By Fred Topel | Images property of Paramount Pictures.
Hot Rod Poster
Lorne Michaels has created many movie stars. The exposure and opportunity of Saturday Night Live has endured more than 30 years, and when he started producing movies for his TV stars in the '90s, many $20 million players were born. Hot Rod takes Andy Samberg from the current cast, with Jorma Taccone in a supporting role and Akiva Schaffer directing. Are they the magic trio?
Michaels on Samberg and Hot Rod
"I think it’s this idea, done that way," said Michaels. "I think when you’re choosing a director, because it’s all about choices, just the sheer physical task of it which is a grind and you want to make sure they have a physical but you want to know the choices and the intelligence behind it is one you want to work with because there’s a million choices along the way. If it’s not all of a piece, if it’s not all the same sensibility and taste, then the picture doesn’t know what it is kind of movie. What I thought was if we make a good one of those, I think there’ll be an audience for it."
Hot Rod may have involved more preproduction than most SNL movies. "When we were doing Wayne’s World, literally we were writing it the night before. We’d be writing scenes in my office at Paramount. We were shooting on the lot so it was [okay]. That, and that’s the way we were used to it at the show. I think in this one because it’s so much more elaborate, stunts and physical comedy, I think there was a lot more planning to do things."
Michaels let his filmmakers do their own thing once he puts the package together. "I was there I think three times. I sort of keep an eye on it. Being a producer on a movie set is watching paint dry. It’s just really good for morale. You want to show people that you’re engaged but if you’ve done your work properly and the script is right and the cast is right and the director knows what he’s doing, then I think it’s a straight supporting role and you come back into it in post. I mean, it has to stay on schedule and those kinds of things."
But Michaels did not have many of those such headaches either. "It was not as hard with the studio as it should have been because it’s a first time director and a first time movie star and it’s an expensive movie in the sense that it’s got stunts and as movie goes it’s not expensive but in that world it’s expensive. And they said, 'Well, if that’s what you want to do and so pulling the cast together' and we got lucky on a lot of things and then the experience of making it was just great. We were in Vancouver and you know the team on the picture aside from the people we brought were like Nick Powell who was the stunt coordinator who’s done Gladiator and Bourne Identity so we have that and Andrew Dunn who’s the cinematographer. It was like The A-Team so if Akiva said, 'How do we do this?' there was a really interesting solution to things and it was all in service of what is essentially a big dumb comedy."