Fox Heavy Hitters Celebrate Drew Goddard's 'Bad Times at the El Royale'

Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic
Susan Geston and Jeff Bridges

Studio chairman and CEO Stacey Snider joined cast members like Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm and Cynthia Erivo, plus Joss Whedon, Bill Pullman and more, on Hollywood Boulevard for the film's first screening.

Seven motel guests share the worst night of their lives in Bad Times at the El Royale, but Saturday night’s premiere was a family affair. Jeff Bridges brought his older brother, Beau, while co-star Lewis Pullman steered dad Bill toward the TCL Chinese Theatre entrance. The night coincided with the wedding anniversary of the film’s writer, director, and producer, Drew Goddard.

Additional attending cast included Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Cynthia Erivo, Cailee Spaeny, Alvina August and Manny Jacinto (Goddard is also an executive producer and director on his NBC series, The Good Place). While Avengers 4 kept Chris Hemsworth in Atlanta, the 20th Century Fox brood came out to support the studio's Oct. 12 release, via chairman and CEO Stacey Snider, vice chairman and president of production Emma Watts, president Chris Aronson, Deadpool actor Stefan Kapicic, and Joss Whedon, soon to executive produce a Buffy the Vampire Slayer revival for the studio’s TV arm.

Goddard wrote for that Whedon-created series before the pair collaborated on the screenplay for Goddard’s 2012 feature directorial debut, The Cabin in the Woods.

The pair's faux sibling rivalry was clearly on display when Whedon joked to The Hollywood Reporter of Goddard, “He’s a moron. I cannot stress this enough — he barely speaks English." Citing Goddard’s six-foot-five stature, Whedon continued, “You feel bad for him because he’s tall like a scarecrow, so we want to pretend he has a brain.”

Finally, he relented that Goddard is “the dearest friend you could possibly have,” noting that his first thoughts upon reading Bad Times were, “Holy shit, holy shit…I did that about 37 times.” Of the end product, Whedon argued, “It’s gritty, it’s hard-edged, but it’s adorable.”

About a year ago, Bad Times producer Jeremy Latcham left Marvel Studios — where he had been senior vice president of production and development — to found his own Fox-based production company, Latcham Pictures.

Granted, his first release is “a smaller film, but there’s something about being able to do something that’s so original and fresh and new, and to bring back this old-school storytelling was really fun,” Latcham said. “[Goddard] wrote the screenplay, he budgeted the film, and he put it together and said, ‘This is what I want to make. I don’t want to develop it. I don’t want to sell it to you and not make it. I want to shoot in January. I want to make it. Can we do it?’ And I think that was a really smart way to go about it, because I think the elevator pitch of this movie just doesn’t probably make sense.”

“I relaxed a lot more this time around,” said Goddard, an Oscar-nominated screenwriter for The Martian, now penning X-Force. “You realize half your job is just hiring incredible artists and letting them do their job.” Bridges said of his latest collaborators, “There’s a lot of cool people [that] invited you to the party. That’s what makes a party cool, right? Who’s invited. Not only the cast, but the crew.”

Bridges’ onscreen bond with Erivo — whose work in Broadway’s The Color Purple won her an Emmy, Grammy, and Tony — persists following their final take. “That’s my buddy now,” said the actress and singer. “He’s sweet, he’s kind, very gentle, he is so generous with the space when it comes to doing a scene…I was glad that it was him that I was spending my time with. It was wonderful.” Bad Times marks her big-screen debut, but she actually shot Steve McQueen’s Widows first (that film is out Nov. 16). Goddard and casting director Carmen Cuba had her submit a pair of audition tapes before inviting her to Los Angeles for an hour-long workshop. “Part of me was like, 'It’s too good to be true for me to get it, so I’m not expecting anything from it,'” she said. “And you hear that you get it and, oh, God!”