A couple week ago, I got the chance to interview Topher Grace and Teresa Palmer about their new movie Take Me Home Tonight. The two were on a press tour promoting the film and I got to speak with them at Whiskey Park inside the Midtown W. Hotel in Atlanta. Grace and Palmer have terrific chemistry in the film and I got to see that chemistry in person. They spoke about taking the film around the country, sang each other’s praises, revealed some of the deleted scenes that will be on the Blu-ray, and reflected fondly about the music video where they spoofed 80s movies. Take Me Home Tonight also marks Grace’s first film as a producer and I asked him what he had learned from the experience.
Hit the jump to check out the interview. Take Me Home Tonight opens Friday.
TOPHER GRACE: Good. There’s two good pieces of news if they want to put you on a tour like this, besides the bad piece of news that you’re having the same conversation a lot of times. One good thing is that, the studio believes in it and they want to pay for you to travel. And the other good piece of news is that they want to show people the film. I mean, you know that thing where they’re like, “Come review it the Monday after it opens!” and what that means. But we’ve been showing it to lots of different kinds of people and it’s getting a great response, but when we show it to college audiences, it’s like, we made it for that age group. So everyone’s very vocal, it’s like a loud reception. It’s always great.
And what’s been the toughest part other than getting the same questions over and over again?
GRACE: It’s just flying every day. It’s like, you’re gonna get sick. I mean, Russian roulette. The Russian roulette-ness of it is, you pull the trigger enough times, if you’re on enough airplanes in a row…
TERESA PALMER: And the turnaround the other night. We had a five hour turnaround the other night. So we got back to the hotel at 1:30 AM, we were up at 6:30. So it was really intense.
GRACE: But all that being said, even though I’m a producer on it, when the film stinks you don’t want to be doing this. And when it’s good, you want to be and it’s your business.
PALMER: Because you’re passionate about it.
Topher, this is your first time working as a producer on a film. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you had started?
GRACE: Well, basically, if you make a kid’s movie, you’re going to be fine. In “Hard R” there’s a lot of cocaine, nudity. Have you seen the film?
GRACE: Yeah, you know, especially a bunch of twenty-somethings doing coke, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride. On the flip side, if you get over that hump, it’s a beautiful thing because not many people can. And certainly we feel like we’re the first movie that’s made about the 80s. There’ve been movies made in the 80s, but the first movie that’s made about a decade that isn’t spoofing it. We’re really trying to make it like one of those…
PALMER: An authentic 80s film.
GRACE: Yeah, almost like you went back in time and we filmed it there, at the time when John Hughes was making films and Cameron Crowe was making those films in the 80s. Like Dazed and Confused was 90s for the 70s, or American Graffiti was the 70s for the 50s. That hadn’t happened yet. So we wanted to be the first ones to make the movie where some guy’s not holding a giant brick cellphone, going, “How small is this phone?” Because that just implies, you know what I mean, or whatever all the jokes are. Some of the people we’ve been talking to have been talking like, “Where were they when the movie was shot or was meant to be shot?” Most of the time, when people go back to the 80s in films or on TV, you know in Friends when they flash back to the 80s, you go, “That’s like, some farcical land that didn’t really exist.” Although people did have those weird haircuts, it wasn’t everyone had Flock of Seagulls haircuts. It would look, actually, surprisingly…well this place [referring to the decor of Whiskey Park] wouldn’t.
PALMER: This is art from the future.
GRACE: But most places would look pretty much exactly the same. I think if someone actually went back in time, you wouldn’t notice for a little while. So we wanted to be that kind of movie where it’s literally like we made it in the studio system in the 80s.
When you’re preparing for a movie like this, what do you use as research? Do you try to not look at movies in the 80s?
GRACE: I think it’s the opposite. It’s as much genre travel as it is time travel.
PALMER: I think for me it was really beneficial because I was born in the 80s so I didn’t really know too much about that time. I just had to immerse myself in that period and I did that, actually, with the help of Topher. He provided all of the cast a little 80s packet of 80s films, John Hughes movies, a Phoebe Cates poster.
GRACE: She’s the only one that got a Phoebe Cates poster.
PALMER: Yeah, am I the only one who got that? Yeah.
GRACE: Everyone got stuff that was specific to them. There was a Less Than Zero in Dan (Fogler)’s box.
PALMER: And my 80s music. So, for me my whole 80s education was in the first two days that I arrived in Arizona to start shooting the movie. I just sat down and watched 80s movie after 80s movie. By the end, I was kind of 80s out.
GRACE: Here’s what nobody knows about Tess. I mean, a few people in Australia know. There’s no way anyone could know this, because she’s about to have an action film come out, I Am Number Four, a sci-fi action movie. Then she’s going to have a kind of character piece comedy come out. And that’s almost the full gamut, the full spectrum you can run. She’s excellent in both, and this is going to be one of those interview where you, like in twenty years, are like, “I was there.” You know what I mean?
People talk about like, “I was like meeting with Angelina Jolie in a fucking café somewhere and it’s like she was like a normal person. And now, I mean, look at her!”
That’s what people don’t know. And I mean that, almost not as a compliment. It’s like, your destiny. Look, it’s great that she’s super good looking. That was really a requirement for the role, to be honest. But then on top of it, she has a very tricky task in the movie which is…the audience, you don’t know her. And Matt [Grace], the protagonist, doesn’t know her. If Matt is the audience, he doesn’t know the character, Tori [Teresa Palmer] for the first half of the movie.
It’s kind of like what Matt has…more like a classic 80s heroine where Matt kind of is obsessed with her and has put her on a pedestal. He doesn’t even call her Tori Frederking, he calls her The Frederking. He’s really objectifying her. And then about half way through, they get together and start talking on the way to that party and they have these deep conversations. The audience gets way closer to her as Matt gets way closer to her. I think they actually are more sympathetic towards Tori at the end of the movie than they are towards Matt. And that’s a really tough trick for an actress, especially a relatively new actress, because I think some would either…and we wanted it to be a new actress so that you didn’t know where it was going in terms of…you know, if you used Rachel McAdams, you’d go, “I already have a preexisting relationship with Rachel.”
But I think the audience, in this…most girls would either be too frosty and you couldn’t make that connection later in the film or would have too much of a need to be liked at the beginning. And it’s great. Tez played it just perfectly where you get the right information and feeling about the character as it goes towards the end, where she’s now one of the main characters of the film.
PALMER: Um, Topher…I would say…
GRACE: She’s like, “And Topher is very…punctual.”
PALMER: I’m really close to Topher. We’ve been friends since this movie. He really has figured out how to live his life in the best possible way. He is so rich in his personal life and with his friends and his family. He holds them so dear to him. And I think that he manages to strike the perfect balance between living a normal life and then also being a very famous movie star who’s so talented in everything that he does. He’s also a very good friend. He’s so loyal to all of his friends. He’s always there no matter how busy he is. He always takes time out to sit down with them and catch up and give advice. I grew so much in LA and in Hollywood because I had Topher next to me as my friend teaching me how to figure it all out. That was a blessing for me.
GRACE: Thank you! What a nice question.
PALMER: I know! It was really nice.
GRACE: Oh, thanks man. Did that go up on Collider?
Yes it did! And I was wondering, what was your favorite dress-up?
GRACE: That’s the most fun I’ve ever had in two days in my life. We had such a blast making that, man. We all had this leftover energy, frustrated energy from not being able to spoof the 80s at all. We then wanted to get it all out as kind of an appetizer to the movie.
PALMER: I loved Ghostbusters. I loved that I was picked to be a part of that reference. It’s not typical. You wouldn’t really expect me to be one of the Ghostbusters. But I loved that movie so much and I had fun with that. And it was just nice getting the gang back together. We hadn’t seen each other in a little bit and everyone came and was so passionate about what we were doing. Yeah, we got very nostalgic, I think, for that time when we were shooting this movie.
GRACE: I loved Teen Wolf. Loved doing Ghost with Anna (Faris). She’s such a great comedienne. I liked to be able…
PALMER: She’s amazing.
GRACE: And by the way, she’s good at spoofs. She actually happens to be kind of the most dramatic person in our film, with what she’s going through. But, weirdly, like from the Scary Movie movies, everyone knows how great she is at that stuff. When we did Dirty Dancing together, I was like, “Oh man, I’m going to enjoy this.” It was fun. She will really just go there. She is full commitment.
Do you guys have any deleted scenes that are planning to be on the Blu-ray?
GRACE: Oh yeah. We have a lot of great deleted scenes. The best is Bob Odenkirk, who, unfortunately, his scene was clipped from the movie. Having nothing to do with him, he’s amazing. I don’t know if you know Mr. Show at all?
Oh yeah. I love him and I love him on Breaking Bad, as well.
GRACE: Yeah, he’s amazing. Unfortunately the first act was too long. It’s almost like we wanted to cut one of my scenes to put him in there, but mine was more integral to the plot. So we put the longest possible version of the scene in the deleted scenes.
PALMER: He’s brilliant in this scene. Just genius.
GRACE: He’s so great. It’s weird because he’s still in the movie. I called him about it and said, “I’m so sorry. You came all the way out there,” and he said, “No big deal.” He doesn’t even care, he’s such a genius.
And then there’s a great thing we do with Demetri (Martin), because Demetri improvs so much of his character. And there’s so much we couldn’t use. In the Redband, by the way, that’s not even in the movie, when he says, “I’m waist deep in pussy.” It’s a great line. He just has tons of stuff like that. So with him, because none of it was chronological, we just have…you know when they go *beep* and it takes it back? We just have all of his takes. I was cracking up in it. One of them he goes, “I didn’t even have anything I wanted to do. Minus parasailing, but whatever.” He’s so great. And it’s all…you can see he’s doing it, he’s really coming up with it on the spot. He’s a brilliant guy. So I’m really psyched about those.
GRACE: You know how I’m sitting here talking about Anna and Tez and Demetri and Dan, who’s the break-out of the movie. That guy kills it. I had had that want, or that appetite, to work with my peer group. I love that I’m going to work with Dennis Quaid. I just did a movie with Richard Gere. I love working with people who can teach me, because they’re masters of the same business I’m in. But, I was feeling like, I wish I was around… Love everything about the Brat Pack. But I do love that there was a time where people were giving young people movies that had drama and comedy. Those movies just don’t exist any more. And I wanted to be there at the nexus of…
What happened was, I was saying this to my producing partner and he said, “Well think about Dazed and Confused and American Graffiti.” So Dazed and Confused has Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Renee Zellwegger, Parker Posey, Milla Jovovich, etc. And it’s not a coincidence, because American Graffiti has Harrison Ford, Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, one of our producers, Cindy Williams, Suzanne Somers. Who am I leaving out, you know what I mean? You see this Vanity Fair pictures of get togethers, reunions of the cast and you’re like, “Oh my God, what happened after?”
So that’s when we matched those two ideas up together. Because we thought, if we went back the same amount of time those movies went back, it would land in when John Hughes was actually making films. And then we wanted to have some Less Than Zero, some Fast Times (at Ridgemont High), Say Anything, you know, kind of all of it, a “best of.” That really highlighted for us, okay, this can’t be a spoof. The music can’t be “Rock Me, Amadeus.” It can’t be the cellphone joke. Just to be like, what if we really went back there. I love both of those type of movies, so doing both in one was kind of our original idea.
And then my dream came true. Did you read that Saturday Night Live book? Someone’s at a bar and they’re hanging out with like Belushi, and Bill Murray and then Gilda Radner walks up. And we’d all go to this IHOP, because we’d shoot all night, so IHOP was the only place we’d have dinner, because it was open, at six in the morning. To see Anna Faris and Dan Fogler doing a bit, and then Demetri Martin walks in, I’m like, “I’m here.” Everyone is a $20 million movie star in this movie, just 10 years from now.