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BAD TEACHER

About The Film
"Elizabeth isn't a teacher because it's noble – it's just a job, a necessity: she has to pay the rent,” says Cameron Diaz, who plays a teacher redefining education in Bad Teacher. "In fact, her whole motivation is to find a way that she never has to teach again.”

When the idea for the movie came to the screenwriting team of Gene Stupnitsky & Lee Eisenberg, they knew they'd hit on something incredibly rare and special. "It seemed like there weren't a lot of comedy roles for women,” says Eisenberg. "We would see so many funny women on ‘Saturday Night Live' and on talk shows, and they'd be hysterical and charming, and then we'd go to the movies and they'd be props to get two guys to become friends or whatever. We really wanted to write a project for a comedienne.”

The opportunity to play a character that is so over-the-top outrageous but at the same time fully drawn is what appealed to Diaz. Diaz enjoys pushing the envelope – as evidenced in the worldwide hit There's Something About Mary – but she says that this kind of role doesn't come along all that often. "You just don't come across parts like this. It just doesn't happen. And particularly for women. The script is just so subversive and brilliant and so funny. By the time I finished reading it for the first time, there was no question – I had to play her.”

And how misguided is Elizabeth? "She's driven to get money so that she can get a new pair of boobs,” Diaz explains. "She's looking for a guy who is rich enough to take her away so she never has to work again, and she's convinced that if she gets those D-cups they'll be her ticket out.”

"I thought it was one of the funniest scripts I had ever read,” says director Jake Kasdan. "Lee and Gene have a completely original, hilarious voice – I think that they've written one of the great female comedy parts, and we found the perfect person to play her.”

Eisenberg says that he and his partner were confident from the beginning that the project was in good hands. "Of course, we've always been fans of Jake's work – ‘Freaks and Geeks' is, to me, one of the greatest shows of all time, and the fact that he directed the pilot sealed the deal,” says Eisenberg. But, the writer continues, Kasdan also seemed to share an innate understanding of what set the material apart. "Jake was very collaborative. Of course, he had ideas about the development of the script – small changes that were key to Elizabeth's growth. When I see the movie now, I remember having those discussions in Jake's kitchen – all of his instincts were so smart.”

"It's important to me, when I'm directing someone else's script, to have the writers really involved with the production,” says Kasdan. "Particularly with comedies. It's a huge asset. You can have different jokes available to you as you do it – try to make the movie funnier as you shoot it.”

Kasdan says it is Diaz's willingness to completely give herself over to the role that sets her apart. "Cameron has got this great thing: she is completely fearless,” says Kasdan. "She enjoys being dirty and edgy and she's completely open-minded about what might work. She was the perfect person to be at the center of this and it was a real gift for the writers and me to be working with her.”

Describing Diaz's character, Kasdan says, "Elizabeth isn't a bad person – she just has terrible, terrible values.”

"She isn't aggressively mean – she just thinks she's above it all,” Diaz explains. "She has no passion for teaching, no desire for the kids to learn anything. Even when she finds out she can get a big payday if the kids do well on the state test, it doesn't make her want to be a better teacher; she just wants the scores. I love that she never changes.”

Indeed, for Elizabeth, it's all about Elizabeth. Everything she does is about moving toward her goal of no longer having to be a teacher – even if it means stealing money from the seventh grade car wash. "Elizabeth isn't a hard worker, but she knows how to work it and she's a piece of work,” says Diaz. "She shows up for the car wash in a pair of short shorts and heels and a shirt tied up, washing cars for the parents. It all seems pretty simple to her – she worms her way into being in charge of the car wash and then takes her cut of the earnings.”

Kasdan says, "Cameron is probably the only actress in the world who can pull that off, because she is the only person I can think of who can be that funny while looking that hot. She's just completely hilarious in that scene.”

After Elizabeth is dumped, she sets her sights on a rich, handsome substitute – the heir to a watch fortune – named Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake). But when Scott starts to fall for Elizabeth's colleague, the self-described perfect teacher, Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch), Elizabeth's jealousy and vindictive nature go into overdrive.

Taking the role opposite Diaz is Justin Timberlake. "On paper, Scott is very, very nice,” says Timberlake. "He seems like your average, rich, blue-blooded guy, and very non-confrontational. That's actually fun to play, because as Lucy's and Cameron's characters get more and more petty, he gets more and more awkward.”

Timberlake says that with the writers on set and a director who encourages collaboration, Bad Teacher was a fantastic experience. "The role, as it was written on the page, was really funny. Then, when we were in the middle of a scene, Jake would have great instincts, adding a layer each time we did it. The writers would have very funny alternate lines to build on. All of this helped make the character more and more specific, and, I think, funnier and funnier.”

"I like it best when the comedy is based around character, not gags,” he says. "In drama, if there's an emotional moment in a movie, it's because the viewer has followed the character through the journey and it means something to them. Comedy is the same way – if you've followed the characters, it makes it even funnier.”

Surrounded by such a funny cast, he says, was a blast. "I'm just a fan, I really am,” he says. "It's great to play in the sandbox with these brilliant comedic minds.”

Jason Segel, who plays gym teacher Russell Gettis, returns the compliment: "You're only supposed to be super-talented at one thing. But Justin is a super-talented singer, musician, and dancer, and he's also really funny. This guy ruins it for everybody. However, he's way shorter than me, so I have that going for me.”

Timberlake, of course, has achieved great heights as a recording artist and songwriter, and he gets to parody his persona in Bad Teacher. "Scott is asked to join the teachers' band, Period 5,” he explains. "Scott is everyone's favorite – sort of the guy that the teachers wish the students were like – so of course they ask him to join. Lee and Gene came to me – they thought it would be really funny if there was an actual song Scott had written for Amy. We wanted to see how simple, and bad, we could make it,” says Timberlake. .”

Inspired by his budding romance with Amy Squirrel, Scott pens a truly horrible love song: "Simpatico.” "We sat in Justin's trailer and he played guitar and we started writing lyrics – it was an amazing experience,” says Eisenberg. "Of course, ‘Simpatico' is the worst song ever. Justin sings the song in this weird falsetto and he's looking down at his hands as he's playing the chords – in the movie, Justin really looks like he just learned how to play the guitar.”

"It really made me laugh to watch Justin Timberlake try to sing badly,” says Kasdan.

Diaz's foil in

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