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Due Date - Todd Phillips interview

Due Date

Interview by Rob Carnevale

DIRECTOR Todd Phillips talks about reuniting with Zach Galifianakis and working with Robert Downey Jr on new anti-buddy comedy Due Date, letting the audience decide whether he is taking the comedy too far and why the road trip is a useful plot device for him…

Q. How easy was it to cast the movie, were Robert Downey Jr and Zach Galifianakis the first two guys you thought of?
Todd Phillips: Yeah they were, I’d been working on The Hangover and I wanted to work with Zach again. And as far as the other role goes we just decided to aim high, so we went to the top, and we went to Robert… we were hoping he would do it. I thought, quite honestly, it was a bit of a long shot to get Robert, I knew he was busy. But he responded to it and that’s how it started.

Q. What is it with you and road trips – why do you like them as a plot device so much?
Todd Phillips: It’s not so much the guys being on the road, it’s not the road that appeals to me but it is that it represents taking your characters and putting them out there without a safety net, without their family and friends and things and comforts. So, when you take a character and you put him in the road they’re flying without a net and I think that’s partly why even actors kind of like those roles. You’re out there on your own.

Q. In comedy, how far is too far?
Todd Phillips: I think it’s important not to necessarily draw a line, because that line will be drawn for you by audiences once you start putting the movie on its feet, but when we’re actually shooting it’s not like: “Ooh, what’s too far, and what’s not?” We don’t rein it in, we tend to just go for it and then shape it in the editing room.

Q. How improvisational does it get on set?
Todd Phillips: It’s not that we improvise as we are making it but we do improvise during the day. We take the script apart in the morning and rebuild it and figure stuff out, so it’s not that we are improvising as the cameras are rolling although there is that too. I think there is a method to the madness and it is about all three of us taking it apart in the morning and figuring out what we are going to do that day.

Q. Was making the film rather like taking a road trip because you were filming in many different States?
Todd Phillips: For me, it added to the feel of it, we travelled across five or six States, shooting all over… it’s like a travelling circus when you have a movie crew and moving across the southern half of the United States – it felt like that. It added definitely to the flavour of it for me.

Q. What was the appeal of working with Robert Downey Jr for you?
Todd Phillips: I think Robert can do anything. It’s funny because people ask him what do you prefer, comedy or drama? I really think Robert is just one of those guys who can do anything. He’s challenging but it’s always for the right reasons and he pushes you to be a better director and he pushes Zach to be better at what Zach was doing and I really do honestly think that’s one of his greatest strengths.

Q. And Zach?
Todd Phillips: He slips on banana peels [laughs and pauses]. I’m just kidding, that’s private joke. To answer your question seriously about Zach, like most great comic actors he’s just fearless and that is the best attribute you can have as a comedy actor or even an actor generally. He will try anything, he will go anywhere for a laugh. As a director that’s the best thing you can look for.