When I was invited to be part of the Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day press junket, I instantly thought, ohhh, I wonder if we will be interviewing Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner? When it was confirmed, I couldn’t have been more excited.
Disney’s “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”follows the exploits of 11-year-old Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) as he 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. He soon learns that he’s not alone when his mom (Jennifer Garner), dad (Steve Carell), brother (Dylan Minnette) and sister (Kerris Dorsey) all find themselves living through their own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Anyone who says there is no such thing as a bad day just hasn’t had one. “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” directed by Independent Spirit Award-winner Miguel Arteta (“The Good Girl,” “Cedar Rapids,” “Youth in Revolt”) from a screenplay by Rob Lieber, is a 21 Laps Entertainment/Jim Henson Company production. The film hits theaters nationwide Oct. 10, 2014.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is the perfect family movie. Everyone will love it. It’s funny, sweet, and has a fantastic message. It was clear after talking with Steve and Jennifer, that this was a special project for all of them. They all became the family they played on the big screen. In this interview, both of them had us all laughing and making it clear that the onscreen adoration was easy, for it’s real off screen as well.
Steve Carell & Jennifer Garner Interview
Jennifer: (As she walks into the room looking amazingly beautiful, extremely tall in her heels, and flawless complexion with that endearing girl next door smile.) These are my people! I brought him (Steve) along but let’s chat.
So, how did you both get involved with the project?
Steve: I was asked to be in it, and I said yes. I just, I liked the script, I thought it was funny, and inventive, and different. I feel like I hadn’t really seen this kind of family movie in a while. Um, and, the fact that Jen was going to do it was a huge draw for me, because I’d been a huge fan of hers for a long time. It’s true. We met a few times over the years, but just sort of in passing, and you know when someone not only lives up to, but exceeds expectations, of everything you’ve heard about them? That was her. She’s just….
Jennifer: (She interrupts him!) Steve Carell!
Steve: ..the nicest person. She is. She’s the nicest person ever.
Jennifer: Um, well, he’s fibbing a little bit, because he was actually on this movie first, so I was the one who knew he was doing it and said “Oh, yeah, I’ve been dying to work with him forever.”
Steve: I continued to do it because —
Jennifer: (Laughing) We had a really good time.
Were there any days on set that were really bad days, just like in the film?
Jennifer: Go ahead, Steve.
Steve: Um. There was one that we kind of point to. There we scene where we were outside, around the car, talking after the big accident and after the driving test. And it must have been — well, like it’s been the last week here. Like, 105 or something. And so that was probably the most arduous day, physically.
Jennifer: You know, I think it was tough because the baby got upset.
Steve: (Laughing) Well, yeah.
Jennifer: You know. Like —
Steve: That too.
Jennifer: — it — that just — you know what that does, I mean, that practically made me lactate. It’s like, “Whaa –!” And there’s nothing you can do. And — but, um —
We are all hysterically laughing at this point at her telling us this. So funny!
Steve: You know what? We can set her off just by going “Wahh!”
Jennifer: Could. (Laughing)
I asked Steve, “How many shrimp did you have to catch?” (Watch the above video)
Jennifer: He did that. That was really —
Steve: How many what?
Jennifer: Shrimp. Did you have to catch.
Steve: Oh. I caught the shrimp.
Jennifer: He caught the shrimp. I mean, they were saying “We’ll CGI” and Steve said, “I’ll give it a go.” He did it. We were very excited.
Steve: Yeah, secret talent.
Jennifer: Did you know you had that talent?
Steve: I didn’t.
Jennifer: Until that moment?
Steve: I didn’t know that I had that — that shr — eye-shrimp coordination.
And so I say, “I just so happen to have a shrimp…”
Steve: Bring it on!
Steve, (Executive Producer) Lisa (Henson) told us you did the fire scene yourself, so I just wanted to hear about that —
Jennifer: So exciting.
Steve: Jen was like, petrified.
Jennifer: I was so nervous. Even though I had been set on fire before, you know what it’s gonna be, but I was so nervous to watch
Steve: Very protective. (Interrupting Jennifer)
Jennifer: — Steve be set on fire, and I didn’t want the kids to see him be set on fire, like, our movie kids. It was very, very tough on me. Um, but they put gel on you —
Steve: It really wasn’t scary. I hope it looks scarier than it —
Jennifer: Steve, you got very, very unfunny —
Steve: I got focused. I got focused.
Jennifer: You got unfunny and very focused. You couldn’t say that you did not — you were not aware that you were on fire.
Steve: I was aware that I was on fire, and I prepared to be on fire —
Steve: And with the stunt coordinator, we — we prepared to light me on fire, but —
Jennifer: Mm-hmm, and then you were on fire.
Steve: And then I was on fire. And it’s the type of thing you don’t want to do a lot. You don’t want to do 25 takes of the Steve on fire scene. So, you just try to get it right that first time, so you can move on. And —
And it was the first time? You did it perfect?
Steve: Once or twice.
Jennifer: I feel like it was twice.
Steve: Yeah. I think we did it, yeah, about twice.
So, Jennifer, how was it, working with Dick van Dyke?
Jennifer: (Her face lights up and her smile is so huge) So exciting. So exciting, I mean, Mary Poppins at my house, is like, one of the top three films of all happiness. (All) Times. And so the fact that I was there with him, was — and I got him to do “Chim Chim Cheree” with me between takes. All so great. He was just funny and warm and lovely, and so accepts his role as being somebody that we’ve all grown up with and an icon in entertainment, with such grace. He was really — it was really a great day.
What was your favorite scene to film?
Steve: What was my favorite scene to film? Um. Boy.
Jennifer: I liked when we were all together.
Steve: That’s what I was gonna say. Like, any — well, we were all together for most of the movie.
Jennifer: A lot. Dancing at the end. It’s just, all of the fun stuff, is really, it’s fun, it looks fun, and it is, and there was, um — there was a day between scenes where we had, um — they were setting up the cameras, and it’s the kind of thing, it was really, it was warm out, and it was the kind of thing where you would typically go back to your trailers, and do whatever you needed to do. And I would do an interview with one of you guys about something. Or — but, instead, 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.
Steve: On my last day, uh, Dylan and Kerris did a song for me that they had written. And —
Jennifer: And Ed.
Steve: And Ed. Yeah. The three of them. Sang this song. But I think the two of them wrote it and the three of them performed it, and I — I broke down.
Steve: I really didn’t see it coming. Yeah. I’m saying it because I want to elicit that response. But really it really crept on me, the emotion of it all, and kind of the — the feelings that we all had, just over a couple of months for one another. And to see everyone again, and be doing press, is really fun —
Jennifer: It’s different when you work with kids. You know, you really feel a different sense of — like, I know I’ll see Steve. I’ll always be glad to see him and hopefully we’ll work together at some point, but we played these kids’ parents. You know. Especially the babies. If you are working with kids, even though there are people there, making sure they’re okay, and their parents, but you’re the one saying, “Do you want a snack? Do you have to pee?” Do you know? “Are you tired?”
Steve: There is a responsibility there.
Steve: You know. You want to make it okay for everybody. You want everybody to be happy. And be having fun. But, also, you know, you try to sense what is going on with them.
Do you guys follow the kids after you do all of the press junkets and stuff, or is it just kind of like, you’re the teacher who sends them off hoping that they’ve learned something and that they think of you now and then?
Jennifer: I’m starting to rack up onscreen kids. [LAUGHTER] And I started this with the first — the first time I played a mom was in “Timothy Greene,” and I started this then, and I feel like it’s something to do with being “The Mom” too, that I really keep in loose touch, I would say. There’s a little girl that I worked with in “Imagine” and she and I — I send books to her, or these kids that I e-mail with, their moms are with them, a little bit, you know, just enough to say, I am thinking of you if you need another set of ears, ever, you can always call me.
Steve: Yeah. She’s nicer about that than I am. Um. Do I keep in touch? Well, I — I guess, not really. You know? I see them at things like this, and — and the — the kids that I have been in movies with, I will see from time to time, and it’s always nice to catch up and see how they’re doing, but it’s incredible how quickly they are not little kids anymore. I ran
Jennifer: Yeah. Abigail is like, a —
Steve: Abigail Breslin, I — I ran into her at “The Tonight Show” a few months ago, and she’s a completely different human being. And fantastic, and accomplished, and wonderful. And so that’s — that’s sort of the joy there, for me, is to, you know, you do catch up, because these circles end up being —
Jennifer: It’s a small world. Right?
Steve: Yeah. I mean, the circles are pretty small.
Steve: And then you do tend to, you know, to see people over the years and — and lightly catch up with them, so that’s always nice.
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ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY opens in theaters everywhere on October 10th!