About The Story
As the director of 2004's zeitgeist-defining nerd comedy Napoleon Dynamite
and 2006's Nacho Libre, which stars
Jack Black as a misunderstood Mexican monk who moonlights as a luchador, Jared
Hess has demonstrated his
gift for generating big laughs from underdog heroes. So it seems only natural
that the Utah-born filmmaker
became intrigued with the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction 1997 Loomis Fargo
heist. Hess says he experienced
an instinctive connection with the bizarre story, particularly with its
"The first time I saw an interview with David and heard his side of the story
about how things went down, it
felt to me like he was always being underestimated by everybody," says Hess. "I
could tell he was a good
person who did the crime for love. Most people are risk-averse. They're afraid
of failing so they don't take
any chances, live quiet lives because it's easier. But when people take big
risks, whether they fail or succeed,
it's interesting to see them try."
Well before Hess signed on to helm the project, legendary "Saturday Night
Live" producer Lorne Michaels
had spent years championing a film based on the infamous heist, inspired by
coverage on the ABC news
magazine "20/20." "I saw the footage of the robbery when it first happened in
North Carolina and we
originally wanted to develop the story for Amy Poehler to play the character of
Kelly," Michaels says. After a
succession of scheduling conflicts and script revisions, including a rewrite by
Jody Hill and North Carolina
native Danny McBride, the story eventually came to Hess' attention.
Owen Wilson, who has starred in his fair share of quirky comedies, starting
with his feature-film debut in Wes
Anderson's Bottle Rocket and including high-concept goofs like Zoolander and
Starsky & Hutch, appreciated the
story's hilariously flawed master plan. "It's about a heist pulled off by the
worst criminals you could imagine,"
he says. "In Body Heat, Mickey Rourke says to William Hurt, 'Anytime you pull a
crime, there's 50 ways you
can screw it up. If you can think of 37 of them, you're a genius.' Our
characters couldn't even think of three
ways they could screw it up, so that's the problem."
Kate McKinnon, who plays David's fiancee Jandice, gravitated to the sheer
zeal exhibited by the hapless gang.
"The story's great because it's about people who are valiantly trying to do
something and they think they're
doing a great job," she says. "They actually couldn't be doing a worse job, but
their enthusiasm is a beautiful
thing and that's an American tale."
While Hess and company invented some sequences for comic effect, there were
plenty of astonishing facts to
work with. "I was surprised to find they really did hire someone to go down to
Mexico and kill David," says
Wilson. "This film's a little bit like Fargo in that there's some dark stuff yet
it can still be funny. Most of the
things in this movie really happened, and it's all so crazy and ridiculous, I
thought if we just honored that,
we'd be okay."
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