Q. What did you think of the script on a film about Butter when you received and what did you bring to your role?
Ashley Greene: When I received the script it the topic was a blast so I knew it was going to be good. They said basically look, it's about butter carving, it's a quirky, outrageous, brilliant script. I kind of went into it looking for a laugh and certainly got it. I thought all of the characters were really incredible and they kind of intertwined beautifully and they each had their own arc and I really liked that. I thought it was great that you could make a whole film centered around butter carving and make it hysterical and have it hit on so many different elements and so many different points. I loved it and I jumped on board.
Rob Corddry: When I get any script I immediately count my lines and then I count the dick jokes and there were no dick jokes and that was an eye brow raiser for me, an odd experience for me. I said well I'll be able to add some later. Actually, I was also aware of it from the black list and I had read it before and was very excited it was happening and no real thought went into it in terms of should I or shouldn't I.
Jim Field Smith: I loved the script and just felt very fortunate to be able to bring it to life because it is kind of an oddball movie and not a lot of people are making these kind of movies at all.
Ty Burrell: I will go out on a limb and say I also loved the script. As far as the character I felt like I've never played anybody this passive so that's probably kind of fun. I hadn't read anything like it and it was very funny and very different. To the role I brought donuts everyday for everyone.
Olivia Wilde: I loved the script from the moment I saw it and I wanted to fight for it. I was so thrilled when everybody else passed. I really loved it and I thought it was so funny and so smart, and when I heard all of these people were involved, I couldn't get to it fast enough.
Jennifer Garner: My producing partner Juliana and I got a hold of this script before it was even on the black list. I think the reason all of us are here is because the script let us, other than probably Ty, do something different than we've been asked or allowed to do before. That's why you have such an incredible cast and I loved that the kind of hero of the movie was going to be this unknown surrounded by all of us praise whores looking for a way to do something we haven't done or to stretch ourselves in some way. Really it comes down to this little lady (Yara), and little did I know we'd spend the next three corrupting this sweet child. We do our best, thank you Rob. Here she is.
Yara Shahidi: When I got the script my mommy read it first and then I read it but there were some parts I had to skip over because I was ten at the time. When I did read it I really loved it, when I saw it I had to skip over some parts, and I really loved it. Butter carving was something I had heard a year beforehand at the Minnesota State Fair and I thought it was fascinating. I never thought there would be a script about butter carving, it was one of the most absurd things I had heard of but I loved it. What I brought to it, I shipped in chocolates from L.A.
Q. For those of you who have learned to master the art of butter carving, I'd like to have you talk about the experience of training and how you'll apply it to your future efforts and experiences.
Jennifer Garner: We spent a day with one of the premiere food sculptors in America and his name is Jim Victor and he is known for carving anything. He can carve anything, he can carve cheese, pepperoni, chocolate. He makes his living from it and interestingly he has a very ambitious life. We all spent a day together with him.
Ty Burrell: I did a talk show with Jim Victor and I had a butter carving contest with him and I am going to say I won. He is in town and I got no better, I'm still the worst butter carver on earth. He truly is incredible. I think he had an hour to prepare these three cows he was carving this morning and it was ridiculous. He's amazing.
Olivia Wilde: I didn't have to actually carve anything. I did participate in the training though. I came and hung out and stuck my fingers in the butter. I made butter boobs though.
Yara Shahidi: With the butter, the day of training was really cool. I sent pictures to my class and I made a truck. When I was actually shooting it I learned that you really just need to let the people who know what they're doing do it for you and then teach you how to act like you're doing it.
Jim Field Smith: We had this guy Jim Victor who is actually a food sculptor show up and show the cast and we also had this amazing team of sculptors in L.A. who were actually building the sculptures in the movie, because believe it or not they are not actually made out of butter, spoiler alert! It was a combination of this guy Jim Victor and these incredibly talented sculptors in L.A. who made the sculptures themselves out of foam and then coated them in this wax that was actually called butter wax which was a total coincidence. That enabled the actors to actually interact with the sculptures on set.
Q. For Jennifer and Olivia, how you got in touch with your inner bitches for the roles, and could you relate to them through their passion or rivalry?
Olivia Wilde: I thought Brooke was such a smart character, I was really excited to play her. I didn't see her as a bitch and it was not easy to be cruel and bitchy to Jen Garner. It is not something I would ever do in real life but it was so much fun. Just playing her was so much fun, and like Jen said, it was something I hadn't been able to do before, to play this type of character. I just thought she was the most fun. It's absolutely my favorite role hands down and I would absolutely do ten sequels.
Jennifer Garner: I play a lot of pretty, girl next door kinds of characters and I am a girl next door in real life and I am sick of myself. I am so over it. This to me was heaven on Earth, except that she is not to be emulated in any way because she's a heinous person. But as far as relating to the ambition and the competitiveness I think it stretches it for me, I don't think that I am ambitious in this way really. I will tell you this, there is a moment in the movie where Olivia Wilde looks at me and goes, "I'm going to cut you," and every time she did it, I kid you not, I had a fight or flight thing in my body where I felt like I wanted to run and she was terrifying. She was terrifying. She may say it was really hard for me, but she went right for it!
Olivia Wilde: Your reaction was totally real. I think that was our first day of shooting and that really set the tone.
Q. Jennifer, there was a review in the Village Voice saying this movie presented these characters as stand-ins for Barack Obama and Sarah Palin. What are your thoughts on that and what have you observed in your own personal experience about this presidential campaign that made you appreciate the satire in the film?
Jennifer Garner: Jason, did you see it as Barack and Sarah Palin?
Jason Micallef: The specific people are not really important, I think what's important is that they are representative of certain ideologies. I've read so many different people Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin, and Hilary Clinton. When I wrote it I had no idea who Sarah Palin was, she was just a governor in Alaska. What's more important is not the specific people, but to me Jennifer's character represents the conservative ideology and Yara's character represents more of the liberal ideology What we've found with the movie is that both sides really love it because, I think while Jennifer plays the villain, she sort of comes around in the end. I think that her character sort of is a character that, to me, most conservatives in the country feel that the country was great and is now going in the wrong direction and perhaps liberals may be represented by Yara's character feel that the country is one way and could be better. Whether you agree with either of those isn't the issue, it's just that's how I sort of tracked those two character arcs. With Jen's character she feels like things are being taken from her, the title of butter queen thing or her sexuality which is represented in the character that Olivia plays, Brooke, that's how I approached it. The specific people are not important.
Jennifer Garner: When we made it, it was much more than watching any politician. The people I obsessed over watching were in Iowa and Kansas, middle of the country beauty queens and first ladies. I watched them on YouTube for hours. Kind of everyone's self righteousness about it and everyone's absolute just faith and belief that there is one side of the story and it was their side.
Jim Field Smith: When I read the script I read it very much as a non American, I read it as an outsider. I spent a lot of time in America and all over the country. I really saw it first and foremost as this smart, weird, and outrageous comedy and also saw it as not being specific to one person, but being about politics as a whole. There are many themes that are just as relevant to the politics in the UK, Europe, Australia and all over the place. As Jason and Jennifer said, it very much is looking at ideologies rather than character types. So rather than us having sort of a sniper rifle and picking off people we just kind of carpet bombed people.
Q. Where do you see the film landing in the market and who you were aiming for?
Jason Micallef: As a writer I just write the story as I write it and other people shape it into the way it works for the market. It was a story that I thought was interesting. I have nieces and nephews that are fifteen and will see this. For me, the question of how do you have this character I love Brooke, you can't have stripper not swear, it's not right. I just write the story I write and other people handle that.
Q. All of these characters have this dark side, Jason what was it like crafting these characters and their dark sides and justifying their actions?
Jason Micallef: I don't think of them as being that bad. Jen's character, who I love, and I love what she did with it because she added so much more. To me what I like about that is I'd get behind her. I know she's the villain but I totally understand what she does in that. She kind of goes off the rails but her husband is kind of a bad word to her and I feel like it's understanding. I feel like people do all kind of stuff in real life. Brooke is a stripper but I think she's one of the stellar people in the movie. I think she's a good person, she has a good sense of honor, someone owes her six hundred dollars and they should pay it. That's a great moral center. She gives that up for this little girl to win and it's just a matter of perspective.
Ty Burrell: I also think sometimes what you lose when you're trying to make a movie PG13 that's what gets lost, the dark side. You have an incomplete character and that's what fun about this movie, and doing movies like this, is you get to play the whole entirety of a person which is part of why so many of us loved the script.
Jason Micallef: This is just like Phil Dunphy when the cameras are off. You can't put that in "Modern Family."
Q. What do you think is about the film that will really resonate with the audiences going to see it?
Rob Corddry: Honestly that it's very, very funny. We talked a lot about the politics of it, but I might be embarrassing to admit I had no idea when I read this there was any satire involved at all. I just thought it was hilarious and had well written, perfectly constructed jokes. That's what I think is the most valuable thing about this movie, how hilarious it is.
Jim Field Smith: It's been interesting to see how it resonates with audiences and press because as Rob said, on set we were just having a great time making this really weird and funny comedy. So everyone comes and talks about the politics of it all and I think that's great and it's up to people to take away from the movie whatever they want to take away from it. If people want to say he's this guy and she's this person, that's cool, but that wasn't my driving ambition to make the film. I always just want to make things that are funny and have heart and have characters that yeah are down and dirty but also are relatable. I think weirdly Laura Pickler, and this is a huge amount down to Jen's portrayal of the character, is an incredibly relatable character. I know she's awful but she's driven by very understandable goals. She's a big fish in a small pond and she's about to have her life taken away from her. Actually she's doing a lot of things right, she's trying to keep her family together, she's trying to be a good mom to her step daughter played by Ashley. As Jason said it's kind of Bob who is the bad guy in the relationship and Jason very cleverly structured the movie in away that Jen's character is actually the hero and Destiny is the villain. You wouldn't necessarily think that to watch it, but that's kind of the classic movie structure and how it plays out. You're meant to sympathize with Laura Pickler, and I hope that comes across, you're meant to understand, not necessarily agree, but to understand why she does what she was.
Jason Micallef: Also people will go see it because Ashley and Olivia make out.
Ashley Greene: That's true, for a while.
Yara Shahidi: I've always wondered what it's like to be a villain in a movie, because I thought that was really interesting. It's sweet, it's crazy, it's funny, there are morals even, which I found surprising. I start getting these things now that I am older.
Q. Jennifer, can you talk about the non villainous side of your character and how at the end we're sort of liking her?
Jennifer Garner: Like Jim said, this is a woman who has structured her entire life to be the queen bee of her world. Whenever you have a movie about a certain world whether it's butter carving or bird watching or a cappella groups, whatever it is, everyone is ultimately very universal and Laura Pickler is no different. She is somebody who has fought like crazy, she's pushed her husband as hard as she can push him to be something that he doesn't necessarily want to be, which is why he has acted out probably the way he has. She has pushed him very hard to be the king of butter carving and when that is taken away from her she's losing her entire identity. There is nothing left, she's been at the top, so she has to go crazy to maintain her sense of self because she really is somebody who is on the brink, she's kind of losing it. She is trying to work as hard as she can the only way that she knows how. So if somebody gets in her way it just makes absolute sense to her to squash them.
Q. Can you talk about the scene where Destiny is in the car with Rob's character Ethan and she's having second thoughts about entering the competition? Can you talk about filming that?
Yara Shahidi: That was fun! They would say cut and then all of a sudden we would have a completely different scene with completely different thoughts completely different than what we were saying. It was really funny.
Rob Corddry: That was definitely my favorite scene to shoot because there was a lot of improv, but in a way that was so collaborative. Jim was throwing out a lot of lines, Jason was throwing out some lines, we were both coming up with lines. It was really fun to think of the scariest thing possible. Also it's just not hard to act with Yara, it's very easy to do a scene with her.
Jim Field Smith I think one of my great joys in making the movie was to have a cast, to the very last person, that was very much up for improvising and looking for ways to find more chemistry in a script that was already all there on the page. Often you're doing improv because you're like wow, this is bad, let's try and find something funny. This certainly wasn't the case. You always identify sections where you're like here we're going to have a little bit of fun and I really wanted to push the chemistry between Rob and Yara's characters and it was a lot of fun to shoot.
Jennifer Garner: We all competed with each other for Yara's attention.
Q. Can you speak to bizarre hobbies or passions that you all have?
Jennifer Garner: Clogging. I'm from West Virginia!
Q. Could you discuss some of the difficulties making the film?
Jim Field Smith: Not enough time, not enough money, not enough days in the week. Actors being called to Europe underneath a volcanic ash cloud. Shooting in ninety-five percent humidity in Louisiana was tough at times. One of the biggest challenges for me in pre-production was obviously how to do the butter sculptures and how to make it real. I was very keen to not feel like we dumped amazing sculptures there, I wanted it to feel like they were actually creating the sculptures. So we spent a lot of time working on stages with the sculptures and to shoot that was tough because you're trying to make it look legit, it is slightly heightened but you're trying to make it legit and try to make it look the characters you're seeing on screen are actually creating those things and you want to know why and you want to see the inspiration behind what they've created. I had a lot of fun working with Jason and the sculpting team on what those sculptures were and I wanted to pick things that were, like I said, very important to the characters. For example Laura carves a family dinner scene, to her that seems to be the most important sort of moral image that she wants to create. Whereas Destiny tends to create more emotional and slightly more symbolic things and that's very much a theme in the movie, that Laura tends to pick things that she thinks has to do with values and being an American and Destiny tends to pick things that are much more sort of from the heart and much more idealistic and that's kind of why Destiny seems to have the upper hand with the judges and audiences because she seems to pluck at the heart strings. In terms of challenges, that was definitely a real challenge.
Q. What advice do you have for aspiring actors?
Ty Burrell: Don't have any skills or the ability do anything else for a living.
Rob Corddry: That's true, because you will fall back on it. If you have to have a temp job or table waiting job or something like that to pay the bills, don't stay too long. Quit after a year or get yourself fired.
Jennifer Garner: Do anything you can to get credits on stage or however you can on student productions just to get a reel and to get credits at a theater and get the experience.
Yara Shahidi: Be yourself and don't let anything change about you.
Olivia Wilde: I think take risks and take your clothes off. Even if they don't ask. Leave your comfort zone.
Ashley Greene: I think it's about going outside of your comfort zone and not giving up. Kind of just always working and always moving forward and not allowing yourself to kind feel comfortable. Anywhere I think if you feel comfortable you're not doing your job and you're not where you're supposed to be because you should always kind of have an adrenaline rush, you should always be moving, always be doing something different.