Sometimes, you can remember exactly where you were when inspiration struck. Then, there are times when you’re trapped in a small writer’s room in Midtown Manhattan with your pals and a world-famous singer/actor, thinking about Mother’s Day, listening to the R. Kelly/Usher song “Same Girl” and trying not to ruin your so-far spotless viral-video résumé — and at last a genius idea falls in your lap. At least, that’s how the “Saturday Night Live” short “Motherlover” was born.
“We weren’t sure if we should go in a whole different direction and make a new song that has nothing to do with those guys or a short film that’s totally different,” explained Akiva Schaffer, one-third of the [artist id=”3135075″]Lonely Island[/artist] crew. “We didn’t want to ruin the first one because it was so cool.”
Schaffer and partners Andy Samberg (this year’s MTV Movie Awards host) and Jorma Taccone faced this dilemma last Tuesday night when they met with that week’s “SNL” host [artist id=”1231683″]Justin Timberlake[/artist] to discuss a potential sequel to their 2006 viral smash “D— in a Box.”
Finally, they decided to roll the dice and revisit the lives of their wildly popular new-jack swing duo (sometimes referred to as Bootknockaz), but with an even nastier twist than last time. “What would be most satisfying for the audience?” Schaffer recalled them asking. “It would be cool to start with them getting out of prison with their boxes.” And then, of course, they remember that it’s Mother’s Day.
The video, in which the duo express their desire to sex up each other’s mothers as the ultimate tribute to Mother’s Day, has already become an instant viral atom bomb, helping Lonely Island to break the feared sequel curse and allowing co-directors Schaffer and Taccone to breathe easy after a sleepless week of writing, recording and shooting, which ended with Schaffer editing the final clip right up until moments before it aired on Saturday night.
While brainstorming the new video, the quartet were listening to some old-school new-jack acts, like Guy and Teddy Riley, but they ultimately found a Timbaland-style beat created by Taccone’s brother, Asa, and his friend, Drew Campbell, that was left over from the sessions for Lonely Island’s debut album, Incredibad.
“We started singing along to it,” Schaffer recalled. “Someone mentioned Mother’s Day, then there was a joke about that R. Kelly/Usher song, and we were like, ’It could be the same girl,’ but then we realized it should be each other’s moms!”
And the rest, as they say, is history. Timberlake stayed up until 5 a.m. on Wednesday writing the lyrics with the Island crew, who then stayed up until 4 a.m. Friday morning recording the vocals before setting up the grueling 20-hour shoot just a few hours later.
“This one I can say that we did 100 percent in conjunction with Justin,” he said, praising the singer and new go-to guest of “SNL” with consistently finding a way to up their game by suggesting killer melodies for the song. “He’s good enough that he brings a lot of awesome melodies, and it’s great that he can sing and really add some funny lines to the song. … He’s clearly the best. He’s three-for-three [on viral videos] on the show, and he’s solidified his rep overall, not just for shorts. He clearly brings something magical.”
Schaffer said the stunt casting of the moms was relatively easy. Susan Sarandon’s name popped up very early for the role of Samberg’s mom. “We needed a blond actress who looked like Justin, and I don’t know if I even told the other guys, but I was in a hotel room a week ago, and I turned on the TV and saw the movie ’No Reservations,’ and Patricia Clarkson plays the restaurant owner in that,” Schaffer said. “So, I brought her up, and they all said yes immediately.” Both women were quick to sign up. Clarkson showed up on set at 11 a.m. on Friday, after just agreeing to the gig around 12:30 the night before.
The shoot, which took place in various Brooklyn locations, began at 9 a.m. on Friday and stretched until the early morning hours of Saturday, at which point Schaffer had to begin editing the footage. “We finished the final edits when the show was already on,” he said.
Schaffer admitted that there were a number of jokes that were too raunchy to make it on air — he didn’t even want to discuss them for fear of offending — but that the troupe knew early on that they had captured the elusive magic one more time.
Timberlake’s girlfriend, Jessica Biel , told MTV News she was skeptical when she first heard of the idea, but she thought the whole thing ended up being so wrong it was right.
“I know Justin’s mom was coming to the show, and he warned her ahead of time,” Schaffer said. “And my mom loves to brag … but I don’t know if she told anyone about this one. But she did thank me for the Mother’s Day video.”