MD = Michael Dequina; Q = Other press; JF = Jon Favreau
MD: Brenda, Lisa, Megan, and Tiffany say hello.
JF: Oh my God; I've got the whole Internet team. [laughs]
MD: I'm the only person of the whole team that's here [in L.A.].
JF: That's right; you're the spokesman. They started off doing an unofficial fan site for me, and now I got them doing a site for Dinner for Five, dinnerforfive.com, which is a talk show I'm doing for IFC.
Q: Can you explain to us the theory behind the show?
JF: For Dinner for Five? Yeah, it's me and four friends from the industry having dinner. We shot it documentary-style over the course of a night, and we edit it down to a half an hour, and it shows on IFC with no commercials and plenty of cursing, drinking, and things you're not allowed to do on network TV.
Q: Same people every time?
JF: No, no; it'll be different people. We'll do like four a year. The first time around is Jeanne Tripplehorn, Joey Lauren Adams, Kevin James, and Peter Berg. We shot at the Atlantic in L.A., and it's gonna be airing on July 7 on IFC.
Q: What do you talk about?
JF: Whatever. No list of topics, no pre-interviews. We just sit and eat dinner, and then we pull out the most entertaining vignettes. It's shot with five cameras.
Q: What did you talk about?
JF: We talked about different movies, like some of us worked on Very Bad Things together. Chasing Amy, how [Joey Lauren Adams] got nominated for the Golden Globe. Stories about waiting tables and things we did before we started in the business.
Q: Mostly about the industry, though, right? You're not sitting around talking about whether you should order a chardonnay...
JF: Some of that's that, though, and that's the funny thing. It really feels like a night hanging out with these people, so that's sort of what I was after--to show people as they really are and not all pumped-up to tell their best anecdote between commercials.
Q:With this movie, was there a particular reason you went to Artisan instead of Miramax?
JF:Yeah, Artisan is one of the smaller independent film studios, so they attract talent by supporting the talent creatively. When I wrote the script, I sort of put it out there in the marketplace with Vince and I attached, and they had said that if we could make it for $5 million, I could have final cut over the film, and for a first time director to have creative control was quite a feat. That was appealing to us, so we went with them and Bill Block over at Artisan had been trying to work with me since Swingers and it turned out to be a very good experience for us.
Q: But why didnít Miramax want to get it?
JF: Miramax is, I think, more in the business of developing their own product. They have quite a track record, and they tend to have a lot of say in the direction of the films they produce.
Q: They don't seem to be making the $5 million movies anymore.
JF: No, theyíre making the bigger movies, and I think at that time too Harvey was ill for a while and out of the scene. I like Miramax. They did a great job releasing Swingers. I have a lot to be grateful for to them, and Iím sure Iíll end up working with them again. Theyíre quite a presence, and they have a pretty high standard, but I think itís going to be a lot easier now that Iíve proven myself, that I know what Iím doing. I think as a first timer you have to be a little more careful.
Q: What did you spend on this?
JF: This movie? It was $5 million.
Q: You spent every dime?
JF: Yeah, we spent every dime. Vince and I actually kicked our pay in at the end because we wanted to do some more photography and wanted some more editing time. It was a real labor of love for both of us.
Q: How did Peter Billingsley get involved as a producer?
JF: Peter Billingsley is an old friend of Vince's, and I met him through Vince. He's been a producer; he worked on stuff like The X Show as a producer, and he had edited and written and directed films for smaller film companies, so he has a very strong background on the production side. He's been an actor, of course, since A Christmas Story as a little guy.
Q: An all-time classic.
JF: All-time classic. And just a great guy, and brings a lot of experience to the group of friends that was really invaluable in the process.
Q: You're working on a project with Vince, your labor of love. You must've been nostalgic for the fact that you didn't have to run from the cops, and you could actually shoot where you want to shoot...
JF: Yeah, although that kind of didnít last because we would get to a location--we said, "OK, we want to shoot in Time Square." You canít get a permit to shoot in Time Square like that, so there we were back again with the cops chasing us and running around with a camera on [director of photography] Chris Doyleís shoulders shooting us in the middle of Time Square running around in our wardrobe. So, I think that we didnít want to lose that energy and become too complacent. And although we had ten times the budget we had on Swingers because it was a union production, and we were in New York and L.A., and everybodyís getting paid--even though theyíre getting paid a fraction of what they normally would--that budget went fast. And so it was still a run and gun, under-30-day shoot where we had to fly by on the seat of our pants again.
Q: How was the New York shoot different than L.A.?
JF: New York has a great energy, and it looks beautiful. Thereís a reality to it and a different feel that you canít get in L.A.--or in Canada for that matter, where they usually shoot New York. But itís a much tougher environment to shoot in: thereís more traffic; thereís more people; thereís less crew members. You have a deep bench here in L.A.; you have a lot of qualified people who are looking for work because a lot of work has gone to Canada. So here in L.A. you have incredibly qualified people who are available to you. And I live in L.A. so itís a lot easier for me, so I get to sleep in my own bed.
Q: I originally saw the film at one of your screenings that you did for college audiences.
JF: Which one?
Q: It was the one in Westwood at the UA; the first one, I think. Whose idea was that, and what was your thinking behind it?
JF: The good news with Artisan was we had a great deal of creative control. The bad news when you work with a company like that is thereís just not a lot of money to market, and you have to put a lot of energy into getting the word out in the right way because you canít buy commercials during the Super Bowl for these little movies. And so, part of the marketing strategy was to show it to the crowd that we think will receive it the best, and so we took it to New York, San Francisco, L.A., Austin and showed it to college crowds. Nowadays with the Internet, the reviews start proliferating, and people who are looking for your movie find out about it, and a real good grassroots word of mouth could start if youíve got a movie that people like. So I think it was very smart--money well-spent, renting those theatres and showing it to the kids.
Q: You've also been on your website, gettingitmade.com; I know you've been responding to every single question too.
JF: [laughs] That's right; that's right.
Q: I think that anytime anyone gets their question answered they're gonna want to see the movie.
JF: I think so. We set up this website, gettingitmade.com because we couldnít have press on the set. There just wasnít any time to have little electronic press kits or any of the things that you spend so much time and trouble with on big studio movies. Here, we really were down and dirty and tried to make our days, so we had to close the set. But I wanted to set up a website so that we could post pictures for the fans and answer questions that they might have because rumors always start whenever you close the set. On one hand, we closed ourselves off to the press, but on the other hand we opened up the whole set to all the fans. So since then, Iíve been going online and answering any posts on the bulletin board, and I get my own special color of type, so people know itís really me. Iím on there for a few hours, definitely like an hour a day at least, just going through the questions and trying to answer all the questions people might have.
Q: [while adjusting power pack on her recorder] What's been one of the wildest rumors before you actually answered?
JF: I'll give you a good one before you plug in.
Q: No, no! Don't! OK, I'm plugged in.
JF: Keep going?
JF: Let's see, the rumors? Well, anytime you have [Sean] "Puffy" Combs on the set, there's gonna be people taking pictures and trying to figure things out. We shot some stuff in Central Park Zoo, and we couldn't afford to close the area we were in, so we'd let people through with their kids to look at the polar bears or wherever we were. And then, inevitably, photographers would start walking through just snapping shots of us. So people would start to try to guess what the movie's about; people would try to figure out who's in it; and it just became problematic. But there were no crazy rumors except linking people romantically. Jennifer Esposito was around, and I was linked to her, and Vince was linked to her.
Q: No truth in any of those rumors?
JF: No, unfortunately not.
Q: You're engaged, though?
JF: [flashes wedding band] I'm married now.
Q: You're married? I'm sorry.
JF: That's all right.
Q: Well, that makes those rumors worse.
JF: No--well, better, depending. [laughs] Better for your love life. A little jealousy.
Q: How has married life changed you, then?
JF: I donít know. Not really a lot. I was with her for a while before we got married; I was engaged for like a year, so it was sort of a natural progression.
Q: You weren't a "swinger"?
JF: No. I guess itís not my personality to go out and really enjoy all the fruits of success--certainly the ones that I thought I would do. The things you think youíre looking forward to the most, you end up not getting into, and then other aspects of success really become more appealing.
Q: OK, list the ones you thought.
JF: I thought--you know, the same reason anybody learns to play guitar: girls. The girls part.
Q: "Guys learn" you mean--not "anybody."
JF: Although a lot of girls learn to play guitar to meet girls too.
Q: You might be right about that, actually. [laughs]
JF: Then you get involved with the business, but then what starts to become the most challenging or rewarding aspect is the creative outlet and how you get to connect with people who are like how you used to be. That opens you up because you can only get so far if you want to be a bachelor your whole life; you can only get so deep, and then you have to cut it off at a certain point and then start again and again and again. I always end up finding somebody I like to spend time with, and I did, and I was with her many years. Thereís so many challenges that come with this line of work, and you doubt yourself so much that itís really nice to have somebody who loves you to support you and be there. And now Iím about to have a baby, so everything is all sort of falling into place. Funny, as exciting as my life might seem with being involved with movies and all this other stuff, the most exciting part is the prospect of having a kid, which everybody's always said I'd never believe, but now I could. I got the movie and a baby coming out the same week, and Iím more excited about the baby.
Q: And what's your wife's name?
Q: Is there a sense from some people that this movie is perceived as Swingers 2 and do you mind that?
JF: No, I donít mind it. We put it right on the top of the one-sheet: ďThe guys from Swingers are back,Ē or whatever it says.
Q: That was your idea.
JF: That was part of the marketing campaign; I wasn't going to argue with it. That is really what weíre counting on--for people to not just want to see me or just want to see Vince, but want to see us together; I think people enjoyed our chemistry a lot in Swingers. The problem is, with a film like Swingers thatís been out for so long and is so important to so many people, is if you try to just cover the same ground or even do a sequel, youíre gonna really walk into the fire because you could never live up to that comparison. The best we could hope for was to do a movie that was aspiring to different things but would be a good follow-up with similar sensibilities, but yet going for a different set of goals. As weíve gotten older, hopefully the film is dealing with deeper issues than Swingers does.
Q: So how did you develop this story?
JF: I just wrote something around the core of my relationship with Vince, a different aspect of it.
Q: Is Vince that annoying in person?
JF: No, no, no. [laughs]
Q: What aspect of your relationship?
JF: Whereas Swingers was sort of the aspect of our relationship where he was the smooth ladiesí man and had everything figured out and knew how to enjoy life, this is like the other extreme of that, of when the partyís going on too long and you want to go home. Also, my character is in a relationship now, and so that sort of makes things a little different because the two characters are growing apart, and thereís a certain amount of struggle with that within these characters. Obviously, these two had spent a lot of time together younger, and now heís sort of off trying to build a family. So, itís not like how he really is, but it certainly is exaggerating a different aspect of our relationship.
Q: Some actors who become directors said that they would never do both acting and directing again at the same time. How hard was it?
JF: It was rough. I mean, I think I could learn more about directing if I wasnít acting in the film at the same time. It sort of would be nice to write a script and see it through and edit it and maybe play a smaller role. Although for this experience, I think it really worked out quite well for us.
Q: So going back to what you were saying, do you think that being settled and married stretches you further away from a good buddy like Vince, or does the fame aspect [keep you together]?
JF: Well, first the fame separated me from my friends. You had me hanging out with Ron Livingston and Vince and all these people, and then all of a sudden Swingers becomes successful, and Ron's off doing a TV show or movie, and Vince is off in Hawaii shooting The Lost World, and I'm off doing something in Toronto, maybe--we're just not killing time together like we used to; your life starts to get in the way. And then, of course, when you get married, that's a whole other thing; you're developing a whole new relationship in your life that's the most important one to you, and so time becomes scarce. That's what was nice about working on this; we've been wanting to work together for a while, and it forced us to spend a lot of time together. It was a good experience. We came out really happy. I got to know him really well as he is now because we've changed in those years, and we look forward to doing it again.
Q: So he's not a "swinger" anymore, you don't think?
JF: Oh, he definitely has a good time. He's out on the town. He's definitely up nights, and I'm up days; we're different in that way. But certainly when I'm out of town with him, I get a taste of it again; it's fun.
Q: But you haven't gotten into any bar fights lately.
[Everyone laughs and groans]
JF: [laughs] No, not me.
Q: Well, actually, speaking of fighting, you guys have a lot of scenes where you're just going at each other. You must've missed once and kind of popped him.
JF: I caught him once. I was so scared he would hit me. I was trained for Rocky Marciano and all this, and he's more of a real boxer; he used to box when he was younger, so I was afraid I was gonna get tagged by him. One time when we were being separated, my glove hit him in the forehead. I mean, I didnít full on hit him, but there was a little time when he got popped. We put it in the movie; itís right at the beginning. But nobody got hurt, thatís for sure. We were all very careful with each other. The wrestling kind of was rough just because you donít get hit, but it takes a lot out of you by the third take; you're like, [heaves heavily]. [laughs] It's pretty sad.
Q: You know, I have this theory about men fistfighting--that they need to do it, and that America has turned into this P.C. place where you can't get into a bar brawl anymore.
JF: Yeah, people don't brawl much here.
Q: But it's in the movies all the time.
JF: Yeah it is. No, I can't--how the hell do you brawl? Either I'll get my ass kicked, or I'll get sued.
Q: Exactly. Especially if you watch old movies, men are getting into fistfights all the time. It's gotta be reflective of what men need to do in their teens and 20s.
JF: I grew up with teachers as parents, and it was always about talking it through, but when you write a movie, it's fun to show [fights]. I wanted to make these characters like they were brothers, and people I know who're brothers, they could be 40 years old, and they'll still be wrestling around the floor of the diner like two little eight-year-olds. So I wanted to capture that and show that. I thought it was also funny that weíre bruised up and that thereís a lot of violence in the movie, but it was only between the two of us. So all these dangerous characters weíre meeting, we never fight with any of them.
JF: But you see clips from the movie, and you say, ďOh my God, these guys must be getting their asses kicked.Ē And then it turns out, as you go through the film, you realize itís just us being unprofessional and slap boxing.
Q: How was it having the guys from The Sopranos in the movie?
JF: It was great. Vinny Pastore I met when I was shooting the episode of The Sopranos I was a guest on. He had come up to me in the catering area at lunch. I wasn't even working with him, but he just came up to me and was like, "Oh, I love that movie Swingers; I love the work you guys are doing." And that's when I realized this part in the movie that I was sort of writing already I tailored for him, hoping he'd do it. He was wonderful, real professional, nothing like you'd think, too. You'd think he was just some guy they found on a street corner. And although he sort of lived that life--I think he knows those people--he is a member of theater companies, and he's always hanging out with other actors and really takes the craft really seriously. A very nice guy.
Q: Speaking of professionals, what role is Puff Daddy gonna play in helping to market this film?
JF: Obviously, when he shows up and walks down the carpet at the premiere, theyíre going to show that on television because right now heís like at the epicenter of the media. But we wanted to make sure that he was used in proportion to what his role was in the film. We appreciated him doing it; we donít want to put the film on his shoulders. I think thatís why he took the role in the film, just to show what he could do and sort of get out. Hopefully, the attention that he will inevitably bring will help bring some peopleís attention to the film, but Iím glad that the poster isnít a picture of him in a white fur coat.
Q: What do you think of this trend of rap stars becoming actors.
JF: Well, it depends if they're good or not. I think Puffy's good; I think DMX is good; I think Will Smith is good; Ice Cube's good. Who else is there? They're usually good.
JF: Ice-T? I didn't catch Leprechaun 5.
Q: Snoop Dogg?
JF: Snoop's funny; he's a funny guy from what I've seen. If he's playing a part, if he's being smart about his role and he's natural in it, [he's good]. I've seen him in that Dave Chappelle movie--he was pretty funny; he had a bit part in that. I think it's great. I certainly would be the last person to point the finger at people coming up in acting non-traditionally. I'm not an "actor's actor"; I don't have a classical theater background, and I don't think acting is such a precious discipline that you need to [have one]. It's not like you got somebody doing surgery on your heart who used to be a carpenter. Acting is not that complicated, and if you're convincing and you have a good look and people like to watch you, I think more power to you.
Q: Stupid question: was "Sean Combs" his acting name, or you just didn't know what to call him, if you supposed to label him "P. Diddy" or "Puff Daddy"?
JF: I always called him Sean because it was difficult on the set to go up to him between takes and say, "OK, now in this scene, Puff Daddy, what I'd like you to do..."
JF: You know what I mean? It was kind of strange for me. [laughs] So I would call him Sean. I asked him once; he would refer to himself as "Puff" sometimes or Sean. I didn't know, so I just call him Sean most of the time. And then now, he changed his name, so I guess I'm now in the clear.
Q: Obviously you and Vince are playing off of each other; there's a lot of ad-libbing off the script.
JF: Yeah, a lot.
Q: With the supporting cast, how many of them are really playing loose with the material?
JF: I think they're all playing pretty loose with my material--certain people more comfortable than others, but everybody from the little girl, Makenzie Vega, all the way up to Peter Falk. I ended up using a lot of the stuff they made up moreso than the stuff that I wrote. But then you have people like Sam Rockwell and Bud Cort and people who just came in for a day as a favor, and they brought their "A" game. If they were gonna come in for a day, they were gonna make it worth it, and sure enough they knocked Vince and I back on our heels. That whole thing with Bud Cort as the decorator--I barely wrote any of that. He came in in full makeup and this outfit. And Sam Rockwell, who's in two scenes in the movie as the bellhop--I'd only written in one scene with the bellhop, and he just showed up the next day; he had so much fun the day before. I was like, "Get in makeup! We'll throw you in!" So the scene when comes back in the room and Vince throws the stuff in his face--that wasn't in the script; he wasn't even supposed to come in. But to me, that was an epiphany; that was like the turning point of the film. I was like, "Oh, that's great--you laugh, but it's scary; it's dark; it's mean, but it's funny." It just gets you ready for the next act where things might go very bad.
Q: As a director, have borrowed anything from the other directors you've worked with?
JF: Just the actors; I borrowed a lot of actors. I borrowed Faizon Love from The Replacements; I borrowed Vince from Rudy and Famke Janssen from Love and Sex, so I like to find actors that Iím working with as a peer, and they usually inspire me to write something for them.
Q: So any similarity to [Swingers director] Doug Liman's style is a coincidence?
JF: Just that I like the fact that we shot with available light and practical locations and with a lot of handheld. I liked that feeling; I thought that added a grittiness to this movie.
Q: I noticed in the cast list there's a Joan Favreau and a Vernon Vaughn. Are those relatives?
JF: Joan is my grandmother, and she was in Swingers also; and Vernon Vaughn is Vince's dad, and he was also in Swingers. So they're sort of our good luck charms.
Q: Before [the publicist] takes you away, a completely off-the-wall question for you: what's the best gift you ever got as a child?
JF: Best gift I got as a child? Wow. [pauses] I got a parakeet named Wilbur, and he was my pride and joy for many years.
Q: And how old were you when you got it?
JF: Oh, I must've been about seven or eight, and he lasted up until I was in high school. You couldn't get a dog in an apartment in Queens, so he was like my dog, and he was a great pet. I hope to someday get a parakeet for my kid and pass on that tradition.
Q: Was he green?
JF: He was green; he was a green male parakeet.
Q: Any sort of generic advice, a mantra, words of wisdom--anything you'd want to share with people, either about film or about life in general?
JF: Wow, that's not too hard a question. [laughs]
Q: People give me a lot of terse answers; I don't care if it's terse.
JF: Let's see... [pauses] See, the long makes it even more pressure. [laughs] Always put the seat down if you want your marriage to last.
Jon Favreau photos
One-on-One with Jon Favreau (7/6/01)
Jon Favreau interview (8/26/00)
Junket Transcripts & Interviews
The DVD Review
Thanks to Fred Topel for help with the transcription
Made: Jon Favreau/© Michael Dequina