How John C. Reilly’s transcendent performance in a fake music biopic forever changed the way we look at the genre. And why, after its initial box office disappointment, it’s going stronger than ever.

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Jonathan Bartlett
The most interesting musician who ever lived actually didn’t. Born in the rural South during the Great Depression, this man rose from humble beginnings to become America’s most popular genre-spanning artist. He recorded hit after hit, battled the pressures of fame, ruined several romantic relationships, & suffered through decades of substance abuse—all while struggling to lớn cope with past trauma.

If this synopsis sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the basic formula for virtually every music biopic ever made. “They’re very hard lớn exedễ thương because you really are trying khổng lồ take a 50- to 70-year life và turn it into lớn two hours,” producer Judd Apatow told me. “And most of these people did a lot of things. And were married a lot. And did have ups and downs. And were on drugs at a certain time. And recovered. And had all these problems with their families. And got involved in politics. And tried to lớn be movie stars. And so no matter what you bởi vì, it feels stuffed.”

In the early 2000s, the genre’s cultural relevance peaked. Ray (2004) & Walk the Line (2005) combined lớn gross more than $311 million in theaters & won several Academy Awards. Jake Kasdan loved them both. In fact, the filmmaker called himself “a total sucker” for roông xã flicks.

By then, the category was ripe for parody. So Kasdan và Apatow, who first worked together on Freaks and Geeks, decided khổng lồ make their own music biopic. What they conceived, however, was no ordinary spoof. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story featured a double album’s worth of original songs. John C. Reilly didn’t just play the title role; he became the character. As Dewey, he played guitar, sang, and even went on a real-life tour.

Reilly’s commitment lớn the part helped inadvertently raise the bar for music biopics. When Walk Hard was released in late 2007, however, it tanked at the box office. But now, the kind of movie that it satirizes is having another moment. “Oh, we tried to kill the musical biopic with this movie,” Reilly said. “And it turns out it’s a very resilient cliché.”

When the Queen-centered Bohemian Rhapsody và the Bradley Cooper–Lady Gaga version of A Star Is Born were released last fall, critics couldn’t help but compare them lớn Walk Hard. review of the Elton John biopic Rocketman, which hits theaters this week, are also referencing it. It’s taken years, but the world finally seems khổng lồ appreciate the true genius of Dewey Cox.

The character may have sầu been sui generis, but he wasn’t a completely self-made man. His legkết thúc depended on a music-obsessed director, a comedy kingmaker, a group of talented songwriters, và a stacked supporting cast. This is the story of The Dewey Cox Story.

All stills courtesy Sony Pictures

Part I: “I Am So In”

By the middle of the last decade, the Judd Apatow comedy age had begun. From 2004 to lớn 2007, he produced or directed Anchorman, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Talladega Nights, Knocked Up, Superbad. Kasdan—whose father, Lawrence, had a hand in several iconic blockbusters—was, to lớn that point, the director of three movies: Zero Effect (1998), Orange County (2002), và The TV Set (2006).

Jake Kasdan (co-writer-director): Judd’s a guy who likes khổng lồ make a bunch of stuff & likes to lớn Hotline his friends that he likes working with. He just had this moment & he called me up và said, “If you can think of an idea, for a big, fun comedy let’s talk about it.”

Judd Apatow (co-writer-producer): He’s lượt thích, “Do you think I should vày some movie about all these movies like Ray & Walk the Line?”

Kasdan: I had this flash that it would be very fun to lớn bởi a very detailed Ben Stiller Show–esque parody of that genre. A very extensive sầu biopic with all the scope those movies have. With original music about a fictional rock legkết thúc. And that it would be called Walk Hard.

Apatow: The second he told me, I laughed so hard. And I was lượt thích, “I am so in.”

Kasdan: And 45 minutes later he had set it up at Sony và we were starting the wheels turning. Forty-five minutes is only a small exaggeration. By the next day, I was pitching it like, “This could be fun.” I didn’t have that much. I just had this baby idea, & as he does, when he gets something in his head he gets excited and it starts khổng lồ happen.

Jonah Hill (Older Nate): I think it’s the ultimate example of Judd’s power at the time.

“I thought, ‘Well, I might not be completely ready for this, but I am the person to try to lớn this right now. And I have lớn rise to lớn the challenge.’” —John C. Reilly

Kasdan: It was the beginning of Judd’s incredible run of movies. In comedy, it’s only happened a couple of times ever.

Apatow: My grandfather was a record producer named Bobby Shad và he produced the first Janis Joplin record và people lượt thích Sarah Vaughan và Charlie Parker. So I’ve always been fascinated by the record business. And when Craig Robinson sings his tuy nhiên, his name is Bobby Shad—Bobby Shad and the Bad Men.

Kasdan: One of the original ideas was that we would find somebody toàn thân to play it who was a great comedian but also sometoàn thân who could credibly be in a movie like that. And really, John C. Reilly is almost the only person who so completely checks both of those boxes.

John C. Reilly (Dewey Cox): Anytime someone as talented as Judd & Jake approach you and say, “It’s gotta be you,” you know, that’s a really flattering thing. It was certainly really an honor that they came lớn me.

Apatow: I had just worked with hyên on Talladega Nights. So he was someone I was astounded by on a daily basis. I knew he was a fantastic singer, so we never considered anybody toàn thân else. John took it very, very seriously. Early on, he made it very clear he wanted to lớn be deeply involved in all creative aspects of the movie.

Reilly: At that moment, all of a sudden there was this burst of recognition for me, and I was lượt thích, “Well, I have to be careful about the choices I make.” And then when I realized they were really gonna bring me on as a partner, và let me be a part of the songwriting, let me be part of the development of the script, I thought, “Whoa, there is no reason that this wouldn’t be a good idea.”

Kasdan: We took the opportunity to revisit and make a giant danh mục of everything that we could include.

Apatow: We just made notes of what we thought was the most ridiculous things they had lớn vì khổng lồ get through the story.

Kasdan: The ones that were the most fresh in people’s minds were Walk the Line & Ray, but we went deep. There are so many of them.

Apatow: I remember looking at Bird. Great Balls of Fire! had the scene where he peeks inlớn the dance hall where everyone’s doing their sexy dance. We also looked at Coal Miner’s Daughter, a fantastic movie. … La Bamcha was definitely one of the movies that we looked at.

Kasdan: Part of the original conceit was that we would be telling this life story in this slightly stylized way where he has these just epic arcing phases of his life.

Apatow: Jake noticed really early that no one would walk into any scene who wasn’t the most important person in their life. If a woman walked in, they would get married lớn ’em. If a guy walked in, he would become the manager.

Kasdan: Part of the thought process was we would have sầu the person playing Dewey for just an impossible stretch of time. Which is another conceit. From the time he’s a little kid, from the time he’s 14, khổng lồ the time he’s 80.

“The moment people present you with the final version of a new tuy vậy … I think in all of show business that’s my favorite thing. For some reason that’s the most joyful part of the experience of almost anything else to lớn me.” —Judd Apatow

Reilly: Jake had the best line about it. He said, “If you compress someone’s entire life from when they’re born until they die inlớn a two-hour movie, basically every time you open a door you’re in a new era.” And that in itself is inherently satirical. It’s inherently funny. Because the tốc độ at which you’re moving through these people’s lives, it’s lượt thích a wig every five minutes.

Kasdan: And just saying overtly in the dialogue what’s going on. “This is a dark fucking period.” “The ’60s are an exciting time.”

Apatow: There was no time to lớn slow down and show anything that didn’t uncover massively important aspects of their life.

Kasdan: The endless run of cameos of real-life people walking in and out of the movie and being called by their full names. The rise and fall & rise & fall thing way too many times.

Apatow: We kept noticing that most of the characters had the disapproving parents.

Kasdan: That idea of saying something và realizing it’s the title of a song. And writing the song instantly.

Apatow: And the brother who died young. Elvis had that story, and Cash had that story.

Reilly: The weird part is that there’s so many similarities in these musicians’ stories.

Kasdan: You could totally see sometoàn thân wanting khổng lồ cast John in an actual biopic lượt thích that. I don’t know if he would actually bởi it. But he was so clearly the guy.

Hill: I remember them saying that they got someone who would be in Walk the Line. Not a “Capital C” comedy actor. … It’s crazy. He brings that kind of commitment whether it’s like a broad comedy or a movie. He’s just lượt thích a true, true genius actor.

Lewis Morton (executive producer): It’s just shocking how many things he can vì. He’s so funny in this absurdist way and such a good singer, but also he did True West doing both parts alternating every night.

Kasdan: He’s a thoughtful và conscious guy and he makes decisions carefully và it was his first time ever kind of being the main guy in a movie of that kích thước. Not that it was so huge. But it was a big studio comedy. He was thoughtful about it, but I think as he came to lớn see it he totally fell in love sầu with it và committed as hard as a person could.

Reilly: Not to lớn toot my own horn, but there aren’t many actors, at that point anyway—maybe there are now, maybe there were before—I can’t think of any that could’ve played the comedy, the drama, & had the musical chops khổng lồ vì chưng their own singing & playing. So I thought, “Well, I might not be completely ready for this, but I am the person khổng lồ try to lớn do this right now. And I have sầu lớn rise to lớn the challenge.”


Part II: “Oh My God, It’s Dewey Cox”

The creators of Walk Hard understood that a fake biopic wouldn’t have sầu worked without real music khổng lồ counterbalance the concept’s silliness. The soundtrachồng, a collaborative sầu work made by an eclectic team of musicians, was almost absurdly ambitious.

Kasdan: I’m very cthua with the people who had made my music on all my movies prior khổng lồ that; Mike Andrews & my music supervisor Manish Raval. My wife is a musician. A lot of musicians are around me a lot. A lot of my closest friends are musicians.

Michael Andrews (music director): He’s lượt thích, “We’re gonmãng cầu bởi vì this thing and it’s gonna be a lot of work. You gotta make sure you want khổng lồ vị all this work.” I was like, “Of course I want lớn vì chưng that.” First and foremost I’m a songwriter-artist-performer. The score thing was something that I fell into. Making records is a big part of who I am. The opportunity khổng lồ make an entire career’s worth of records over the course of a year was quite a challenge, but what a gas.

Kasdan: Before I had written it, I told hyên ổn what we were gonna vì chưng and his eyes got wide & he was lượt thích, “This could be amazing.” And so Mike produced all of the songs at his studio in Glendale. We would camp out there.

Manish Raval (music supervisor): We all came together around a single idea. And I remember it happening very fast. From the first time I read the script, I was laughing every page ’cause I felt lượt thích I totally got every joke. Just from a musician’s point of view và a music lover’s point of view.

“A lot of times it made me sad that the songs were so silly. Because I thought they sounded so amazing and beautiful. And John was singing so great that it was so weird that the tuy nhiên was ‘Dewey Cox Died.’ It seemed lượt thích a waste of so much talent to make such incredible songs which were so wrong.” —Judd Apatow

Reilly: You know that saying, “Some people are born great & some people have sầu greatness thrust upon them”? This was thrust upon me. I had khổng lồ grow fast. And I also had to lớn engage in songwriting with these guys who were professional songwriters. In order lớn make it seem like I wrote it, lớn have sầu some of my point of view in it, I had to engage in the songwriting process, which is a whole magical alchemy of itself.

Dan Bern (music consultant): I knew Jake. He and I had become pals 10 years before that, right around the time he made his first movie, Zero Effect, with Ryan O’Neal and Ben Stiller. And I had just made my second album at the time and he used one of the songs on the over titles. And then Walk Hard came up. And when he told me about it, there wasn’t even a script, believe sầu it or not.

Mike Viola (music consultant): I was living in New York at the time & Jake sent me the script & said, “Will you read this và tell me if it’s funny?” I had a kid, she was a baby at the time, and so I hired a babysitter và I went khổng lồ the library just lớn get out of my house because I lived in an apartment. I just wanted lớn focus on it and get right back to my friend. I was just laughing out loud. People telling me to shush. It was a scene from a movie in itself. I came bachồng to the apartment, this was all pre-cellphone, và I điện thoại tư vấn hyên ổn, và I go, “Jake, oh my God, this is unbelievable. Can you actually get away with making this movie?” And he’s like, “Yeah, man. We’re gonna vì it.”

Fast-forward a couple of weeks. He gave me a shot at writing the Roy Orbison spoof song, “A Life Without You (Is No Life at All).” He said, “You want khổng lồ give this a shot?” I said “Sure.” I’m a huge Roy bạn và I just think that he thought that would be my wheelhouse. He was totally right. I really took khổng lồ it. And I wrote a version và they loved it. And it was lượt thích, “Want lớn try another one?” So at one point he just said, “We need to bring you out to lớn L.A.”

Bern: I basically dropped everything I was doing. And for the next couple years I just channeled Dewey Cox.

Reilly: Dan really threw his whole self inkhổng lồ it.

Viola: So I got out to L.A. & I’m at the studio when they’re cutting the song “A Life Without You (Is No Life at All).” And I’m at my frikết thúc Mike Andrews’s studio & I meet John Reilly for the first time. We’ve become lifelong friends. But anyway, he’s singing my tune & it sounds unbelievable and the whole thing’s crazy. And then we start talking about this guy Dan Bern. And I didn’t know who he was but I knew that Jake thought he was one of the funniest guys he ever met. The next thing you know I hear something under the mixing console và there’s somebody toàn thân under there, lying down underneath this Neve sầu console. And it’s fucking Dan Bern. And he was under there the whole time. He was wearing a baseball hat & Lakers shirt or something. “Oh my God, hey man, what are you doing down there?” And he’s lượt thích, “I threw my baông chồng out.” I’m lượt thích, “So you’re Dan Bern.” And man, I love that guy. He’s my favorite songwriter on the planet. We became so cthua thảm.

Bern: I remember going in with Mike Viola khổng lồ a meeting with the two of us and Jake, John, & Judd, và they would fill a legal pad with just tuy vậy titles.

Andrews: Mike and Dan just holed up in a hotel room and just started writing tunes.

Viola: It’s this great old Best Western above sầu an awesome diner. They put us there for a couple months. And we just lived there. He had his room và I had my room, so we had a little privacy. But basically lượt thích every morning, we woke up, we’d have sầu our guitars, and we’d meet in his room or my room, wherever the vibe was, và we’d just wait for the phone khổng lồ ring. We’d be sitting there writing a song. Dan would be watching basketball. And the phone would ring and we’d be lượt thích, “Holy shit, who is it?” They’d be lượt thích, “Hey, we need a song.”

Bern: We’d write every damn tuy vậy. And the next day lather & repeat. We did that for a long time. Just like that.

Kasdan: They probably wrote over 100 songs attempts or ideas.

Bern: At some point, Mike & I became this two-headed quái nhân.

Andrews: They would keep coming with tunes. And I was just like, “Look, man, you can’t keep coming here with tunes. You can’t keep doing this to me. We’ve sầu gotta get these other tunes done.”

Apatow: A lot of times they would write songs based on the mood. So we would say, “Can you write a tuy nhiên that is a very naive sầu early Buddy Holly type of song?”

Andrews: It started in the world of Johnny Cash. Then all of a sudden it was a parody of the Johnny Cash movie. Which it so wasn’t. Because it started that way, it was the easiest way to classify that movie. Making the music, at least for me, I was never really referencing that. When I was producing it, when I was doing the instrumentation, I was thinking more lượt thích Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Johnny Burnette. And then from there, we went inkhổng lồ other genres.

Van Dyke Parks (songwriter): The piece that I was asked to lớn cowrite with Mike Andrews & orchestrate was, by every intention, farce. And musical farce is probably the most difficult of all the challenges in the medium. Sometimes someone can make a musical joke and it plays once. But it’s really an accomplishment if you can make a musical joke that bears repeating. And of course that was our challenge, lớn try to lớn make it plausible. We were sending up the Brian Wilson–Van Dyke Parks kind of concept of composing. It required the ability to self-criticize and lớn be the victyên ổn of my own joke. And I was put in that position. I was delighted lớn bởi it.

Andrews: Me và Van Dyke had a great time doing that Beach Boys jam. It just had become the most absurd thing. And then an extended Indian classical intro. And it was this Boss that kept growing. And then of course it turns inlớn like a 15-second bit in the movie.

Parks: The room sounded beautiful. It’s always nice lớn get a wall of brass. If you don’t have sầu something real important khổng lồ say it gets important with a wall of brass. Hit them with a wall of a sound.

Charlie Wadhams (songwriter): The mô tả tìm kiếm they gave sầu me for “Guilty As Charged” was something lượt thích, “Imagine Merle Haggard in a trashed hotel room with a bottle of whiskey after he’d just been dumped by his wife.” And it’s a big fuck-you-to-the-world tuy vậy. The other thing they said was, “You know that picture of Johnny Cash flicking off the camera? That’s the vibe of this tuy nhiên. And make it funny.”

Viola: Sometimes we’d make it too straight. Because we were being too conservative sầu.

Wadhams: When I first heard about the gig, Mike Andrews said, “Hey, I don’t know if you’d be interested in trying to bởi vì this.” And my first thought was, “Yeah, that sounds nice but I probably wouldn’t be able to lớn vị it. I’m probably not good enough.” I just had self-doubt.

Viola: Judd would say, “Can you punch this up? Punch up these lyrics và make them a little bit funnier.” We’re lượt thích, “Aw shit, OK.” We’d get our pens và notebooks & try và make it funnier. And it was real Old Hollywood–type shit; when you have sầu someone lượt thích Judd Apatow and Jake Kasdan pushing you to lớn make shit funny.

Jake Kasdan actually taught me something really crucial very early on. There was a tuy vậy I was trying lớn write … I thought it was really, really funny. I think it was called “I Don’t Stop khổng lồ Smell the Flowers.” It was funny because loses his sense of smell. I was like, “This is gonmãng cầu be really good.” And Jake was lượt thích, “Do you know what ‘swinging for the fences’ means?” Honestly I didn’t. I was like, “It’s a baseball term. I guess. But no. What does it mean?” He’s like, “Well, you’re trying too hard.” I learned a valuable lesson early on and I applied it lớn everything else moving forward.

Wadhams: The “Let’s Duet” one , that was probably the most fun one lớn vày. I sat around with a piece of paper trying to write every sexual word or phrase or slang that I could think of. And the first one that came to me, I think was that first line, which is, “In my dreams you’re blowing me … some kisses.” So from there it was like, “How vị I match that level of humor?” I gotta keep that kind of funny going on throughout the whole tuy nhiên.

Kasdan: I think “Walk Hard,” which Marshall Crenshaw ended up writing, was great.

Apatow: Marshall Crenshaw I was always a big người of. Jake & I, we had some rough ideas , and then he suddenly sent back an incredible tuy vậy he had put together.

Bern: It’s funny, me & Mike write hundreds of songs & we get a bunch of ’em in but Marshall wrote one tuy nhiên. And that happened lớn be the “Walk Hard” song.

Morton: At first I was lượt thích, “Certainly I’ll help make the songs funny.” And then it’s just like, “No.” The songs are fully formed. Every day more and more songs would come in và I would enjoy them.

Apatow: The moment people present you with the final version of a new song … I think in all of show business that’s my favorite thing. For some reason that’s the most joyful part of the experience of almost anything else to me.

Reilly: There was a lot of heart put inlớn it by a lot of people. Some musicians don’t write 35 original songs in their entire career. And we wrote 35 in six months.

“I was in awe of hyên ổn, because he was like, ‘I don’t care.’ I think it’s a very small percentage of men that would be willing khổng lồ show their penis in its flaccid state lớn millions of people in a movie.” —John C. Reilly

Andrews: It was a lot of work. John is a great singer. But he became a lot better singer during this movie. And at first I think he was like, “Who is this guy? Why is he making me vì this so many times?” This is just really hard. Like being a producer on a record, you try khổng lồ challenge the artist. And I tried to challenge hyên ổn in the same way that I would try lớn challenge an artist. A legitimate artist.

Reilly: I was really determined not khổng lồ be treated like an actor playing a musician. Because I’ve sầu been doing musicals và playing music since I was a little kid. So I actually bởi have sầu a lot of experience with music. And I wanted lớn prove myself lớn those guys. I wanted lớn show them, like, “You don’t have to lớn treat me like someone who just needs to be babied và then Auto-Tuned later.”

Bern: We just assumed he was gonna be great.

Andrews: John was literally on phối all day and then we’d record at night. He was working around the clochồng making these records. I think at the over of it, we recorded 45 or 50 tunes within like a six-month period.

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Bern: I remember meeting hyên, seeing him for the first time. And it wasn’t lượt thích, “Wow, that’s John C. Reilly, the actor.” After working on the stuff for so long it was like, “Oh my God, it’s Dewey Cox.”

Andrews: I worked hyên really, really hard. And there were moments where he was really frustrated. And I think that we worked through it and we made something really, really great.

Reilly: I was in incredibly good hands. Mike Andrews worked harder than anybody toàn thân on the movie, I think. Because of the hours that he put in. He was the one managing that whole stable of writers. He was the one producing it.

Apatow: A lot of times it made me sad that the songs were so silly. Because I thought they sounded so amazing và beautiful. And John was singing so great that it was so weird that the tuy nhiên was “Dewey Cox Died.” It seemed like a waste of so much talent khổng lồ make such incredible songs which were so wrong.

Raval: They were tremendous songs. I think they were fucking great. It wasn’t a parody. It wasn’t like a funny version of “Walk the Line.” Or a funny version of “Midnight Train to lớn Georgia.” It was like, “No, no, Dewey Cox is really good.”

Kasdan: He’s not doing a bit. He’s finding the emotional truth of what he’s playing. Even if what he’s playing is crazy. And that’s his great gift.


Part III: “I Couldn’t Say No khổng lồ Something Like That”

Because Walk Hard was a multi-multi-period piece filled with intricately staged musical performances, it required an extraordinary amount of preparation before a single scene was shot.

Reilly: I think one of the mind-fuck things about the movie is that it doesn’t look a comedy. It looks like a biopic. The costumes are perfect. All of the instruments are perfect.

Kasdan: To vì all those places & all those things, we built just a crazy amount of stuff. Jeff Sage, he’s a designer that I’ve sầu worked with a lot. Brilliant guy, really kind of just outdid himself.

Jefferson Sage (production designer): I don’t know how I missed it at the beginning, but I only learned as I started peeling it apart a little bit and saying, “OK, we’ve sầu got these scenes, & wait a minute, then we go to lớn the ’60s, so we’ve only gotten khổng lồ the ’60s & we still gotta go up khổng lồ modern times? Holy mackerel.”

Kasdan: It’s much more heavily designed than a comedy like that usually was. He built seven khách sạn rooms and three music studtiện ích ios. Everything was very detailed và authentic.

Sage: The big studio for the Beach Boys world was built on stage. I just dug inkhổng lồ research on some of the recordings in that period.

Andrews: Van Dyke came over, we wrote that tune, I quý phái it with all the Beach Boys–isms & everything in it. And then I went khổng lồ the mix & Jake was lượt thích, “Make sure they don’t fuông chồng up the look of the studio. Tell them what you want the studio khổng lồ look like.” So I went over to lớn the phối guys, told them what the studio was supposed to look like, then by the time we had made the tuy nhiên, they had built an entire recording studio that looked just lượt thích a ’60s recording studio complete with like 25-foot ceilings & a control booth on the second floor. It was just fucking insane.

Debra McGuire (costume designer): This could never have sầu happened with any other actor on the planet, but John loves costumes and character. He loves finding his character through costumes. It is a dream come true lớn have sầu an actor lượt thích that. For something that has 120 wardrobe changes. So try khổng lồ wrap your brain around it.

What Cathy and I did, she was assisting me, is we divided these fittings up into lớn periods và we also invited Lori , who did the hair, lớn join us in these fittings so we could put the appropriate wigs on and really get in the mood & the vibe and the character for these eras. What we did is we made music tapes for each era. So John literally is the only actor that exhausted me. I can go a good six hours in a fitting if it’s happening. He was lượt thích nonstop. I remember when he put on the outfit that he was roller skating in, & he goes, “I have lớn show this to lớn Jake!” He literally roller skated out of the room, went down the stairs in his roller skates, and is roller skating around.

The cast of Walk Hard is filled with comedy superstars và character actors. There are so many A-listers in small roles that it’s hard to lớn rethành viên everyone who’s in it. Kristen Wiig, who’d joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 2005, and Jenna Fischer, who was early in her run on The Office, play Dewey’s wives Edith và Darlene.

Kasdan: We were just looking at the funniest people lớn populate the thing with.

Reilly: I was very involved in the casting of the movie.

Kasdan: Kristen Wiig came in lớn just kick it around with hyên one day.

Reilly: When you look at her you’re like, “It’s like she has a secret.” It’s lượt thích she knows something about the way life works that you don’t. There’s a mystery lớn her and she’s so goddamn funny. <Through a publicist, Kristen Wiig declined lớn be interviewed for this story.>

Kasdan: She had, in the couple of years before that, emerged as one of the real breakout people on SNL. She was so fantastic so we grabbed her while we could.

Jenmãng cầu Fischer (Darlene): I did this little movie called The Promotion with Seann William Scott & John C. Reilly. And while we were shooting that, John said, “Hey, I’m doing this movie with Judd right now, you would be really great for the role of Darlene, who is my wife.” And I said, “Oh, great, lemme check it out.” And he’s like, “Well, I’ll tell Judd and you tell your people to lớn follow up with hyên.” So it was sort of like John recommending me, at least from my point of view.

Reilly: Jenmãng cầu had this, & still does, this incredible wholesome unique. But she’s got the cleverness of a great comedian.

Fischer: They sent me the script & I read the role of Darlene, but then also the role that Kristen Wiig ended up playing. The first wife. And I said lớn my people, “Oh, when he said my wife, I think he must mean his first wife because that was just sort of the put-upon, lượt thích, more dowdy one.” And my reps called bachồng and they said, “No no no, they meant Darlene,” and I was like, “Darlene lượt thích his sexy wife lady?” No one ever wants me for that role. I’m lượt thích, “Cheông chồng again.” I’m always playing, like, the one in the background. The overlooked wallflower girl. I’m lượt thích, “I’m terrified khổng lồ play the sort of vixeny sexpot lady.” They’re like, “They already cast you in the role.”

Reilly: She looks like this girl next door, this really sweet kind of, very on the surface, sweet Polly Purebred kind of look, but she’s got this really wonderful subversive sầu sense of comedy, as you can see on The Office. We knew that. We couldn’t just have sầu someone who was genuinely just sweet. Because we were making a satire and this movie had to have this edge to lớn it.

Fischer: I auditioned for Judd & Jake, và John was there & read with me. And I can’t rethành viên what it was in the scene, but I had the benefit of already knowing hyên and having worked on this other movie with him. So we improvised the scene & I think I went over & sat on his lap, which is not something I would normally vày in an audition lớn a costar. But we had a familiarity. There was just this free-flowing fun chemistry that sort of sparked in the room. I would’ve never done that if I didn’t know hlặng from before.

Reilly: Once Jenmãng cầu came in & we did this sort of chemistry read, I was like, “Oh my God, she’s gonmãng cầu be perfect.” And compared to lớn Kristen, who was basically playing lượt thích a Robert Frank photograph, of the starving woman in a tent with her baby. That’s what we wanted her khổng lồ look like. So she was supposed khổng lồ be this Appalachian, wire-thin, hillbilly lady. And then you meet Jenna, who’s lượt thích all these curves và lusciousness, & hair, so I just thought, “These are the two perfect clichés for what he starts out with & what he bounces to.”

David Krumholtz (Schwartzberg, Dewey’s manager): I was just happy to lớn be there doing something. And kind of mocking myself on some màn chơi because at that point I had done Ray. And I had played the same character essentially. And I had done Bobby, which was an Emilio Estevez movie where I played Demi Moore’s manager. I had done it a couple times. And of course it’s always a little Jew. When I saw his name was Schwartzberg, it was my idea, I said, “Why don’t we give him a unibrow và a mole?”

Martin Starr (Schmendrick): John C. Reilly had watched Freaks và Geeks the week prior & reached out to lớn Jake to see if he would reach out to lớn me to lớn see if I would vày it. It was just kind of a last-minute addition. That was fun.

Margo Martindale (Ma Cox): I had done a movie with . We had a blast together. He made me laugh hysterically.

Raymond J. Barry (Pa Cox): Very often I’m hired lớn intimidate someone. And it’s not lượt thích I walk around the universe trying lớn intimidate people. I know what is required. And usually what it has lớn vị with is stillness và keeping my eyes locked inkhổng lồ the other person & saying the words. In the case of Walk Hard, I knew I could loosen up and have sầu a ball. And that’s the way it turned out, mainly because John and I got along so well.

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