Family patriarch Jack Byrnes wants to appoint a successor. Does his son-in-law, the "male nurse," Greg Focker have what it takes? Yup, it's "Little Fockers," the third film in the "Meet The Parents" trilogy. This time, director Jay Roach sat back as a producer and Paul Weitz ("American Pie," "About a Boy") took over the filmmaking reigns. All the old gang returned: Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo plus some new additions in Jessica Alba, Laura Dern, and Harvey Keitel. And yes, Owen Wilson reprised his role from the first film.
Playlist writer Kimber Myers recently got to sit down with several members of the cast including Alba, De Niro, Stiller, Wilson, Hoffman and director Paul Weitz. Hilarity and lots of candid sentiments ensued. So here's basically 10 (11) things we learned when talking to the "Little Fockers" cast. Some minor spoilers may appear below, be forewarned.
1. Dustin Hoffman Freely Admits He Did "Little Fockers" For The Money.
Hoffman originally wasn't in "Little Fockers." Before production began he became engaged in a public negotiations disagreement with the film's producers and bailed on the project. Then, months later the film didn't test very well and they decided to crawl back to Hoffman to shoot what amounts to a small cameo in the film. Why'd he do it? "The back end." Hoffman smiled nonchalantly. Love the candid actor who just doesn't give a shit.
2. Jessica Alba says her comment about screenwriters essentially being useless was taken out of context. "Oh yeah, that wasn’t true. That wasn’t true at all," she said. "And by the way, just so it’s clear, films don’t even get made, and nothing ever gets a green light unless there’s good material, so that goes without saying and that’s always a number one thing before you get a director, actors or a studio interested in anything and there was an article written recently where I was completely and totally taken, paraphrased and things were taken out of context and mooshed together and it just simply wasn’t true. It was a four-hour interview that got condensed into a page and a half for a fashion magazine, so it’s just not true, I have the utmost respect for screenwriters."
3. For Paul Weitz, directing the third "Little Fockers" movie and being an outsider to the group (Jay Roach directed the first two), was like being a coach who takes over a NBA Finals-winning team.
"It's like managing an all-star team where you have to distribute the ball," Weitz said. "I’ve witnessed in my directing that I can make actors worse as well as make them better, and so I try to recognize that, if I give a terrible note I’ll go up and say that note was terrible, do the opposite or do anything you want. But at least for this scene you don’t have to listen to me anymore, so they know what they’re doing and eventually it boils down to some game of make believe where you’re having a good time trying to figure out what that character would be going through and that’s what I’d talk through with my sort-of-idols, who I was getting to direct."
4. "Little Fockers" has a boner scene and a vomit scene, but Weitz was well-prepared.
"I did start out directing 'American Pie' so I have great experience with bodily fluids of all types and nothing was ever going to feel quite as inappropriate as that," Weitz said. "My experience did come in handy, I know that when you’re doing a certain kind of situation below the belt, you offer the actor, it’s their decision what size of prosthetic they’re going to get, I’m referring of course to Bob’s scene where he’s trying to interrogate Ben and get him to take an erectile dysfunction drug, so no, I’m pretty shameless and what you just try to pay attention to is that everything is hopefully coming out of what the characters are doing. So the kid vomits, not just because it would be funny and mortifying to be vomited on by your kid, but because Greg is stupid enough to think that now that he’s the boss of his family he’s going to get his kid to eat something that he doesn’t want to eat. Because I’ve done that in a restaurant, it was actually way worse than the situation in the film. I was trying to get her to eat some sort of peanut butter praline kind of thing and my daughter threw up on me and on the table."
5. Weitz is still trying to get "Another Bullshit Night in Suck City" off the ground. Casey Affleck's been rumored to be involved, but Weitz only mentioned Robert De Niro in connection with the project. It's about a young man in his twenties (presumably Affleck if he's still on board) who works at various homeless shelters in Boston, where he often intersects with his brilliant but troubled father (De Niro). "I am still hoping to do that and I’m hoping to do it with Bob so it’s still something that I’m working on, it’s a terrific memoir," he said.
6. Owen Wilson hinted at the fact that he'll probably have a small role or cameo in Wes Anderson's "Moon Rise Kingdom."
7. Ben Stiller says he hopes to shoot "Zoolander 2" in 2011.
But that's about all he said: "We're working on a script and hopefully we'll try and put it all together and shoot next year, hopefully soon."
8. Jessica Alba took all kinds of drugs to prepare for her bubbly character in the film. No she didn't. Maybe she did.
"Well I was taking meth and speed and shooting Red Bulls, I was snorting it actually, no I’m kidding, no I’m not, yes I am."
9. Alba thought her potentially homewrecking character in the movie -- who's after Stiller's character -- wasn't doing anything wrong. She also might be a control freak in real life
"I don’t think my character was trying to maliciously do anything," she said. "She wasn’t manipulative, she wasn’t malicious, I think that’s what made it so great was that she was just having fun and she was just in the moment and wasn’t really trying to screw anything up. She was just a big fan and she just loves her job so much and she has no filter and she really doesn’t have any boundaries and she’s completely unedited and not self aware so she’s just a ball of fun. So it was fun playing somebody like that because I guess I was, it was very liberating because I might be a little bit of a control freak in my real life, maybe."
10. Paul Weitz had to give Robert De Niro some "cringe-worthy notes."
"It's quite funny because when I got to rehearse with him a little bit, I genuinely was rehearsing with Bob and Ben and everyone as if I were doing a school play," he said. "I was doing acting exercises. Like there was that scene where I had them on the phone together and I knew I wasn’t going to have them in the same room when they shot it, I knew it had to feel somehow like they were in the same room when they were cutting back and forth between the locations so it was a room about this size, a long room and I set it up so there were six chairs and at a certain point in the dialogue I started them far apart and had them get closer and closer until they were facing each other. I’m sure they were absolutely just humoring me, but they did it, they rehearsed in that way which is really something kind of naïve to try to get away with."
11. Bonus credit, there's a lot of deleted scenes that could make it onto the DVD.
"You can expect about five movies-worth of stuff," Weitz said.
"Little Fockers" hits theaters tomorrow, Wednesday December 22.