over" by Exile (See: Happy Gilmore). There's just one problem though.

"Don't you have a line?" director Will Gluck shouts.

"Oh..." Olsen sheepishly replies.

They have to reset the whole scene, bringing everyone back to their exact same spots they were before and do the whole exit thing again. While we were waiting for them to set up the next shot, we got to speak with Molly Sims, who plays the wife of the possibly-non-straight Coach Keith (John Michael Higgins) and the apple of Nick Brady's (Eric Christian Olsen) eye. Here's what this lovely actress had to say about her role.

Molly Sims

We've heard John Michael Higgins' character may not be straight even though you're married to him in the film. What's your take?

Molly Sims: We're thinking he may be more asexual. We're definitely married and we have that traditional marriage. He's such a phenomenal actor it's just unbelievable. He's so fun to work with. He's so great with these people and the story and telling it in such a funny and believable way so I think he's really going to make this film.

What are some of the things that go on at cheerleading camp?

Molly Sims: I went to cheer camp. It's mean girl central with all the hormones raging. What's great about the film is that my cousin is 16 years old and from Kansas City and this stuff really happens. You think while you're shooting it, "No way. They can't be that mean." They're actually meaner. It's interesting how you have those mean girls and how they all group together and become very cliquey. Even some who don't want to be in the click are in the clique just because. I think it's going to do very well because it's such a subject that girls and guys deal with. These guys are in heaven with about 300 gorgeous girls around them. It's definitely been fun to shoot. We've had such a laugh.

What attracted you to this role?

Molly Sims: John Michael Higgins and then I knew the director Will [Gluck] and just the whole thing of that cliqueyness. I was a cheerleader, but I wasn't, but I was and then I was cliquey, but I wasn't. Just that whole thing that I had such a problem with in high school. I wasn't a cheerleader my freshman year because I didn't make it, then I was a cheerleader sophomore and junior year, then I didn't make it senior year because I didn't try out so it was just the whole thing of dealing with high school like in the clicks. That's probably what drew me to it and then I love comedy. It just came at the right time. I had just finished Yes Man with Jim Carey and it was in town.

This movie will have a draw for teenage audiences, but do you think it will for older audiences as well?

Molly Sims: I think moreso if they have kids. I think it's going to be like another Wedding Crashers You know the thing where it kind of becomes cultish like Bring It On Those movies that you can get into that you can repeat. I think everybody will like it. I definitely think it's going to draw more 16, 17, 18, 19, 20-year-olds and then the parents will take their kids who want to see it and are underage. It's pretty clean.

What kinds of scenes do you have with the guys? Eric was saying he was the one who falls for you.

Molly Sims: I actually rape him in the end. I have been body slammed. I've actually gotten bit a couple of times. It's definitely been more of a physical thing.

Bit? Should I ask how that happened?

Molly Sims: Oh yeah. I got body slammed like seven times last week. But, yes then I end up attacking Eric Christian Olsen.

Is it because he said he wanted to lick your face?

Molly Sims: It was. I actually was the one licking his face. I licked his face all over. It was because of the pent of frustration with her asexual husband.

After speaking with Molly Sims, we were able to get in a few minutes with John Michael Higgins, who plays the high-strung cheer champ leader, Coach Keith. Here's what this enigmatic actor had to say.

John Michael Higgins

I love your uniform. Does it help you get into character?

John Michael Higgins: Nothing helps me get into character because you should see my character. There is no preparation that can be achieved.

Tell us a little about him.

John Michael Higgins: It's hard to say. He's the coach of a giant cheerleading camp and everyone figures he's not entirely straight although I don't think he's ever had sex at all. He probably doesn't even know that people do have sex and that you can do that with your body. He's never tried. He wasn't aware of it.

Molly said he was asexual.

John Michael Higgins: Asexual. Yeah that's it. He's the real 45-year-old virgin. Well virgin implies that there's something out there, but he doesn't even know that I don't think. He's just completely out to lunch.

What was it about this character that you liked?

John Michael Higgins: I just liked that. I like characters that are quite odd. It gives me something to do all day. I've played a lot of strange characters. I'm not sure what's going on there. My career has to turn into a guy who sticks his head in Jell-O buckets and things like that. That's okay. Someone's got to do it.

Do you get to improv a lot?

John Michael Higgins: Yeah I do, but happily this is a scripted movie. In the last 10 years every time I show up they're like, "Say whatever you want." I'm always like, "Can't we just have someone write something down for us?" So I'm pleased to say that the jokes in this already funny and they don't need my help. I feel like I'm slumming. I feel like I'm on vacation.

When you first heard that this script is loosely based on the producer's high school experience, what did you think?

John Michael Higgins: That's a lie until I met the producer and then it all sort of made sense. Honestly, I know it sounds crazy, but I was jealous. I wanted to go to cheerleading camp. Look how colorful and pretty it is. All these young people jumping around. I never got to do that.

Eric was saying he wished he was smart enough to think of that idea.

John Michael Higgins: Well Eric makes a good point. I feel like I blew it somehow and that I should have been having fun when I was that age and I just wasn't. I was probably worried about getting into college or something stupid like that. I went to college and now look what I'm doing. What the hell was I thinking?

How do you get into character for someone like this?

John Michael Higgins: I actually don't do much of that, getting into character. I tend to show up on the set and just start bouncing around and find it in front of the camera. I don't know why. The more I try to think about it, the less funny it becomes for me. I see a lot of people who don't operate that way though. Sometimes I'll prepare a lot. Sometimes I'll do a lot of research. If it's an improv movie like a Chris Guest movie, if Chris says me to, "I need you to be a trash man" than I will go out and research that. I'll research trash man. I'm researching it so I can speak knowledgably about it so that jokes can come. If you don't know anything then you can't be funny about it. You can just sort of take jokes about it from the outside. For this I don't know. I show up in costume, I look at the colors on the set, I look at the other people and ideas start happening. If I do that at home or in my trailer, nothing comes.

As the coach do you actually have to know some of these cheer moves yourself?

John Michael Higgins: They taught me a cheer that I had to do the other day and it almost killed me. Honestly, every muscle in my entire body was destroyed. I'm 45-years-old and it almost killed me. I got home and my wife is like, "Honey what happened to you?" I'm laying face down onto the floor. It's like just drag me into the kitchen and beat me.

So do you spend a lot of time interacting with the younger guys?

John Michael Higgins: Yeah, I do. It's so odd. I've been doing this my whole life and I've always been the young guy on the set. Now these people are half my age. It's odd that they come to me and say "I've seen you in this and I really liked this." Wow. It's like I have this body of work and you never think of it like that. I love to spend time with them. Actually, spending time around young people keeps my brain active. They have so much going on and they're very interested in everything and I'm just such an old creep that it's hard to remember what all that felt like.

We know that Eric and Nick partake in some pretty crazy things at camp. What are some things that we're going to see you do?

John Michael Higgins: Well I think you'll have to hold that in reserve mostly because they're so embarrassing I can't talk about it.

So we're not going to see you run naked through camp like they do?

John Michael Higgins: Well, you'll have to hold those things in reserve, mostly because they're so embarrassing I can't talk about them. You'll have to wait. First thing when they send me a script and ask if I'm interested in doing this, I quickly read my part, I don't read the rest of it, then I ask my agent "In the part that I didn't read, am I naked?" If I even have to take my shirt off it's a deal breaker. If you see anything above my biceps, it's over. There is no price for them to pay me for me to get naked.

So you cannot be bought?

John Michael Higgins: I cannot be bought. If your intention is to remove my clothes, there is no amount of money that will suffice to achieve that goal. Now you know, so don't try.

So you have your own Coach Keith-mobile?

John Michael Higgins: I do, I do. I have my own golf cart with my name on it. I've never had that. I don't think they're going to give it to me.

Matthew Gross: (the producer, who is standing nearby) No.

John Michael Higgins: They won't even give me my sweater-vest.

Our last interview of the day was with the film's producer Michael Gross and his real-life friend that he actually went to cheer camp with 25 years ago, Phil Needleman. We got to talk to these cheerleading trailblazers just before they broke for lunch, and here's what they had to say.

Producer Matthew Gross and Phil Needleman

Where did you come up with this idea to go to cheer camp?

Phil Needleman: Well, one of the cheerleaders from our team actually approached me and I have always had an inability to say "No" to beautiful women and so she very quickly talked me into the idea and being that I was for the most part inebriated throughout high school, I didn't realize that it wasn't such a bad idea. And for the first few weeks it was great! I mean we had a blast, went down there, surrounded by beautiful women in Santa Barbara for a few days, it was paradise, and then reality struck... We were cheerleaders.

You weren't worried at first to see how your friends and family were going to react?

Phil Needleman: You know, in high school I didn't really have a whole lot of concern what other people were thinking of how I presented myself and in very few filters.

Matthew was saying you got into a lot of fights like on a daily basis because you guys were cheerleaders.

Phil Needleman: This was after the fact. I mean, not very many people really knew what was happening at the time. We weren't advertising.

You wanted all the girls to yourself.

Matthew Gross: What happened was we didn't quite seem to think it through completely, we just heard, "Cheerleading Camp!" "A thousand girls, a thousand girls, a thousand girls."

Phil Needleman: We were the only straight guys there.

Matthew Gross: And so, we're like, "We gotta go! We gotta go!" Then we realized we had to actually cheer.

Phil Needleman: The stretching was great! The warm-up.

Matthew Gross: So, once we came back to school... I'll never forget it. There was a Pep-Rally.

Phil Needleman: My stomach hurts just thinking about it.

Matthew Gross: For some reason it was in the auditorium and not on the field, it was raining... whatever, but I remember the curtain being closed and being backstage...

Phil Needleman: Freaking out!

Matthew Gross: "I can't do this, I can't do this... this is not me... I can't do this... they're going to make fun of us... what the hell are we doing?... can I hide in the back?" I just wanted to puke.

Phil Needleman: And the coach really wanted us as the centerpiece. It had been like forty years since there were male cheerleaders at our school and it was like, "Oh! Look what I've got!" She was thrilled at the whole prospect.

Matthew Gross: They were writing articles about us in the school paper and the city newspaper. It was interesting because the girls were really excited to have us until we got back to them, because all the attention was sort of spot-lighted on us, so we're taking the attention away from them and then on top of that we were getting in fights and the student body was really sort of not into it. And after two weeks we were like, "We tried. We tried to make it work. We saw this through, but you know literally I had a spot in the corner of the principal's office because that's where I was every day after school. Then you can imagine all the gay comments and I had to defend my manhood, so I kicked him swiftly in the nuts and ran.

Phil Needleman: That's how we do!

Matthew Gross: That's how we roll! We're like lightning! So it really wasn't working out for any of us, but like I said earlier, we did break the glass ceiling. After we left, there were cheerleaders at the high school ever since 1981. Now today, as I said earlier you have to be athletic and a gymnast. Now you have to be like a gold medal gymnast to do what they do.

Phil Needleman: Back then basically you just needed to be a guy.

Matthew Gross: And if you can raise your hands above your head and lift a girl, all the better. The cheerleading really sucked for us. It really did.

Phil Needleman: Cheerleaders for sure, we were not.

Matthew Gross: We were wearing tube socks and dolphin shorts.

Phil Needleman: Orange shorts.

So what do you do now?

Phil Needleman: I have an insurance agency here in LA and this is so far moved from what I do, but the reason I'm here in the suit today is because based upon this experience. We've gotten here into a three picture deal with Paramount.


Matthew Gross: You're such a bullsh*ter. He's the fast talking guy and I'm the more shy guy.

Do you see yourself in these characters?

Phil Needleman: You know what; these guys are pretty funny guys.

Matthew Gross: They're pretty close actually.

Phil Needleman: The casting is has been pretty good. From what I have seen, Eric is a smart ass... We took some pictures the last time I was here and I was showing my wife and she said, "Were you a foot taller in high school?" So other than that. You know what? You look at him and back then I had big shaggy hair and was a little bit slighter...

Matthew Gross: More agile....a little more agile.

Phil Needleman: I think Matt did a pretty good job with casting to be honestly.

Matthew Gross: Had trouble with the hot cheerleaders... lots of searching.

Hot cheerleaders are almost non-existent.

Matthew Gross: We had to ship them in from Canada.

And with that, we all went to lunch and after a glorious meal (Quick Note: NEVER pass up lunch on a movie set, if you ever find yourself on one for whatever reason...), our day on the set of Fired Up came to a close. You can check this unique comedy out for yourself when it hits theaters on February 20. Peace in. Gallagher out!