Googlers, Nooglers, and Googliness
THE INTERNSHIP is a hilarious tale about two guys at the peak of their powers of salesmanship, who dare to dream against all odds. They turn sales into an art form, and must now work that magic in a high-tech universe.
In this new world order, Billy and Nick learn that if you want a place at the table, then you have to work harder, reinvent yourself, and develop new skills at the speed of fiber optics transmissions. Ignoring the naysayers and following their gut, Billy and Nick turn Google on its head by bringing their game to this center of the digital universe. "It's a chance for Billy and Nick, who wake up and say, 'We did everything the way we were supposed to, but got the short end of the stick,'" explains writer, producer and star Vince Vaughn. "And now they're going to take a chance, follow a dream and be a part of something that is exciting and fun, and not just a means to paying the bills."
"I think the comedy in this movie comes out of relatable situations," Vaughn adds. "There's authenticity to Billy and Nick's journey, in that they initially go through some tough things, which is happening to a lot of people."
Director and producer Shawn Levy echoes Vaughn's observations on the relatability of the film's premise. "I think this movie is astonishingly relevant," states Levy. "There is a generation that feels it must reinvent itself. So how do you do that in order to write a next chapter?"
One way of reinventing yourself is to pursue non-traditional career paths. Job seekers and employers are increasingly embracing "returnships" -- return-to-work programs and internships for older professionals. So, in some ways, Billy and Nick are part of a "Returnship." They are refreshing -- and reapplying -- their skill sets and learning new technologies, to rocket themselves back into the workplace in a big, big way.
THE INTERNSHIP is an uplifting story with humor and idealism. "The optimism that comes from the film's message is that maybe there's something each generation can learn from the other. It's a huge part of why the film is not just funny, but also timely, aspirational and hopeful," says Vaughn.
Vaughn's Billy McMahon is high-energy, razor-sharp, and verbally-dexterous. When he loses the only vocation he has ever known, Billy searches the online job listings and inadvertently discovers the solution to his career conundrum -- Google. "Billy gets an idea, that Google's a place where there are a lot of possibilities; it feels like a phenomenal place to work, where there are nap pods, Ping-Pong, volleyball courts and lots of places to eat -- for free," states Vaughn.
With nothing to lose and everything to gain, Billy "takes a swing for something that's far reaching or far out, but also seems like an exciting place to work," says Vaughn. "Billy and Nick wonder, why not take a chance at the best place to work that is filled with the most opportunities?"
Billy and Nick choose wisely. In January 2013, Fortune magazine declared Google the best place to work, for the third time since 2007. Google has maintained a longstanding reputation as a cool, fun and magical place to work. Its employees love the company's culture, mission statement and perks. "For Billy and Nick, going to Google is like entering into the chocolate factory or traveling to Oz," Vaughn says.
THE INTERNSHIP lifts the curtain on Google's innovative wizardry, offering a rare glimpse into its dynamic, trailblazing and high-tech culture. "When I visited Google, that's when the project got exciting," recalls Levy. "It's a tech company but every day they commit themselves to trying to make the world a better place. There is a genuine altruism to its culture that is inspiring, and I wanted to depict that."
"Also, it's a unique workplace," Levy continues. "There aren't offices. There are nap pods, massage rooms, and meetings whose participants are biking around town. It's so committedly unconventional that it is like the Emerald City. A big part of the movie was pulling back the curtain and giving audiences a V.I.P. pass to this unconventional work place."
Once bitten by this enticing climate, one cannot help but want to become a Googler. "When we were shooting at Google, I think most of us were ready to quit our movie business jobs to go work there, and by the way, a movie business job is pretty awesome," notes Levy. "But at Google, everything they do is based on the desire to foster creativity and collaboration, which are the values we should all be living our lives with."
Under Google's guidance, Levy and Vaughn captured the essence of the company's unique entrepreneurial spirit. "I thought interns, as a rule, get coffee or run errands," describes Vaughn. "But at Google, interns were actually put to work right away."
From the beginning, Google embraced the production. "I visited Google the first time with [co-star] Owen Wilson," recalls Vaughn. "Google liked the concept of the movie."
"We would send photographs of Google to [the film's principal location in] Georgia, where we replicated the building interiors," adds Levy. "So, every single thing that's written on every single blackboard [in the film] is legitimate and approved by Google. They knew the movie is a summer comedy that's audacious, fun and occasionally irreverent. Google also wanted it to be aspirational and to have a good heart. And that's the only kind of movie I know how to make. So, we went in with a lot of mutual trust and it's been a great partnership."
During the project's early stages, Vaughn approached his "Wedding Crashers" co-star and friend, Owen Wilson, to play Nick -- the yin to Billy's yang. Nick is a master of the art of gentle persuasion, whereas Billy is a maestro of rapid-fire, slick pitches. Together, they make an unbeatable team.
"The first person I went to was Owen," Vaughn says. "I thought it would be fun to collaborate again."
Wilson's nuanced sense of humor coupled with his all-around likability made him the ideal choice to play Nick. "Owen's very funny and makes me laugh, and he's a terrific actor," says Vaughn. "He's genuine and has a real vulnerability and honesty."
Wilson couldn't resist the opportunity to reunite with Vaughn on another big comedic vehicle, and he appreciated the film's premise of two salesmen reinventing themselves at an internet and technology behemoth. "We were always looking for something that would be fun to work on, and then Vince had this idea for THE INTERNSHIP," says Wilson.
Vaughn and Wilson drew from their personal experiences of being behind the technological times. "This was not a difficult role to prepare for. I don't know that much about computers, only in the past few years, I discovered how to work the internet," says Wilson. "And Vince had to be one of the last people in the world to get a cell phone, so he might be even further behind than me. We're both trying to catch up with the digital world."
Confronted with that world's lightning-fast pace, Billy and Nick must somehow excel at Google. "When Billy has the idea that we should go work at Google, Nick says, 'How are we going to compete with these 20-year-old computer whizzes?'" says Wilson. "Billy replies, 'There is more to it than that. Even at Google, you have got to be able to sell things and connect with people and that is our strong suit, and entree into this world.'"
"There is a culture clash that happens," Vaughn elaborates. "You got salty salesmen who might have a high emotional IQ, and who have been through a lot, but are clueless when it comes to engineering and computer coding. Then you have a bunch of kids who've grown up in a digital age, but who have yet to develop their 'old-school' social skills."
Billy, Nick and their intern teammates come to realize that their perceived differences are assets necessary to reach their goals. "Ultimately, we complement each other," says Vaughn. "The kids are immersed in this technology, which has led them to these coveted internships but has also stunted them from connecting to people in a human way. And connecting that way is what Billy and Nick do best."
Instead of using their masterful salesmanship for personal gain, Billy and Nick use it as a way to unify the team, and more importantly, as a means to thrive at Google. "What our characters bring is that ability, as salesmen, to connect with people," says Wilson. "And, do it in a genuine way."
As underdogs in the competition, the team faces an uphill climb, but nothing that a little guts, grit and Googliness can't handle. "Googliness is a willingness to take chances, roll the dice, think outside the box, and be open to inspiration," says Wilson. "It's a quality that everyone aspires to."
"Googliness is a real word used by Googlers to define an essential trait of working there and of the kind of people that work there," elaborates Levy. "It means ethical goodness, innovative thinking, diligence and pluck."
For Billy, Nick and their fellow interns, what began as a collision between two different worlds, ends with unity and cooperation in pursuit of a dream come true, and in their transition from being Nooglers to Googlers, they discover their Googliness.
To bring this comical comeback story to life, Vaughn knew from the start that Shawn Levy was the ideal choice to direct. "Shawn has a connection to hope, a human optimism that is an important element of the film," Vaughn notes. "He's really elevated the movie and has been a great partner."
Levy couldn't resist the opportunity to participate in the Vaughn-Wilson on-screen reunion. "When I saw 'Wedding Crashers,' I witnessed this banter and chemistry that came from two guys who are very different in their rhythms," recalls Levy. "There's the laconic, cool of Owen and the machine gun patter of Vince; the alchemy of when they come together is truly special."
Magic also happened in the casting of the other key roles. The filmmakers selected actors who would reflect the generational divide, embody the Google personae, and possess a comedic constitution that complements Vaughn's and Wilson's improvisational dexterity. "THE INTERNSHIP is also about these two generations melding and the culture of Google. We wanted a supporting cast that adds strength to the duo at the center," says Vaughn.
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