Keeping Up With the Joneses Red Carpet
Last week, I had the delight of attending the red carpet premiere of 20th Century Fox’s upcoming film Keeping Up With the Joneses. The evening started off with screening the film, which made for a hilarious, fun start to the night!
After the film, there was a special Oktoberfest celebration on the Fox lot (a nod to the June-tober Fest that takes place in the film), and the stars arrived!
It’s an incredible experience, to say the least, to get to feel the excitement and buzz in the air of the cast and crew as they proudly get to finally share with an audience the film they worked so tirelessly on! After a night of celebrating the Keeping Up With the Joneses premiere, the next day myself and other fellow bloggers got to sit down with the cast of the film and interview about their characters and experience in filming.
Cast Interviews: Matt Walsh & Maribeth Monroe
First up, we got to interview cast members Matt Walsh and Maribeth Monroe, who play a hilarious seemingly typical suburban couple, who tend to bicker a lot (and occasionally share some TMI).
Q. Did the director give you a lot of freedom to ad-lib off-script?
Monroe. Greg [Mottola, director] I think made the wonderfully fun choice of hiring a lot of funny people that also have a lot of improve background. Matt has a improve background with UCB Theater. And I was with Second City in Chicago. Both Chicago is where we got training and whatnot. So, I think Greg knew that going in. Obviously, Zach Galifianakis is pretty good, I think decent at being off the cuff. Wouldn’t you say? He’s okay. He’s working on it. He’s working on it.
(I have to just interject, that I love the comedic actors are continuously trying to make one another and those around them laugh, even when they’re not filming.)
Q. What first hooked you onto the project? Was it finding out who’s going to be in the cast, or reading the script? What was it that first got you interested and involved?
Matt Walsh. I think for me the script. I auditioned, but the script was really solid and really funny and obviously interesting interplay between the world of espionage and sort suburban ennui or desperation. And then the character was really fun because the way we play out in the story is a surprise, which is really fun to play.
Maribeth Monroe. Yes, same with me. I read the script, and I auditioned for Greg, and obviously once I heard who was cast, I was like, oh, my gosh. This is really awesome, you know? Please let me get this. And then when I did, yes, I think, what Matt said. I just think these characters and the surprise of the characters, again, without saying too much, but the reveal at the end was something. I was like, oh, if this is done right and Greg does this right and we’re just inconspicuous enough, but also conspicuous enough, just that perfect balance, this could be a really powerful moment in the movie of our surprise.
Q. It seems like you all really genuinely get along.
Matt Walsh. Yes. Well, I think generally comedies are a wonderful hang. I think comedy chemistry is just less tense. And I always say like in comedy when they say, “Cut,” people just go right back to doing some bit or joke they were doing with their scene partner, whereas in drama when they say cut, people try to hang onto the character, or before the character. So, they’re sort of brooding and in their process.
Comedy’s much lighter. So, in general, comedies are usually always fun. And this is an exceptionally nice group of folks. We had a little history. Zach and I and Jon and I have a little history. So, it was really lovely to plug back into people and catch up.
Cast Interviews: Jon Hamm & Zach Galifianakis
Zach Galifianakis plays Jeff Gaffney, an indoor skydive-loving, HR rep who longs for a best friend. Jon Hamm plays Tim Jones, undercover spy and the neighbor who is great at everything!
Q. Can each of you talk about becoming part of this project? What was the attraction, and Jon in particular, did you always want the opportunity to play a spy?
Jon Hamm. I don’t think I always wanted to play a spy. I think there’s a special place in any sort of boy’s heart of growing up with James Bond and that whole kind of thing that makes it cool and I think what we found in this is like there’s something kind of naturally funny in the way–in taking these kind of prototypes of masculinity or cool sort of like things that we see and then putting them in situations where things don’t go perfectly as scripted.
Zach and I have known each other for quite some time. But, what I really liked about it was that both characters kind of–it sounds so hokey, but like they both learn something about themselves. And in my character’s–when we were talking about going through it, I just said, “Like, I just feel like it should be something that it seems like something that he has everything, and yet he doesn’t, or he might be really good at this job, but he doesn’t necessarily like it,” because I think that’s something that everyone can identify with. Nobody on the planet can identify with being a James Bond because that person’s fake.
Q. Zach, your character is a people person, would you consider yourself to be one, too?
Zach Galifianakis. I am, but I think I’m shy sometimes. But, I was a shy kid. But now I’m expected to be a little bit maybe the thing that you see in the movies and stuff. But, I’m pretty quiet. And I like to be by myself, but I like to go out to dinner with folks. It’s nice to see you ladies and sir. But, yes, I’m somewhat of an introvert, somewhat, a little bit, I guess.
But, I like Jon. I liked all the actors on this movie. We went out to dinner and stuff. We socialized.
Q. There are so many action scenes; did you have any particular favorite sequences to shoot?
Jon Hamm. Yes. I think all the car chase stuff was really fun. Some of the fight stuff was really fun. The car chases are challenging because there’s a million moving parts, literally. And it can be really dangerous. You’re making a movie. You don’t really want anything bad to happen, obviously. And you don’t want to put anybody in any danger at all.
And so, I’m very, very cognizant of, it’s only a movie. If anything gets scary, let’s just stop, and we’ll start up again. And we’ll make it safe. And so, there’s always that sense of being very aware of safety. But, at the same time, you’re supposed to be acting and fearless and all that other stuff too. So, it’s a real challenge. I mean, it’s a real fun, fun challenge, but a challenge nonetheless.
Q. Can each of you talk a bit about what it was like working with Gal and Isla?
Zach Galifianakis. Working with Isla, I only laugh because she’s really fun to make fun of in real life, and she allows you to do that. And the fact that she’s like that, I instantly like her. There’s an openness to her for that which is fun. She laughs at herself a lot, which is really important for an actress.
And so, Isla and I really clicked. She had newly given birth. So, that was super impressive. You know, you don’t think about it, but, yes, there’s babies around. And so, to watch Isla do both of those things is really, really impressive, and never complained or any of that stuff.
Jon Hamm. That was very impressive. I mean Gal in a similar way had so much on her plate. And then the prospect of what her next year was going to be and managing that, and I was so wildly impressed by her ability to kind of manage all of that, as somebody relatively new to the spotlight. I never met her before doing this. And I got along with her great, as we all did.
A big part of why this movie I think succeeds is that the central foursome all kind of get along with one another in the most basic way. If that chemistry isn’t there, then I don’t think any of those scenes really work as well as they should. But, it is, and they do. And it’s good because there’s a lot of them.
And especially when we were shooting, we spent a lot of time together, all four of us. So, it was just really nice.
Cast Interviews: Isla Fisher & Gal Gadot
Q. Did you have the freedom to improvise off-script?
Isla Fisher. There was a lot of freedom, which you need in a comedy.
Gal Gadot. In general, Greg allowed us to be free and do what we thought the characters would do and just gave us little notes that ever so slightly notes of how to balance the four of us together.
Isla Fisher. But, I do think that we felt comfortable doing that because you came very much with a very clear idea of Natalie, and you’re so brilliant in the film. And you ground it completely, and I think that all of us have kind of done our research and really came very prepared to inhabit the emotional landscape of these people.
So, once he could yell action, we were kind of there.
Fisher, on working with director Greg Mottola:
He has made Superbad, which obviously was a huge hit. But, he’s also come from The Daytrippers, and he’s from New York, that quintessential, very cool, very smart, character-y New York Director. And so, even though we were in a big, Hollywood blockbuster format, he found the humanity in all of us and the relatability of these married couples that didn’t necessarily still have the spark in their marriage, who was feeling envious towards their neighbors and scared and confused by these different kind of people.
And, you know, we learned a great lesson in the movie, which is not to judge a book by its cover.
Q. Can each of you speak a bit about working with the lead men?
Isla Fisher. …When you work with someone like Zach Galifianakis and you’re a comedy nerd like me, I’m a fan of great comedy. I’ve watched all his stuff. I’ve seen his standup. I love Between Two Ferns. So, all I’m thinking the whole time when I’m a comic actor, but I’m not a standup, so I’m just thinking the whole time please say something funny. Say something in the funny to make Zach laugh. If you can make Zach laugh, you’ll really feel good about yourself.
So, I was very motivated to impress him, which is the best vibe to have in a comedy, because then you have the appetite to try to be funny when you–anyway, obviously, I’m stating the obvious here. And he was just a total gentleman, and what’s great, he didn’t use the movie as a vehicle for himself. He allowed all of us to have a time to shine.
I mean he’s a big comedy star. It could have easily been the Zach Galifianakis movie, and it’s not. And the reason we’re all great in the movie, I think, if I don’t mind patting ourselves on the back, maybe cut that last line out. It sounds kind of braggy. I did not mean to do that. But, I think the reason we all had moments where we shine is because he is so collaborative and generous and kind as a person. And he genuinely loves people and is interested in people and interested in human stories. And he is just a really great guy. Over to you on Jon [Hamm].
Gal Gadot. Jon thought I was the PA when we first met. This is how it all began, really good, right? We had a table read, and I saw him the first time downstairs. Usually the director or one of the producers would have introduced us. But, I saw him, so I just went to introduce myself. And then he was like very polite. And he just got off a flight. And he’s like can I please have some black coffee.
[cont’d] I said, sure, but you know I’m playing your wife. I’m Gal. I’m playing Natalie. And then he felt embarrassed, and he was super sweet about that. And he apologized, and he was super sweet.
Isla Fisher. You should have said, “I’m a method actor, and I’m getting into character.”
Gal Gadot. But, honestly working with Jon was a great experience. He made me feel very, very comfortable the entire time. The entire cast made me feel very comfortable. Doing a comedy when everyone can riff and be so flexible with their language is not my case.
They made me feel so comfortable. And I think that for an actor, the best place to perform is when he’s not vulnerable, and he can just try and go for anything. And even if he falls, people are not going to take advantage out of it or laugh at him.
And Jon was a great partner, funny, talented, bright. It was great. It was great working with all of them.
About Keeping Up With the Joneses
Keeping Up With the Joneses is about a typical suburban couple the Gaffneys (played by Galifianakis and Fisher), who are in a daily routine rut…Until their new neighbors, the Joneses (Hamm and Gadot) move in. The Joneses are perfect at everything, highly successful, and the Gaffneys are intrigued to learn more about the new mystery couple. Throughout their journey in getting to know their neighbors (who are actually spies), they get tangled up in the Joneses’ lives of espionage. The film is sure to be a comedic hit for fall. Having seen it myself, I can say that it was one of the funniest movies I had ever seen. With such a stellar cast, it’s pretty much the perfect comedy in my book! And in true Healthy Mouse fashion, I made a recipe inspired by the film, which you can check out here.
Keeping Up With the Joneses comes to theaters tomorrow, October 21st. You can learn more on JonesesMovie.com
Photo Credits: 20th Century Fox