Interview with Bruce Willis & Matthew Perry
Unlikely comic team hunts for variety in acting
"We just want to make people laugh."
This seems to be the rallying call for Bruce Willis and Matthew Perry's new film, "The Whole Ten Yards."
"We tried as hard as we could to just be goofy," Willis said in a phone interview. "There were very few rules about what these characters could do, and do to each other, and we just kind of went a little cuckoo."
The two actors are reuniting after the success of "The Whole Nine Yards" in 2000. The idea began among the actors at a press junket for the first film. Willis and Perry began to think about where the story of Jimmy "The Tulip" Tudeski (Willis) and Nicholas "Oz" Oseransky (Perry) would go after the movie ended.
The success of the first movie relied on the relationship between Oz and Jimmy, and thus Perry and Willis. Fortunately they are friends both on and off the set.
"Bruce and I just got lucky," Perry said. "We've got good chemistry between us, and I say that - and I'm as straight as they come - but I do have good chemistry with Mr. Bruce Willis."
The two did not really know each other before they met on the set of the first film, and they did not anticipate how well their comedic styles would compliment and further each other's.
Each has a genuine mutual respect for the comedic aptitude of the other. Evident in the first movie was Perry's flair for physical humor, which he also brings to the sequel. Some of the sequel is improvised, which requires comedic talent, anticipation and understanding of the other actors.
"We improvised a bunch of stuff in rehearsal, but it was always worked out after that," Willis said. "There are things that just happened on the set, accidentally, that are funny ... We know each other better, we learned so much about each other's comic timing on the first film. It was fun to kind of reload that and try and beat the first film, and try and be funnier and try and be more interesting, and have the film stand alone as an individual movie, if you hadn't seen the first film."
Interestingly enough, the movie has a new director and writer. Director Howard Deutsch, famous for "The Great Outdoors" and "Pretty in Pink," and writer George Gallo, who wrote "Midnight Run," joined the old crew.
"We tried to assemble the best team we could to make this movie funny," Willis said. "To [try and] make it watchable and interesting and whacky and irreverent, and I think we had a really great crew and a great gang."
Important to Perry and Willis was bringing back Kevin Pollak, most recognizable for his role as Lt. Sam Weinberg in "A Few Good Men." Pollak was very inventive with his portrayal of Lazlo Gogolak. For the movie, he had to endure hours of make-up and create a new dialogue. Willis is very enamored with Pollak's gift.
"He steals the movie," Willis said. "The hardest thing that we had to do on the set was do off-camera dialogue for Kevin's character, because he would just say something different every time, crack us up. [It was a] make-it-come-out-your-nose kind of laughing."
This movie comes at an interesting time in the careers for each of the actors. Perry has just finished playing the beloved Chandler Bing on the awesomely successful NBC sitcom "Friends." Despite starring in movies like "Serving Sara" and "Fools Rush In," it is still difficult for him to separate himself from his character on "Friends."
"I guess that's something that Bruce and I both have to struggle with, having done characters that people have taken into their hearts," Perry said. "It's our job, I guess, to change it up a little bit while still being funny and still being entertaining."
Perry's guest appearance on NBC's "The West Wing" last season shows his attempt to branch out into other genres.
"You kind of get typecast a little bit when you're on a show like 'Friends,'" Perry explained. "So, most people think of me just doing comedy, and what's fun about 'The Whole Nine Yards' and 'The Whole Ten Yards' is it's really slapstick and it's quite different than what 'Friends' is. And, yes, doing a few episodes of 'The West Wing,' trying to change it up a bit, because that's what actors try to do, is to try to show the world all the sides of you, which I didn't the bedroom scene with Bruce in this movie."
Willis has had much experience in different genres. His performances are rich in depth, ranging anywhere from Butch the prizefighter in Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" to Russell Duritz in Disney's "The Kid" (in which Perry made an appearance). It takes a gifted actor to make successful transitions from one role to another.
"It's fun to get suited up each time with a different set of acting muscles and try new things," Willis said. "That's why I keep doing it, because it's challenging. I want to be able to do my best and try to make people laugh, and at the same time, try to be interesting in a dramatic sense."
Willis is open to roles in all of these different areas and is interested in taking more comedic parts in the future.
"I always enjoy doing comedy and trying to do comedy," Willis said. "It's hard finding really funny stuff, or stuff that you can make work, but it is most definitely the hardest genre of films that I get to do."
Both men have different plans for this very open part of their careers. Willis is currently filming what is probably the last "Die Hard" movie, currently titled "Die Hard IV: Die Hardest."
"I wouldn't be surprised if it was the final appearance [of John McClane], as old as I'm getting," Willis said. "I mean, I don't know. I may do 'Die Hard' in a wheelchair."
Perry is currently in production on a new film with his father entitled "Beginning of Wisdom." He does hope to work with Willis in the future.
When it comes right down to it, Perry and Willis just want to make people laugh. They figure that if they can amuse each other, it will come across on the screen.
"Matthew and I both feel fortunate that we get to try to crack each other up," Willis concluded. "And get paid for it"