I shared the fun interview I did with Jennifer Garner and Steve Carell of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day a few days ago. One of the things that I loved was how they both really enjoyed working with these kids! Jennifer shared, “…they just put us in a little room in the house, and we all had our phones with us. And we sat with those kids, and nobody ever looked at their phones, and nobody ever — we just talked. We just, you wouldn’t think that you would have that much to talk about with teenagers, you know, because it seems like they’re from another planet. But these are the coolest group of the smartest, most interesting, engaging kids. And the five of us just hung out together, and had the best time, and that, to me, is kind of the crux of this whole movie, was just that feeling in that room, and that nobody came in and bugged us. Nobody else was there. It was just us as a group. And it was something that we chose to do.” With that, I couldn’t help but be anything but excited about talking to these three!
A little about their characters:
ALEXANDER COOPER is an 11 year old who experiences the most terrible and horrible day of his young life a day that begins with gum stuck in his hair, followed by one calamity after another. But when Alexander tells his upbeat family about the misadventures of his disastrous day, he finds little sympathy and begins to wonder if bad things only happen to him.
ANTHONY COOPER is Alexander’s big brother, and a “total winner” in the eyes of just about everyone. The successful teen pretty much has it made in life just ask him till his bad day strikes and his reflection reveals what may be his first zit ever. His perfect life continues to unravel highlighted by a driving test that doesn’t really go as planned.
EMILY COOPER is Alexander’s sister, is an aspiring actress who’s looking forward to her debut as Peter Pan in the school play. But the biggest day of her middle school life is threatened by a horrible cold, so she turns to cough medicine again and again and again. Flying while on cough syrup is definitely not recommended.
So what was it like for them to film this movie?
Ed Oxenbould, Dylan Minnette and Kerris Dorsey Interview
The three of them walk in laughing and obviously enjoying their time together. Just finishing the interview with Steve and Jennifer, it was easy to ask the obvious question.
What was it like to act with Steve? Was he funny everyday on and off camera?
Ed: He was– no, he wasn’t fun– no, I’m kidding. He was like the funniest person. He could make anything sound fun, anything.
Dylan: It’s effortless. It’s effortless.
Ed: Yeah, it’s like just completely–
Dylan: He can say what he’s having for lunch and you’re just like in tears on the floor.
Ed: Yeah, you could–you could just look at him. And he’ll give you one look. And you will just be in uncontrollable laughter.
Kerris: Yeah, and he’s so like one thing is he’s so smart. He’s such a smart person. I think you ha–you have to be that intelligent in order to be that funny because it’s–
Ed: His humor is just so–
Kerris: It’s so witty and so like impeccable. Um, so that was really cool. You can just tell by looking at him, like talking to him that’s he’s just so smart. And the wheels are always turning. So–
What was everybody’s favorite scene to film?
Ed: I think the party scene.
Dylan: I’ve been saying the party scene.
Kerris: Party scene.
Ed: Yeah, it was really cool.
Kerris: Party scene was so fun.
Dylan: Yeah, I mean it was just–like, what, 200 people and animals and swimming and music and food and just-
Kerris: It was so cool. We were there for a long time. So it sort of became like a home to us, you know? So, yeah, that was so fun. We actually ate the food at one point.
Dylan: I was stealing–I was stealing candy all the time.
Ed: It was poisoned.
Kerris: We were eating. We were dancing.
Dylan: It was poisoned too.
Ed: It was fake.
Dylan: It was plastic candy.
Kerris: But it wasn’t real. But it was so good.
How many takes actually did it take to film those parties? Or you did it just in your own with one swing and everybody was happy, you know, with what they got?
Ed: It took a lot of dancing, a lot of barbequing.
Dylan: Didn’t the party take three days?
Kerris: Yeah, we were–we were at a set out in Newhall for two weeks, and then we did the party for like three consecutive nights. Um, so ’cause there were so many things to cover. There were like, you know, his shots and all of–
Ed: There was dancing, barbecuing, DJ’ing.
Dylan: Except the animals–
Kerris: Thunder from Down Under. Um, the animals–yeah, yeah, I don’t know if you’ve–you’ve heard of them. Um, so yeah, it took a lot of coverage and a lot of–of days to do. But it was actually fun. Like it sounds like it would be–
Ed: It didn’t even feel like we were working.
Kerris: Yeah, we had a party. We were all just dancing, and there’s one shot that we laughed over every time because it’s like–it’s on Jen and Steve. And you can see past us. I don’t know what we’re doing. We’re just like dancing the whole time. It’s like so awkward. But I mean hopefully no one notices it.
Dylan: Now they will.
Kerris: Now you will. So–(laughing)
Dylan: Yeah, and then it goes directly on us.
Kerris: On us. It focuses on us. And we’re just like, ok, cool, this is happening.
So Kerris, for your role in the film, you were sick. I just wondered if you had any good tips for us in case we wanted to take a sick day. (wink wink)
Kerris: Um, I feel like if I ever get like sick and sound sick my parents are gonna be like, no, mm-mm, we know your tricks. It’s all about the voice I’ve found. So it’s like–you really have to sort of like–it’s more like nasally. So it’s like back in your throat and then in your nose. So anything like–M’s have to be B-sounding. So it’s just sort of like, I don’t know, I just watched a lot of–like I’m not gonna talk like that for the whole time. Um, I just watched a lot of like You Tube videos of people talking when they’re sick. Speaking in a “sick voice”
Ed: How to talk sick?
Kerris: (Still in her “sick” voice) Yeah, no, just like people when they’re sick. People post videos of themselves in any, you know, capacity. So there are literally people like, hey, I’m sick today. You know, and you just listen to it. Um, so yeah, it’s all about the voice. And then like really heavily lidded eyes and then maybe like eyeliner or something underneath your eye or something like that.
Dylan: Can you believe her sick voice, though? Like, uh, every day on set I was like how are you doing this?
Kerris: I would go home, and I would be like, hey, so, my sister, I’d be like, hey, Justine. And she’s like what’s wrong with your voice? It’s like, oh, recalibrating– [LAUGHTER] go back to normal.
Ed : It never faltered. It was always the uhhhh!
Ed, what about you? Learning an English accent, so how was that for you?
Ed: An American?
(Oh yeah – oops!) I’m sorry American accent. [LAUGHTER] (Ed is from Australia)
Ed: Um, it was pretty hard. But also kind of easy at the same time ’cause I was brought up on American film. Because there’s a lot of American TV, a lot of American film in Australia. So it’s not like it’s a completely different, accent that I’m kind of thinking, well, it’s American. I knew what it was. But it was a little rough around the edges. Actually, it was really bad. So–[LAUGHTER] so I had training. And, I learned all the little tips and tricks on just to sound authentic.
Kerris: Sometimes I would forget that you were Australian. Well, I mean I knew, but like ’cause I forget that when I’m talking to him now like after we were filming it was just like, oh, that’s your–your real voice. You have an Australian accent ’cause it was so good. It was so impeccable.
What was the hardest scene for each of you to keep your composure in?
Kerris: The car scene.
Ed: Yeah, there was one scene during the car that was completely improvised. And we’d get–the director just said–’cause I would walk around set going brr-brr-brr, just making the stupid noises. And Miguel the director said I just want all of you to do it. It was kind of what? And then so we all did it. And Steve started doing it. And you can see in the background everyone’s laugh. And like there was blood in our faces ’cause we’re moving our shoulders like that. But when–it’s so hard to keep a straight face.
Kerris: That was so–like I don’t even know–like Steve’s instrument that he was like–he was like ya-ya-ya-ya-ya. [LAUGHTER] Yeah. And like I was playing the trumpet. And Ed was just like, I don’t even know. And so I, uh–
Ed: I don’t know either.
Kerris: No, it was amazing. I just don’t remember.
Dylan: Also the scene outside the–the van at the DMV when we were all yelling at each other.
Kerris: Oh my God, yes, that was so–
Ed: Ohhhhhh. We spent a whole day filming there.
Kerris: We had to isolate it so that, you know, you could hear the sound of every–so we didn’t have to like go back in post and do it. So Dylan would do his part. And we would all have to like mime talking. And then when Steve did his part, literally, I could not–you had to be normal and like yelling at him.
Dylan: Well, he was–he was–he was like yelling at me like about cra–about crashing the van improvising. And I’m off camera. And I’m just–feel so bad ’cause I’m near tears on the ground laughing. And he’s still yelling at me on camera not breaking character. It was just– that was so difficult.
Kerris: Oh my God. I just wanted them to like never call cut so we could just keep going. It would’ve been funny for like two more hours if–at the least.
Dylan: And also the scenes with Jennifer Coolidge. That was, uh, I couldn’t keep my cool like that.
Kerris: I can’t imagine.
Dylan: That was–that was an unintended pun, but, um, yeah.
Kerris, one of my favorite parts of the movie was the soundtrack of the movie. And it’s known it’s been absolutely in adoration. Like, you know, I was listening to every note. And then at the end I noticed, you know, you actually wrote the song Best Worst Day Ever. And you perform it yourself. And I felt, you know what, I felt there was so much emotion and feeling. I didn’t really think that, you know, good emotion, you know, from the movie, you know, to–to write the song. What did it take you? Did you write it like that on a whim?
Kerris: Well, Miguel actually called both of us and said he knows that we’re both musicians. I think he probably called you first (Turning to Dylan). And, um, and then he called me, and he said, you know, I would love it if you wanted to write a song for the movie. And my sister’s a singer/songwriter. She’s so talented. And so I asked her if she wanted to write it with me. And then we had like a short window that we could do it, that we could fit it in. And so we were like fingers crossed. Let’s see. We watched the trailer sort of for inspiration. And obviously I knew what happened in the movie. And–and we sort of tried to capture the essence of–of, you know, like Disney and–and the–the worst day sort of turning out to be the best day. Um, and it–you know, it all came together in a way that it’s in the end credits. So we were really happy.
Ed: Can I say–we have a second that, you know, Dylan’s band has a song in the film.
Kerris: They’re called the Narwhals.
Ed: Yeah, I know. I’ve even got a– no, I don’t.
Ed: For three hours.
Kerris: And Dylan’s band is amazing. And in like a montage scene, in the movie, they played one of his songs.
Ed: Halfway through, it’s when we’re kind of turning the day around. And the song’s perfect. It’s–
Kerris: Yeah, it’s called Surf, Surf, Don’t Drown.
Dylan: Aw, thanks. Hey, they just said it. They said it all for me.
Steve said you guys wrote a song for him that made him a bit emotional. So what can you tell us about that?
Ed: That was the genius minds of Kerris and Justine Dorsey. And because at the party, we always had the song Beds are Burning by Midnight Oil. Is that it? I should know. I’m an Aussie. Um– [LAUGHTER]
Kerris: You’re the Aussie.
Ed: And, um, and we always had that. So that was always in our heads. So the song was to the tune of that. But it was all about working with him and all about his character. And it was really cool. We all sang it. And, yeah, he did get really emotional. It was really nice.
Dylan: He got emotional.
Kerris: Yeah, it was one of the most special moments ever ’cause–
Ed: I have to say, yeah, it was really sad, though. You know, because it was his last day. It was near the end. And it was all kind of–
Kerris: Yeah, it was very emotional. And, uh, the whole crew was there on the set. And, you know, we got to like sing it together. We had the lyrics and everything. And they had a little speaker that they let us use to play the song. And it was–it was such a like special moment.
Ed: That was a really special moment.
Dylan: It was amazing.
Kerris: Always makes me happy.
What was your take away personally for each and every one of you from this movie working with fabulous, you know, cast and the director–?
Kerris: This was our take away. (Looking and smiling at her co-stars)
Ed: This, this friendship.
Dylan: Get out. Uh, no, really, though, I mean it’s–honestly, that’s true because now that we’ve done this, I can’t imagine not doing it because we have become such good friends that I literally can’t imagine not having the experiences that we’ve had after filming. Like it’s so–it’s such, uh, a strange thought that we all just happened–it was kinda like fate. It’s kinda weird to say. But it really was fate because we–we’re really close.
Kerris: It’s cool to have a movie that, you know, you are proud of and you enjoyed making. And then literally to walk away and go I’m like–my life would be completely different if I hadn’t done that movie ’cause I wouldn’t have met the people I met and had the experiences that I have. So, yeah, we’re–it’s very dear to our hearts I think.
How was it working with Bella? (Thorne)
Dylan: Great, and I think that, you know, it seems the kind of character that a lot of people can play in the same way. I think that Bella does it perfectly in a way that she also does it in her own way. So Celia’s very hatable. But at the same time there’s a part of you that…
Kerris: You understand her. Yeah.
Dylan: Sort of–you understand what she’s saying. And it’s interesting how she did it ’cause she also is not like completely mean all the time. She’s also kind of cool and kind of like careless. She’s like Willy Wonka like or-–
Ed: But, yeah, like she’s trying to get her point across and–
Dylan: Like what are you wearing? Or– or just like whatever. What she does is so perfect.
Kerris: Personally I liked that she wasn’t like a super prissy mean girl because that’s so, you know, over done.
Ed: It’s very cliché.
Kerris: And she’s so like just normal and straight, I feel like I can relate to her in that way. And prom is so important to her. And, you know, her social standing is so important to her character. So it’s like, you kinda get where she’s coming from, you know? She wants her day to go perfect just like, you know, Alexander and Emily and everybody wants their day to go perfect. So it’s very– you know, I feel for Celia. I feel bad for her. Yeah.
Dylan: But she just doesn’t go bad in the right way, her character. But Bella does it really well.
So I was–obviously you guys–we can tell the camaraderie you guys have and–
Kerris: It’s all fake. [LAUGHTER]
Dylan: Just for today.
Ed: Yeah, just for today.
So, I’m just wondering is this like one of your favorite projects that you guys have worked on?
Ed: This is the best project I’ve worked on.
Dylan: I mean it goes without saying that this is just–like I said, it’s life changing. I mean the experiences that we’re all gonna have together throughout life now just because of this–I’m gonna always be able to watch this movie and think that this was such a great time in my life that I’ll never regret doing it ever. It’s really special.
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ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY opens in theaters everywhere on October 10th!
*I was invited by Disney on an all expense paid press junket to screen the film and interview the cast of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. All opinions expressed are my own. Images courtesy of Disney unless otherwise credited. Interview edited to make it easier to read.