When a big movie studio is willing to show a film months before its release, they know they have the goods. That was definitely the case when 20th Century Fox world premiered writer-director Paul Feig’s comedy Spy at this year’s SXSW Film Festival. The potential franchise-starter features Melissa McCarthy as Susan Cooper, a CIA analyst who goes into the field for the very first time after her partner (Jude Law) falls off the grid. Loaded with an all-star cast (Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Miranda Hart, Bobby Cannavale, Allison Janney, Peter Serafinowicz, and Morena Baccarin), one of the main reasons Spy is so great is that each supporting character has a moment to shine, and Statham completely knocks it out of the park in his first big studio comedy. During the premiere, the crowd was laughing so loud I missed lines of dialogue between Statham and McCarthy. Trust me, this is a very funny movie that you should definitely see in a theater when it’s released June 5th. For more on Spy, read Perri’s review or watch the trailers.
Shortly before the world premiere I spoke with Paul Feig in Austin. He talked about working with Jason Statham, how he was terrified to meet him, what he learned from the test screenings, marrying the action with the comedy, premiering at SXSW, and a lot more.
Here’s the interview followed by a list of what he talked about.
- :16 – “get ready” for Jason Statham to steal every scene he’s in.
- :25 – Says he 100% knew Statham would steal the show. Talks about how he became a fan of the actor; he knew he was funny when he saw Crank, and was always looking for the right project for him.
- 1:03 – Talks about how he was “terrified” to meet Statham and how he was a super nice guy.
- 1:40 – Did they meet before he started writing the film?
- 2:06 – How much did he test Statham’s ability to do stunts in the film? Feig says he did a lot of stuff, but Melissa McCarthy has most of the action in the film.
- 2:40 – What did he learn from the test screenings? Says he relies on test screenings and doesn’t do “friends and family” screenings.
- 3:11 – Says this was a movie that scored high on the very first test screening and how he wasn’t sure audiences would buy into it.
- 3:45 – Talks about marrying the action with the comedy.
- 4:18 – Says the audience responded positively to the first gag in the beginning, which the studio was hesitant about. Calls all the tests screenings “shades of hugely reposeful”.
- 4:56 – Did the success of his recent films give him some power when he pitched the idea to the studio? Did it buy more creative freedom? Talks about how Fox was reluctant about the idea of a spy comedy.
- 4:58 – Says the studio really started to get it the very first day they started shooting.
- 6:31 – Talks about premiering at SXSW. Says they premiered Bridesmaids at the festival to some negative responses, but still had a positive experience at the festival.
- 7:54 – Talks about why he loves the audience at SXSW and why it’s a good festival for comedy.