Junket Report: David Wain Goes Big Studio

For those of you who know writer/director David Wain, you probably remember him from his independent ventures, like the 2001 cult hit Wet Hot American Summer, his recent film The Ten, or his immensely popular, though somewhat underground, comedy projets, like The State and Stella. Soon, many more will know him as the director of this November’s Role Models, a great comedy following the adventures of two interesting guys avoiding jail by mentoring two equally interesting kids.

The kids, played by Bobb’e J. Thompson and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, aren’t your most accepted lot and Plasse’s Augie is especially nerdy. Which isn’t a bad thing – part of what drew Wain to the script was the story line and the geeky qualities of the kids. As a child, Wain was perfectly happy to put on magic shows and play with recording equipment.

In that childhood he developed a sense of humor which he maintains hasn’t changed much since he was 8 years old. It is a sense of humor which he has trouble labeling for a mainstream audience or sales pitch, with an often absurdist quality to it. He always knew that he had to stay true to his voice but that “adapting that into a more mainstream studio project would be [different].” He says that “without question” Role Models is his most emotional film, where as his previous ventures have been “experiments in genre revision.”

Now, working with the studio, he finds it with both pros and cons, but spoke highly of the production team he worked with on this film and was surprised to find executives offering smart, constructive feedback that improved the final project. Wain also credits the rushed production schedule with actually making things go smoother in some areas. “We benefited from the fact that once the movie kind of got rolling, it really had to move fast,” which enabled him to easily secure his casting choices with the studio. When asked if it was easy to bring some lesser known stars into large roles, Wain replied “To the studios credit, they hired me to do it. They didn’t hire me to be a hack and just be a puppet,” and that they knew part of his style was bringing his own people.

One casting difficulty came in the role of Augie, the older, nerdy Live Action Role Player who bears much of the emotional brunt of the film. In the middle of a nationwide search for an actor, Wain saw Superbad and mad a big push for Mintz-Plasse, who he was pleased to find out wasn’t actually McLovin, but rather a good actor who played a role. Wain expressed difficulty in finding child actors, who he described as “slick,” little kids who can play the role of Hollywood sleaze already. Mintz-Plasse’s co-star, Bobb’e J. Thompson, was something of a firebrand on set, as Wain put it: “If I say ‘Bobb’e go off on this,’ he’ll just go crazy.”

Following Role Models, Wain has the DVD to look forward to, which will contain “a movie’s worth of stuff” in terms of deleted scenes. He’s also flirting with the idea of a Wet Hot American Summer prequel with the original cast returning, which would make them 20 years too old for their roles this time around. He’ll also be working with Rob Corddry on an internet series called “Children’s Hospital,” and touring with Stella. With all this on his plate, Wain is assuredly going to be a busy man in the future and one to keep track of.

What is your favorite David Wain entity?

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