Everyman Pictures, Gary Sanchez Productions, Warner Bros. Pictures' Comedy directed by Jay Roach starring Will Ferrell "Cam Brady", Zach Galifianakis "Marty Huggins", Jason Sudeikis "Mitch", Katherine LaNasa "Rose Brady", Dylan McDermott "Tim Wattley", John Lithgow "Glen Motch", Dan Aykroyd "Wade Motch", Brian Cox "Raymond". Writers: Chris Henchy & Shawn Harwell. Producers: Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Jay Roach, Zach Galifianakis. Composer: Theodore Shapiro. RELEASE DATES: 12 SEPTEMBER (FRANCE) / 10 AUGUST 2012 (USA)
It’s fair to say that Cam Brady’s hair is a character in The Campaign. While Galifianakis is channeling the Holy Spirit, Will Ferrell is preparing for a scene of seduction on a suburban kitchen set, which begins and ends with getting his hair styled just right. “Cam is always asking everyone, ‘How’s my hair?’” Ferrell tells us, with not a hair out of place. “And the answer is always, ‘Strong. Real strong.’ We literally re-shot an entire speech the other day because the wind was blowing,” he laughs. “My hair looked too crazy and that wouldn’t work for Cam.” When Marty enters the race, Cam is “in cruise control,” says Adam McKay, “but then he messes up extra badly, and leaves an offensive message on a wholesome family's answering machine, thinking it’s his mistress’ number. And for the first time he's vulnerable.” On tap is a scene in which Cam pays a visit to Marty’s house in an effort to seduce his sweet wife, Mitzi, played by Sarah Baker (TV’s Modern Family) while catching the whole thing on a hidden cell-phone camera. “Cam’s pretty morally corrupt,” Ferrell explains, a quality that is exacerbated when he’s forced to defend his seat in Congress. “Cam thought he would just roll into a fifth consecutive term since he’s used to running unopposed. Vice president is the height of his aspiration. President would be too much work. He’s a political creature. You do see glimpses that he is a little more human behind the scenes, but, for the most part, my character is the one who wants it so badly, it controls his whole life.” In person, Ferrell has a relaxed, easy humor and the quick wit that carried him from 11 seasons of Saturday Night Live to worldwide acclaim for his performances in hits like Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Elf. Though he mined the world of politics for his one-man performance You’re Welcome, America: A Final Night with George W. Bush, bringing fictional politician Cam Brady to life has been a challenge the actor has relished. “What I like about the character is what I love about the movie,” Ferrell says. “We’ve been able to just make fun of the fertile ground that is modern day politics. I love just never answering a question with statements like, ‘Thank you so much for that question. I really appreciate you. Carving out fifteen minutes of your day to come down here and speak face-to-face means a lot to me and the people that you report to. And you should feel good about that.’ It’s just so fun to speak in those kinds of speech patterns.” Screenwriter/executive producer Chris Henchy adds that Cam’s fluency with political double-speak comes in handy in speeches and debates. “Cam Brady is amazing,” notes Henchy, who is partners in Gary Sanchez Productions with fellow producers Ferrell and McKay. “He has a lot of catchphrases that he sprinkles everywhere. One is ‘Support our Troops.’ Who can deny that? He can deflate any situation with it. Another is ‘Cam Brady 0-12,’ which makes no sense at all.” And what better time than now—in the midst of the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign season—to poke fun at the inherent ridiculousness of political campaigns. Ferrell notes, “When we initially sat down and constructed this idea, we just thought, ‘Boy, this would be a great opportunity to comment on everything that’s happening.’ Little did we know that we’d be in the midst of the craziest political season we’ve probably ever had on record. The only thing we’re worried about now is if our movie is crazy enough!” But the actor is quick to point out that while the comedy is absurd and hilarious, the director kept it grounded in truth. “Jay brought all of his experience from the legit political movies he’s done with Game Change and Recount, so, in terms of the shot composition and scope, it has the feel of an epic political movie,” he says. “We played it totally straight. We keep our feet on the ground for the most part, and then we kind of take license with political ads. There are moments where, for the sake of comedy, we take some big swings with stuff but for the most part we stay pretty close to reality. This is an abstract in a way, like Anchorman, but it’s all played really real and awesome.” It’s now after lunch and Zach Galifianakis has changed into Marty’s usual turtleneck and slacks look. With Marty’s moustache rather than Galifianakis’s trademark beard, “No one recognizes me,” the actor smiles, “so that’s really great.” Galifianakis radiates an oddball charm as Marty Huggins, the director of the Tourism Center in his sleepy hometown, which averages about four tourists a year. “Marty is the black sheep of this political family,” he explains. “He’s been ostracized, but gets plucked out of obscurity because political puppeteers decide to cash in on the Huggins family name, thinking that it will help the political cause. Marty wants to get the attention of his father, and to get in good graces with his family.” Prior to being recruited for office, Marty’s professional ambition never extended beyond driving the local, largely empty tour bus and hanging out with his adorable pug dogs. “He’s actually really sweet,” Galifianakis explains, “but in the process of becoming a candidate, he becomes a little bit polished. If someone plucks you out of obscurity, you kind of start believing the hype, and Marty does that. I think, to a certain extent, some of these politicians that are plucked out of obscurity do start believing the hype, and that’s part of the problem.” Galifianakis drew inspiration for Marty Huggins from a character he developed in high school in North Carolina, where he grew up. “Zach's a really good actor,” comments McKay. “He knew guys in the South that are sort of like Marty, so he found a way to ground him, and once he found that grounding it became a very believable character.” The result, says Roach, defies comparison to any politician in particular. “Zach’s body language—everything about him—is unique,” Roach says. “So when you look at Marty Huggins, his character isn’t derived from any particular person; it’s his creation.” Galifianakas previously worked with Roach on Dinner for Schmucks and appreciates the atmosphere the director creates on set. “Jay wants the input from everybody, not just the actors,” he says. “He wants it from the crew too. He’s a real gentleman. It’s very comforting when your director is like that. No one walks on pins and needles. Jay is just a hard worker and he’s very, very gracious to people. He doesn’t laugh that much, but when he does, it’s a good laugh; it’s rewarding.” It’s later in the day and the clouds have opened up and are now hammering the little soundstage with rain. Inside, the suburban kitchen set has been prepped, and Sarah Baker as Mitzi is on her mark—sitting at the kitchen table in a rare moment of rest—when there’s a knock at the front door. Mitzi puts out the cigarette, sprays air freshener and goes running for the door. Having come up through improv groups like The Groundlings, the actress is somewhat prepared for working with the likes of Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis, but still finds one thing challenging. “There are certain times when it’s almost impossible not to laugh, but I try not to,” she says. “The first thing we did for this scene was just a shot of Will coming to the door. I was laughing because he’s so funny, but I was like, ‘Oh, I have to participate in this scene! I can’t just sit back and enjoy.’ You do have to dive into it. But there are certain moments where you just can’t bear it and have to laugh because these guys are so freaking funny.” With Ferrell and Galifianakis in the leads, the film has drawn a wide-ranging cast of actors, including Saturday Night Live alum Jason Sudeikis (Horrible Bosses) as Cam’s political advisor, Mitch. “He’s the smarter version of Cam in a way, but he's still not that smart,” Ferrell laughs. “Jason and I worked together that first week and right away it felt like we had a relationship. It felt like two characters who had been with each other through the trenches, just because Jason was so comfortable stepping in there. I think he's so funny and a great guy. It was fun working with him.” On Marty’s side is political operative Tim Wattley, played by Dylan McDermott (The Perks of Being a Wallflower). “Political operatives and consultants are like samurai warriors,” Roach explains. “Tim Wattley is a dark, Rasputin-like character—like an assassin who just happens to be a political consultant. And Dylan is great in the film. He brings some odd chemistry to the mix, which is exactly what we wanted.” The film also features veteran actors John Lithgow (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The World According to Garp) and Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters, Blues Brothers) as the devious billionaire Motch brothers, and Brian Cox (Manhunter, L.I.E.) as Marty’s perpetually disappointed father. Katherine LaNasa (TV's Big Love) plays Cam's aggressive, ladder-climbing wife, Rose. “We’ve gotten really lucky with this cast,” Roach says. “The writers—Chris Henchy and Shawn Harwell—are all really funny. A good, funny script attracts the best cast. And when people hear that Will and Zach are getting together to do a movie, about something political, they want to be involved. So, the cast we have is fantastic.” The propensity of the writers and actors involved to ad-lib and try new things took root in the script phase, where multiple passes evolved to incorporate everybody’s ideas. “Our creative process is a mixture of inviting chaos and inviting ideas,” Chris Henchy explains. “You start with one idea and you want to top it—‘Surely we can beat this.’ In drama, you can get a sense of what the story should be. There’s a certain click—that’s funny, that’s suspenseful, that moves the story. But in comedy, it’s like ‘That’s funny, right?’ ‘Yeah, it’s hilarious.’ Or ‘Maybe it’s not so great.’ ‘Yeah, I hate it, let’s move on,’ and you’ll think of something else. That’s literally the rise and fall of a joke. The mortality rate can be really high, not unlike political candidates.” While Ferrell’s and Galifianakis’s movies helped make improv the norm for edgy comedies, the powerful satire of The Campaign is rooted in a strong script. “Improv becomes the headline a lot of times, but I think that discounts the writing going into the process,” Ferrell notes. “Jay got us to New Orleans two weeks before filming, and we sat down every day, went through every scene, rehearsed them, and figured out what was working. Sometimes we’d come up with additional lines, which Chris Henchy wrote down. We had a whole other playbook of alternate scenes that we could just open up and use if the original wasn’t working. That means that between the scenes we already had and what we came up with on the spot, we sometimes shoot some long days.” The reward for everyone was sometimes exactly the thing Sarah Baker told us she was trying to avoid. “Yeah,” Ferrell confesses, “the times I’ve gotten Zach to laugh are high water marks for me. And that’s usually the goal. It’ll probably never make it in the movie, but to try to make each other laugh is usually the most fun.” Turnabout is fair play, but, says Galifianakis, “Will is more disciplined, I think, because of that Saturday Night Live background where to laugh is a big no-no. I think he prided himself on not laughing, because he was always a really good straight man on that show, even if he was doing the goofiest things.”
THE CAMPAIGN Everyman Pictures, Gary Sanchez Productions, Warner Bros. Pictures' Comedy directed by Jay Roach starring Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis.
ZACH GALIFIANAKIS as Marty Huggins and WILL FERRELL as Cam Brady in Warner Bros. Pictures' comedy "THE CAMPAIGN," a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
But making people laugh when they’re not supposed to, he adds, is “the greatest sensation. Here, you’re not supposed to laugh, and when you do, it’s just this great relief. Will had me crying the other night because I was laughing so hard.” Working with Jay Roach helped the writers maintain their focus on creating a well-rounded story. “Jay is definitely a ‘story first’ director,” Harwell attests. “He pushed us really hard to make sure everything made real sense, that we were getting the most emotional payoff, and then find ways to get comedy out of that. It really helped, to tell a complete story that is not just a throw-away gag and these characters aren’t just caricatures of politicians. Hopefully they’ll feel very real and connected and extremely funny but grounded in a recognizable world.” Working with Ferrell and Galifianakis has been a dream for Harwell. “Zach and Will are obviously two of the funniest guys working, and they’re also super nice, really smart guys,” he says. “Just knowing that is the ultimate safety net to have as a writer. It’s great to know that these guys can improvise—go off script and remain committed to their characters and to telling the story.” For the director, however, such a wealth of material and ideas can be a double-edged sword. “When you surround yourself with good ideas, once you’ve opened up the process to that level of discussion, it is very tough to say, ‘Okay, that’s good, let’s go onto the next scene,’” he explains. “Sometimes perfecting one thing can be the enemy of getting any traction on anything else. At some point, you have to will yourself to let it go and say, ‘Okay, I think that’s good.’ And then to convince everybody else that you really have it is also one of the hardest parts of directing. That moment from ‘Cut, print, we’ve got it,’ is the hardest thing by far. And I only get to do it because someone said, ‘You’re in charge.’ That’s what keeps me up at night. It’s, ‘Did I move on too fast? Should I have stayed and shot more?’ I mean, in comedy, it just kills you but you have to move forward.” Weeks from now, after principal photography has wrapped, Will Ferrell will still have one last rally to attend, and a different kind of adoring public to greet. Ferrell has been crowned New Orleans’ King of Bacchus XLIV, during the annual Krewe of Bacchus Mardi Gras parade. Resplendent in a red costume crisscrossed by gold sashes and topped off with a silver cape and matching crown, Ferrell will climb aboard an ornate pink and red float for a long ride through the city, where he will be toasted by the mayor and throw beads, coins and, in homage to his iconic Saturday Night Live skit, little cowbells to the throngs of fans and onlookers that line the parade route. “I don’t know what to expect,” the actor admits. “Everyone who has come up to me has said, ‘Oh have you not been here for Mardi Gras?’ And I say, ‘No.’ And they pause. ‘Oh.’ It feels slightly ominous, like a fraternity hazing, but I think it’s going to be crazy and fun.” But even as he prepares to meet his loyal subjects, King Bacchus can’t entirely forget the character of the corrupt, idiotic congressman he’s spent the last three months perfecting. “If the crowd screams ‘Cam Brady, oh-twelve!’ Yeah, then they’ll definitely get some beads.” The Campaign will be released beginning August 10, 2012, from Warner Bros. Pictures.
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FILM CLIP #1 "It Was The Phone Call" (VOSTFR)
FILM CLIP #2 "Now's The Time To Put It On The Table" (VOSTFR)
FILM CLIP #3 "This Dog Has A Ton Of Fight" (VOSTFR)
FILM CLIP #4 "You Trying To Trash Talk Me?" (VOSTFR)
FILM CLIP #5 "That's My Baby To Kiss" (VOSTFR)
FILM CLIP #6 "The Lord's Prayer" (VOSTFR)