In Last Vegas, Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline play friends who reunite for the wedding of one of their own. He’s getting hitched to a younger woman and plans his last hurrah in Sin City. ScreenCrave talked to director Jon Turtletaub (National Treasure), who brought to life a film that’s a fun romp and a heartfelt tale about friendship.
What drew you to make Last Vegas?
Jon Turtletaub: Characters. Friends that have that way of being really great and shitty to each other at the same time.When I read the script I thought, these are people I know and this is the way I feel people actually talk in my world and just the fact that you can’t separate the characters from the story from the comedy. Often in movies and in scripts they feel like different things but in this it was all one.
DeNiro, Kline, Douglas and Freeman: What made them the perfect cast?
Jon Turtletaub: Like any group of friends, everybody brings a little something and everybody has their own role within a group of friends. Each of these guys, they not only felt different enough to provide a different piece of the whole, but they also somehow felt like they fit together. Sometimes you find yourself in the ‘One of these things doesn’t belong’ kind of puzzle and it doesn’t feel that way with these four guys. You know they never worked together—no two of them had ever made a movie together.
Jon Turtletaub: Seems impossible, I know! That’s why it didn’t feel like two belonged and the other two didn’t. They all felt like they all belonged together.
Why do you think they signed on for the movie?
Jon Turtletaub: I can only say what I heard. I think what drew most of them to the film was each other. You know Michael Douglas was the first guy to say yes and once Michael was in, I think they knew by saying yes they’d be in good company. But it was also the script. The characters were terrific. You know really smart actors don’t choose great characters, they choose great movies and I think they could tell from the script this was a real great movie to be in.
How did you guys realize this life-long friendship between the characters?
Jon Turtletaub: The more comfortable the actors got with each other, the easier it was to tease each other. Most of what’s there is on the page but the joy of it, the giggles in it—rarely do you see characters in movies laughing and enjoying themselves and what we made sure to do in this movie was the jokes don’t only feel like the writer wrote them but the character did.
It felt like they ad-libbed some great stuff. It felt so natural.
Jon Turtletaub: It did. It really felt easy and natural and one way to do that is when the character is definitely funny and the other characters should laugh.
What was the most memorable and fun scene to shoot?
Jon Turtletaub: The Bikini Contest—that’s as memorable as it gets. Not just because we were surrounded by scantily clad women but because the fun the four actors were having. Everyone was so great at what we did and it went extremely smoothly. For me it was fun because it was one of the biggest production numbers in the movie and yet it went really smoothly.
What do you hope attracts audiences to Last Vegas?
Jon Turtletaub: I think they’re going to show up for the comedy and leave talking about the emotion. I think the surprise of the movie is how much heart it has. That it’s not just a romp. It’s actually a comedy with a lot of depth. The main thing that’s going to draw people to the movie is the chance to see four of the greatest actors of all time in a movie together.
What’s next for you? Any projects on the horizon?
Jon Turtletaub: I’ve got a whole bunch of movies and shows I’m producing but I haven’t picked my next project. I have this weird thing I have to finish one thing before starting the next so till the movie comes out, I don’t ever feel like it’s finished. I’ve not been able to choose a project until the previous one is out in theaters and the audiences pass judgment.
How do you go about selecting scripts?
Jon Turtletaub: Mostly, I get pulled in by the characters and the writing. If I feel the writer is smarter than I am, it makes me want to do the movie.
Last Vegas opens in theaters November 1.