'The Way, Way Back' LAFF Premiere: Steve Carell, Toni Collette Join a Family Affair
Oscar-winning screenwriters Nat Faxon and Jim Rash make their directorial debuts alongside an all-star ensemble cast, including Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph and Allison Janney.
No member of the ensemble cast of The Way, Way Back was left behind (or in the way, way back) at the film's Los Angeles premiere Sunday.
The summer-friendly Fox Searchlight feature closed out the Los Angeles Film Festival at Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live, and the lighthearted affair reunited the film's impressive band of artists, which included Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Allison Janney, to name a few.
At the forefront were the film's writers and directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who nursed the indie project for nearly a decade before it was finally produced.
"It was a roller coaster -- it's gonna happen, it's not gonna happen -- with different directors and all that kind of stuff," Rash told The Hollywood Reporter at the red carpet premiere. "We had to step back and say, 'we really want to make this movie the way we envision it.' We needed to step away, let some time pass, and get the script back in our hands."
And they did. Faxon and Rash, who both won Oscars (shared with Alexander Payne) for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Descendants, make their directorial debuts with The Way, Way Back, a coming-of-age comedy that follows Duncan (Liam James), an awkward, angsty teen who tries to pave his own path amid familial troubles during a summer vacation.
Relative newcomer James, who plays along parental figures Carell and Collette, never felt like starring in the film was too overwhelming. The 16-year-old's previous credits include The Killing and Psych.
"I was working everyday for 30 days, five days a week, and I never felt one day where it was work," he said. "Working with all my favorite actors and actresses was great. It was kind of like a family at the end of the film."
But it was James' directors and co-stars who had the kindest words for their young lead.
Faxon gushed, "He just perfectly embodied the kid, just so natural. When he came down and auditioned for us, it was just the biggest sign of relief."
Producer Kevin Walsh added about James, "It's kind of an understated performance what Liam did. He transformed in the movie as his part did, and that's so unappreciated."
Colette and Carell are no strangers to one another, or to the quirkiness of a low-budget comedy; the two starred in Little Miss Sunshine together in 2006, a point that resonated with both actors when considering this project.
"When Toni and I were both offered it, we called each other and said, 'Are you gonna do it? I'll do it if you do it,'" the Despicable Me 2 star admitted. "We both felt the same way about the script and similar to the way we thought about Little Miss Sunshine. It was smart, economical, and you really got a sense of character without having to tell everything about the character."
Collette added, "The one thing that unites the two films is that they will leave audiences feeling high on life. They are both incredibly feel-good movies."
Joining the indie veterans in the film are Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, AnnaSophia Robb, Amanda Peet and Rob Corddry.
The Way, Way Back opens in theaters on July 5.