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Of course, that film is "Friends With Kids" and the writer-director-star is Jennifer Westfeldt, Hamm's girlfriend of 14 years.
"Kids" is an ensemble indie comedy about best buds (Westfeldt and Adam Scott) who, after watching all their couple friends start families, decide to procreate platonically. In a strange, bizarro world twist on "Bridesmaids," Hamm and Kristen Wiig make one of those friend pairings, while co-stars of the summer hit, Maya Rudolph and Chris O'Dowd, form another.
Hamm – who also produced – told us about working with his woman in creating an anti-explosion, anti-"Twilight," full-on adult movie. And get your mind out of the gutter, he doesn't mean porn.
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From what Jennifer has said, the film arose from the personal experiences of you guys as a couple, seeing all your friends have kids and disappearing from the social scene?
Yeah, in a general way. It was a little bit of an observation of what's happening with our peer group, and our friends, and what happens when you're kind of out of sync with that. You feel a little bit left behind and you go, "Oh s**t. Are we doing something wrong?" That was how it started. And then Jen just wrote a really great script that happened to be really funny and also really heartbreaking and really real.
Do you guys give each other input, like when she's working on a script or you're preparing for a role?
Yeah, sure. I mean it's definitely a support environment. You know I'm not going to sit here and be like "This is terrible, don't do it." But I'll tell her what I like and what I don't like and she'll do the same. I think the best way to have it is supportive, otherwise what's the point? There are plenty of other people that don't want to be supportive in this career, and at home, you want your family to be at least remotely supportive.
So this film was actually shot before "Bridesmaids" came out, but it very much feels like a "Bridesmaids" reunion with four of the same cast members.
Yeah, we shot "Bridesmaids" [in the summer of 2010], and in the fall we started putting this together and I had done "SNL" with Kristen I think in October and had mentioned, "Would you maybe consider doing this part?" And she liked the part and we really liked her for it because it's not a strictly comic role, it's kind of dark and it was something that people hadn't really given her a chance to do … Then we thought about Maya for the other role and how great she is. She has such a lovely, warm, eternal energy.
Then we were desperately trying to find somebody to play Alex so I had gone out to a couple people and other friends of ours and people were kind of not right. Jason Segel read it originally at the table and he's the hardest working man in show business with ["How I Met Your Mother"], with "The Muppets," and "This is 40," and with every other thing that he's doing. So he was unavailable, and some other people we went to were unavailable or it didn't work out date-wise, and I was like, "What about O'Dowd? I know it's weird that we're getting the whole ['Bridesmaids'] cast but he's really good and I'm telling you this time next year we will not be able to afford him, he's going to blow up." And he came into the room and blew us away, and we were thrilled that he came on.
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What did your role as producer entail? Did you get to yell a lot?
No, I'm not a big yeller. But it was making a lot of phone calls, and it's making sure things get done and money gets deposited and people show up and all that stuff. I was leaned on a lot more in the pre-production world … trying to get agents and managers all on the same page and trying to get people to return our calls and finding people to play parts and stuff. It was fun, and a lot of non-stop busy work, which is what producing is. It was a learning experience.
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Why did you guys decide to produce this film independently?
Well, a couple reasons, actually. One is I don't think it would ever get made by a studio. The way that studios make movies now -- if it doesn't have vampires or robots or crashes or explosions or something, it's not on their radar and that's their business model. They have to make things because of the inherent overhead and cost. They have to make things that bring in a tremendous amount of money and this is a movie that might not appeal to this broad, four-quadrant swath of demographic that studios need to drive their products.
And also we wanted to maintain control over the end product, I mean we really wanted to tell a specific story and we wanted the people we wanted in it. When you do this thing with a studio very often you're given a list of four people that could be the star, and four more that can be the co-star. And if you don't like any of these four, well, tough s**t. So we were very cognizant of how that all works and thought we could get around it and we got very fortunate to be able to do that.
So essentially if you would have taken it to a studio it would have ultimately become "Vampires with Kids"?
Which is not a terrible idea. I will give you credit if that ever gets produced. "Vamps With Kids."
Speaking of, you were recently talking about turning 40 and said in Hollywood terms that'd make you the grandfather in "Twilight." So you were basically angling for a role in "Twilight," right?
[Laughs} Well, it's over, unfortunately. You know kids obviously drive box office – everybody knows that – and that's why you get what you get. But still, if you look at movies like "The Help," which made [$170 million] or even "Bridesmaids," which is an R-rated comedy [which grossed about the same]. Even "The Town," which is not exactly the most kid-friendly film. There's still an audience out there for adult movies, which sounds like porn, but not porn … but movies aimed at adults that don't deal with, "Oh my god, does the vampire love me?," or "Oh my god, is the robot going to destroy the world?" You know, there's still a significant audience out there. It just needs to be something that you want to get in your car and go see.
And that's kind of what we tried to make here. We tried to make a movie that's appealing to people our age who really don't care if Team Jacob or Team … whatever the other guy's name is, wins. You know that's not what gets me up in the morning.
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Gotta ask about "Mad Men" … Aren't you guys sick of winning Emmys yet?
No. It's very, very nice. It's something we never ever take for granted and it's something that is consistently a surprise and, especially given the fact that television in the last 10 years even has been so consistently great, whether it's "The Sopranos" or "House" and "Dexter" and "Louie" and "30 Rock" and "Parks and Rec." There are so many good shows on now it's almost impossible to keep up with them. So the fact that people even consider us worthy to be named in that company is really great, and we're very proud of the show and we work really hard on it. So I'm not poo-pooing that. We're very proud of what we do. But it's never something that's expected or taken for granted. In fact, it's just an amazing honor. It's nice to be considered one of the one's at the top of the field.