Though you may know Dax Shepard from some of his comedic film roles (Idiocracy, Let's Go To Prison) or his role as dopey, blundering Crosby on Parenthood, expect to get up close and personal with his own brand of comedy in Hit and Run. Shepard serves as writer, director, and star in the car chase caper. In a risqué but surely clever move, he also cast his real-life, comedienne fiance Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) as his co-captain and love interest.
The pair recently sat down with Buzzine's Emmanuel Itier to share stunt secrets, independent funding and distribution, and working together on Hit and Run.
Emmanuel Itier: Dax, you’ve been writing and working on this film for quite some time. Kristen, when did you get involved? Did you two set out to make a movie together?
Kristen Bell: Absolutely.
Dax Shepard: Yeah, that was definitely part of it. We looked at what we had – we have this great car collection, we have this great collection of wonderful friends and we have each other, and we thought, let's put all these things in one movie. And that’s Hit and Run.
EI: the car stunts and chase scenes, the film definitely has an old-school feel. Were you channeling some Burt Reynolds nostalgia?
DS: Yes. My favorite movie as a kid, even still, I like Smokey and the Bandit, and Hooper, and Cannonball Run. All the Hal Needham and Burt Reynolds movies are just the best, in my opinion. Yeah, this movie is very much an homage to those movies.
EI: Kristen, what about you? What was the ultimate draw for you, what did you enjoy the most?
KB: I enjoyed everything! I was working with my significant other who I don’t often get to work with, and the excuse to spend time with him is a joy. He wrote the part for me and sort of paralleling us at one time in our relationship. Obviously I wanted to support his dream and vision of putting this into theaters. It was just a fun experience.
DS: The role of a lifetime. Some are saying –
KB: And obviously, the role of a lifetime.
DS: – A lot of actresses wanted this role, but only one got it.
EI: You also made this picture through mostly independent means. Is making a truly independent film even possible? How did you do it?
DS: Yeah, in this situation it did. We literally had one woman who provided all of the equity, and she had no notes. She didn’t tell us to do anything any certain way. We had absolute creative freedom. This movie would have never gotten made at a studio. I do all the stunt driving. They would have said, “No way.” There is an eight-minute long butt f***ing joke that goes on and on, and evolves, and grows, and builds. There are just a lot of elements that would have been red flags for a studio.
KB: This would have been homogenized if it were in a studio. It would have…
DS: It would not be unique.
KB: It would not be as unique as it is, so we’re very grateful to have been able to do it independently.
EI: What about distribution? You’re working with a relatively new company, Open Road, and the theaters they own. Was that a driving force in getting your movie out there?
DS: It is… They’re incredible. They released The Grey this year and did amazing with that. One of the many things they offer is that… you have fixed P&A costs. You cannot get around how much it costs to advertise a movie. That’s just kind of set in stone.
But an advantage they have is, they do have 45 % of the market share with their theaters so they can get that trailer playing on a lot of their theaters. They can get the artwork up in their theaters. There’re a lot of things that they bring to it that are real assets. But they are just a wonderful company. They have been unbelievably supportive.
KB: They’re a newly formed company that has light years of experience between all of the people that work there. [It] hasn’t been around for 40 years, but does have 40 years of established, this is how we do it. They take everything and they look at it and they say, “How did the best person do it?” They’ve been wonderful in helping us bring this out in front of the public eye.
EI: Now that the film is completed, what sort of message do you want the audience to bring home with them?
DS: That your past doesn’t inform your future. That there’s… Your future is whatever you want it to be. It can be with whoever you want it to be. And it doesn’t have to be at all informed by your past. And I hope they just have a very unique experience at the movies. That’s always my goal.
'Hit and Run' is currently showing in theaters nationwide.