Friends off-screen, Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston reunite to star as a married couple in Wanderlust, written and directed by David Wain and produced by Judd Apatow. Aniston and Rudd co-starred in the 1998 romantic dramedy, The Object of My Affection, and teamed up on 18 episodes of Friends back in 2002-2004. And in the 2012 comedy Wanderlust, the attractive twosome play a Manhattan couple who pack up and leave their stressful lives behind, ultimately winding up in Elysium, a nudist colony filled with colorful characters.
Together for a press conference in LA to discuss the Universal Pictures comedy hitting theaters on February 24, 2012, Rudd and Aniston revealed that it was shockingly easy to get used to being on a set with naked people. They also discussed just how David Wain runs his set and Judd Apatow's style of filmmaking.
Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd Wanderlust Press Conference
Paul, you've been in all of David Wain's film. What keeps that relationship with him going? And Jennifer, this is your first time working with David. Can you talk about the experience?
Jennifer Aniston: "I was welcomed in with open arms and I had just the time of my life."
Paul Rudd: "For me, I'm a huge David Wain fan. He's one of my best friends now, but he just makes me laugh continually - much to the annoyance of his wife, actually. She's like, 'Don't encourage him,' when we have dinner and stuff. I just think he's got a very specific sensibility that is unlike anybody's I've ever met. I happen to think that he's a really talented filmmaker."
How was it for the both of you to get to team up again in a movie?
Jennifer Aniston: "Heaven. We were so happy. It felt like no time had passed. We've also seen each other throughout the years, and so it's just that excitement of, like, 'Oh, this is going to be so fun and comfortable,' and especially playing a married couple with the ease and familiarity. It was just fun."
Paul Rudd: "Knowing that there were certain things that we wouldn't have to try and create just because we have the benefit of knowing each other for as long as we have, there was also something really kind of cool about really feeling the time. The first movie that we ever really worked together on was Object of My Affection and Alan Alda was in that as well."
Jennifer Aniston: "That was really fun."
Paul Rudd: "Now the three of us are hanging out years later and playing very different parts, but kind of like being able to be nostalgic. It was really cool."
The idea of the couple in this movie is that they want to get away from their busy New York lifestyle, and they end up in a place completely different. As celebrities, have you ever wished you could go someplace and disappear into that lifestyle and not have to deal with the paparazzi?
Jennifer Aniston: Every day, yes. I mean, for me going to Clarksville and shooting this movie was a version of that, honestly, because there were no paparazzi and there was no secret, tricky little cell-phone pictures being taken. It was just this great community and these amazing people. For me, I really realized how much I had sort of…how walled I was in a way, not consciously so, but just this armor that I kind of have, protective armor. It's not for my friends or people in my family, but just being outside in the world, always on guard. So, there was just this sigh of relief after week one, knowing, like, 'This is just like John Travolta in The Boy in the [Plastic] Bubble. It's like riding on a horse out of the bubble.' It was really special, and to get back in touch with that part of myself and that sort of anonymity, I really made a conscious effort to know, like, 'Don't wall up like that.' I think that you miss out on a lot of stuff when you're so protected and isolated in a way. It's not that bad."
How long do you think that you would really last in a place like that, or was there ever a time in your life when you might've been more open to living in a similar place?
Jennifer Aniston: "I honestly don't think I would. I think going for a little bit would be sort of…"
Paul Rudd: "It depends on what version it is. The version of this one, the one in the movie, because I remember being 20 and meeting people, or I meet people now who say, 'I used to work and lived on a kibbutz,' and then I remember seeing the movie Together, the Lukas Moodysson one and thinking, 'Wow, what a cool communal way of living.' There's something great about the idea of working the land and living communally. That's healthy. That's good. I think that probably somewhere we always did, but the version in the movie I think would get old pretty fast."
Were there any takes that you just couldn't believe how long they were letting you go?
Paul Rudd: "I mean, come on! That's just about every single one in the movie, I'd say."
Jennifer Aniston: "David would wait, but then he would do it just for his own laugh. You'd hear him laughing. We would just be going on and on and on, and then finally he'd yell, 'Cut!,' laughing, and we knew we were just giving David a kick."
Paul Rudd: "I like it. I'm not a fan of just doing the scene, cut, setup again, and do the scene again, cut, do it again. It's nice when you can kind of keep going and sometimes find a rhythm, a groove, something can happen, particularly if you're improvising. So, it's great when you have a director that wants to work like that. For me, I like it."
Jennifer Aniston: "That's where you find the magic, the fun stuff comes, when someone is not so strict on sticking to the script. So, you're allowed the spontaneity, and great moments can happen."
Did you ever surprise yourself, Paul, in the bathroom scene?
Paul Rudd: "That was just gross. That was our first day of shooting. That was the second scene that we shot and it did go on along."
Jennifer Aniston: "You set the tone. You had that and the toilet, sitting on the toilet with Jordan [Peele] and Kerri [Kenney]. It only went uphill from there."
Paul Rudd: "That was the first scene. The mirror was the second scene, and I remember vividly seeing the many faces of the crew with the expression of, like, 'What the f--k am I working on?!,' like legitimately concerned. Like, 'This is not what I read. This is weird.' But they went with it."
Jennifer Aniston: "They had the best time. We had the best time with our crew."
Given your history with David, Paul, do you go into the movie knowing that you have that freedom?
Paul Rudd: "Yeah. We've worked together enough that we're kind of like, 'Let's try this and this.' We can kind of share a brain a little bit, but that style actually is more, I think, Judd Apatow than David. The first time I worked with David was on Wet Hot American Summer. A lot of people have asked us, 'God, you guys must've improvised a ton,' and actually we really didn't. Most of that was written. I think that David's history and the way that he's always worked has actually been to write a pretty tight script. Judd writes a script and it's tight and it focuses on jokes, but he loves to, like you said, just keep cameras going and see what happens. [He will] yell out direction while we're filming, yell out a line here and there. He kind of shapes it and directs it as it's going on, and conducts it like an orchestra."
"I have noticed with David, and I've noticed this with other directors that I've worked with more than once, that that way of working seems to be coming a little more mainstream, a little more the norm. It's kind of the way that I have now started to work on these things. So, that I would say is actually more of a Judd influence than anything else."
David said he shot a lot of extra stuff. As actors, does that make seeing the finished product more of a surprise?
Jennifer Aniston: "Oh, God, yeah. I mean, well, we haven't seen the 'Bizarro cut', but going to the premiere last night I did not know what…there have been so many incarnations of it. That's sort of what was so fun, sort of seeing it and experiencing shock and awe."
Paul Rudd: "I love David talking about the Bizarro cut. That's when I say that David has a very specific sensibility, like that's David to a t. David would probably like to make the Bizarro cut the regular movie where we're panicking and he'll say, 'What about your parents? Why don't you ask your parents to help out?' And you say, 'Don't worry about it. It's not important for the movie or anything,' and kind of addressing the question that you might want to ask, 'But it'll muddle up the rest of the script. So, don't worry about that.' We would actually film that conversation. You would never put that in a movie, but he'll do it for the Bizarro cut. Leaps in logic and things like that he'll point out, which just really makes me laugh."
What was it like going from Our Idiot Brother to this character?
Paul Rudd: "I looked at Justin [Theroux] and his beard and hair and got nostalgic. Really. I was like, 'I miss it. God dang it. I miss it.' It was fun. I loved working on both of those movies. They were really great experiences, and also working with friends on both of them. I'd worked with Jesse [Peretz] and Kathryn Hahn was in that, too. So, it was cool."
One of the themes in the movie is about free love. Do either of you think that works in a relationship?
Jennifer Aniston: "No."
Paul Rudd: "We got that question a lot."
Jennifer Aniston: "I just think that for some people it's possible, but to each his own. I just don't think…I think eventually it's going to start to not feel good. I think."
Paul Rudd: "Emotions can get in the way and it gets muddy."
You have a scene where you take your shirt off. How comfortable are you with that kind of thing?
Jennifer Aniston: "There's a little bit of nerves, but adrenaline kind of takes you through it, and then you have the girls come in and cover you up immediately. But I got very comfortable with seeing nude people, pretty much immediately. It was very bizarre, and to know that these were actually nudists because there's a nudist colony in Clarksville and how comfortable they are being nude... Then there would be the ones you could tell were not the authentic nudists because they were groomed, and so you could spot a fake miles away. Maybe not miles away."
Paul Rudd: "Unless they were rocking a merkin, let's be honest. They could've gone to the makeup trailer."
Jennifer Aniston: "Shockingly, it was bizarre how at ease we became with having a bunch of naked people everywhere."
Paul Rudd: "But we do have to focus on keeping eye contact so that we don't look too pervy and weird. It's a weird thing when not everyone is naked."
Jennifer Aniston: "Right, but that's where sunglasses come in."
Your character bounces around in terms of her career and goals. What were some of the aspirations you both had in Hollywood that didn't work out?
Jennifer Aniston: "Well, there was the period where I wanted to be a therapist if the acting thing didn't work, and that was pretty much it. I don't know why. I just liked talking to people. I was always the girl that people would come to and talk to about their problems. I still am. But I also really knew that acting was something that I was going to…I had a good feeling about it. I think I was innocently ignorant where I just wasn't so, like, 'God. I hope this happens.' I was waitressing and waitressing and waitressing and doing this and that and the other thing. I would audition and I couldn't get hired to save my life, but I would do Off Broadway theater and that was great and I was excited and thrilled, feeling like, 'Well, it's Off Off Broadway, but there's still the Broadway in there.' So, yeah."
Paul Rudd: "At least you had that. I was in shows that awf, awf, awful. That couldn't have been a more cornball joke. That was horrible."
Congratulations on getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Jennifer Aniston: "I'm extremely flattered, humbled, and nervous and excited all at the same time. It feels very surreal, to be honest. I was born here and it's sort of something that you went and saw as a kid. You were excited about just walking and seeing the names, and to imagine that you're going to be there is really special. It's fun."
* * * * * *
Wanderlust opens in theaters on February 24, 2012 and is rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity, language and drug use.