There are certain days where I just really really love my job. Sure, sitting around at home in my pajamas, writing about movies all day on my laptop may sure sound glamorous to most, but the days when I get to leave the comfort of my own home and actually see some movie magic take place, those are the days I love the most... and sometimes it gets even better than that.
In mid-April on another bright and sunny day in Los Angeles, I was invited to the set of a new film entitled Fired Up. The film centers on two young football players, Shawn Colfax (Nicolas D'Agosto) and Nick Brady (Eric Christian Olsen) the summer before their senior year of high school. They're sick of going to football camp, like they do every summer, and instead cook up a plan to join the cheerleading camp instead, to pick up all the hot chicks. They soon realize that they actually have to learn how to be cheerleaders and convince the lovely head cheerleader, Carly (Sarah Roemer), who's suspicious of their motives, that they are legit.
They were filming at the picturesque Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia, CA, doing exterior shots for the big orientation scene of the cheerleading camp and I was led onto the set where the two stars, Nicholas D'Agosto and Eric Christian Olsen were working on a scene where they're confused by John Michael Higgins' character, the head teacher at the camp, spelling Fired Up as simply "F U." I was led around the usual cadre of movie folk and made my way into this little area where we found producers Matthew Gross and Peter Jaysen, along with a few monitors and those cool "directors" chairs. Since this was an actual arboretum, we also were joined by the constant cawing of a huge peacock, whose huge feathers we could see over a bush to our left.
We continued to watch Olsen and D'Agosto's hilarious expressions as they're trying to figure out why they would spell Fired Up as "F U." Then Higgins' character's wife, played by Molly Sims, comes into the scene and she's given a warm, but incredibly odd introduction as Higgins describes her shoulders as being "hotter than Matthew McConaughey's, to which Olsen replies, "The dude without the shirt?" Higgins realizes his mistake and tries to cover with, "Did I say Matthew McConaughey? I meant Mandy Moore. I always get those two mixed up." Hilarity.
We were also talking to producers Gross and Jaysen as they were telling us that this is set in the Midwest, Illinois to be exact, and that it was based off an actual experience from Gross' past, where he and a friend actually did join a cheerleading camp to pick up chicks. D'Agosto's character as actually based off Gross himself. Gross and Jaysen said they did add a love story here and, when Jaysen suggested that Gross "played the field" a little more, Gross responded with, "No, I did not play the field more than these guys did," which caused a big laugh from us all.
While we were talking with the producers and watching the shot being set up... and listening to that infernal peacock's racket, we were joined by the two stars themselves, Nicholas D'Agosto and Eric Christian Olsen. You'll recognize D'Agosto from his character West Rosen on this last season ofHeroes and Olsen has been stealing scenes for years, starting with his hilarious performance in Not Another Teen Movie and continuing in Cellular and Beerfest. He also starred as the younger version of Jim Carrey's Lloyd Christmas in the prequel Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd. Here's what the actors and producer had to say about the movie, and a whole lot more.
Actors Nicholas D'Agosto and Eric Christian Olsen and Producer Matthew Gross
So, Nick, what advice did he (producer Matthew Gross) give you? What did he tell you about what he actually did?
Nicholas D'Agosto: Oh, boy. I just let it go right out my ears, it was very dirty. I didn't want to hold myself accountable like that on set. But no, just to have a good time, basically. He didn't tell me a whole lot, just to have a good time.
Matthew Gross: I taught him how to act cute.
Nicholas D'Agosto: Yeah, that's right. He said to smile, just a little.
Eric Christian Olsen: Nobody taught me. I'm screwed.
(Laughs) So we heard there's a scene where you guys actually have to run through camp naked.
Nicholas D'Agosto: Yeah, that was fun, man. We actually had a lot of fun on that one. We shot that, right towards the beginning of the shoot. It turned out well though, hopefully it turned out well. We had a lot of fun shooting that. Cold of night, damn-near nude, streaking about 200 yards down a path.
Eric Christian Olsen: Damn-near nude, damn-near. There's near-nude, and then there's damn-near nude and that's how nude we were.
Matthew Gross: These guys have really been game. They really play along. When I was in cheerleading camp, we never ever touched a pom-pom, but these guys...
Nicholas D'Agosto: We're rubbing up against pom-poms, quite literally.
So what are some of the other things we'll see you guys do at camp?
Eric Christian Olsen: I have about 17 jokes in my head right now... No, it's the full gamut. We definitely want to immerse these guys in the reality of cheer camp, so we do everything that cheerleaders do. We learn all the routines, we spent two and a half weeks doing training with Zach Woodlee, a professional choreographer extraordinaire. So we do all the cheers and all the stunts and throwing the girls up and everything else. As far as that journey goes, it's also our characters finding out about themselves, what they really care about and a couple of nice love stories. Prior to the love stories, a lot of making out with random girls. A lot of girls making out with each other. I don't know how we got 'em to do it. We just called action.
Nicholas D'Agosto: It was cool too because, as far as the dancing and all the cheering stuff goes, we were surrounded by people who were all professionals and we actually got relatively decent at it. I don't mean to brag, but I think we could really be cheerleaders.
Eric Christian Olsen: I don't even know how to address that.
(Laughs) So when you guys first read the script, and you first realized that you were going to be male cheerleaders, what was your first reaction?
Eric Christian Olsen: Hard pass.
Nicholas D'Agosto: Yeah, it was followed up immediately with, 'Before you make a decision, just go meet with the director.'
Eric Christian Olsen: It's kind of a genius idea, and I wish I was smarter when I was in high school, because it does make a lot of sense. You go to these cheerleading camps and there's 300 beautiful girls... and us. I'm not a mathematician, but those are pretty good odds. Umm, what was the question? I'm just thinking about those 300 girls.
Nicholas D'Agosto: I think, somehow, in the back of my mind, I thought that there'd be more football. We were football players going to cheer camp and I thought, 'I love playing football.' Little did I know that it would be six weeks of cheer and two days of football.
Matthew Gross: Says the guy who is now a self-professed cheerleader.
So did you guys have male cheerleaders in your high school when you were going to school?
Nicholas D'Agosto: I have no idea.
Eric Christian Olsen: Well, I went to an all-male school, so there were definitely all kinds of cheerleaders.
Nicholas D'Agosto: Really?
Eric Christian Olsen: Yeah, I did go to an all-male school.
What's it like having John Michael Higgins out there as your cheerleading coach?
Eric Christian Olsen: Oh God. He's so hilarious. The guy is a genius.
Nicholas D'Agosto: Yeah, he is. He's a comic genius. He makes us crack up constantly. He's always improving, always really funny.
And Molly Sims?
Nicholas D'Agosto: Oh, she's wonderful.
Eric Christian Olsen: Stone cold fox. No, she's so charming and so wonderful for the part. We're so lucky to have her. She really does make it like, there's all these beautiful women and she's the one that's hovering above the rest, because she's Molly Sims. She's wonderful and charming and those scenes are so much fun to do.
Nicholas D'Agosto: Yeah, it is really important to have someone as beautiful and as charming as she is playing the role. Like he was saying, it's an important part of his storyline and she's perfect for it.
Eric Christian Olsen: That's who I fall for, I fall for Sims.
Oh, you do?
Eric Christian Olsen: Yeah, my character falls for Sims and she's married, to John Michael Higgins, hence the drama. Stakes are raised into the third act, a lot of good stuff.
So you guys don't really think that he's straight?
Eric Christian Olsen: Whhhhaat?
Eric Christian Olsen: You can't put that online, can you. It doesn't sound like that. Whhhhaat? No, it's a marriage of convenience, I think. My character just wants to make her happy, what's best for her.
Nicholas D'Agosto: Yeah, I'm sure that's exactly what that is.
Eric Christian Olsen: It's an altruistic endeavor.
So do you guys have anything coming up after this that you're working on?
Eric Christian Olsen: I have a couple of things coming out. This thing called The Six Wives of Henry Lefay, I don't know when that comes out. I just finished that. Then Eagle Eye, with Shia LaBeouf. It's a really good script, it's like Kubrick's 2001.
Who do you play in that one?
Eric Christian Olsen: I play (Michelle) Monaghan's ex-husband, we have the kid together, so very similar to this role. In that movie I have a 17-year-old and in this one I am 17.
Nicholas D'Agosto: After this, I go down to New Orleans, actually just two weeks after this. I'm shooting another one for Screen Gems with Josh Gad, who is in 21 right now, and The Rocker that's coming out. Brett Harrison, who was in Reaper and some other things as well.
So, what's that one about?
Nicholas D'Agosto: Umm, it's about Mardi Gras and getting drunk and getting laid. It's actually like a stretch, for me. For two weeks, to get out of this character and into that one... I don't know how I'm gonna do it. I'm a pro.
Maybe you could show them some of your cheerleading moves, maybe that well help you at Mardi Gras.
Nicholas D'Agosto: Yeah. Probably not.
Nicholas D'Agosto: I probably will fall on my face in that one too.
Eric Christian Olsen: Probably not. That's the best response ever. "I think that's totally wrong."
(At this point, the set was filled with a few hundred beautiful young women extras for the scene. Life is rough...)
So, how fun are scenes like this?
Nicholas D'Agosto: It's great. Eric and I get a lot of joy out of watching people just sit in once place and not being allowed to move for hours at a time. It's nice though. It is what it is. You can only play it up so much.
Did you guys have any mishaps when you were trying to learn these stunts?
Eric Christian Olsen: Did we ever, dude. I caught Sarah Roemer with my face once.
Nicholas D'Agosto: So, we're learning how to toss, and there are a lot of steps in that but part of it is figuring out how to toss at the right speed, the same speed, because he's got one foot and I've got the other. If one tosses harder than the other, the girl is going to go one way or the other.
Eric Christian Olsen: Yeah, you drop a lot of people. I mean, these basket tosses are like, 1-2-3 and then you huck their carcasses into the air and then you're just like, 'Left... right...' and you just try to make a catch. A few people had to see the doctor for concussions. These things are so tough. Everyone's taped up because their wrists and their ankles are all screwed up. It's pretty intense.
Nicholas D'Agosto: It was just a combination of everybody learning. It takes a lot for the girls, too, because they have to keep themselves steady, but they were all right.
So what is this scene we're going to see now?
Eric Christian Olsen: I think this is the introduction to the Fired Up camp. Shawn and Nick are immersed in what is a sea of women. It's also the introduction to John Michael Higgins' character, which is great, an introduction to Diora (Molly Sims' character), which is great and they're going over what it is we're going to do at cheer camp.
So are you improving a lot, or just going off the script?
Eric Christian Olsen: They've got a really solid script. I think (director Will) Gluck and (writer) Freedom Jones put together a really solid script with great dialogue. The banter between these two guys is pretty great, and I think that's been the key to a lot of the successful comedies that are out right now, just that natural dialogue between the characters.
Nicholas D'Agosto: That being said, Eric's a really funny guy and John is a really funny guy and I just get to laugh along with these guys. We just play a little bit here and there and there have been a lot of really nice moments that, because we have a great script, they were very good about creating new jokes on the fly and figuring out what works in those moments. There are definitely moments where improv comes out. We've had a lot of fun with that.
So how much do you guys have left? Are you wrapping in May?
Eric Christian Olsen: Yeah, I think the first week in May. We're almost... we've got 5/8th's done. I don't wanna drop some fragments on you.
Nicholas D'Agosto: But yeah. You know what? I feel pretty good, actually. It was tough when we were doing the cheering stuff out here for awhile, but now it's just feeling good. We're doing a fun scene today and it's nice to feel you have a lot of funny stuff, like you have the energy to do it.
Well, that wraps up the first half of my visit on the Fired Up set. Stay tuned for Part II where we talk to John Michael Higgins, Molly Sims and producer Matthew Gross and his real-life partner in crime who he actually went to cheer camp with. Peace in. Gallagher out!