In This Means War, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy fight over Reese Witherspoon. But for their big interview, it appears that Tom Hardy won, as Pine was called to the set of Star Trek 2. In his absence we had two of the three leads, comic relief Chelsea Handler, and the always eager to please director McG to talk about the film. Check it out…
To set the stage for the interview, it’s worth summarizing what happened before it began, in which Tom Hardy – wearing a jacket from the movie – comes and joins in on the conversation a couple of journalists are having about The Woman in Black. Hardy said “I’d eat through Daniel Radcliffe to have been in that” and spent the next five minutes eating snacks and just shooting the proverbial crap with everyone. That Hardy spent much of his “real” interview rubbing his face on his microphone like a cat and gave snarky answers became a charming affectation.
We heard stories about the movie fighting an R Rating. They had to drop some of Chelsea’s joke to get it to PG-13. First, do you feel censored as a comedian and what were the jokes?
McG: We got an NC-17 because of the World According to Chelsea Handler. If you ask her about men, you ask her about sex, you ask her about dating, she has a strong take.
Chelsea Handler: Yeah, a strong take that I don’t want them to happen with you.
McG: It’s the aggravation that creates the pearl.
Chelsea Handler: We have a very volatile relationship. But no, I don’t feel like I’m being censored. I’m a trouble maker, everybody knows it. So it was bound to happen, he egged me on. He had me say some very, very dirty things that even I thought were dirty. So I wasn’t surprised that they were taken out.
McG: But they’ll be on the DVD.
What was one of the things that were cut?
McG: Just, you know. One of the things that made it strange was – And it’s funny because it’s the prudish, uptight MPAA that’s fine with the violent components but anything that has to do with sexuality. She said “You need to be a bigger liar. Say your boyfriend’s penis is so big that he’s getting a penile reduction because every time it lands on your urethra it’s like a poltergeist.” First of all, who thinks that way? Chelsea’s out of her mind and that that’s why we love her. The MPAA was trying to take out all that stuff, and we had to take out a few things, but we retained the authentic comedic stylings of Chelsea Handler.
What was the paintball scene like?
Reese Witherspoon: It was fun to shoot. Although it was as our first day of shooting. I didn’t know Tom very well, and I had to shoot him in the crotch, which is a good ice breaker, it turns out.
Reese, in your other films you portray this girl next door, but in this one you’re being a little sexier.
Reese Witherspoon: It’s all McG’s fault. His cajoling, his constant texting.
McG: Listen. Do we all understand that Reese Witherspoon is a capable, intelligent woman? Devoted mother, we know all these things. And I don’t think that any woman who’s beautiful should apologize for being so beautiful. And it’s clear that she’s so good, her goodness precedes her and she’s talented, she has a golden statue to back that up. And I find her to be so sexy and so foxy, that it was a thrill to work with Russell Carpenter, who you know shot Titanic, he shot some beautiful girls in his time, and he knew how to shoot her in a way and we created a platform of comfort and I defer to the crowd, you guys think Reese looks sexy in the picture. Tom, what do you think? I want to hear about Tom’s paintball experience.
Tom Hardy: I think she looks sexy without the picture, you know? Just thought she was sexy. But paintball in the nuts hurts.
What kind of artistic stretch do you have to make to be a single girl in the movie?
Reese Witherspoon: Well, I was a single girl when I made the movie. It wasn’t much of a stretch. This wasn’t a hard job to make. It was made very easy but McG’s enthusiasm by having two amazing men in this movie who are very talented actors, very funny in their own right, and obviously being with Chelsea who is -
Chelsea Handler: – A horrible influence on everyone.
Reese Witherspoon: (Laughs) Uncontrollable and genius.
What’s your standard in the types of roles you pick? And do you have a decision guru?
Reese Witherspoon: Do I have a decision guru? Well, I consult Chelsea on most of the decisions in my life.
Chelsea Handler: I’m always there for her.
Does the movie parallel to your real life?
Reese Witherspoon: Sure. Yeah.
Chelsea Handler: It’s kind of the opposite. Because in real life, she has children, she’s a mother and she’s married. And I’m single, so it was kind of fun playing opposite roles.
Reese Witherspoon: Yeah, we’re reversed.
Chelsea Handler: I’m single and I sleep with a lot of men, so it’s perfect.
Tom, in the movie, you have a friend that sticks by through a lot of tough stuff. For you personally, what could a friend do to you that would be the last straw?
Tom Hardy: I don’t have any friends. I don’t keep them or entertain them for any of that kind of problem. So I like to keep myself. I have a dog and a son. A dog couldn’t do anything to upset me, you know, and neither could my son.
Reese, what’s your take on online dating and would you ever date two at one time? Do you recommend that for a guy?
Reese Witherspoon: For a guy? I wouldn’t have any recommendations for a guy. But for a girl, I mean I think a lot of people Internet date. That’s what the commercials say, right? One in 5 people meet each other online or something?
McG: Where are you supposed to meet someone?
Reese Witherspoon: Online.
McG: I know, the least you can say is, “hey I’m really into going to bed at 9 o’clock and I like zebras and you know, role playing.” And then you can get after it in that regard and you can narrow it down to some degree.
Tom Hardy: I think it’s an apparent, I think the whole thing is apparent. I think online dating is a way of procuring people, you know what I mean? Like Facebook, Myspace. It’s a way that people to connect out. And procure small children and sometimes you know, dodgy relationships. I don’t think it’s very healthy. Online dating is cool, but I think Facebook and Myspace is a little off key.
You had good chemistry with the other actors. Was that there from the very beginning or was it something you worked on rehearsal?
Tom Hardy: No, that was just acting. I’m quite alpha, and he was the actor of the film so I did my best to accommodate that. No, I was playing with him. It was just acting, he’s a good guy. It was fun.
McG: Listen, I think put simply, there’s a great old Robert Altman adage that the best thing to do as a director is to cast the film properly. And if you have Reese and you have Tom and you have Chris, driving that triangle and you have Chelsea to come in and steal scenes, it makes everything very, very simple and it flows from there. And we talked about “oh the picture’s so pretty,” and the costuming or the sounds or the explosions are fun, that’s all easy. We can handle that, but I cannot fabricate chemistry. And the chemistry that these two girls have from a place of buddy dynamics, I would just listen to them walking back to video village and go let’s cherry pick that and use it as a scene because that’s incredible. And as far as the chemistry that Tom and Chris had, they are indeed both very alpha and they respect each other but one would never acquiesce to one another and it was a healthy competitive spirit that I think is in the service of the picture.
Tom Hardy: Just teasing. It was good fun to play with. I wouldn’t want to work with him again. But for the period that we were working together, that was good.
Can you speak about casting with diversity in mind? I mean, you have four main actors who have blue eyes.
McG: Listen that’s a huge concern for me, you know? And I can answer that in good faith because I put Lucy Liu in “Charlie’s Angels.” I don’t like Lily white movies with Lily white people bouncing around but you also just got to do what you got to do. In the spirit of Benetton Ad Rainbow Correlation, you know, the most empower character in the film is indeed a black woman, I enjoy the most powerful person in Hollywood is indeed a black woman – Oprah Winfrey. And I’m hoping to just transcend beyond that but I love ethnic diversity all over the place but I just felt like Chelsea was the right one. I had a singular vision for Tom Hardy, I chased him all the way over to London. And you’re right, because I’m doing the color correction and I’m like, Jesus, everybody’s eyes are popping off the screen, these interior-lit blue mongrels. And it’s a bit of a concern but you just got to do what’s right.
Chelsea Handler: We ate Chinese food throughout the whole filming.
McG: So it was important to me, but it wasn’t the most ethnically diverse picture, which is on my mind.
Did you rehearse a lot to make that chemistry flow or did you drink together after work?
Chelsea Handler: We rehearsed after the movie was done. (laughs) Then we started drinking together.
Reese Witherspoon: Then we started drinking a lot.
When did you two first meet?
Reese Witherspoon: Probably like two years ago.
McG: Just one more thing in regards to that last question and I don’t want to step on it, but the reason why Chelsea gets away with everything is because she has a giant heart, Chelsea is a good person. And that’s why you have Reese attracted to that and letting her in and that’s where the chemistry lies. And they felt comfortable and we just tried to create an environment where they could do what they wanted to do and be off hook and succeed wildly and fail on occasionally.
Reese Witherspoon: I think what really endears you to Chelsea’s character is in the first scene that you really see her talk to me. I say, “Oh I think I going to move away, I feel really bad” and she say, “But I would miss you.” And it was so sweet and tender and you said it on the day and it’s like that’s how she is, she’s just a very loyal friend.
McG: She is a loyal friend.
Reese, out of all the dates your character goes through, which was the most fun to shoot and why?
Reese Witherspoon: I think Tom would agree, the trapeze scene. (laughs) He practiced for at least a month ahead of time.
Tom Hardy: I did.
Reese Witherspoon: He did, he rehearsed and he would sometimes wake up super early in the morning and he would just – he had a trapeze installed in his hotel room.
Tom Hardy: Yeah, you know it poured out because I got a little finger which was a bit broken from a problem I had as a kid. I got it caught. And actually I had a chain trapeze at the time and I got it caught in the links, and I lost my grip and I fell and it pulled me. And it took a lot of guts for me to get back on the trapeze, so thank you.
Reese Witherspoon: And a bit of hypnosis. And he did a great job.
Tom Hardy: I also have McG to thank for that.
Was it something you wanted to do more or did you tell yourself that you’ll never do it again?
Reese Witherspoon: No, it was fun. I wished I could have done more. I kept saying to McG, “Give me the gun. Think of a scene where I could do the guns.”
McG: Yeah, but she was in a harness, raise 50 feet up off the ground, hanging from a wire, you (Tom) ripped your finger wide open. You went for it; she’s fearless and did her thing. You know, and the film had a lot to do with everybody – to some degree- being gracious to the other one. And it’s no doubt that Reese is a very gracious actress and she sets up Chelsea to steal our scenes. That’s wonderful. And Tom is in the service of Chris, and Chris is in the service of Tom. From an action place, the boys are very proficient in that regard and they took Reese with her but from a place of leadership, Reese as I said earlier, she was the sun of which the whole production orbits around her leadership. She’s on her mark, and very professional and ready to go and that’s how to get away with Chelsea style, which I know she says I don’t prep, I don’t do this, that and the other – but from the bottom of my heart, I wouldn’t want it any other way. We hired Chelsea for a reason, I don’t think she’s done that character in a film yet, I think a lot of people are going to chase her now to do it and I’m delighted that you made your big debut in that capacity and I’m looking down there at Tom, and he’s a good sport to play along in a decidedly Americana pop film. The guy’s a monster; we know what he can do with his acting ability. We’ve all seen Bronson, We’ve all seen Warrior, we know he’s going to be Mad Max, here come’s Bane, this, that and the other. But I turned onto the Tom with the handsome Bob character with the particular from discussing filmmaking with you and just knowing you’re a very brilliant guy and we could show the world a side of you they haven’t seen before.
Reese, was there anything he wanted you to do that you didn’t care to do?
Tom Hardy: Pine.
Reese Witherspoon: No, not really.
McG: She’s fearless. She’s given birth twice, she can do anything.
In this movie, there’s about five different ways you could have ended this triangle. Did you give yourself some wiggle room to choose that ending?
McG: Yeah, the film only works if you’re rooting for both of the guys. I really like Pine, I really like Hardy, and they’re both very interesting for different reasons. So we wanted to have flexibility. We even talked about having two endings and releasing it – if it were on 3,000 screens, 1,500 would have this one, and 1,500 would have that one and just not say anything. But it felt a little gimmicky at the end because I think the films very clean in the absence of that. So we went with what you guys have seen but there’s even an ending where the two boys end up in each other’s arms.
Tom Hardy: That should have been the ending.
McG: A homoerotic finish.
Tom Hardy: It would have been a really ground-breaking ending to me. You should have gone for it. I mean, really gone for it, McG.
McG: I know. I posted out on the ending of “Terminator 4″ so I should have gone with the dark ending for that one, so may I’ll do the dark ending with this one.
Tell us if you had any injuries during the fight scenes and how well you handled it.
Tom Hardy: There were two fight scenes. One in the restaurant and the rest of it was just hanging onto the car. And the beginning – ah, the beginning, the helicopter. But it wasn’t a fight scene.
McG: I think she means when you fought him.
Tom Hardy: Oh, it was good fun, yeah, it was good fun. Chris is a good fighter, you know. He has this kind of jazz-hands style, which is kind of scary if you’re going up against something from West Side Story. You got to keep your eyes well-peeled because they can come at any angle, especially when you have that much of the dancer naturally in you. So, to work with that kind of skill set – because I’m used to a different kind of form of boxing, Muay Thai. I had to look out for myself because he has fast hands. But it was safe.
McG: Yeah, but there was a fun moment where – Listen, again, Tom’s very gracious, you know, from the fight scene at the end and you say, “where you going?” and you smack the hell out of Chris’s character.
Tom Hardy: I smacked him on the face.
McG: And that was a big moment, because you can’t hurt Tom. You can throw him off a truck, and he’ll kind of tumble along and he’ll bend the other finger.
Tom Hardy: That’s not true. It hurts, but I won’t show it.
McG: And you know, we had to create a world in which everybody was comfortable with moving forward with that, smacking each other up a little bit and falling off second tiers and smashing into tables and doing everything he went through. But he’s a fighter by trade.
Tom Hardy: But Chris is better with a weapon than I am. If you look at him technically in the film, he’s actually great with pistol work and weapons, truth be told and he’s a lot tougher than he looks, if that even matters. Which it does.
This Means War Opens February 17. Check it out.