It's pretty dang cool to hate Star Wars at this current moment in pop culture history. Which can mean only one thing. It's headed for a significant upswing in positive pro-popularity. I believe this tide-turn in the ever-changing geek taste-meter will come about by one single item of clothing that would be, if Sony was smart enough about it, mass marketed starting today. This godlike swath of cloth happens to be a pair of pants worn by Will Ferrell in the July comedy Step Brothers. They were hand crafted from an original set of 1977 blue-hued Star Wars bed sheets by the film's Costume Designer Susan Matheson. And they are possibly the coolest pair of slacks ever committed to celluloid. You'll have to wait until July 25th to get a good look at them yourself, but believe me, as soon as you lay your eyes on them, you will want a pair for your very own.
I actually got to hold this one of a kind pair of pants in my very own hands when I recently visited the set of Adam McKay's third full-length feature film Step Brothers. In the comedy, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly reteam with their Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby director for what promises to be one of the funniest films of the summer. The plot sees these two underdeveloped, overgrown middle-aged children uniting as Step Brothers when their single parents get re-married. This sets off a series of hi-jinks that cumulates with Ferrell sticking his junk on Reilly's prized drum kit. It's a film about loyalty and friendship, and when you get right down to it, love. A dark, demonized love for destroying property and perceptions about adult life. It should be a hoot.
The first place we hit when visiting the set of Step Brothers was Susan Matheson's wardrobe truck, were she showed off her most awesome creation: The Star Wars pants. She also took us through the entire shared closet of her two leading men. Susan created most of the clothing seen in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, the most popular item of which was a Crystal Gale T-shirt Ferrell kept for himself after shooting, and even wore to the premier of that film. This time out, she has created even more vintage novelty T-shirts that don't really exist. Her favorite, of course, sports the mother daughter duo The Judds in all of their 80s glory. Ferrell wears it throughout a good portion of the film. And it will surely make you smile.
Matheson went on to explained the concept behind some of the clothes we see these two underdeveloped adults wearing. "One of the guys is a thirty-nine year old loser. He lives with his father. The other is a forty-year-old loser living with his mother. Neither one of them can hold down a job. Their parents meet at a medical conference, fall in love, and the two men have to move in with one another. Initially, they hate each other. The movie gets wilder and wilder from there. This is the most intimate Will Ferrell movie that I have yet worked on. Most of the action takes place in a house. And it is amazing how much action can take place in a house."
She continued, "When you have two very troubled forty year olds that act like juveniles, there will be some trouble. They are essentially stuck back in their youth. So the clothes reflect their heyday. If someone is forty now, imagine if his heyday was at fifteen or sixteen years old. During high school. Maybe right after high school. Since I am about the same age as these two losers, when I put together the outfits, I though about what I was into, and what my friends were into back then. I thought about what juvenile delinquents would have worn. One of those things is that they go on trips with their parents. So they have a lot of travel shirts. Lost of destinations that they might have visited. They are eccentric, but they are not crazy. They are still going to like roller coasters. So, John wears a T-shirt from Knott's Berry Farm. And Will wears a Mountain Dew shirt. I really tried to get into the heads of these characters. You will see that they wear a lot of vintage T-shirts. Most of which I made myself."
Susan let us rummage around the racks for a good ten minutes, and every single thing that was pulled from a hanger was something beyond awesome. Each T-shirt was a keeper, and it almost made me cry. It was a shame we couldn't go shopping in the Step Brothers wagon, as it was chock full of some of the best vintage T-shirts and pants that I have ever seen. A nostalgic, pop culture cure for anybody suffering from Debbie Gibson withdrawal.
After rooting through Will and John's things, we headed over to the "Step Brother" house, where our new atomic Brady Bunch family was stationed. On a quick tour through the living room, it became apparent that the fruit plate was a welcome commodity in this particular household, as they were everywhere. The property had originally belonged to John C. Reilly's character and his dad, so the walls were adorned with photos of John in his youth. This of course will become a contention point with Ferrell's character later on in the film. The motif general motif seemed to be blue and white porcelain, as many of the shelves looked torn directly from a Solvang gift shop.
Upstairs, we were allowed to traipse through Reilly's "Beat Laboratory", home to his beloved drum set. The purple walls were half-painted black. Someone got tired, and left the room unfinished in mid-stroke. Next-door was the boy's shared bedroom. A Spacehunter 3-D: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone poster hung on the wall along with a "Pump This" heavy metal sign. They have taken their wooden framed mattresses and turned them into Bunkbeds, which you can witness in the very funny trailer. On a desk sits a mini-beer cooler. In the corner rests a Kool-A-Tron Jumbo Gumball Machine. It is a teenager haven that now belongs to these two forty year old men. It is nothing short of awesome. And just a tad bit creepy.
After talking a stroll through the house, we found the film's two stars waiting for us on the back patio. We took a seat with them, only to find that Ferrell was wearing a pair of those infamous Star Wars pants...
So, Will...Star Wars bed sheets as pants. Are you enjoying wearing them?
Will Ferrell: Yeah. They are very comfortable. They were made from some kid's bed sheets. They are awesome.
Now, John, you have what looks like a bag of frozen peas taped to your head. Would you care to explain that?
John C. Reilly: Yeah, we got into a fight. And we are in the recovery stage right here. We had a big fight on the front lawn of the house. I hit Will with a baseball bat. And he hit me with a driver.
Will Ferrell: It was a simultaneous knock out. Yeah, he hit me pretty hard with that golf club.
What did you guys to do to the drywall in the house?
Will Ferrell: We slammed each other into it. This all happened over an argument about who touched John's drum set. Or not. He thinks I touched it. I maintain that I didn't. You will have to watch the movie to see if I did or did not do this heinous crime.
John C. Reilly: I have forensic evidence that says he did. However we have no witnesses.
Is Will ever allowed to go back into your "Beat Laboratory", where you keep your drum set?
John C. Reilly: He is allowed to go in there, but he can never touch the drums. Not even when we become very close friends.
Will Ferrell: I am only allowed to hover in there.
Did working together on Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby allow for a sort of short hand on this film?
John C. Reilly: Yeah. That is were we developed the hand signals.
Will Ferrell: We built a three hundred page, Morse Code-like booklet. We pass it out to the crew and to visitors. You will get a copy of it a little bit later in the afternoon.
John C. Reilly: The movie is virtually indecipherable. Especially if you don't have the book. The studio balked at the cost of producing such a book for every audience member that attends the film.
Will Ferrell: Yes, we will have to hand these out at the film, also, if you folks at home want to decipher it. We thought it would be a cool novelty item twenty years from now.
John C. Reilly: We were friends before we did Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, so we actually had some sort of short hand. Maybe even before that, right?
Will Ferrell: Yes. Its sort of an interesting movie in that we started out with a bunch of physical things. But we haven't done any scenes yet. In terms of the way we responded with each other as characters? We are sort of figuring that out a little after the fact. Which I think would have been a little harder had we not known each other that well.
John C. Reilly: A lot of the short hand in this movie comes from the fact that we figured the movie out together. Will, Adam, and I. We told each other stories from our past. By the time we filmed it, we knew where the stories had come from. And what the intent was.
Where did the idea for this come from? Did you come up with it on the set of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby?
Will Ferrell: It wasn't that far back. At the time, we knew we did want to work together again. In terms of the specific idea, it wasn't until we met back in Los Angeles and started pitching a bunch of things around that this came about. We had settled on two or three ideas. Then I think Adam called us the next day and said, "I have a totally brand new idea that we haven't thought about." And it was this one. We were like, "Ah, that is certainly the one."
How did you guys go about writing the script?
Will Ferrell: I shouldn't even say this. We farmed it out to China. There is this group of writers we work with there called The Omega Group. They are pretty close to our voice. Any culture differences are soon taken care of.
John C. Reilly: All script notes came from India. They would just talk to the writers in China.
Will Ferrell: It was a very belabored process, but we didn't have to do anything. Which was great.
Are there any cameos in this film? Do any of your friends drop in for a scene or two?
John C. Reilly: Now, when you say friends, do you mean people we don't really like? People you call our friends?
Will Ferrell: I'm trying to think if there are any people you would consider our friends coming in for this. There is an ensemble feel to this film.
John C. Reilly: But it has a lot smaller cast than Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. There isn't much room for people to come in.
Will Ferrell: There are a few comedic actors that come in. These are people that I certainly love.
Who's playing the next-door neighbor? Ralph, I think his name is?
John C. Reilly: I just made that up. There is no little Ralphie.
Can you guys talk about working with Mary Steenburgen and Richard Jenkins?
John C. Reilly: I love them both. I did a movie with Mary Steenburgen before. It was called What's Eating Gilbert Grape. I love Richard Jenkins, too. I wasn't part of getting them both to be in this movie. That happened while I was out of town last summer. But I was thrilled when I heard they were both in it.
Will Ferrell: Yeah, Richard Jenkins is a name we'd talked about for a long time. We always thought he would be the perfect person to play John's dad. Then Mary came later, only because we didn't think she would want to play my mom. Because she is so young looking. She was always game. They are not only great actors, but they are great comedic actors. And by having them aboard, we have been able to play it as real as possible. We just let the circumstance be the comedy of it.
From what it looked like on set, Mary is the more lenient of the two parents.
John C. Reilly: Hmm. That's not true. You can't make assumptions about what you see on set, because we are changing stuff all of the time. We are not working on the script any more, so we are making this giant palate of stuff from which we can choose from. Richard is upset because we just got in this big fight. But he is by no means the hard ass in the movie.
Will Ferrell: They kind of trade off.
John C. Reilly: The reason they are able to stay where they are at in their lives is because both parents let it go on.
This is R rated. Can you talk about the freedom of working with that R rating, and not having to hold back?
Will Ferrell: We both came from doing R rated movies before this. But I haven't yet gotten to work with Adam in this setting. It is good not to have to edit yourself in that way. But that being said, we do try to have a few takes that are not so well stocked with the "f" word. In case we have an "f" word overload. We are like addicts that finally get to say bad words. I love that.
Do you think the genre is changing due to the fact that there are more R rated comedies coming out at this time?
Will Ferrell: Yes. I think the success of the R rated comedies that come out every summer have proven that this genre can do well and thrive. It is nice to see that people are turning out to see those comedies. It's great that it isn't such a stigma anymore. PG-13 seemed to guarantee a certain box office success. And I think an argument can be made to still support that in a way. But its nice that these other really creative movies that are R rated are getting their shot.
John C. Reilly: It's the cable TV effect. You watch Bill Maher and John Steward, and they get to say whatever they want. Even if it gets bleeped out. Used to be that they couldn't even say it to get bleeped out. I think that is part of it. I think so much regular media is rated PG, and it has been controlled for so long, that people have a thirst for honesty. They want real emotion. People swear more often then they did back in the day. It sure seems like they do.
Will Ferrell: It's funny, too. People will see your R rated movie and ask, "Why was that rated R? It didn't seem so bad." I think that is a huge comment on the rating system as well.
John C. Reilly: There is something about the people making today's R rated movies. They can go really dark sometimes. With the language. With the scenarios. We let our minds go where they please. And that is a rule of improve. You can't limit your imagination. You have to follow it all the way to the conclusion that you are headed for. Taboo subjects come up. That's what comedy is about. And that's what people go for. So it's not so much that we want to be more racy just to be racy. It's when you do improve, you sometimes come up with the dark aspects of life. You get into crazy scenarios. Things are somewhat on the edge. You can't let the family friendliness of that get in the way.
Is it true that this film my be a bit darker than your past projects?
Will Ferrell: I'm the wrong person to ask. I don't know what qualifies as dark or not dark. I will watch a so-called "dark comedy", and I won't get it.
John C. Reilly: It doesn't seem that dark to me. It's about two guys that are stuck in their childhood. It has a certain innocence to it. We do swear, so I don't know. If that's dark, that's news to me. What is dark to me is dismemberment, and taking people hostage.
So I gather there is none of that in this film?
John C. Reilly: Dismemberment? Checking...No. Hostages? Nope.
Will Ferrell: We don't have that. But we're not done shooting yet. Maybe we can add some of that stuff in.