Bryan Cranston, James Franco Celebrate New Comedy 'Why Him?' at L.A. Premiere
"The fun thing is that I didn't even have to prepare. I'm that age. I have a daughter that age," Cranston said of his character.
"It's a laugh-out-loud movie about a dysfunctional family," director John Hamburg told The Hollywood Reporter when describing his new comedy Why Him?, which stars Bryan Cranston as a father who is unhappy with his daughter's (Zoey Deutch) new boyfriend (James Franco). The stars — Cranston, Deutch, Franco, Megan Mullally, Keegan-Michael Key, Kaley Cuoco, Adam Devine, Casey Wilson, Cedric the Entertainer and Griffin Gluck — and the filmmakers celebrated the pic's premiere Saturday at the Regency Bruin Theater in Los Angeles.
Other guests in attendance included Nick Offerman (Mullally's husband), Lea Thompson (Deutch's mother), John Savage, Joseph David-Jones, Corey Feldman and 20th Century Fox chairman Stacey Snider, as well as Nick Simmons and Sophie Simmons, whose father, KISS' Gene Simmons, has a cameo in the film.
Why Him? centers on Laird (Franco), an eccentric tech millionaire who is in love with a Stanford student, played by Deutch. The couple decide to invite her family to visit them in California, and almost immediately her father becomes overly protective, while her mother (Mullally) and younger brother (Gluck) quickly find Laird to be charming and lovable.
Producer Shawn Levy (who also backed Arrival) said the story originated with Jonah Hill and was "based on a girl [Hill] was dating and the tension between him and that girl's dad. We developed this idea for this premise of a dad who is just living a nightmare with the man that his daughter has chosen. But the project didn't get to the starting line and was on a shelf [for a long time]."
Levy then took the script to director John Hamburg, whom the producer said "really put it on his back to find the tone and ground it in real characters. And I love that it's a big concept, but anchored in real, relatable characters."
Of his role, Cranston told THR, "The fun thing is that I didn't even have to prepare. I'm that age. I have a daughter that age. I'm married. What would I do if my daughter chose someone that I really didn't like? I could imagine that." He added, "I know what it's like to be overprotective, and I know what it's like to worry about the decisions your children will make. I get that."
Mullally, who portrays the more open-minded mother, said the real thrill for her was to have "a real part in a real movie. I didn't want to just be the wife. The fact that John allowed us a lot of liberty in terms of improvising enabled me to add more pizzazz. I was beside myself to get this part, but at the same time I wanted to bring a little personality and a little oomph."
In terms of more opportunities for intelligent, multidimensional female roles, the actress said, "I think it's starting to change, especially on some of the better television shows and streaming channels, which are really doing great things involving older women — and people who haven't had plastic surgery — which is great. And I hope to see more of that."
Key, who plays Laird's European estate manager Gustav, said his role was a collaboration. "I had meetings with John Hamburg and Bryan and Franco, and we developed [Gustav] in the rehearsal process," he said. "Once we had a road map, we could develop [the character] a bit more, while we were on set. We had the luxury of time for the movie, which was nice. It's usually like, 'You have two takes! You got to get out of here!' "
Describing the comedy, Key said, "It's a little naughty, [but] fun and shows how families interact. It also shows a person learning how to let go of something, along with all the balls-to-the-wall hilarious stuff."
Director Hamburg, who co-wrote the screenplay with Ian Helfer, said that there was a lot of improvisation from the script. "That's part of my job as a comedy director," he explained. "We do the script, and then we let it go, and we find gems, especially when you work with comic geniuses like our cast. You just never know what you're going to come up with. That's what makes it such a fun process. You can see how sick and twisted some of this cast is!"
Why Him? opens in theaters Friday.