Sitting down to talk with writer/director Jason Headley as well as two of the lead actors, Matt Jones and Eleanore Pienta, in the hilarious new film “A Bad Idea Gone Wrong,” proved to be just as entertaining as the film. While I certainly laughed, I was also put at ease with their willingness to share not just about the film, but about who they are. After reading the interview, you’ll understand why this film was voted Best Ensemble Cast at the 2017 SXSW Film Festival.
Reel Honest Reviews (RHR): How do you define the word ‘funny?’
Jason Headley (JH): I feel like there’s a broadening of comedy that I find sad. It’s not satisfying. It’s not based on real stakes. It’s gotta get bigger and bigger. I just feel like comedy and drama all come from the same conflict. We tried to play our comedy straight, for the most part. There aren’t too many moments where it’s like “I’m being funny right now.” There are lines that are clearly written and delivered in a funny way, but you try to make it all just feel as real life and real stakes as possible.
RHR to Matt Jones (MJ): What did you enjoy most about playing Marlon?
MJ: I get to play characters that are ignorant to the feelings of others…I like to call it diarrhea of the mouth, just constantly talking and it’s just fun to play in that space. It’s fun to play the 10 year-old version of myself in an adult body…and just really say the first thing that comes to your mind. I don’t get to be that person in real life. So it’s fun to play that!
RHR: So how much of this was scripted?
MJ and JH: 100%
RHR: Eleanore, how did you get connected to this film and Jason?
Eleanore Pienta (EP): The first film I ever did was called SEE YOU NEXT TUESDAY. It’s based on this character that I made up. I used to and still do make up characters and then photograph them and explore them through videos. My friend saw this photograph of this character “Mona” and he said, ‘I want to make something with you with this character”…Most of my acting work comes from that project. It’s a crazy character and it’s a performance that doesn’t know what not to do. It goes for it. I think it’s very good. It’s the thing that I’m most proud of in terms of performance.
JH: Other than this! That film SEE YOU NEXT TUESDAY was…the one that I saw of hers and I was like, this lady’s impressive!
RHR: Matt, how did you get connected?
MJ: Through our agents. The production did not have someone to play my part and three or four days before shooting and everything was on fire and they were terrified and I saved the day!
JH: We had set the shoot dates …and then we got going and we were down to the wire and if Matt didn’t come on, we were going to have to push, and if we had pushed, there’s a decent chance it would have pushed into infinity the way these things do. I was really happy when he said yes, because we got to make the movie. I’m really happy the way it turned out and I’m so happy I got to make it with him. He did a really bang up job.
MJ: (Laughs) You almost sounded sincere there! I’m just kidding…a nice moment and I ruined it.
RHR: Eleanore, are you at all similar to your character of Darcy?
EP: She’s a strong lady and I’m a strong lady.
RHR: What’s the deal with the Niagara Falls theme?
JH: You look back on relationships that didn’t work and the moment, if you’re doing your forensics, everything was ok there… then everything wasn’t ok. For Leo it’s just this place and time, it was his happiest moment, and it was a time where he felt safe and loved. And obviously the character Jessica felt that, and it was the best they were. I liked having that and then working into the prop.
RHR: OH! I thought it was an homage to an Abbott and Costello episode! You know, “Slowly I turn…”
No one seemed to have a clue as to what I was referring to, but then….
JH: I grew up on Abbott and Costello. I forget that one. I did a whole Abbott and Costello tribute. I do these little shorts called AT THE BAR. I did one [called] “A One and A Two.” It was a full-on tip the hat. Sunday mornings I’d go to church with my mom and I’d come home and I’d watch Abbott and Costello with my dad. They were the two alters at which I worshipped when I was a kid.
RHR: Matt, do you have any mentors?
MJ: Mentors? I come from a very strange background.
RHR: You can’t just say that and move on. Explain that one.
MJ: Long story short, 12 brothers and sisters, some were adopted. My mother married a Southern Baptist minister when I was three. My momther was a teacher and I grew up in L.A. I come from a very Christian family and then I’m now like the black sheep, not in a bad way…nobody in the history of my family has been in entertainment industry in any way. I’ve been completely flying blind for 18 years now. Other mentors have been comedians who have taken me under their wing and helped me out from time to time and given me jobs and given me good and terrible advice.
RHR: What was the terrible advice?
MJ: Mainly about women was the bad advice! [But] I had a lot of people who took a chance on me and helped me out.
RHR: How about you, Eleanore?
EP: I currently have high respect for Marin Ade who is the filmmaker who made Toni Erdmann. I love her voice. I love that I was crying and laughing at the same time. That’s the shit that I love. It had these really beautiful and poignant moments.
RHR: Is it difficult being a woman in this industry?
EP: I came up in the comedy world and ‘women are not funny.’ I love men. I love working with men, so there’s only a problem when there’s no respect. And that’s beeen the case in a couple projects, but never on this project. I always felt like every person had my back. But there was going into a nervousness about being the female. In the script, she’s the love interest, but not the LOVE insterest. She’s grounded in her own story.
JH: I rmember being hyper-sensative about that. It’s all for the sake of the story, but you’re in your underwear when they find you. I remember the wardrobe people were asking what kind of underwear do we get? Ask Eleanore what kind of underwear that girl wears!
EP: The ones that cover up the most! I was so happy that there’s that shot of [Matt] up on the dryer of his bare legs and ass. That was so refreshing to me because it was
MJ: A beautiful butt!
JH: Guaranteed that’s the first time you’re butt’s ever been called refreshing!
MJ: It’s ususally a shot you see of a woman
EP: When I first saw it, it was like this is great. It’s not normally the case! Equal butt time.
RHR: Tell me about something that happened behind the scenes that we viewers would never have known happened.
MJ: The woman that owned our location…she was great and one day she and the whole crew made cookies together…and some of the people from props were helping and they were all making cookies!
EP: Sugar cookies. It was all just very sweet.
Yes, this is an amazing ensemble cast on and off the set. You might even describe them all as sweet, just like those sugar cookies.