Interview: Eva Mendes gets freaky with Will Ferrell in 'The Other Guys'
I am frankly surprised there weren't snipers watching me closely during this interview.
I'm guessing Sony just never bothered to read my website, "Terrible Thoughts I've Had About Eva Mendes.com," and thank goodness for that. Even so, she had a dog the size of a small horse by her side during the entire interview, and that's probably for the best. She came across as funny and smart and, yes, insanely gorgeous, a welcome addition to the sausage party that was the rest of "The Other Guys" press day.
Drew: It’s funny... I’ve heard a couple of people talking, and it seems like the response has been fantastic to the picture. I’ve heard a couple of people say, "Oh, my God, I can’t believe Eva Mendes is that funny."
Drew: I’m a fan of "All About the Benjamins," though, so it’s not a surprise. The first thing I saw you in was a comedy.
Eva: Nice. That was one of my first things ever. That was like my first year acting basically.
Drew: So this feels like, "Ah, good. I knew that and there it is."
Eva: Oh, that’s awesome. I was crazy in "Benjamins."
Drew: I thought not using the sort of comedy ensembles they’ve used in the past and branching out and using people who were really, funny but who aren’t known for it first opens this one up. And whether it’s true or not, I’m starting the campaign online to say that there’s going to be a Best Original Song nomination for 'Pimps Don’t Cry.'
Eva: I loved that.
Drew: That scene is the craziest thing I’ve seen in a movie this year.
Eva: Can you imagine? It’s so bizarre. "Anchorman" is like my "Gone with the Wind." That’s my thing. It’s comedic perfection to me. I’ve seen it so many times. I mean, I quote it on a daily basis, but when I first met with McKay for this film, we met for lunch and a part of me was, you know, like, "I’ve got to play it cool. I can’t tell him I’m a fan. I’m not going to go crazy." Cut to sitting down just spewing out the lines, line, line, line. And actually he was such a good sport about it, and I said, "Okay, can we do a quick game? Can I just say a line from 'Anchorman' and you tell me if it was you or Ferrell?' And he was totally down for it. And I’m like giving him all of them and he’s telling me whether it was him or Ferrell or [co-writer Chris] Henchy. But yeah, so when they called me to play I was like, "Oh, God, thank you so much because they’re just my dream team."
Drew: This is a wonderful character for Will because it’s neither the pompous buffoonery of the super successful arrogant guy or the total sort of sad-sack of 'Step Brothers.' This guy’s quirky and he’s got things he’s got pinned down and things he doesn’t.
Eva: It’s a dark past.
Drew: And I really love that dynamic. I think you guys have such a fun chemistry in those scenes and then Mark is the best third party to drop into that. Can you talk about your process of... actually, you said it was great when you got invited to play, so how was it to get there and dig in and do it?
Eva: I enjoy the process so much and I love my craft, so I still go to acting class when I’m home in L.A. and one of the things I did before this film is I took an improv class like with the masters. So, when I got onto set, I had all my background, all of my character information. I had my relationship all worked out as far as like why she would be in love with him and him with her. And when I had all that, it was time to play. And when I was in it, McKay was so supportive. Will was so supportive. Of course Mark was so supportive. But what McKay did that really, truly no other director has done is let me be free and let me loose. Any idea I wanted to try I could try it.
Drew: What I think is great about his comedy, and I was talking to him about it this morning, is something that this film finally crystallized for me. In most films, the dialogue is there to show you either a reaction to something that just happened or to advance the plot and people talk because they have to talk about a certain thing at a certain time. Adam loves movies about people just thinking, about just letting characters have those crazy thoughts and voice them.
Eva: Exactly, exactly. And that’s why I loved "Anchorman." "I ate a big red candle." Brick’s lines were just, you know, unbelievable. That’s exactly what was going on, what you just articulated. And I love that.
Drew: In "Talladega," it’s the baby Jesus debate about which Jesus do you pray to. Not only is it the greatest theological scene I’ve ever seen because it really nails how people are about Jesus, like they all have their picture in their head, but to hear it voiced in such a clear and hilarious way...
Drew: In the dinner table scene, Mark is pure id in that scene. Saying good bye to you 75 times because he just can’t help himself. There’s no filter on his characters. I think that must be liberating to play.
Eva: Yeah. For Mark you mean?
Drew: For all of you.
Eva: Absolutely. I’m telling you, it was really the most incredible experience I had because of that and especially for me because I’m new to this improv kind of McKay-Ferrell world. And, like I said, they completely were like, "Yeah, try it." I came up with some stuff for our sex scene. It was a little more elaborate because I came to McKay and I said, "Okay, I think they’re freaky. I think they’re freaky in bed. I think part of what connects them is that they’re totally freaky in bed. And she gets him completely. And she just says, 'Right on, honey. We’ll try anything once. Twice if we like it.'" Y'know? So, McKay and I think they should have a box, like a treasure chest of masks and props by the bed because they role play. And I thought, "I’m so used to throwing stuff out there and getting shot down, but I come up with my character things and my choices and stuff and I throw them out there." And McKay was actually, "Great idea." And I go, "Yeah, but I really want like a box of stuff and I want to like throw on masks." He’s like, "Great. Talk to props." And I was like, "But I want to do it in the scene." And he’s like, "Yeah, we’ll do it. We’ll shoot it." And I was like, "What? That’s it? That easy? What do you mean? Like you’re really actually taking my input and you’re actually letting me execute this?" So, I talked to the prop guy, and on the day I had an Abraham Lincoln beard and hat, I had aviator glasses, I had an Indian headdress, I had dental equipment, of course a fireman’s, you know, and on the day, Will was onboard and we absolutely did this thing where the camera was in the middle and he and I would lower down and off-camera get on the Indian headdress, he would get on the thing and we’d come up. And yeah, it was amazing. Now, did it make the movie? No, but that’s not my point. I had the freedom to exercise that and to really bring that to life.
Drew: What I love about what you’re talking about is, and this is what I think distinguishes great improv from funny improv... it’s all character. You’re still talking about how the improv came out of the idea of the relationship….
Eva: Their connection.
Drew: … and who they are. You’re not just going for a joke. That is the hardest kind of improv. To be revealing and still slay.
Drew: I think it’s really special and I honestly don’t think this is going to be your last time being asked to do this. I hope this is going to be…
Eva: I hope not because this is what I love and this is what I want to do more of and more of. And the truth is I really don’t have a problem making an ass out of myself for a laugh. If it will get a laugh, I will most likely do it. I want to fall into the right hands with that of course. But I really want to have more fun.
Drew: It seems like you’ve not only been lucky in terms of the opportunities but you’ve taken the right opportunities when they’ve come up. Somebody that works with Werner Herzog... that’s, for an actor, that’s got to be liberating to say, Okay, I’m going to go do it." Whatever it is, if Werner calls, you’ve got to go and have the experience.
Eva: That’s exactly what "Bad Lieutenant" was. It was like, "Okay, druggy girl, all right."
Drew: I had a couple of chances to watch Nicolas work on set…
Eva: What did you watch him on? I’m curious.
Drew: "Kick-Ass." I went and I was on "Kick-Ass" for about a week.
Eva: What was "Kick-Ass"?
Drew: That was the superhero film he just did with Chloe Moretz and he played this crazy vigilante. It’s the only time I’ve ever ruined a take. In 14 years of visiting film sets, I’ve never done it until I saw him working.
Eva: [laughs, horrified] What did you do?
Drew: They terrified me ahead of time. They were like, "Don’t look at Nicolas. Don’t break his eye line. Don’t blah, blah, blah." His publicist really put the fear of God in me.
Eva: And what did you do? You have to tell me this.
Drew: In the movie, when you see him, he’s in a homemade Batman costume basically. And that alone was crazy when you walked in the room. He’s the last guy in. They hadn’t warned me what he was going to look like or sound like, so he comes in and I’m like, "Oh my god," and I was already scared. And then they start the take and when he starts talking the choice he made was when he’s in the outfit, it’s Adam West's voice. It’s the rhythms of Adam West and he’s doing the whole voice like that. And I burst out laughing. And they called 'Cut!' And I’m like "Oh shit, I’m going to get thrown off the set."
Eva: [laughing] No! No! They did not call 'Cut.'
Drew: They did. And he walked over and said, "What made you laugh?" And I said, "Adam West." And he goes, "Good." And he walks back and they did the next one and I was like "Thank God."
Eva: Wow, that’s a great story.
Drew: Watching him work, it’s clear that you never know what’s coming next and I could tell no one else did and they loved it. That electricity. That seems like on the dramatic end you have that...
Eva: For sure, for sure. And I want more of that. I want more of that.
Drew: I really hope it pays off...
Eva: Thank you.
Drew: ... because I think this was the right chemistry and everybody seems like it really clicked.
Eva: The Coen brothers are next. They're on my hit list.
"The Other Guys" opens in theaters everywhere today.
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