The Focus Features film sees Carell play Gary Zimmer, a Democratic strategist who worked on the Clinton campaign in 2016. The movie follows Zimmer as he decides to help a local Wisconsin candidate, Cooper’s Jack Hastings, run for mayor in the small, conservative town of Deerlaken, after a video of the retired veteran and farmer standing up for immigrants’ rights at a town hall meeting goes viral, all in an attempt to, as Zimmer says, “road test a more rural-friendly message.”
Filmmaker Stewart and several of the movie’s stars sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss their satirical film and the state of politics in the U.S., as well as how the country can move forward in the fight against racial injustice.
“It really was just a question of having experienced the political system for so long, and becoming frustrated with just how redundant and corrosive it feels like it’s gotten,” said Stewart of what inspired him to write and direct the movie.
“And kind of that media, industrial complex around it. And watching that grow and gain strength and move away from what you imagine its positive impacts should be on … You know, our electoral process seems to be further and further removed from the needs of the people it serves than ever before. So I wanted to try and look at it from that systems perspective as opposed to kind of the day-to-day that I had been dealing with with The Daily Show.”
Stars Byrne, Davis and Cooper also opened up about what made them want to be a part of the project.
“I’m such a fan of the genre of the newsroom drama, whether its documentary or movies,” said Byrne who plays Faith Brewster, a Republican campaign strategist. “It’s such a great backdrop for characters and theatrics. So it’s long been a kind of fantasy of mine to do something like that, and then to work with Jon and Steve was really a no brainer.”
“Well I’ve been a huge fan, probably never missed an episode of [Stewart’s The Daily Show],” said Cooper who portrays retired veteran and Wisconsin farmer Hastings. “I was just not gonna miss the opportunity.”
“Jon Stewart alone doesn’t make a ton of movies and that he was making one that I could possibly be in was kind of enough of a reason for me,” said Davis who plays Diana Hastings, the daughter of Cooper’s Jack. “And then reading the script, it was one of the best scripts I’ve read in years. I found it genuinely surprising.”
While all the film’s stars say the message of the movie is to “vote,” Stewart takes it a step further, emphasizing that the movie encourages viewers to question the country’s current political system.
“You know, part of all that about the two parties is they’re really just a stand-in, they’re a bit of a head fake,” said Stewart. “It’s there to entice you and lure you in, so that when the rug is finally pulled at the end, you step back and go, ‘Oh right, why do we allow this all to continue? Why do we allow it to go on like this? Why do we allow the electoral process to never end, and to continually reinforce divisions, as opposed to work to ease them?'”
Irresistible, now available on premium VOD, comes as the 2020 presidential election is quickly approaching.
“I thought, ‘Hey man it’s the middle of a pandemic. It’s an election year. The streets are alive with social change. Let’s just drop a box of chocolate in the middle of that and see what happens,” said Stewart.
Stewart, who recently made headlines for his comments on police brutality, also opened up to THR about the country’s continued fight against systemic racism.
“Problems that we’ve created have taken years to create and … it’s going to take stamina and will, and I think we have it,” said Stewart. “And I’m very encouraged that new generations are really active and focused. And I’m excited to see what comes of their efforts.”
Watch the video above for more.