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Twentieth Century Fox’s Let’s Be Cops stars Jake Johnson and his New Girl co-star Damon Wayans Jr. as two thirtysomething roommates who have lost their way in life and subsequently discover that impersonating police officers is the key to getting back their joie de vivre.
“Look, a cop uniform is kind of like a superhero outfit,” screenwriter Nicholas Thomas told The Hollywood Reporter. “When you put it on, you can do things you can’t do in your normal life. I think we’re all a little shocked that nobody had made this movie before.”
Johnson said the biggest difference between working with Wayans on New Girl versus Let’s Be Cops was the opportunity for raunchier comedy.
“The idea was, we wanted it to be a hard ‘R [rating]’ … so every opportunity we had, we tried to push it,” he said during the Hollywood premiere at the ArcLight Theatre on Thursday.
The other marked change was the intense action scenes, and these added an element of minor danger for the film’s stars.
Johnson dislocated his finger while throwing a stunt double, and Wayans said he was cut up pretty badly when a candy glass window shattered and flew everywhere during a gunfire scene.
Perhaps the most perilous on-set accident, director Luke Greenfield (Role Models) said, happened during a scene where Johnson and Wayans were asked to waterboard one of the lesser bad guys, Pupa (Kegan-Michael Key). Apparently, in one of the first takes, “they accidentally waterboarded Keegan for real,” Greenfield said with a laugh.
Greenfield, who co-wrote the script, said the film’s greater message extends beyond the power of a police uniform: “What the movie is really about is, it’s never too late to be the guy or the person you want to be.” He also revealed that the film is partially based on personal experience from his younger days.
Nina Dobrev, of Vampire Diaries fame, plays Wayans’ love interest. She told reporters that although her character became attracted to his in the movie because he is a cop, she wouldn’t date a police officer in real life.
The film was Dobrev’s first foray into comedy. She said it was a blast to work alongside Johnson and Wayans.
“I learned a lot from both of the boys — together especially, they’re a force to be reckoned with,” she said. “I learned to be more loose and humorous and not so self aware … because they have no filter at all, which is why they’re so funny.”
James D’Arcy (Cloud Atlas), who plays the film’s main antagonist, spoke similarly of working with the “hysterical” duo and said his role’s villainy made for pleasing contrast to their collective performance.
“You get the best lines when you’re playing the villain, and in this case you get the best facial hair,” D’Arcy said in reference to his character’s carefully trimmed pencil beard.
Let’s Be Cops hits theaters August 13.
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