The Flatbush 4 Becomes the Flatbush 5
"Jon Turteltaub IS one of these guys. In many ways, he is the fifth of the Flatbush Four," declares Mark.
Mark met Turteltaub when he was a producer at Disney and Turteltaub was directing Cool Runnings and then While You Were Sleeping. Although later on Turteltaub found major success in big-budget action fare, Mark says, "In many ways, this movie is more Jon Turteltaub than his more recent work -- and it was fun and gratifying to ask him to return to his beginnings and use those muscles again."
Baer, who has also known Turteltaub for many years, couldn't agree more. She describes him as "a guy in his 40s who is really going on 70. He is really a young, old man. Sweet, funny and deeply emotional, he can make you laugh until you cry. He is these guys. This movie and what it's about is essentially who Jon is as an artist and as a person."
Turteltaub concedes he's the right age for the part, if there was a number 5.
"I've been an old Jew since I was about 24," he says. "It runs in my family. I come from a very traditional, old-fashioned family where Jewish humor is part of our diet. And there is that world where -- like Mel Brooks was an old Jewish guy since he was a young Jewish guy, or Woody Allen, or Rob Reiner for that matter, or Billy Crystal -- that vibe has always felt comfortable for me. But in Hollywood your goal is to always play 10 to15 years younger than you are. Old is the biggest fear we all have in Hollywood. Well, this movie is about embracing the old. Playing your age. Being who you are. These actors embraced that. Yet they're all hipper and kind of younger and more fun than I am. I'm more of the old schleppy guy who's constantly telling them to act older like me."
"He had an understanding of these guys yes, but as a director he was also very easy, accommodating. He did very well," says De Niro. "He sort of thinks out loud which is nice. He makes you part of his process."
For Kline, "I would love to say something, you know, that would somehow insult him, demean him, but in fact meeting with Jon Turteltaub was part of what induced me to do this film. He's a very lively, engaging, smart, funny man. The whole shoot was joyful, positive, and fun, with a lot of laughter. He's extremely collaborative; he invites the actors' input and invention."
"And he's funny," Kline adds. "The actors are trying to be funny and the director turns out to be funnier than they are, which kind of raises the bar."
Douglas found Turteltaub's way of dealing with pressure amusing in itself. "It's sort of this great neurotic way of finding humor in any situation," he says.
"I was on him everyday, all day and he just kept screwing things up! 'Is that what you're doing?' " Freeman cracks himself up reminiscing about it. "Seriously though, Jon's sense of humor -- I don't think it has a parallel in terms of directors. I would always go to him and say, 'Thank you for this job.' I love Jon. He did fine. He did just fine."
For Fogelman, it was Turteltaub's understanding of what it takes to make a rounded comedy that was key. "Jon is one of the few directors who not only knows where the funny is but IS funny himself. Jon is the real thing. He's a filmmaker first, which is the main reason the film not only has humor, but also looks fantastic and has tons of heart. He didn't just attack it as a comedy...he set out to make a real film about something...and he did."
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