Opening this week is director Rawson Marshall Thurber’s (Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story) R-rated comedy We’re the Millers. The film centers on a single, small-time pot dealer (Jason Sudeikis) who ends up in debt to his supplier (Ed Helms). In order to bring the next shipment of drugs up from Mexico, he puts together a fake family comprised of his stripper neighbor (Jennifer Aniston), an eager teen (Will Poulter) and a streetwise punk (Emma Roberts). The supporting cast also includes the hilarious Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn. For more on the film, watch seven clips or read Matt’s review.
Last week, I attended a fun press conference with Sudeikis, Aniston, Roberts, Poulter, Hahn, and Marshall Thurber in New York City. They talked about making the film, how Aniston got in shape for the role, improv, their favorite scenes, the hardest scene to film without laughing and who broke the most on set, and a lot more. Hit the jump to either read or listen to what they had to say.
If you have the time, I definitely suggest listening to this press conference because it was very funny and reading the jokes just isn’t the same as hearing them. Click here for the audio.
JENNIFER ANISTON: There’s no secrets and it’s not a few tips, I don’t think you have enough time for that answer. It was an amazing choreographer, a wonderful trainer, and a beautiful cinematographer, all that kind of good stuff. But I did work out a lot.
And the brand of that underwear?
ANISTON: I think it was eres. I don’t know how she had that underwear, but…
Hugh Jackman said that he didn’t eat any carbs or anything during Wolverine-
ANISTON: Oh yeah, no, no, no. No food. There was a lot of celery, a lot of salad, a lot of celery sticks, a lot of cucumbers.
JASON SUDEIKIS: Ice. We let her eat ice.
ANISTON: Ice chips, they do let me eat ice chips.
RAWSON MARHSALL TURBER: Any form of water.
ANISTON: Water was good. No, you can eat normally, but just…no carbs. [laughs]
Jason, Jennifer said that you have no sense of smell. Is that true?
SUDEIKIS: Yeah, that is true. Since I was a kid I’ve never had a sense of smell.
How does that affect your acting, if at all?
ANISTON: Yeah, where’s your sense memory?
SUDEIKIS: I would say it makes it….I have no idea, you tell me. [laughs] I don’t know. It makes it tougher to memorize lines because smell is connected to memory. So it’s a real struggle for me. I’m glad to shed some light on it. You can’t tell, right?
SUDEIKIS: I can act like I’m smelling something bad or good, I mean I can do that.
THURBER: Yeah, he has a lot of range.
It’s a wonderful comedy, it really is. The timing between Jennifer and Jason is amazing. Can you talk about your relationship doing this, how you worked it up, whether there was a lot of improvisation? Also, the idea that you’re actors playing characters who are playing roles, being actors when you’re not supposed to be actors.
SUDEIKIS: That was a lot. I can’t believe we pulled it off.
ANISTON: I can’t either.
SUDEIKIS: That’s insane.
ANISTON: I didn’t think of it that way, actors playing actors playing parts.
SUDEIKIS: Pretending to be actors
ANISTON: Pretending to be actors,
SUDEIKIS: Playing parts, yeah.
ANISTON: Whoa, we did better than we thought.
SUDEIKIS: That’s not bad. Well you know we’ve worked together in the past, but then Jen’s made Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Adam Sandler, everybody, Jim Carrey, every major comedy guy star for the last ten years look good. So I just stood there, I just stood there and looked pretty. Which I think was a refreshing change of pace for you.
SUDEIKIS: You had to carry the weight and me just being eye candy.
ANISTON: Yeah, just being used and abused.
SUDEIKIS: That’s it, just khakis.
ANISTON: Just those khakis.
SUDEIKIS: [laughs] just a piece of meat in khakis. What do you do?
ANISTON: I don’t know, but you didn’t have a popped collar like I did.
SUDEIKIS: That’s true. I can’t pull off a popped collar.
ANISTON: No there wasn’t a lot of improv, we actually really stuck to the script, right?
SUDEIKIS: Yeah, absolutely. Maybe some of the script stuff was spoken about between whoever was in a scene prior, the day before or the day of, but for the most part it was all there. Specifically the scenarios, whether the actual words were different I can’t remember.
ANISTON: Yeah, we might have varied on that. We did this a lot.
SUDEIKIS: That’s right there was a lot of banter.
ANISTON: Which is always fun. He’s a good – he’s amazing, it’s like having-
SUDEIKIS: I went from good to amazing in a sentence.
ANISTON: You’re a pretty good, amazing partner in volleying.
SUDEIKIS: Likewise, yeah. And then when you get people like Kathryn and Nick to play against. That’s the fun that I’ve had watching is where we just get to be a two-headed monster against these two quiet-
SUDEIKIS: [laughs] Knuckleheads, yeah. Sexual deviants – let’s just call them what they are. Then we just get to react, then they’re doing all the hard work and we just get to sort of stare and when they say something ridiculous instead of laughing we just sort of look at each other.
ANISTON: We try not to laugh.
Do you see your characters transform? The people that you start out as by what happens to them? By playing rolls?
ANISTON: Yeah, they basically find their family. Out of this crazy situation they kind of all find the soft spot in each other and find partnership, which is what everybody is looking for.
SUDEIKIS: Dr. Phil said you got to fake it ‘til you feel it, so they faked it and then they ended up feeling it. Hopefully the audience feels the same way. That’s his thing, “You got to fake it ‘til you feel it” or “fake it ‘til you make it”.
ANISTON: Did he say that? [Laughs]
SUDEIKIS: Is it Dr. Phil? I think its Dr. Phil. I don’t want to- maybe it’s some other fake doctor, it’s somebody. Maybe it was Dr. Drew or Dr. Laura, who knows? It’s either fake it ‘til you feel it or fake it ‘til you make it.
ANISTON: Is he a fake doctor?
SUDEIKIS: Oh, god have you been going to him for a while? Oh, no. “Oprah gave him a thumbs up!”
ANISTON: That’s sort of what was fun about it was the attitude that we have towards each other at the beginning. I can’t stand him [Seduekis]. Well, I mean not can’t stand you, but you bug me.
SUDEIKIS: You don’t give me the time of day at the beginning of the movie.
ANISTON: I don’t. And I don’t know the kids, so…I don’t think I answered your question.
Does that happen to you when you go on a movie set and you have to suddenly become family?
ANISTON: I don’t think it happens where it’s an illusion, I think we actually become a family. You spend three or four months of your life every day all day, sometimes way too long, and you just have each other.
SUDEIKIS: It’s the reality show model. Put people in the same town in the middle of North Carolina for four months, give them a job, except were not working at a t-shirt factory, were making a movie, and then you end up loving each other, liking each other, hating each other, getting annoyed with each other. Everything that the movie goes through. So it’s not so much probably the process of making a moving and faking it as an actor, it’s probably more being used to having done other movies and having to get that across. Just the familial thing that occurs when you hang out with people so long.
ANISTON: Much better answer.
How does it feel to take down a major drug cartel and take drugs off the street?
SUDEIKIS: Yeah, that’s a good question, here we go. Someone thinks this is a documentary. Are we heroes?
ANISTON: I think we’re pretty awesome.
SUDEIKIS: I don’t know. It’s not for us to say.
ANISTON: It feels great.
SUDEIKIS: Yeah, it feels great.
ANISTON: Did we do that?
SUDEIKIS: So let’s look for Avengers type numbers for this movie.
ANISTON: Yes. That’s right.
SUDEIKIS: Congrats to everybody on that.
Will, why don’t you speak to the whole drug thing here?
POULTER: Yeah, we have drugs in England, so-
SUDEIKIS: Wait you’re British?
What was the most challenging scene for you and how did you get over the challenges?
ANISTON: For me I would have to say it was the scene at the auto body shop.
SUDEIKIS: [Laughs] I love how you to refer to it by the location.
ANISTON: The location, you know that really hot place where the rainstorm happened.
SUDEIKIS: That’s right. I do remember.
KATHRYN HAHN: The tin roof.
ANISTON: The tin roof, remember that?
ANISTON: That was crazy, day one.
HAHN: The thunderstorm.
THURBER: It felt like 150 degrees.
ANISTON: I would say that was a challenging one for me.
How did you get past that?
ANISTON: I just had to do it. We rolled the cameras and I had to just bite the bullet. It was a little uncomfortable at first, because doing all the rehearsals alone with Denise and then al the sudden you’re on the set with three cameras and a bunch of crew. It was a little intimidating at first.
EMMA ROBERTS: For me I guess a lot of stuff in the RV because actually we’re not really driving anywhere were just sitting there and its green screen and we have to pretend the whole time, so that was kind of difficult. But, I don’t know, mine was mostly fun. I didn’t have to do anything as crazy as you did.
Kathryn what was your most challenging scene.
HAHN: Oh, [laughs] certainly the most fun was when I got to squeeze someone’s boobs, that was awesome, but I think maybe the weed baby was difficult [laughs] because there’s a lot of imagining of what that would be if we actually thought that a child had been run over by a semi multiple times after being hurled into the air by its mother. That was an interesting challenge.
POULTER: It’s a lot to take in.
HAHN: A lot to take in.
SUDEIKIS: And then to be crushed into leaves.
HAHN: And then crushed into leaves, while looking at a little taped X. That was fantastic. I think that was probably the most challenging, but it was funny, we laughed.
Will, the make out scene with everybody or the tarantula?
SUDEIKIS: Yeah we put Will through it.
POULTER: Kenny goes through it, right?
SUDEIKIS: Yeah, highs and lows.
HAHN: [Laughs] That was so good.
POULTER: The spider bite was interesting because we were literally by the side of the road and my pants were around my ankles.
HAHN: As usual.
POULTER: And we caused zero crashes, which is great.
POULTER: Lucky, but that was pretty embarrassing and quite chilly, good breeze going.
That’s a rather epic moment when you wake up to make out with Jennifer and Emma can you tell us what was going through your mind? And I would love to know, Jennifer, what was the secret tip that you gave him for the kiss? How did you take the kiss to the next level?
ANISTON: That’s a secret.
POULTER: I’m not telling anybody. It was kind of a bizarre scene to film, we kind of just laughed our way through it.
POULTER: It was a very awkward day for all involved.
ANISTON: It was extremely awkward.
Lots of takes?
POULTER: It felt like lots of takes.
POULTER: Lots of angles, lots of coverage.
ROBERTS: Was it that bad?
POULTER: No obviously it’s like boohoo, tiny violin, because obviously it was the greatest experience of that young boy’s life, which he will remember forever.
SUDEIKIS: The character, not you.
POULTER: Whatever Kenny went through it’s like [I] got to do that. Kenny really came out on top I think.
The director has been very quiet, Rawson, was he like this on the set?
ANISTON: Kind of.
THURBER: I was just thinking about the kissing scene, because I remember in the script when we went to go shoot, originally it was just Kenny and Casey, it was just Will and Emma. I think it was Jen who thought it would be funny if Rose joined in, which made all the difference in the sequence.
ANISTON: It made it extremely uncomfortable.
THURBER: The thing about it is that they’re not doing anything wrong, none of them are related, it’s totally fine. But I guess people are a little nervous.
ANISTON: There’s nothing wrong with it, she’s only like, a grown up woman.
THURBER: She’s helping.
HAHN: It’s an act of generosity.
What was the hardest scene to film without laughing and who broke the most on set?
POULTER: Me, 100% without a doubt.
SUDEIKIS: Oh my gosh, it was definitely Will.
POULTER: I couldn’t hold it together.
SUDEIKIS: Will definitely broke the most.
ANISTON: We had a hard time in the RV with Kathryn.
SUDEIKIS: Yeah, with Kathryn.
ANISTON: She would start her scenes with these extraordinary stories that led up to where the actual dialogue is on the page. They were just different every time.
SUDEIKIS: There’s at least one, the storm trooper dick, in the movie.
HAHN: Which was yours, by the way, I have to give you credit. That was the best thing ever. The storm trooper dick.
SUDEIKIS: There were lots of variations on that. That was probably the seventh one, that’s when I started chiming in, all leading to the story about how they met, how her and Nick’s character met, which then led into us telling our story. But yeah, that was a lot of laughing. But yeah, Will by far. You could cut together a movie of him laughing.
POULTER: The gag reel is longer than the actual film for me.
Rawson, I wanted to ask you to speak on directing this comedic crew, I thought you did an amazing job, how that was. Also there was one part where Will had to draw a picture when they’re playing charades, can you discuss that a little bit?
THURBER: Yeah, getting to work with all these very talented actors and actresses was really easy for me. I think the great part about it was we got to put together what seems to me a murderer’s row of comedians and watch them go at it. And Nick, Kathryn, Jen, Emma, Jason, Will, all the way down to we have Tom Lennon in the picture, we have Ken Marino in the picture. It was a lot of fun for me to get to work with people I’ve admired for a long time and watch them hit home run after home run. It makes my job very easy. I think that was like week one, end of the week we were outside and there were a bunch of mosquitos. It was a joke I really loved, it was in the script, and Jen was really game to do it. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but I think she nailed it. The one thing I’ll say the actual picture you see of the big black skateboard, I drew. That was me, I was like, “It should look like this!” and I sort of sketched it out.
SUDEIKIS: That’s your thing. Hitchcock would always appear in his movies, you always put a drawing of a big black penis inside your movie, every movie. [laughs]
POULTER: All of them from here on. That was a lot of fun.
Did you guys spend a lot of time with strippers or drug dealers or runaways or virgins to get ready for your role?
ANISTON: Well, they had to drag me out of that strip club every night.
SUDEIKIS: I try to spend twenty minutes with a drug dealer about every two months. Just get in there sort of see what they’re about, see what’s going on, go through the process just to feel it out. Sometimes every three months, it depends.
SUDEIKIS: Will had his hymen reconnected. He had it rejuvenated for the role. Had his hymen put back together, just pieced together piece by piece…fused I think.
HAHN: [laughs] poor Will.
POULTER: Interesting procedure, painful.
SUDEIKIS: Well I didn’t know what I was doing, that’s the thing. I was just down there.
Emma what was on your iPod? Was that really your phone?
ROBERTS: Yeah actually that was my phone so the whole time I was listening to my music and tuning everyone else out, no-
ANISTON: She did.
ROBERTS: I did, actually I’m not kidding I did tune you guys out a little bit.
SUDEIKIS: Well I wouldn’t blame you.
ROBERTS: I got to play a lot of iPod games on my phone while I was sitting, so that was fun. But no I didn’t hang out with any runaways or runaway or do anything. But I got to wear fake facial piercings, which I guess helped me get into that character. That was fun.
Rawson you mentioned that the cast was hitting home run after home run, what was editing like?
THURBER: That’s a great question. Getting to edit any movie, but especially comedy, is really when it comes together. You do your best early and then you put it up in front of audiences and then you kind of take your lumps as you figure out what’s working and what isn’t. a lot of times you’re taking out jokes that don’t work and you’re keeping jokes that do work. I know that sounds simple, but once you take out the stuff that isn’t working, the stuff that is gets closer together and then a of rising tide kind of lifts the whole boat. We had a ton of funny stuff in the film and I think that’s a credit not only to the cast, but to the original script that Steve [Faber] and Bob [Fisher], but also Sean Anders and John Morris wrote really, really funny stuff. Some of the funniest stuff in the film is there’s. Editing is never easy, but in this case it was easier than normal for sure.
ANISTON: What was your most painful scene that you had to cut?
THURBER: They’re never painful when you cut them because you cut them for a reason.
ANISTON: Sometimes you don’t, sometimes you’re like “How can I make it work? I love this scene so much, but its slowing the momentum of this part of the movie down.”
THURBER: There was one beat where Jen and Jason stopped for gas and then Rose gets sort of accosted by a creepy trucker and then Jason saves her and everybody takes off. The scene worked, it was really fun, it was kind of funny, but we literally were stopping for gas in the movie and we couldn’t do it, just from a rhythm perspective. That one hit the cutting room floor and it was a little bit disappointing, but I think ultimately the film is better for it.
ANISTON: I didn’t even miss it.
THURBER: See, you didn’t even remember that.
Will it be on the DVD?
ANISTON: All the fun stuff’s on the DVD.
First of all, great film, hilarious, I laughed so much. Never has the idea of drug smuggling seemed so much fun.
SUDEIKIS: Not since Midnight Express.
This is for the entire cast, what were your favorite scenes to shoot?
THURBER: Striptease, right Jen?
ANISTON: Oh yeah, that was the best. I think the scene, I mean there were so many fun scenes, but Nick and Kathryn in that tent for me.
HAHN: Oh, that was fun.
ANISTON: That was really fun. And so was Pictionary.
SUDEIKIS: Pictionary was fun.
ANISTON: Anything with everybody is always really fun.
THURBER: I like when you guys were interviewing Scottie P.
SUDEIKIS: Oh, yeah.
THURBER: That was fun for me, I had a hard time not laughing for that.
SUDEIKIS: Yeah, and introducing Mark L. Young.
ANISTON: Mark L. Young
SUDEIKIS: I would say, yeah, the tent scene. I enjoyed our father and son scene. That’s scene right after Pictionary.
THURBER: That’s actually my favorite scene in the whole movie.
THURBER: Yeah, absolutely. The scene with you and Will after the kiss gone wrong.
ANISTON: Oh, thank you.
SUDEIKIS: You’re in it!
ANISTON: What’s your third favorite scene?
SUDEIKIS: Jen, you are in that scene.
ANISTON: I’m not in that scene.
SUDEIKIS: You are in that scene.
ANISTON: I’m not.
SUDEIKIS: At the very end of the scene after Will and I get a bunch of laughs we cut to you having watched me and you look at me and you think, and this is me just putting a thought in your head, I don’t know what you really thought, but I think you’re like, “Hey, alright.”
ANISTON: The armor got a little…
SUDEIKIS: Yeah, you let a little David in at that point.
ANISTON: Yeah, I did. It’s actually pivotal, you’re right.
SUDEIKIS: A lot of times that reaction would end up on the cutting room floor, but dammit you pulled it off and it’s in there. If anything I wish it was longer. [Laughs]
ANISTON: [laughs] Sorry, that was a very bad run.
This question is for Jennifer, what was the process of getting into the head and body of a stripper? Also she was a pretty angry stripper do you think she suffers from something many refer to as stripper rage?
ANISTON: She’s an angry stripper? I think she’s a sad stripper who sort of has built up this tough exterior from being disappointed many times throughout her life and making just some bad choices…bad men choices, decisions, and I thought of her as maybe a classically trained dancer at one point who didn’t quite make it, obviously. But the rage, I don’t know, I think rage is sadness turned outward. What is it?
SUDEIKIS: Yeah, that makes sense.
ANISTON: Something like that. But how did I get into it? I just really pretended…acted. I kind of saw it as just really hardened, not so much rageful.
How did you get into the body of the stripper?
ANISTON: Well I worked with this amazing choreographer and started learning some pretty crazy moves and it kind of just became easy. It was really fun actually. It was really fun. So I have a stripper pole in my house now.
Her video will be next right?
ANISTON: Me and Paris Hilton and Kate Hudson, yes. Sorry.
This question is for Jennifer and Jason. Normally when you’re doing a film you only have to play one role, but for this you had to play two and they’re very opposite rolls. How did you balance that out? And for everyone, you’re all really funny people so can you share your best behind the scenes story?
SUDEIKIS: I would say for me- literally the big distinction for me between David Miller and -is it David Clarke?
SUDEIKIS: And now it’s Burke. Yeah, we called him Denver David. The difference between Denver David and David Miller was how many buttons I had buttoned on my shirt.
ANISTON: That’s so true.
THURBER: That’s actually true.
SUDEIKIS: And that was literally how I made the distinction. When I was buttoned up that means there was somebody of authority around or just someone we had to pretend to be the part, whether it was the flight attendant or eventually Nick and Kathryn’s characters. Even going to the airport, anybody with a uniform. That would be two buttons, and one button would be when I was chilled out, relaxed, and more angry. That was the distinction. If you can see chest hair then I’m angry and if you can’t I’m annoyed. And those are my two moves.
ANISTON: It was just those horrible Capri pants and the awful eyelet blue shirt, and the popped collar. That was it.
SUDEIKIS: It does put you in a headspace.
ANISTON: It does. And those little Ked sneakers, it was pretty easy to go into Rose Miller just with the wardrobe. They always say it starts with your shoes.
Who says that?
SUDEIKIS: Probably Nike, Cole Haan.
SUDEIKIS: Yeah, Dave Reebok.
There have been a few references to the tent scene, the boob-grabbing scene. Jen, you’re the one who’s boob was grabbed, how do you get comfortable for a scene like that? Did it make a difference that you and Kathryn have worked together before and have a history?
ANISTON: All of it was completely 100% comfortable. Kosher. Totally easy. I wished it went on longer.
Did it make any difference that it was an actress who you know and have worked with before as opposed to someone you’re meeting for the first time?
ANISTON: I’m pretty easy, but no, that of course made it more comfortable.
HAHN: I actually think the gentlemen were a little bit more…I mean it was hilarious.
SUDEIKIS: No I put that on, I was fine.
Rawson, would you like to say something to wrap this up for us?
ANISTON: The movie opens August 7th.
THURBER: That’s a good way to start. The movie opens August 7th. I’m really proud of it. I think we made a movie that’s really funny, but also has enough heart to it so you care. I’m very proud of it. I feel really lucky to have worked with all these fine actors.