"For Your Consideration": Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy Probably Won't Read This

by | November 24, 2006 | Comments

"For Your Consideration" director Christopher Guest told RT he doesn’t read reviews, trade publications, or infotainment television. But he does make some darn funny movies with some of the most talented improv players around. Read on for snippets from the interview with Guest and co-scripter Eugene Levy.

On their one-day press stop in San Francisco a few weeks back, "For Your Consideration" co-writers Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy (both of whom also star) sat with a group of journalists to talk up the new ensemble pic, the latest in a successful run of quasi-improvised comedies ("Waiting For Guffman," "Best in Show," "A Mighty Wind").


Christopher Moynihan, Harry Shearer, Catherine O’Hara and Parker Posey on the set of the film-within-a-film, "Home for Purim"

Rotten Tomatoes was on hand with an assembly of fellow internet and newspaper writers, including among them a few overzealous fans of Guest and Levy’s filmography. Levy, popularly known as the dad from "American Pie," and Guest, infamously more straight-faced in person than any of his onscreen personas (a little more Harlan Pepper than Corky St. Clair), answered questions about their unusual filmmaking process, their talented cast of regulars, and their latest provocation of plastic surgery abuse in Hollywood. And of course, how about those Oscar prospects?


The Roundtable Begins

Q: What makes the creative form of scenario and improv so appealing?

Christopher Guest: Well, I think beginning with a film I worked on called "This is Spinal Tap" —

[Applause breaks in from nerd at table; CG surprised.]

Nerdly Journalist: Oh seriously, come on! Journalistic integrity is going out the window today.

CG: [Deadpan] Wow.

NJ: I was hoping Nigel was gonna be here, but that’s just me…

CG (continues): We really had a lot of fun doing that movie and it occurred to us that that particular format was something where we could…be funny, and when I did Waiting for Guffman, it occurred to me that maybe we could try that again. So we did three in that format; this one is a departure because it’s a narrative and it’s not done as documentary, but there’s something about improvisation — the spontaneity of it — which sparks the actors that we work with here, and there’s a different feel, the comedy is different. It’s fun.


Christopher Guest behind the scenes on the set of "FYC"

On Working the Press

Q: In FYC, of the many targets that you take on, this (junket) process is one of them. How do you feel about this process?

CG: Well, that’s come up. Obviously in the movie we don’t literally do junkets per se, but we do different interviews in the movie. As with anything, the people — you would notice that — but of course we’re talking about actors and managers and directors and producers and every possible person, talk show host…but this process, after the fact, is a very surreal one — especially since we just did this in the movie.

But I worked for two years on this film, and you talk about it five hundred times. And I have had people —- it’s obviously more fun to have people in a comedy movie asking stupid questions; if they’re asking intelligent questions, there’s not fun in the thing. Or Eugene playing a smart agent, there’s no fun. Or, you know, a good director.

So I have been in situations where you sit down, and you’ve worked hard on a movie, and the person will say, "What’s your favorite color?" And you think, you have to be kidding. There must be something else, just think of something else. And just a few months ago, one of the first interviews on this, it was a phoner, and someone said, "What was it like working on the movie?" "Oh, it was fun…" "Do you have any pets?" And I was really taken aback. "Well I do…" They had run out, they’d just run out, after one question, they’d run out of ideas. No one would believe this if you showed this in the movie, they’d think this is too, too stupid.

On Comedy

Q: When it comes down to it, is all comedy about failure?

CG: Well, it’s about versions of failure; as I was saying before, you don’t make comedies about people who do things well. Going back to silent films with Laurel and Hardy, they’re totally incompetent, each one thinks the other one’s stupid, they’re breaking things, they’re falling down, things are falling on them. There is no movie if they just move a piano and its just they move it and they deliver it and they leave. Something has to happen. So ultimately, I think that’s true, and in this case we want to go a step farther and in this film Catherine O’Hara — Catherine is one of not many actresses that can pull off both sides of this, where she’s incredibly funny but can also shift into an emotional area that surprises people and it’s just amazing, that transition. So I think there’s some poignancy at the end, which is very important.

Q: Tragedy is also about failure…

CG: Yeah, but it’s not funny!

So we’ve worked in comedy, and to be able to touch on both areas is more interesting to us than just a series of jokes and then you go home.


Actor Victor Allen Miller (Harry Shearer) and his agent, Morley Orfkin (Levy)

Guest, On His Filmmaking Style

Q: Do you just work on one thing at a time?

CG: Oh, no. I think most people do, most people — certainly film directors — have multiple things in development, ’cause things fall out and change. I can’t personally do that, I have one thing that I do, period. Other actors are working in different things until we do this, but I have one thing, there’s not a drawer filled with A, B, C. And I finish it, and typically people say, "What’s next?" And I say, "Nothing." And then they look at you like, "Well, what do you mean?" and I say, I need to take time to think what the next one is, which could be a year, and has been in the past.

Q: What is your shooting schedule like?

CG: 27 days. Which is so much less than a regular movie…obviously the schedule for a typical film can be 80 days, whatever…this is, they’ve all been, roughly within a few days of each other. But I edit for almost a year. So it’s almost the complete inverse; most people, they’ll be an assembly of a movie within a week after shooting a regular movie, and the director can look at it and they start their process which is much less time til the movie comes out.


Jane Lynch and Fred Willard skewer entertainment television as talking heads Cindy and Chuck

On Movie Critics and Hollywood

Q: Considering the depiction of the Love It/Hate It critics in the movie, what do you really think of movie critics? And do you read reviews of your own movies?

CG: I don’t read reviews, I don’t watch anything about show business, I don’t read any showbiz periodicals, I don’t read any calendar sections about anything, I don’t watch any showbiz shows. So that really was taken from, someone made a tape for me of a bunch of, a montage, of some other…things…and it’s not based on anything that exists. And I love the name of the show — cause that could be a show, very simple, Love it/hate it — but I don’t personally read those things.

NJ: In that culture of shows which you don’t watch — the snipey, who’s looking good on the red carpet kind of thing — the elephant in the room that nobody talks about is…plastic surgery in Hollywood, and you obviously take that on…

CG: That’s right. Yes.

[pause]

NJ: Are you worried about a backlash, or…?

CG: Meaning what, what would happen? Death? What would happen?

Eugene Levy: Some plastic surgeon is not gonna want to work on you…


On Oscar Nominations

Q: Are you guys smelling Oscar for this?

CG: Well there’s a good question.

NJ: Peter Travers of Rolling Stone mentioned Catherine [O’Hara] for an Oscar, and it’s kind of funny that it’s this little Oscar buzz movie with at least one prominent critic mentioning it.

EL: Well, that’s kind of what it is, that’s what it’s about. Somebody mentions a thing, and now you’re mentioning it, and it just perpetuates the–

CG: Until you said that, I wouldn’t have known that because I don’t read that, so it’s even weirder that we’ve made a movie about that but I don’t know…seriously, it’s weird, because I don’t go on the internet and start looking at things, I’m living in this strangely insulated…

EL: And somebody else mentioned as well, that there was an internet, uh…

CG: …and someone mentioned that you mentioned, actually, which is weird.

Click here to read the full interview.

Tag Cloud

Funimation Elton John OWN docuseries Showtime crime drama dexter VOD Schedule japan YA japanese LGBTQ Mary Tyler Moore spy thriller The Purge criterion kong golden globes critic resources Hulu Biopics Cosplay technology Creative Arts Emmys summer preview latino Walt Disney Pictures Extras DC Comics 2021 Captain marvel rom-coms Trailer Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Year in Review Disney Plus Comic Book BAFTA marvel cinematic universe ESPN renewed TV shows Adult Swim kids facebook films trailers Comic-Con@Home 2021 streamig 24 frames women Women's History Month USA sag awards strong female leads serial killer Mindy Kaling Oscars Freeform aapi monster movies parents thriller YouTube Premium archives all-time finale game of thrones Spring TV video on demand NBA 2017 Disney streaming service Baby Yoda vs. adventure Summer Amazon Prime sequels Pet Sematary stop motion Tokyo Olympics Mudbound universal monsters green book slashers indiana jones Winners Wes Anderson posters romantic comedy live event A&E award winner scary movies Bravo Exclusive Video Columbia Pictures anthology Writers Guild of America young adult 007 ABC Family batman WGN Box Office Amazon Prime Video South by Southwest Film Festival Star Wars french IFC obituary Opinion TLC worst Peacock San Diego Comic-Con Awards Tour ITV hidden camera dragons rotten movies we love 2016 Marvel Studios action-comedy Interview natural history richard e. Grant debate spanish CMT spider-man political drama die hard 99% Anna Paquin breaking bad Music new zealand genre travel obi wan RT History President quibi hispanic heritage month cancelled television TCA summer TV preview live action Sci-Fi Mystery MSNBC king arthur Cannes game show Marvel fast and furious television National Geographic supernatural witnail Marathons zero dark thirty TIFF 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards BET Amazon Tags: Comedy 71st Emmy Awards royal family IFC Films king kong satire Reality Competition PaleyFest police drama 90s TruTV crossover animated Comedy El Rey black BET Awards FX TV movies See It Skip It NBC children's TV cancelled Emmys heist movie Best Actor Alien werewolf Toys Britbox Animation Rock YouTube Red nbcuniversal cancelled TV series reviews Lifetime Christmas movies toronto interviews Red Carpet Discovery Channel Hallmark Fox Searchlight movie christmas movies TV SDCC australia versus Tubi APB Comedy Central PBS Spectrum Originals Photos Neflix romance new star wars movies Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt comic CNN feel good Winter TV NYCC cartoon The CW festivals Best Actress twilight Valentine's Day series Tumblr Food Network rotten Arrowverse mutant screen actors guild summer TV Black History Month scary The Academy cats Nat Geo Film hollywood Thanksgiving diversity 2019 RT21 Shudder dc Sundance Martial Arts A24 Fargo mission: impossible godzilla Teen Emmy Nominations asian-american based on movie DGA Disney nature international Acorn TV Kids & Family book TCA Awards Hallmark Christmas movies Grammys Image Comics revenge Pacific Islander classics crime HBO Max Fox News Song of Ice and Fire boxoffice video American Society of Cinematographers Family Christmas 1990s Cartoon Network SundanceTV mob Lifetime 73rd Emmy Awards Stephen King Character Guide ratings HBO laika discovery Awards Quiz Television Academy sequel Warner Bros. 45 Crackle wonder woman Certified Fresh nfl Ellie Kemper Black Mirror news Country E3 miniseries fresh telelvision GLAAD spanish language ABC Signature cooking psycho The Walking Dead CW Seed YouTube 93rd Oscars Endgame SXSW 2022 Starz war TV renewals canceled TV shows harry potter Lucasfilm SXSW Musicals emmy awards blaxploitation GIFs FXX mockumentary saw biography Holiday Avengers lord of the rings sports Prime Video cancelled TV shows FX on Hulu sopranos documentary transformers teaser blockbusters 79th Golden Globes Awards Heroines CBS LGBT south america disaster Apple TV+ Mary poppins what to watch name the review WarnerMedia marvel comics TCM 21st Century Fox singing competition comedies aliens pirates of the caribbean foreign spain Horror streaming movies HFPA worst movies screenings Pop Mary Poppins Returns dceu 2018 TV Land First Reviews Ghostbusters TBS The Walt Disney Company MCU Shondaland BBC Turner Classic Movies TCA 2017 james bond BBC One Broadway Universal trophy biopic MTV justice league dogs Masterpiece suspense hist Hollywood Foreign Press Association HBO Go 20th Century Fox a nightmare on elm street binge Best Director kaiju cars true crime olympics free movies leaderboard rt labs OneApp Drama Film Festival Tomatazos Pride Month 2015 vampires Fall TV superhero Reality ViacomCBS Paramount Network DC Universe slasher remakes E! Apple TV Plus Classic Film AMC Plus comic books halloween docudrama prank dark unscripted dramedy best DC streaming service Best and Worst X-Men Paramount Plus Musical deadpool Trivia Instagram Live Epix doctor who Universal Pictures politics chucky science fiction Academy Awards Video Games CBS All Access BBC America Chernobyl Infographic Nominations 4/20 VICE The Witch concert Dark Horse Comics Action venice zombie ABC scene in color Focus Features medical drama Binge Guide The Arrangement rt labs critics edition Western scorecard superman Spike Rocky Sundance Now Ovation historical drama robots Lionsgate black comedy Netflix Set visit Polls and Games Rom-Com rt archives Calendar psychological thriller Trophy Talk crime thriller comic book movies tv talk Rocketman History popular zombies new york Marvel Television comiccon IMDb TV USA Network adenture know your critic Pixar Paramount Sundance TV boxing Superheroe ID sitcom 72 Emmy Awards art house talk show independent blockbuster Best Picture Star Trek gangster Esquire Pirates Disney Channel canceled franchise cults cinemax Election comic book movie casting Countdown cops Disney+ Disney Plus stand-up comedy Legendary Sony Pictures razzies TCA Winter 2020 Crunchyroll child's play 94th Oscars reboot comics Premiere Dates directors Logo Nickelodeon anime broadcast elevated horror TV One Watching Series period drama composers Vudu social media Sneak Peek jurassic park Tarantino TNT spinoff Holidays stoner Amazon Studios toy story Netflix Christmas movies New York Comic Con theme song halloween tv spider-verse hispanic legend Fantasy Pop TV jamie lee curtis Paramount Pictures First Look Podcast joker Syfy documentaries mcc MGM adaptation festival basketball book adaptation football AMC movies target critics DirecTV Apple dreamworks GoT VH1 FOX italian ghosts PlayStation space streaming Superheroes Super Bowl Travel Channel Comics on TV Brie Larson Hear Us Out Television Critics Association high school golden globe awards indie 2020 Oscar Turner