Comics Tina Fey and Jason Bateman unscripted: Who's up for ideas and insults?
Tina Fey and Jason Bateman called mutual friends when they learned they would co-star as siblings in the drama-infused comedy This Is Where I Leave You, just to do a little reconnaissance on each other.
"We had never worked together," Fey said. "Well, we owned a restaurant together for 10 years. We owned an Arby's."
"But that's not really work," shot back Bateman. "That is pure pleasure."
And with that sibling-like familiarity, Fey and Bateman, two of the most popular comic actors of their generation, banter on for minutes - their way of promoting the Warner Bros. film that opens in U.S. theaters on Friday.
They play Wendy and Judd, the close middle siblings of the Altman family, brought together by the death of their father and asked by their mother to follow the Jewish ritual of "sitting shiva" for the seven days of mourning.
Cinema Still of This Is Where I Leave You. Photo: Warner Brothers
"ANY SCRIPTED LINES TODAY?"
Shawn Levy, who directed the film based on the best-selling book by Jonathan Tropper and has directed Night at the Museum movies, said he always allows for improvisation and that Fey and Bateman are "as good as it gets" at coming up with ideas.
"They don't do silliness funny, they do grounded funny, and so that told me they would mesh well," Levy said.
Fey not only improvised her own lines, he said, but offered up lines to other actors, even insults of herself.
"Nobody else working would do that," Levy said.
Jane Fonda who plays the vivacious mother, Hilary, claims to have little talent for comedic improvisation. She said she was in awe of the cast's dexterity, particularly with the unscripted moments.
One day, according to Fey, Fonda turned to Schwartz and asked: "Will you be saying any of the scripted lines today?" - Reuters