Why he loves his mum and Reese Witherspoon
this supposed to be a romance? And I said ‘Yes’. But you know what? If rebelling against being put in a box is a bad then I’m all for bad.”
There is kitsch method to the madness. With a nod to the genre-bending action comedies of Hong Kong’s pre-millennial golden age, This Means War maintains a cheeky series of curveballs. Witherspoon, perennial onscreen good girl, gets to be naughty.
“That was a challenge for Reese. I took her aside and said ‘Men respect you but they don’t covet you to the degree that I think that they could’.” And she said: ‘Just go for it’. I don’t think she’s been on screen in such an overtly sexual way before. But I love my mom and I don’t have a misogynistic bone in my body so she could trust me. We just gave the hair a little more volume, put a little more make-up around the eyes and then we put her in her underwear to make out with Chris Pine and Tom Hardy.”
Mr Hardy, as unlikely as it sounds, has found the one movie with a bigger, gayer subtext than Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
“Yep,” nods MCG. “It’s a very, very homoerotic movie. It’s Top Gun’s shirtless volleyball scene homoerotic. I’ve even got an alternative ending for the DVD where the lads end up in each other’s arms. Tom is very alpha. And so is Chris.
“And Chris is so decidedly American and early Tom Cruise. And Tom Hardy is decidedly British. And I’ve also always liked pictures with that kind of alpha thing between male friends where they respect each other but couldn’t ever acquiesce.”
Back in the States This Means War has turned heads as a starring vehicle for Chelsea Handler, the delightfully gutterminded host of E! TV’S Chelsea Lately.
“Chelsea is out of her fucking mind,” cries the director. “I’m glad to be the person that gets to introduce Chelsea to a wider, international audience with her line about not being able to shit straight. She improvised that. The woman is wonderful and brilliant and completely out of her chicken.”
The industry hasn’t always been kind to the former wunderkind. He’s one of many directors who spent the early part of the century working on Superman to no avail. He lost out too on a remake of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for Disney.
That’s just show business, he shrugs: “It’s hard to get a movie made whoever you are. You have to get the cast right. You have to get the budget right. Then everything falls into place but — whoops — there’s been a regime change at the studio and they now want something else entirely. I think it was Coppola that said ‘every time a movie gets made it’s a miracle’. And it is.” For the moment he’s just happy that This Means War has allowed him to, well, be MCG.
“I’ve always loved knowing where I am with a director. I love being able to sit down to a Woody Allen movie or a Tim Burton movie knowing that I’m in their hands and what to expect. If there is such a thing as a MCG movie it’s large and loud and surreal and Pollyannic and it’s kung fu pop. And I’ll take that. That’s where I want to be.”