VERY BAD THINGS
A Festival of Scene Stealing
To make a film that pushes the envelope this far, both cast and crew members flung themselves into the project from day one of the tightly scheduled, 35-day shoot, most taking deferred pay
To make a film that pushes the envelope this far, both cast and
crew members flung themselves into the project from day one of
the tightly scheduled, 35-day shoot, most taking deferred pay.
The ensemble cast bonded so quickly that they became like a "den
of thieves," Schiffer reports. "It was a festival of
scene-stealing - hysterical to watch."
"This was the first movie I'd done in about ten years where
I felt this comfortable with both the character and the people,"
Slater comments. "The character had an edge like my characters
in Heathers and Pump Up the Volume, and it gave
me the opportunity to play someone colorful, with no boundaries.
We could all let loose and say whatever came to our minds - literally
- although we ended up sticking to the script pretty much because
it was so well-written."
At the same time, dark comedy can be hard work. "Everyone
was totally committed to whatever situation we were depicting,"
Leland Orser recalls, "so we exposed ourselves to each other
every day, all day. Each one of us had to be willing to be real."
The hospital scene was a case in point. "There we were,"
Favreau recalls, "in a hospital corridor in tears, everyone
doing some heavy duty, challenging acting."
"Although for me," adds Stern, "the big challenge
was not to blink. But the rest of the time, Peter pushed us so
far that the only fear was we'd be too far out there, without
any pauses in the pace. When I saw the movie cut together, though,
it was clear Peter knew exactly what he wanted."
Because improvisation was encouraged, there were times when the
director was caught off guard. Diaz, for instance, began to rift
out loud during the tuxedo scene, which was being shot without
sound, and her off-the-cuff comments were so wickedly acid that
Berg had to scramble to capture them on tape. And he describes
Jeremy Piven, in the role of Michael, as 'one of the greatest
improvisational actors around today.
'This was a group of truly kind actors," Berg continues.
"Unpretentious. Grounded. No celebrity stuff going on. But
in really healthy ways, they refused to let anyone else steal
a scene from them. It was enormous fun to watch them think on
their feet and pump up each other, scene after scene."
"It's true that we had to absolutely hit the ground running
every single time," Piven says. 'And for actors, this was
very high stakes stuff, so we didn't want to stay in such intense
scenes for very long with too many takes, or it would've been
"But Peter's script was so tight, so rich, and the schedule
so demanding," he continues, "that I actually improvised
a little less on this one than other times. Michael starts off
as a guy in a cubicle who wants one lucky moment to make him a
winner and, instead, he totally unravels. It was the kind of role
that doesn't come along that often -a beautifully written train
As an actor himself, Berg made it a priority to create a set where
people would want to come to work: "I wrote the script
to interest myself in playing these roles. It's a story about
watching the world go to pieces - anything less and I would've
gotten bored. And as someone who's seen tension on sets in the
past, I wanted to provide the kind of environment actors love."
Cowan calls it "t
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