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Jon Favreau's Made It!
an emily blunt interview

Jon Favreau has an interesting life so far... He's been a career shifter, cartoonist, actor, writer, and now, producer, director and new dad.

I respect him and I'm impressed by him, 'cause he seems to have an honesty and an unswerving determination to him. He's leading his life, his way. He's blunt.

He got his big break in a movie called Rudy while- get this- washing dishes at the Second City Comedy venue. Jon met a future close friend and colleague, über cutey Vince Vaughn, on Rudy as well.

Jon wrote and starred in a "little" movie you may remember called Swingers a couple years back... Yepp-o-daddy-o, Swingers was so money (<- I had to- just once). Those in the know, have waited -patiently- for his next scripted visceral look at the human psyche. Well, he's back with Made. Another unique, superbly written character study with himself cast as the moral guy heading to the dogs, and his bud, Vinnie as the fast talking short-cut kinda- guy best friend. The banter between the two is just as mesmerizing as in Swingers—and Vaughn's aging like a fine wine girls.

Getting impressed yet? Favreau's a super sweet guy, and not so bad on the retina in a tough guy with a beefy boxer's physique-way. But, alas, he's married and breeding. So, hands off fellow chickbabes and on to the next smit.

Give a read. He's an inspiring, talented beau with another hit movie on his hands. And, as of yet, still a Hollywood anti-villian. A person I truly admire <- and I don't throw that jargon about folks.

EMILY: Well, how are you?

FAVREAU: Very good.

EMILY: First I'd like to say thanks! The recording contraption's on…go ahead. Continue with what you were saying. [ without skipping a beat Jon continues in a warm story about his goals of keeping to his values in Hollywood aka not selling out]

FAVREAU: ...That was always sort of a goal of mine. It's worked against me more than it's worked for me, but now that everything's sort of...all the success is sort of coming, it gives me a…I feel very secure in my position in Hollywood, and I'm thought very well of by my peers, and people want to work with me and I have a reputation as a pro. At first you want to have a reputation as being talented or funny or...you know...special. As you go through it you just the biggest compliment you can get is to be...to get recognized that you're a real pro and consummate professional.

EMILY: That's true, and you know now's the time, because a few years ago people
and their integrity didn't matter. Now you're right where you should be because you stuck to your guns. You did what you believed in, and it's starting to pay off for a lot of these people, and you mentioned Jennifer Jason Lee. Her, too I mean, it's starting to really pay off.

FAVREAU: ... She went through the lean years, too. She had a really tough time. And she did some Broadway and now she's directing, and she is...I mean...I got a chance to work with her, even though I was cut out of the movie, I got to experience what it was like to work with her, and she's just a fantastic, fantastic actor and person and that whole group that is involved with Anniversary Party, I've...you know...I worked with a lot of them on Mrs. Parker.[Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle ]

EMILY: Oh! That's one of my favorite movies ever...honestly. I love that! I'm a big Dorothy Parker fan. I was born in the wrong era. I'm walking around in the 40's...I saw that and I was just...I almost had tears in my eyes. I was like - "this is brilliant!" And no one saw it.

FAVREAU: Nobody saw it and it was brilliant...you know what I mean...it was Alan Rudolph 's movie, so it was sort of...he's sort of not everybody's taste every time out. And I think with that cast and everything and that subject matter is cool.

EMILY: Absolutely.

FAVREAU: I really liked it too. It sort of inspired me to...have you seen online or read about the Dinner for Five thing? [a show Jon's hosting through-out the year on IFC]

EMILY: Definitely!

FAVREAU: I'm gonna do more of those, but that sort of inspired that - like the whole Algonquin
round table type feel and to have just people who are contemporaries that you would
never link with each other.

EMILY: Do you know that it's always been a dream of mine to go to the Algonquin. So we went over to the Royalton, unfortunately, got all liquored up on martinis, and then strolled in there, four girlfriends and myself...

FAVREAU: Uh huh.

EMILY: And we...they tactfully asked us to leave. They thought we were prostitutes. I was like,
"Oh, dude." I couldn't believe it. I was so taken aback. I'm told them, "You're crushing me."

FAVREAU: Well, what were you wearing?

EMILY: I was dressed nice, but you know...I mean...you think you're clever and charming
after a few drinks, and we were probably a bit...OB-noxious. But, normally I'm kind of a verbal, classy chick, but not at that evening, I guess.

FAVREAU: [laughter].

EMILY: It wasn't what I expected. Tell me a little bit about you. You were born and raised in
the Bronx?

FAVREAU: Yeah. My family's from the Bronx. I'm from Queens, actually.

EMILY: Did you go to that science school that Bobby Darin...?

FAVREAU: The Bronx High School of Science.

EMILY: Yeah.

FAVREAU: But that's a school that you can go to from anywhere in the City, so I used to commute.

EMILY: You have to be kind of intelligent to get in there, don't you?

FAVREAU: Yeah, you have to take a test. There's like that school and Stylus (?). They're like the two big schools that you have to take tests for to get in. And I got in and it was just a really, really great experience, but it was a crossroads in my life because I...you know...I really wanted to go to like into either Art & Design, which is for artists, or Performing Arts, where "Fame" was set. I had friends who went there. Cause I was always like one of those in the
school plays or something like that.

EMILY: And I understand that you do cartooning?

FAVREAU: Yeah. .I used to be in arts and stuff. But I never was encouraged to...I was...aimed
toward the sciences, then when I moved to Chicago after working on Wall Street and going to college and all this stuff, I decided to give a shot to acting and drawing, So I started my own business doing like freelance cartoon work while I was auditioning and washing dishes at Second City.

EMILY: Did you do actual stand-up comedy at Second City?

FAVREAU: No, Second City is an improv place, so you would see sketches in a very similar format to like Saturday Night Live. And then we'd write a new show every few months and they would improvise, based on suggestions, after the show, and then I was involved with groups that...you know...I was never on stage there. I was always sort of taking classes and washing dishes, and I would be due to improv with different groups. There's a lot of groups that would have like gigs at bars where people would come in, grab a few drinks, and they'd shout out suggestions and you would improvise.

EMILY: Well, I'm in a group like that. We do we do comedy sketches, and when you get
the drunks in, I hate that...the 12:30 show, it's like. AHHH. I go out there and look around-- who's gonna beat me up emotionally today? Let's see...that guy right there, I'm sure.

FAVREAU: [laughter] You know there's no fuckin' around. I mean, when you're in the theater,or drama club at school, or when you're putting up a show within the drama department, or take classes, and you have an audience, that is either too polite or is either ...there's a whole emperor's new clothes for that, when the audience doesn't know what their...it's pearls before swine.

EMILY: Right. [ though -that expression I have never heard and shall be parlaying it in my everyday speak as of now. PBS-love it baby]

FAVREAU: Who's gonna do comedy in a fuckin' bar? You learn and but fast what funny is...
EMILY: That's true.

FAVREAU: And you're learning timing, and the good ones, whether it's Mike Meyers, or like Chris Farley, or any of the other people I saw, really knew how to adjust to whatever the crowd was and the situation.

EMILY: Absolutely. And then you can take anything. I mean, there's nothing life can't
throw you. You know, it's funny, because the screenwriting that I've seen, I'm
sure you have more, but what I've actually seen, it's all centered around Los Angeles.
Are you leaving the Gotham studies to Woody Allen?

FAVREAU: Well, you know...actually like the first film [Swingers
] was about a New Yorker who came here, into LA, and then Made is about some guys that go to New York, so...

EMILY: That's kinda humorous.

FAVREAU: It's definitely like uh...you know it's flipping it, but it's...it's still dealing with it,
but I had to deal with the New York that I know. Plus I wrote something for Ray Romano and Kevin James, called "Bridge and Tunnel," about some guys from Queens who go into the City. So that's something I've worked that's not being made yet 'cause they're all working on their shows, but it's something that I wrote with them...

EMILY: Wonderful. And comedy is so apparent in both the Swingers and the
Made script. As a matter of fact, like what Saturday Night Live does, you're Swingers
introduced a bit of hip slang into the mainstream.

FAVREAU: Yeah.

EMILY: How did that feel?

FAVREAU: It was cool. I can see why people gear stuff towards it, because it...it's very
easy if you get a catch phrase it's like a shorthand. That communicates that you've seen the movie and that you liked the movie, and then you watch it get infused into pop culture, which is kinda strange...Like they pop up on TV, billboards, commercials...

EMILY: Oh yeah, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy...they took off.

FAVREAU: And them! I'm so...you know, when you're part of the pop culture's Zeitgeist it's
good, but I can't...I'm not like Madonna. I can't predict it and I'm not about to...like Saturday Night Live where you sort of hammer it home...

EMILY: Right.

FAVREAU: Like build a whole movie around catch phrases like Mike Meyers seems to. And be good at it. For me, if I knew I was...it was time to get as far away from that a s I could, and so there's no catch phrases and pop world in Made.

EMILY:Again with Made, you've made such a wonderful character-driven movie. The people, even Ricky (Vaughn's obnoxious character) just so loveable. I mean...they're quirky, which seems to be your signature style.

FAVREAU: Yeah. And also I wanted to do things...thank you...and I wanted to do things that
you couldn't do in a bigger movie, like make a character who is completely reprehensible
on paper, like, uh, Ricky. [ Vince Vaughn's character in Made]
EMILY: Right.

FAVREAU: Or, you know, make things be a little ambiguous in certain areas and don't explain to death things that the studios would make you explain, and just enjoy the...I definitely was playing, on dealing with the shortcomings of the medium, which was the budget and how fast we had to shoot, so I wanted to play into the strengths of my position, too, which was a great deal of creative freedom.

EMILY: Oh, that must have been a dream.

FAVREAU: Yeah.

EMILY: Lucky you!

FAVREAU: You know I'm looking forward to on the next one, having a different set of challenges. I'm not Mr. Integrity where I won't...I don't want to hear it from anybody and I have a vision.

EMILY: Well, you're a team player. Obviously you can tell just by the way you work with
people and what I've seen from all your work, it doesn't seem like you're a big ego head. Lemme go back for a moment to the character, Ricky. A lot of that seemed almost like it was improv itself. I mean, did you give Vince Vaughn reign to do what he
wanted? It was just razor sharp and delivered so quickly.

FAVREAU: It depends what scenes you're talking about. Every scene was written, and certain scenes were either added or embellished. Like when he comes in and he's talking to Sam Rockwell about how much money for each room, and what if I give you twenty bucks?

EMILY: Right .

FAVREAU: Yeah, that was scripted. All of that. Uh, but like when Sam Rockwell comes back into the room and he throws the drink in his face?

EMILY: Right.

FAVREAU: He did that. He made that one up.

EMILY: And it worked.

FAVREAU: That worked really well.

EMILY: Yeah. Of course you could have always edited it if it didn't...

FAVREAU: Yeah.

EMILY: The beauty of film.

FAVREAU: We edited the other things that didn't work, but that's why I like to shoot a lot of film and try to get some moments.

EMILY: Well, the chemistry between the two of you once again is just explosive. How did
the two of you meet?

FAVREAU: On Rudy. He had a small part and I had a big part and we were both there and he was from Chicago, but he was living in LA, and then I moved out to LA and we started hanging out together and that sort of inspired the Swingers. [=kismet folks]

EMILY: Yeah. But that really seemed like it was super realistic. It looked like it was kinda your
life there on film. Now you're a man of many talents - acting, directing and producing. Which hat do you prefer, or do you have to pick?

FAVREAU: Um...well, directing's the newest, so it's sort of the most interesting to me. Acting is the most fun. I like to do it and it's great that I can still do that, but you know, you don't really have a lot of control over things, so it's real hit or miss. Um...and then writing is the one where you really...the real one.

EMILY: Now, as a writer, I've noticed that your characters are deep, regardless of their facades. Swingers kind of followed "you" and Made is definitely not "you." Do you sit somewhere and study people and record them, or how do you develop your characters? That's what writers are looking to learn how to do, and you've got it.

FAVREAU: You know...you know...I really don't know how I do what I do. I know that it's easier when I could picture real people in those situations, and there's...I see people that are very vulnerable.

EMILY: That comes through, yeah.

FAVREAU: That's really...I think everybody's got...the key to writing real characters is not to treat everybody like a real person and give everybody a good side and a bad
side and just...it's the combination of people that accentuates whether somebody's a
villain or a hero. I mean, even like Peter Falk's character. Very dark at his core, and still a very charming, likeable person who could...if you sat down with him, could probably justify everything he's done in his life. Like what he does. I mean I find that people are like that. I find that people...very few people think that what they're doing is bad, and usually the people who think what they're doing is bad it has more to do with guilt. And psychological problems than the actual things that they are doing. You know what I mean?

EMILY: Yeah, absolutely. It's just that you have captured these people - almost their souls - and put it down on paper, and that's what makes Made so incredible, is that you, you really feel like you are spying on these guys - that this isn't really a film. That you're just kinda hanging out. Even some of the camera angles, like when you first enter the apartment, we were following behind you.

FAVREAU: Yeah.

EMILY: That was excellent. It set the whole mood. It just really kept it personal.

FAVREAU: Yeah, it really had a nice gritty, personal feeling, and that hand-held camera worked really...contributed to that, and I wanted to have certain stylistic holdovers from Swingers because I did want to draw...I did want to connect this to Swingers. But without doing it so much that it suffered from the comparison.

EMILY: And this must be as close to actually what you envisioned when you were writing it
because you're on all areas of the production of this movie.

FAVREAU: In a way it is, and in a way it's not. I mean, at a certain point I have to...I mean if you notice, I didn't take a "film by" credit on there. I could have...I could have made myself the fucking Grand Poobah of the movie. I had a hand in everything, but ultimately when you have such talented people like your DP, and Vince was such a partner in this process and the other actors, and it began to feel like I...I was really encouraging of people to just bring their ideas in, and I would incorporate as many different people's good ideas as I could. And what starts
to happen is I don't feel like I have a vision for what everybody's going to be wearing, I didn't feel like I had a vision for what the furniture was going to be like. I wrote it and we all were working from the same Bible, and if somebody had a good idea -Jesse's [Famke Janssen] apartment was completely different from what I had envisioned.But it looks better.
It's very different from what I wanted. Um...but the ideas were good and they made....they made solid arguments and so I allowed the original bar that's in Redhook now...isolated by the water...that was originally supposed to be in Hell's Kitchen in the West side...

EMILY: Right. Like Rudy's. You ever been to Rudy's in Hell's Kitchen?

FAVREAU: Is that like one of the old school bars?

EMILY: Oh, yeah. It's a dive to end all dives, but it's so bad that it's a fun place to
go.

FAVREAU: But, see, that's what happened to that part of the city and as the people from Manhattan were saying, what - "this is no Hell's Kitchen any more" the way it was. You know, why don't...really here's a really cool bar here that we can fake. Or maybe we can use the outside, and then I saw a lot of opportunities to create like this whole western walkup and the water and the...the chiming of the buoy and the in the background...

EMILY: Creepy.

FAVREAU: Isolations that really gave it a very different feel where you felt like you were even further down...you know...further deeper in the mouth of the...you know of the devil.

EMILY: It was very ominous.

FAVREAU: So that wasn't my idea. I never had that in mind ...so everybody sort of contributed
to the thing.

EMILY: Wonderful. Now this is your second teaming with...I hope I don't screw up her name,
Famke Janssen.

FAVREAU: Famke Janssen.

EMILY: Oh, I did pronounce it...thank God. So you had something to do with the casting
as well then?

FAVREAU: Oh yeah. I wrote the part for her. I wrote the part for Vince. I wrote the part for Vinny Pastore. I wrote the part for Faizon Love. I found the little girl. She was the first girl I met, the director introduced me to. Puffy came up to me, and that was a pretty good fit. And...um...Peter Falk, I sent a script to, so it was...and then other people, all those
cameos, are friends of mine.

EMILY: I wanted to touch upon this story around when you were doing the research for Made. Evidently you went to the Sopranos, and then they cast you in that. They put you actually in an episode as a researcher, or...

FAVREAU: Okay, here's how it goes… I called David Chase after I saw the pilot. We had a common agent. I said, "I love the show." He said he loved Swingers. I talked to him on the phone. Then he was back here on his hiatus and we talked - went to his office. I said, "Look, you know, I do tv sometimes." He said he loves my work. I said if there is anything I can play on the show any time, I really love the show, I'd love to do it, and occasionally I'll do television. It's something I really like. So he says...he was talking about some roles...some characters who came up in the second season - people whose kids were like the guys who were running...I don't know if you watch the show, but the guys who are running the securities office...

EMILY: I've seen it once. I admit it. I don't have HBO.

FAVREAU: You only saw the show once? But there were some people in the first...like some bad guys on the show, and I didn't want to be a bad guy. I said I want to be somebody with the family. Make it something good and I'll do it. So I got a call when I was on the "Replacements," do I want to play myself on the show? I said, "Me? I'm going to play me?" He said, "Yeah, we're gonna put you in. One of the characters has been wanting to write scripts and get into movies. We're gonna make your assistant his cousin's finacé and then gets to meet you and tries to give you the script, and you're like a big shot that he's meeting."

EMILY: I wish I'd known. Has it aired yet?

FAVREAU: It aired a year ago or something…[he thinks I'm a moron- but, hey, I've seen da show ting once I tells ya]

EMILY: Oh well, see. I don't watch the show. [gulp]

FAVREAU: So, anyway, so I said I'd love to do it. He sent me the script. He has it that I'm there cause I want to research...I'm hanging out with this guy, Michael Imperioli's character, 'cause I'm researching a mob movie.But at the time, I really was, which was really strange, because I'd never said anything to him about that. So I came and I shot the episode. I got to meet like Vinny Pastore, who I met, made an impression on me, and then I met Drea de Mateo, who ended up putting in a cameo for me in the movie, and...and I got some ideas from being around it, talking to David Chase, but in the middle of writing the script it gave me like a big boost of ideas that I incorporated into my writing.

EMILY: Magical.

FAVREAU: So, and I mentioned it to him that I was writing a script when I was there. I don't think he remembers or that he was paying much attention, but I was asking him questions about the LA mob...Because that's sort of where I was basing my thing, and he was telling me what he knew, and he was telling me about different people I could talk to. I never really followed up with it, but it really gave me a....I tried to incorporate that. Like the hotel that I stayed at in the show was the Soho Grand and there was a fish in the room.You know...I mean I tried to add...It was real good.

EMILY: Well, you're definitely detail oriented. It shows in the work. I just wanted to
ask you, do you have...and it's going to be a difficult question...do you have a favorite
movie yourself, or is there something that you really look to and go that's a perfect film?

FAVREAU: Um...I'm not...like a Citizen Kane guy. I think it's cool, but...

EMILY: I love Orson Welles, but I don't understand either why that's like end all of movies. [Is there such a thing?] His other work gets…

FAVREAU: Don't get me wrong. I love A Touch of Evil. I really think he was great at what he did. When he was at his best, if there was anybody…I love Scorsese a lot 'cause I love his characters and how he lets his actors do their thing. But yet finds a way to sculpt it into a very stylistic, consistent piece that makes you feel something very viscerally, but yet the dialogue meanders and is real and it doesn't feel stilted. And then on the other end of the spectrum I love the Coen Brothers. I really love how they sort of keep their movies so fun and don't take it seriously, and it's just an enjoyable thing to go watch.

EMILY: Oh...yeah... Oh Brother, Where Art Thou I thought was brilliant.

FAVREAU: And sort of right in the middle of those two, is like Tarantino where he has a sense of fun and it's like you can tell he just loves running the...making a movie, and he's having
as much fun telling the story as you're having watching it, but still there is a certain real
grittiness to it. I loved Oh Brother Where Art Thou, too. I saw it three times.

EMILY: Yeah. That's based on the Odyssey.

FAVREAU: Yeah. And I think that those three together, I mean, are like covered every end of
the spectrum that I would like to explore, and of course, Woody Allen also has...you
know...certain emotional and cultural resinence, or did at a certain point in his career. I don't know that that's so much the case anymore....I'm looking forward to his next one.

EMILY: Although I still watch Mel Brooks and I crack up
.
FAVREAU: I love Mel Brooks, and Albert Brooks, too. But Mel Brooks is sort of...you know...he hasn't…

EMILY: That's old school comedy. That's like from the childhood.

FAVREAU: I love it. You know, I grew up loving that, and that was my thing, and I love Buster Keaton, too. I think if you're gonna start to take away the timeliness of it, there's...you know...Buster Keaton - I'll go see his movies at the silent movie theater here. He's the real one that I studied as I was...like...before Swingers I would go to the...they have a silent movie theater and I would go watch every Buster Keaton show that they had. Sit within the audience, to see how people still reacted.

EMILY: He's amazing. It's absolutely timeless. Well, what's next for you? What
are you doing? I know you've got the big blitz now, of course, with Made...

FAVREAU: Talking to people. Of course, everybody wants to do something. There's like small movies that I'm trying to help get set up as I'm an actor in, and there's movies that are...that people want me to write and direct, so there's...as this spins out and there's another thing I
did with Ray and Kevin that I want to do, and I want to work with Vince again...and I want to do a few more of those Dinner for Fives.

EMILY: That's just great. I love the Independent Film Channel. That's why I don't have HBO. Because I'm a poor person and I could either have HBO or the IFC. Ah! No choice! Yeah, I miss out on all these great shows that people are always talking about, but...you know what? Usually I don't go with the public anyway, so I'm not too concerned. Well, I do have an entertainment news section on my site, so if you ever want to like let the people know what's going on, feel free.

FAVREAU: Okay.
EMILY: And also, remember to slip my personal number into Vince's adorable mansteak hands. Hehehehe! (<- rodent cackle)

FAVREAU: Yeah, I'll have to tell tell him you were...um...confused for a prostitute when you went out.

EMILY: I know…okay. Haha. Can you believe it? But, I'm actually a chickbabe.

FAVREAU: [laughter] What's a chickbabe?

EMILY: Well, a gorgeous gal.

FAVREAU: Oh, are you?

EMILY: Oh yeah...

FAVREAU: You should e-mail me a picture and I'll pass it along …

Sopranos quasi-knowledge faux pas aside, I hope I asked all your questions. And Blunterettes, which ever one of you sent me and requested Vinnie's telephone number in the "Ten Reasons Vince Vaughn Should Marry Me" e-mail/ poem— you need to seek help baby--fast. Psycho.

I truly love all Jon's works. Get out and see Made. And for those of you who missed Swingers, rent or buy it, that's mandatory homework! Very Bad Things is another underrated Jon gig. You call yourselves movie buffs….Jeeze. —Em


 

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