Given you knew most of the cast, how much of the film was you trusting them to ad-lib and riff off each other?
We had a script that we always start from, but we also had a lot of written alternatives, lines and jokes for every scene. So we shot all of that and, in addition, we would let people on other takes improvise.
I work very collaboratively, in general, so actors could suggest things beforehand or just make up things as they go along. I kind of let people try to do whatever they want and then I try as a director to keep a cohesive voice and make sure that I'm getting versions of the story that make sense and then have a lot of choices in the editing.
There's one particular scene in which Paul Rudd has to psych himself up for free-love sex. What kind of direction did you give him going into that?
[Laughs.] That was our first day of shooting and we had talked about what the scene was earlier on and, you know, Paul's a producer on the film. But, ultimately, he just went in there and did the scripted lines, then just kept going by himself, improvising.
I have to give the credit to Paul. I think he really turned it from a little moment on the page to a truly memorable, comedic tour de force.
It seems like some of his lines are going to live on as quotables.
Yeah, I think so.
On another note, with Justin Theroux's character, Seth, he has this morning routine of "primally gesticulating," basically wailing away the negative aspects of his life while flailing like a loon. If you practiced it yourself, what would you wish away?
[Laughs.] I would wish away traffic in Los Angeles. I think the reason I live in New York is traffic in Los Angeles.
I know you're married, but thanks to Wainy Days, you're the biggest stud on the Internet.
Tell me about it!
[Laughs.] How do you get actresses like Lizzy Caplan, Rashida Jones and Elizabeth Banks to star in those five-minute episodes with you?
It basically involves a custom drug that I put together and I've ordered in bulk. I ask them out to a drink and say, "Oh, let's talk about a movie that we're doing." Then, when they go to the bathroom, I put a little pellet in the drink and then once they've drunk it, they do whatever I say.
That's really convenient. I can't imagine it's FDA-approved.
Yeah, but it's really cool. I'm thinking of marketing the drug and then I could retire on that.
Given the Oscar recognition Bridesmaids got, how do you think the influence of the comedy genre is shifting?
I can't really speak too much about the larger world. I live in the bubble of my own stuff in a way. I mean, I love the other things people do but I don't know its influence in general. I mean, our movie opens Oscar weekend. I have heard that they might be making an exception and giving it a last minute "Best Picture" nomination, which is really... I'm flattered. I'm flattered just to be nominated. [Laughs.]
I think you should prepare a speech just in case, or just ask your dad to do it. I know he accepted an award on your behalf for Wainy Days once.
Without question, he does a much better acceptance speech than I do. In fact, at the premiere of Wanderlust, he somehow got into the press line and was taking his own photos of Jennifer Aniston.
A lot of your projects have become cult classics and developed a cult following. Lady Gaga named her fans "Little Monsters." What would you name yours?
I would name them "The Kissing Army." It's the KISS Army, from the band KISS, but it's about kissing.
There'll probably be a lot of screen tees made by your fans with that logo after this interview.
Or maybe, then, "The Frenching Army."
Speaking of cult classics, I have to ask, will there be a Wet Hot American Summer prequel?
We're writing the script and making our initial plans on putting it all together, but it's in the initial stages.
Is anyone from the original cast attached yet?
Everyone from the original cast expressed positive interest in doing it, and that's all I know so far. As for how that works in the premise, we were 10 years too old in the original, so we'll be about 22 years too old in the prequel.
Interview by Tara Aquino (@t_akino)