How to Lose Friends and Alienate People: Bob Weide Interview
We caught up with funny man Bob Weide, best know for helming hit US TV show Curb Your Enthusiasm, as he enlightened us on his feature film directorial debut; How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. Bob lets us in on his favourite member of the cast (a pig?), and his somewhat rocky relationship with the author of the novel that the film is based upon- Toby Young…
LOVEFiLM: How to Lose Friends… marks your feature film directorial debut, how different has it been to making your TV show Curb your Enthusiasm?
Bob Weide: Well you know it’s not that different from the TV show, as every day is a combination of things both positive and negative. Every morning that alarm would go off and there were two thoughts; the first one was always, ‘I can’t bear to get out of bed at five in the morning again; I’m just going to stay in bed today’. And the next thought was, ‘I get to go make my movie’, which was so exciting, and got my adrenaline pumping and got me out of bed.
LF: Did you feel at all intimidated as this was your first feature?
BW: I wasn’t intimidated at all, as I really felt I had honed what limited abilities I might have on the show (Curb). The transition from TV to film was negligible; if it existed at all. You know the bigger transition for me was going from a show were we just worked with outlines [of a script], to actually having a full script. I t sounds silly but I find having a script for a movie quite a convenience. I really liked being able to plan things a bit more in advance and to talk to actors about back story, motivation and character and all that which I never got to do on the TV show.
LF: Will there be another series of Curb Your Enthusiasm?
BW: Yeah in fact people keep asking me if there’s gonna be another season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, I think there is – I really love doing the show, but I’d really like to move on and do different things.
LF: Would you want to work with any of the cast from this film again in the future?
BW: No, none of them! Maybe the pig! The pig and the dog were ok; no trouble from them. No, this was truly a dream cast, and you know me and Simon (Pegg) are still mates, in fact even with the eight hour difference my wife will come into my room, in the morning I’ll be on the computer she’ll hear me giggling, and she’ll be like, ‘talking to your little British friend are you?’ – You know we’re like nine-year-olds with our computers!
LF: How did you get Jeff Bridges onboard?
BW: Jeff and I have actually been friendly for about 12 years and we’ve always talked about doing something together. So when I read the script I sent it to him saying, ‘I hope you like this because I think this could be our project’ and sure enough he did. Kirsten (Dunst) I actually worked with when she was thirteen, on a picture I wrote and produced. I stayed in touch with her and her mum for a little while and this was a sort of reunion. And Gillian… whether Gillian will work with me again I don’t know! It’s a cliché but even on nights off if we could all get to together for dinner as a unit and hang out some how we would always try to find a way – we enjoyed each others company.
LF: How did the script find its way to you?
BW: Well fortunately, because the producer Stephen Wooley, the script-writer Peter Straughan and even Toby Young were fans of Curb. I think they thought maybe the guy who directs Curb would be a good director for this. So that’s how I came to their attention. In my case it’s been two years and if you’re gonna spend two years on a project you better be in love with the material. Not everyone feels that way, to some people it’s just a job, but I really wanted to feel it was a movie I wanted to see as much as I wanted to make.
LF: Are you still talking to Toby Young – the author of the book – there were some interesting rumours about his antics on set?
BW: There were a few moments frankly where things got a little tense, but Toby understands the notion of ‘print the legend’ better than anybody for comic effect. I mean, that’s what he does for a living; he builds up this whole mythology about himself.
I have heard all kinds of fiction about this character who directed the film who happens to share my name! And all these stories about banning him from the set, and that I hired an armed guard to kill him off, and he wasn’t allowed to do screenings – that’s all rubbish!
The only time it really crossed the line to negative effect, was where he wrote this piece saying that Kirsten Dunst had banned him from the set, which never happened.
Kirsten did walk up to me on the first day of set and said Toby just gave me a note – which is bad set protocol. I said to Kirsten, ‘don’t worry about this it’s taken care of’. I was gonna reprimand Toby but he’d left by the time I had chance to pull him aside and talk to him. Then he sent me an email that night, after I had shown him one take of dailies in my trailer just out of courtesy, and he wrote me this big critique about it! So I basically suggested to him that he needn’t come to the set that he shouldn’t feel obligated, and then he stayed his distance.
He was never banned; but it was sort of like having a child on the set, you had to keep an eye on him. He then wrote this piece about Kirsten banning him from the set and that really upset me because the next day there was all this internet gossip about why Kirsten Dunst so insecure she can’t take a note from the writer, as though he had written the script or something.
Somehow it reflected poorly on Kirsten which was totally unfair. What Toby thought was a humorous story; other people took as actual journalism. That was my only issue with Toby.
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