IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Director Robert "Bobby" Farrelly Talks 'The Three Stooges' Blu-ray/DVD and 'Untitled Dumb and Dumber Sequel'

Tuesday, 17 July 2012 16:33 Written by  Jami Philbrick
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IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Director Robert "Bobby" Farrelly Talks 'The Three Stooges' Blu-ray/DVD and 'Untitled Dumb and Dumber Sequel'

Screenwriters, directors and brothers Peter and Robert “Bobby” Farrelly have been making audiences laugh with their comedic films for almost twenty-years, so it only makes sense that the duo would eventually take on one of the most famous comedy acts of all-time … The Three Stooges!

The Farrelly Brothers, as they are known professionally, first gained attention in 1994 for their hit comedy Dumb and Dumber, which not only cemented Jim Carrey as one of the most successful comedic film actors of his generation, but it also put the directing duo on the map in Hollywood. While their follow up film, the cult favorite Kingpin, failed to find an audience in theaters, it more than made up for it home video sales. However, it was their third movie, There’s Something About Mary starring Cameron Diaz and Ben Stiller, which made the Farrelly Brothers a household name. They followed up the success of Mary with several popular films including Me, Myself & Irene, Shallow Hal, Stuck On You, Fever Pitch, The Heartbreak Kid, and Hall Pass. The directing duo now returns with their latest film The Three Stooges, which will be available on Blu-ray and DVD beginning July 17th.

The movie has long been in development and at one point rumored to feature such big name actors in the lead roles as Oscar-winner Benicio del Toro as Moe, two-time Oscar-winner Sean Penn as Larry, and Golden Globe-winner Jim Carrey as Curley. Eventually the directors settled on a cast of lesser-known performers such as Chris Diamantopoulos (24) as Moe Howard, Sean Hayes (Will & Grace) as Larry Fine, and Will Sasso (MADtv) as Curley Howard. Extremely popular television comedians Jane Lynch (Glee) and Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), as well as Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson play nuns from the orphanage where the Stooges grew up, and Modern Family’s Sophia Vergara rounds out the cast as its antagonist.

Rather than being a regular biopic about the actors who created The Three Stooges, the film takes the classic characters and introduces them in to the modern world. Much like the original The Three Stooges films, the movie is broken up into three separate “episodes” that ultimately connect to tell one larger story. The film tells the origin of the Stooges and revolves around the three inept friends trying to raise enough money to save the orphanage where that they grew up before it is foreclosed upon. In the interim, they become involved in a cheating woman’s plot to kill her wealthy husband, while Moe becomes a cast member on MTV’s Jersey Shore.

When the film was originally released last spring, I had an opportunity to speak with the movie’s three stars (in character), as well as co-director and co-writer Peter Farrelly. Yesterday, I had a chance to finally speak with the other half of The Farrelly Brothers, writer and director Robert “Bobby” Farrelly, about The Three Stooges, and the Untitled Dumb and Dumber Sequel. The director discussed The Three Stooges, developing his passion project, not making a biopic, the ‘famous actors’ that were considered for the movie, casting the leads, putting them through Stooges boot camp, Shemp; how they could have incorporated him, getting Jennifer Hudson to sing, casting Larry David as a nun; getting him to actually say the lines as they were written, and the status of the Untitled Dumb and Dumber Sequel, which has also long been in development.

Here is what the talented filmmaker had to say:

IAR: To begin with, I know that making a Three Stooges movie is a project you and your brother have been working on for a long time now, so could you talk a little bit about that and the choice to make an original film featuring the classic characters as opposed to making a biopic about the Three Stooges performers themselves?

Bobby Farrelly: My brother Pete and I are long time Three Stooges fans. We grew up watching them on TV and they had a big impact on us. We just thought they were the funniest guys going. It came to our attention that little kids today, a generation of kids didn't really know who they were and that's why we kind of got it in our heads that we would love to be able to redo the Three Stooges, and to bring them back to life for kids who don't know who they were or how funny they were. So we wanted to do that. We weren't really interested in doing a biopic because it's already been done and they did a pretty nice job with it. I know that Michael Chicklis played Curly in it. It was a good job and they had an interesting life story, but it's their comedy that really moved us so that's what we wanted to focus on, recreating them, and bringing them back to life. That was why it took so long to get the movie made. It took us a heck of a lot of time to find the three right guys to do that. Everybody circled this project. We had very famous actors and some not so famous interested in the project, but one of the things that Pete and I insisted on was that everybody would need to audition. We didn't want to do a variation of Moe, Larry or Curly; we wanted them to be spot on Moe, Larry and Curly. Our three guys; Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes, and Will Sasso, those are the three guys that did that best.

So you always intended to make this version of the movie, is that right? Even the version of the film that involved those ‘very famous actors,’ that was never going to be a biopic, is that correct?

Farrelly: Yes, we were never going to do a biopic.

You said that you auditioned everyone before casting; did you also audition some of those ‘very famous actors’ that you mentioned earlier?

Farrelly: There are a lot of people in Hollywood who won't audition. There at a stage in their career where they don't audition for a role and they just take it or not. But we couldn't do that on this movie. So anybody who was not willing to audition we basically had to pass on because we just couldn't risk that they don't do it completely spot on, or they do a variation or interpretation of it. But we wanted to do as best we could a spot on Moe, Larry and Curly.

The three actors who did audition and that you eventually cast, for the most part they are all professional comedians so I imagined they grew up studying the Stooges in a sense, is that right?

Farrelly: Well I think that they clearly did because they all really knew how to do it and each one of the three has had its own challenges. In a lot of ways I would say Larry played by Sean Hayes is maybe the toughest one because the other ones were easier for even kids in this move are to imitate. You know, you can imitate Moe, and you can imitate Curly, but very few people can do Larry. It's because of the way he reacts and the certain nasal tone of his voice. It was a very challenging role, they all were, but Sean did a beautiful job playing Larry.

With the young actors that you cast as the younger version of The Stooges, did they have to go to Stooges boot camp in order to learn how to play those parts? I would imagine they didn't really know who The Stooges were before they began shooting, is that accurate?

Farrelly: Pretty much exactly what you said. We set up a Stooges boot camp. We had a guy work with us. My brother Pete and I were writing with this other guy, a guy named Mike Cerrone and he is, in our mind, the foremost Three Stooges expert in the world. He knows everything about every episode, he knows everything about every other joke they ever did and what we did is we took these three kids and we put them in a room with Mike. They watched old episodes and he'd point to things that the original Moe, Larry and Curly did and why they did it. He'd explain it to them and then the kids would absorb that and try to bring that into their performance playing young Stooges. It was challenging for them and those three kids were very good too.

Did you ever have a Shemp conversation? Was there any consideration given to incorporating that character into this film?

Farrelly: We love Shemp! Shemp was very funny, but Shemp would be to replace Curly and you know Curly I think is the funniest one ever. Maybe if we ever got around to thinking about a sequel maybe we'd bring up Shemp, but there were never four Stooges at a time. There's always three and we just had to go with Curly just because how loveable he is.

When I was first watching the movie, I thought that maybe the ending was going to reveal that Teddy, the Stooges’ friend from the orphanage, was actually Shemp.

Farrelly: (Laughs) We could've used you in the writer’s room. That is a great idea!

Well, you know where to find me Bobby. Next question: When you cast Oscar and Grammy-winner Jennifer Hudson in a film, is she contractually obligated to sing? Did you feel like you had to find a song for her to perform, or was that scene already in the script before you cast her?

Farrelly: (Laughs) That's a very good question. We were there, Jennifer Hudson had agreed to do the part, and we were just kind of thinking that we're foolish if we don't get her to do a little something. So somebody thought of that old Gospel song that she sang and we were just happy to have her do it. We thought at the very end we could put her in a little video or something. But her voice is like listening to an angel sing. She really, really is gifted, but she's a nice actress too and we enjoyed being around her.

I thought that casting Larry David as a nun was a stroke of genius. Can you talk about working with him on the film?

Farrelly: We always had it in our head that we were going, even as we were writing that part, Sister Mary-Mengele, it might be fun to put a guy in there just to make it funnier. Who would be good playing a nun? Of course at the top of the list would be Larry. We always wanted to work with him; we just didn't think he'd do it. When we asked him he's like, “Yea sure I'll do it.” I think we told Larry it was going to be a couple days in Atlanta, that he’d have a blast, and we'd play golf on the weekend. It was a little more than he bargained for, I think it was like three weeks, but it was fun. It was fun working with him, he's a good sport and he's just one of those guys, you look at him and you laugh.

Was he improvising a lot or did he mostly stick to the script? It seems to me that memorizing lines from a screenplay is not really in his nature, and that he likes to improvise for the most part, but was that the case?

Farrelly: He's definitely an improviser and I don't know that he has done a lot of acting where you look at a script and you know words and you have to say those words. I think he probably did that in Woody Allen's movie that they made together. In this one there wasn't as much improvising, as you would think because we had to stick to kind of close to what the script says for reasons that come into play later. We couldn't go too far off the page, but he's able to do it, but he would rather improvise I'll tell you that.

Finally, is the Untitled Dumb and Dumber movie the next film you and your brother plan to direct together, and if so, what is the current status of that project?

Farrelly: Yes, we are trying to make a sequel to our first movie Dumb and Dumber. It'll be almost twenty years later. It's been something that we've always wanted to do. We think that after twenty years its time to check back in on Harry and Lloyd and see what they're up to. It's been a tough one to get off the ground, but all movies are nowadays. They're never easy, but that's our focus, we have our blinders on and we're hoping to make that movie next. We’re hoping to make it a little later this fall and maybe it'll be out next summer. We have a script. We're always working on it. We're always trying to make it better and better. But what we're trying to do is get the movie green lit with a studio and that's kind of where we are right now. We're very, very close. It's not green lit as we speak, but my brother Pete and I remain optimistic.

The Three Stooges will be available on Blu-ray and DVD beginning July 17th.

Untitled Dumb and Dumber Sequel is currently in development. 

To watch our exclusive video interview with director Peter Farrelly about The Three Stooges, please click here

To watch our exclusive video interview with The Three Stooges about The Three Stooges, please click here.

To watch our exclusive video interview with screenwriter Sean Anders about the screenplay for the Untitled Dumb and Dumber Sequel, please click here

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