While I was in LA two weeks ago I had the chance to interview one of my favorite actors, Jennifer Garner. I hate to admit it but I was so nervous that I couldn’t come up with any questions and even when she helped me out of the floor after taking the group shot, I couldn’t even get anything other than “Thank You” out of my mouth. I wanted to tell her that I’ve been a huge fan for a very very long time. Maybe next time!
I suppose I should mention that not only was Jennifer Garner in the room but so was Steve Carell and between the two of them we were barely able to stop laughing. Here is their interview and I hope you crack up a bit too!
Q : So, how did you both get involved with the project?
SC : I was asked to be in it, and I said yes. I just, I liked the script, I thought it was funny, and inventive, and different. I feel like I hadn’t really seen this kind of family movie in a while. And the fact that Jen was going to do it was a — a huge draw for me, because I’d been a huge fan of hers for a long time.
It’s true. We met a few times over the years, but just sort of in passing, and you know when someone not only lives up to, but exceeds expectations, of everything you’ve heard about them? That was her. She was….
JG : Steve Carell!
SC : — the nicest person. She is. She’s the nicest person ever.
JG : Um, well, he’s fibbing a little bit, because he was actually on it, on this movie first, so I was the one who knew he was doing it and said "Oh, yeah, I’ve been dying to work with him forever."
Q : Okay, so, I asked fans, and one of the burning questions they wanted to know was: were there any days on set that were really bad days, just like in the film?
JG : Go ahead, Steve.
SC : There was one that we kind of point to. The scene where we were outside, around the car, talking after the big accident and after the driving test. And it must have been — well, like it’s been the last week here. Like, 105 or something. And so that was probably the most arduous day, physically.
JG : You know, I think it was tough because the baby got upset.
SC : [LAUGHTER] Well, yeah.
JG : — it — that just — you know what that does, I mean, that practically made me lactate. It’s like, "Whaa –!" And there’s nothing you can do.
SC : You know what? We can set her off just by going "Wahh!"
Q : How many shrimp did you have to catch?
JG : He did that. That was really —
SC : How many what?
JG : Shrimp. Did you have to catch.
SC : Oh. I caught the shrimp.
JG : He caught the shrimp. I mean, they were saying "We’ll CG" and Steve said, "I’ll give it a go." He did it. We were very excited.
SC : Yeah, secret talent.
JG : Did you know you had that talent?
SC : I didn’t.
JG : Until that moment?
SC : I didn’t know that I had that eye-shrimp coordination.
Q : I have a question. You guys made a film where the parents in the film are very relatable, and just the kind of parents you’d want to have, but I kind of, in doing my research, realized they kind of parallel you guys. Any experiences where you were like, oh my gosh, I’m filming this and it’s déjà vu ’cause this has happened?
SC : No. [LAUGHTER]. It doesn’t — it doesn’t — excellent question. However, um, no, I think I related in the broad strokes of being a parent, and — and my wife and I really co-parent. We — you know. We — we divide and conquer in terms of everything that we need to do with our kids. So, so I think I understood it and related to it on that level. But it’s — it’s crazy. It’s fun. It’s ridiculous.
It’s never what you think it’s going to be. And, at the end of it all, you can’t really take yourself too seriously, as a parent. Um, and that’s the joy of it. I think we both definitely related and brought our own experiences to — to the movie. And if things in the script or things that we were doing didn’t feel genuine, we would speak up and we would offer our own personal experiences.
JG : For sure.
Q : Steve, Lisa told us you did the fire scene yourself, so I just wanted to hear about that —
JG : So exciting.
SC : Jen was like, petrified.
JG : I was so nervous. Even though I had been set on fire before, you know what it’s gonna be, but I was so nervous to watch —
SC : Very protective.
JG : I didn’t want the kids to see him be set on fire, like, our movie kids. It was very, very tough on me. Um, but they put gel on you —
SC : It really wasn’t scary. I — I think it — I hope it looks scarier than it —
JG : Steve, you got very, very unfunny —
SC : I got focused. I got focused.
JG : You got unfunny and very focused. You couldn’t say that you did not — you were not aware that you were on fire.
SC : I was aware that I was on fire, and I prepared to be on fire —
JG : Mm-hmm.
SC : And then I was on fire. And it’s the type of thing you don’t want to do a lot. You don’t want to do 25 takes of the Steve on Fire scene. So, you just try to get it right that first time, so you can move on. And —
Q : How many takes?
SC : Once or twice.
JG : I feel like it was twice.
Q : So, how was it, working with Dick van Dyke?
JG : So exciting. So exciting, I mean, Mary Poppins at my house, is like, one of the top three films of all happiness. Times. And, uh, so, the fact that I was there with him, was — and I got him to do "Chim Chim Cheree" with me between takes. All so great. He was just funny and warm and lovely, and so accepts his role as being somebody that we’ve all grown up with and an icon in entertainment, with such grace. He was really — it was really a great day.
Q : I mean, doing such a fun movie, how many takes did you go through without laughing, because I will bet you were laughing the whole time. How hard was that?
JG : There are definitely scenes in the movie that, I don’t know how they cut me to — I felt so — because I just wanted Steve to think that I was professional.
And I — there were times where I just couldn’t. I could not not laugh with him. I don’t know how anyone — I defy you to be in a scene with him and not laugh.
SC : Well, the same. The same from my perspective. The scene. [LAUGHTER] The scene where she’s screaming at the car in front of us. I mean, that’s a side of her I had never seen before, and it was crushing me. It was so, so good. I —
JG : The scene where we were in the car, making the weird sound, and I look at him and he’s going, "Arararara!" I can’t even think about it. I can’t watch it. Oh.
SC : But that, I think, was part of just, uh, the joy of doing it. And the kids laughed too. Like it wasn’t — it was work, and we tried to get it right, and we tried to, you know, to do it well, but it also had to be fun. And buoyant. And — and we had to feel like, you know, what’s the point of doing anything unless you’re enjoying it, and I think we really — had a — everyone had a good time doing it.
Q : What was your favorite scene to film?
JG : I liked when we were all together.
SC : That’s what I was gonna say. Like, any — well, we were all together for most of the movie.
JG : A lot. Dancing at the end. It’s just, all of the fun stuff, is really, it’s fun, it looks fun, and it is, and there was, um — there was a day between scenes where we had, um — they were setting up the cameras, and it’s the kind of thing, it was really, it was warm out, and it was the kind of thing where you would typically go back to your trailers, and do whatever you needed to do.
And I would do an interview with one of you guys about something. Or — but, instead, they just put us in a little room in the house, and we all had our phones with us. And we sat with those kids, and nobody ever looked at their phones, and nobody ever — we just talked. We just, you wouldn’t think that you would have that much to talk about with teenagers, you know, because it seems like they’re from another planet. But these are the coolest group of the smartest, most interesting, engaging kids.
And the five of us just hung out together, and had the best time, and that, to me, is kind of the crux of this whole movie, was just that feeling in that room, and that nobody came in and bugged us. Nobody else was there. It was just us as a group. And it was something that we chose to do.
SC : On my last day, uh, Dylan and Kerris did a song for me that they had written. And —
JG : And Ed.
SC : And Ed. Yeah. The three of them. Sang this song. But I think the two of them wrote it and the three of them performed it, and I — I broke down.
SC : I really didn’t see it coming. Yeah. I’m saying it because I want to elicit that response. But really — it really crept on me, the emotion of it all, and kind of the — the feelings that we all had, just over a cop ule of months for one another. And to see everyone again, and be doing press, is really fun —
JG : It’s different when you work with kids. You — you know, you really feel a different sense of — like, I know I’ll see Steve. I’ll always be glad to see him and hopefully we’ll work together at some point, but we played these kids’ parents. You know. Especially the babies. If you are working with kids, even though there are people there, making sure they’re okay, and their parents, but you’re the one saying, "Do you want a snack? Do you have to pee?" Do you know? "Are you tired?"
Q : Since you guys gelled so well and everything, did you ever play pranks on each other to make things fun or kind of loosen things up on the first day?
SC : I didn’t play pranks. But someone at this table played pranks —
JG : I didn’t play any pranks. I don’t know about pranks.
SC : And I don’t — we’ll probably — we won’t tell this story a lot.
JG : We don’t need to tell the whole story. [LAUGHTER]
SC : We went to the same college at different times. So, early on, uh, I — before we even started shooting, apparently Jen bought a bunch of Denison University paraphernalia.
JG : Everything they made.
SC : And — and throughout the shoot, like, a Denison cookbook would be in the background on the shelf, or some of the production assistants would be wearing Denison University hats.
JG : Or, truly, the whole crew would be wearing sweatshirts and sweatpants, and he never noticed any of it. It was amazing. It was — I kept going further and further, and everyone would be like, and he’s just totally a man. He’s so oblivious. Right?
SC : I am clearly just a self-centered jerk.
JG : At the end, I called Nancy, his wife, and I said — believe I’m not psycho — "Can I stash a Denison chair, like, with Denison kind of engraved in the back, in your house?"
It was his last day. And see how long it takes him to find it.
Q : How long did it take?
SC : Like, two weeks. And I — and she could hear me from downstairs. I started laughing, ’cause it was upstairs, like, in a corner, and I — I had been passing this chair for weeks, and it just registered that it was a Denison University chair, and I — I think I immediately texted you my thanks and "well done." Kudos on a trick well played. Yeah —
Q : Do you guys follow the kids after you do all of the press junkets and stuff, or is it just kind of like, you’re the teacher who sends them off hoping that they’ve learned something and that they think of you now and then?
JG : I’m starting to rack up onscreen kids. [LAUGHTER] And I started this with the first — the first time I played a mom was in "Timothy Greene," and I started this then, and I feel like it’s something to do with being "The Mom" too, that I really keep in loose touch, I would say. There’s a little girl that I worked with in "Imagine" and she and I — I send books to her, or these kids that I e-mail with, their moms are with them, a little bit, you know, just enough to say, I am thinking of you if you need another set of ears, ever, you can always call me.
SC : Yeah. She’s nicer about that than I am. Um. Do I keep in touch? Well, I — I guess, not really. You know? I see them at things like this, and — and the — the kids that I have been in movies with, I will see from time to time, and it’s always nice to catch up and see how they’re doing, but it’s incredible how quickly they are not little kids anymore.
Then they took a photo with us.. Can you find Steve?
Like ALEXANDER on Facebook: Facebook.com/DisneyAlexander
Follow ALEXANDER on Twitter: @DisneyPictures
ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY opens in theaters everywhere on October 10th!