Charlie Day, Tracy Morgan and Jillian Bell of the new film, 'Fist Fight,' sit down with the Niner Times to discuss the upcoming film
With “Fist Fight” hitting theaters on Feb. 17, the Niner Times got to sit down with three of the stars of the film, Charlie Day, Tracy Morgan and Jillian Bell to talk about the work behind the film and some insight into their own careers coming into the film.
All three of you are artists who primarily work in comedy. With “Fist Fight” being an original script, what is the first thing you look at in scripts that decide whether or not you’re going to be a part of a comedy? And what was it about Fist Fight that really brought into the project from the outset?
Day: For me, I just – I usually look at just the overall story. You know, am I interested in the story? And then I look at the character, do I like the character and think I can do something with it? And then when I read this script, it was exciting for me to get to play a guy was out in front of the movie – you know, the guy of the story. So that was exciting. And then I also like that I got to be a little be a more of a normal person, and to see in a sea of crazy. And then I got to fully unwind and do what I – maybe I’m more used to doing. So that’s it for me.
Morgan: It’s about the story, and if it scares me – so automatically coming from our situation, it frightened me to do a movie. I didn’t know if my comedy was back, I didn’t know if the confidence was there. And then Charlie and Jillian and Ice Cube and Richie Keen, they gave me the confidence and it was total support. So after we did a few takes, I knew everything was intact. I think – and I just forward, and it just became more and more fun for me and relaxed. So it got to a point where Richie Keen said “action,” that meant I heard “relax.” And most people when they’re doing a movie, when the director says “action,” they tense up and the start acting. For me it’s “relax,” and be yourself. And I got to do that, and I was really happy, and I’m so looking forward to it.
Bell: Like they said, it starts with the script, but I had heard the cast first and I was such of fan of every single person in this movie. So I was like well I’d be lucky, and I read it and it’s definitely the weirdest character I’ve ever been offered to play, and I love playing odd women. So it fit perfectly.
In all of the shows you guys have been on – or your main shows, like “30 Rock,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “Workaholics,” the names you use for your characters are your own names. Why is that? Is that just something that’s more comfortable for you or what?
Morgan: I didn’t want to be walking through the airport for the 10 years and people calling Boo-boo. That’s what they wanted to name me, Boo-boo Jordan. I didn’t want that.
Day: You know what, honestly, that was a reason why I did it too. Where when we were making that show, I was like, “Well, first of all, I don’t know, maybe we’ll get to do one season of this thing,” I was thinking, and then I was like, “If someone does ever stop me on the street and they yell ‘Hey Charlie!,” as far as I know, they’re a big fan of Charlie Day.
Bell: I do end up hugging more people than I should. Like I think that they know me. And I’m like, “How have you been?,” and they’re like “I’m great,” and I’m like, “Yes, totally.”
Day: Yes, because when they run up to and they go, “Hey Urkle!,” that’d get old.
Morgan: All of us chose this because that is how you become a household name in the household. Eddie Murphy taught me that my second year on SNL. When you do it, use your name and try not to wear a beard or anything, so you become a household name on your own merits and name.
Between all of you, you guys have a great TV resume. What’s it like going from TV to film and back and forth? What do you prefer? Do your roles on your TV shows influence how you’re cast in any other films you do?
Morgan: TV is a little bit more personable than movies. When you go see movies, you’re in there with strangers, you paid $15 and if they don’t like the movie, they can’t get their money back. But TV is something – in order to be in people’s homes and living rooms, they got to love you. To go to the movies, be in the movies, they got to really like you. But to be in their homes? You become a part of their family. Like, we are a part of people’s families because of TV because there’s a little bit more personable than movies.
Day: In terms of the acting, it’s no different for the acting.
Morgan: It’s a very – same muscle, but it’s a bit more personable. You in people’s homes for years, you become a part of their family. When “Good Times” was on, when JJ’s dad died, I felt like my father died. Because he was in my house.
Bell: I will say shooting though, the one difference that feels like a lot of movies don’t shoot where you live, so it feels like camp a little bit. Which is kind of fun. You sort of get away and you know, which you guys do. You sort of like, get to live somewhere else and surround yourself with new friends.
Day: I guess the nice thing to when you’re doing a movie of–and unfortunately we haven’t felt this in a long time on Sunny, but I remember like, doing other TV shows that you’d be like, well, I hope they don’t cancel us, I hope this doesn’t end any minute. When you’re doing a movie, at least you’re like, alright –
Bell: We’re in this.
What were the biggest challenges you had to overcome in putting the film together?
Morgan: We acted in it so for us it was a labor of love, but I don’t believe it was any challenge. We were all on board. I know, like, Jillian said, when I saw the cast that was it. I’m all in.
Day: Yes, I had a little different path to it. I saw the script and I called New Line Cinema and I said I want to do this thing. They agreed and then we had to figure out who to get on board. And then we got, we got Ice Cube, and he didn’t take too much cajoling. They weren’t so sure about Richie Keen, ‘cause–I wanted Richie because he does It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
But Richie put together this really funny trailer with existing footage of Cube and I from different movies and then I was showed them that he’s perfect. And then, and then the challenge was getting people like Tracy Morgan and Jillian–Jillian’s character wasn’t even written as a woman and we wanted a funny woman in the movie.
And we wanted Jillian in the movie so Richie and I changed that part. And we wanted Tracy Morgan and people were like, oh, is he ready? Is he back? He’d been through a horrific accident. So…
Morgan: Richie told me what happened with that. He told me that he bet his career on it. I never knew that. I’m glad he didn’t tell me that. That would have been extreme pressure on me and I’m just – I got there and Charlie and Jillian and everybody made me feel comfortable, and I was home.
Day: So the challenges for us really were just trying to put together this movie in the ideal way that we wanted to put it together. But it wasn’t too challenging because these guys said yes pretty quickly so that was the greatest thing.
Bell: I was just very excited to be a part of this.
Day: Yeah, she’s busy. She’s crazy.
And the challenge is the schedule, like everyone–like Kumail is on Silicon Valley and Jillian has a show, and Tracy is doing his standup everywhere so trying to get everyone together at the same place
Charlie, being that Richie Keen directed this and you worked with him a bunch on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” did that experience help the movie at all? Was that just a good prior knowledge of working together?
Day: Yes, I think it was really helpful for me because I was able to be more hands on with this movie the way I would be with any episode. So we were able to tweak the script in ways that we wanted it to go and we were able to help make these casting decisions and editing decisions, and Richie’s greatest talent is what a good collaborator he is.
And look, it wasn’t just my movie, at the end of the day he had to balance it between my tastes, Ice Cube’s tastes, New Line Cinema’s tastes and Shawn Levy’s tastes. And so he was really, really good at that balancing act. And he got the best out of everybody I think myself included.
“Fist Fight” hits theaters Feb. 17.