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This story first appeared in the May 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel, who co-wrote 2008’s Yes Man, make their directorial debut with The D Train (IFC Films; out May 8), starring Jack Black as a high school alumni committee chair and James Marsden as the “popular guy” he’s desperate to lure to the reunion. The comedy was hotly discussed after its Sundance screening in January — especially for a startling scene in which the two take their “bromance” to a literal level.
Was this story based on personal experience?
PAUL It wasn’t really. We just liked this character [played by Black] who was crippled by his high school persona, and we liked the idea of [exploring] how far someone would go to rectify that.
What was it like to work with Jack Black?
PAUL We were so lucky to get him. He had never worked with first-time directors before, but from day one he put all this trust in us, and it was amazing.
Did you always intend to direct the film?
MOGEL We wanted to direct, but we wanted it to be the right thing. When we had this idea, we thought this could be the one we keep for ourselves.
Was the (already widely “spoiled”) scene in which Black’s and Marsden’s characters take their bond “all the way” planned as a big twist?
PAUL To us, it was never about that. It was always about what happens after.
MOGEL And [about] the idea that these two guys couldn’t feel more opposite about it. One guy never thinks about it again; the other guy can’t stop thinking about it.
Were you trying to make a statement about male friendship and sexuality?
MOGEL It’s not about sexuality. It’s about being caught up in a moment.
PAUL [Black’s character] would just do anything to get [Marsden’s character] to like him. I wish we were smart enough to be making some sort of social commentary about sexuality.
What was shooting the scene like?
MOGEL It was the last thing we shot. Initially we wanted to do it the other way around so everyone wasn’t anticipating it the whole time. But it ended up being a really fun last night.
PAUL And they just went for it. They had some shots of some alcoholic beverages and they let loose … on each other.
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