'Masterminds' Premiere: Cast Talks Bringing America’s Largest Cash Heist to Life

Masterminds  Premiere - Getty - H - 2016
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Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson and Kristen Wiig star in the comedy from Jared Hess ('Napoleon Dynamite,' 'Nacho Libre'), which is based on real events.

After years of uncertainty, Relativity Media’s latest feature, Masterminds, finally premiered on Monday night at Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre. Fans lined the streets hoping to catch a glimpse of the film’s all-star cast, which includes Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson and Kristen Wiig. On the carpet, each sang each other’s praises, as many of the actors have worked together in the past.

“Everyone’s hilarious — intimidatingly so,” Jon Daly, who plays an FBI agent in the film, told The Hollywood Reporter.

The comedy is based on the 1997 Loomis Fargo Bank Robbery in Charlotte, N.C. It follows David Ghantt, a sweet but dimwitted armor truck driver, as he is manipulated by his seductive co-worker, Kat Campbell (Kristin Wiig), and a group of criminals led by Steve Chambers (Owen Wilson) into pulling off America’s largest cash heist. However, after Ghantt steals $17 million, he naively hands the money over to the group, only to be betrayed and framed for the crime. As a result, he ends up on a journey that takes him far beyond his simple, rural life, teaching him the true meaning of adventure.

Commenting on what inspired him to tell this story, director Jared Hess said, “I had seen videos with the real David Ghantt and he just struck me as such a fascinating character and real sweetheart of a guy that initially did it for love and adventure and then kind of got betrayed.”

Under Hess’ guidance, his cast of comedic powerhouses were able to bring the ridiculous events to the screen. Known for hits such as Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre, he is no stranger to depicting small town America. Masterminds is the first film Hess has not both written and directed. The screenplay was written by Chris Bowman and Hubbel Palmer, friends from film school.

“All of us responded to the material in the true story in the same way, so we did collaborate quite a bit in the development of it," Hess told THR about playing an active role in the creation of the story. "We wanted to tell the story from the perspective of David Ghantt.”

For Galifianakis, playing Ghantt was a natural fit, having grown up in Asheville, N.C. “I love rednecks. I think they’re super funny and some of them are really mean and some of them are really nice,” the star joked to THR. “I’m half redneck myself so that part I really liked.” 

But Galifianakis was quick to mention that his impression of Ghantt is significantly dramatized for comedic value. After meeting for the first time, the actor was instantly drawn to the man’s infectiously warm personality and felt compelled to contribute to the project.

With so many Saturday Night Live veterans on the cast, it is no surprise that the actors were given freedom to make the characters their own. This improvisation contributed to a fun on-set environment that made it impossible for any of them to choose a favorite moment. “I know we were separated one day because we were laughing too hard,” Wiig told THR of a scene she shot opposite Galifianakis.

This off-screen humor will hopefully make Masterminds one of Fall’s top comedies, as Wiig and the rest of the cast were visibly excited to finally be sharing this project with the world.

Masterminds hits theaters Sept. 30. Watch the trailer below.