Recently divorced, newly rich, and utterly miserable Danny (Kevin Corrigan) would seem to be the perfect test subject for a look at the relationship between money and happiness. Danny’s well-funded ennui is interrupted by a momentous trip to the local gym where he meets self-styled guru/owner Trevor (Guy Pearce) and determined and acerbic trainer Kat (Cobie Smulders). Soon their three lives are inextricably knotted together — both professionally and personally.
Writer/director Andrew Bujalski (Computer Chess, Beeswax), a favorite of critics and devoted fans, has made his most mainstream film to date. In addition to powerful performances by Corrigan, Pearce, and Smulders, Results features Giovanni Ribisi, Brooklyn Decker, Anthony Michael Hall, and Elizabeth Berridge. I sat down with Bujalski and actor Kevin Corrigan to discuss the film.
Danny Miller: Andrew, when I’ve heard you talk about this movie, you seemed almost apologetic that it may be more “commercial” than your other films and have rom-com elements.
Andrew Bujalski: Oh, I’ve had all kinds of conflict and hand-wringing about this movie. To see people’s reactions so far, it’s certainly gratifying, because of course you want them to like your movie and respond to it. It’s nice, in a sense, that there’s a “voice” in it, but then another part of me goes, “Oh no, it’s MY voice! I want to make some money for a change!” (Laughs.)
Ha! At the same time, do you worry about any Andrew Bujalski purists out there who will accuse you of “selling out” by making something more commercial with real actors?
Oh, sure, I’ve already seen reviews like that! But for the most part, I think the people who liked my earlier stuff by definition have strange enough tastes that they’re willing to try other things.
And it has to be a good thing that this film may be seen by a lot more people than your other films.
Well, I’m not sure that has to be a good thing — but I guess it’s not an inherently bad thing either! (Laughs.) It’s amazing to me that they had Guy and Cobie on The Today Show to promote this film — that kind of thing is very new to me. That appearance alone reached so many more people than I’m used to.
Kevin, I was very moved by your performance as Danny who’s a pretty complex character. Did you and Andrew talk a lot about what makes this guy tick or did you feel it was pretty much on the page?
Kevin Corrigan: I could surmise quite a few things just from the first reading of the script, it was just a matter of getting confirmation on some of the things I supposed were going on with him. Most of the conclusions I came to were pretty on point when I talked to Andrew.
I wonder if any therapists will weigh in on Danny’s behavior and diagnose him with Borderline Personality Disorder or something.
I don’t know if he’s that dysfunctional. To be honest, I related to everything I read in the script, there wasn’t anything that was too outside the realm of my own experience. It didn’t require a big therapy session to get into the character which was convenient because sometimes as an actor you really have to inventory everything and do a lot of unpacking. In this case, we had one rehearsal before the shoot but we ended up talking more than rehearsing. That conversation itself became the rehearsal and by the end of it we all felt like we were on the same page.
There were moments with Danny that I felt could have gone down a much darker path. Andrew, did you ever consider a darker ending for the film?
Andrew: I was delighted with that ending and I hope we got away with it. It was so much fun to do that I was giggling as we were shooting it! But even though the film may end on an upbeat note, it doesn’t mean that it’s devoid of darkness and complexity.
Right. In lots of ways the three of them are just as fucked up at the end as they were when the film began.
Absolutely, and that was the fun of it! I wanted a “happy ending” but in a way that doesn’t deny everything that came before. A conventional Hollywood rom-com is all about building up people’s problems and all the reasons they shouldn’t be together and then allowing them to overcome those things. In the process of writing this, I really got into everyone’s problems and I had no desire to sweep them under the rug at the end of the movie. That’s kind of what the whole thing is about, really. When you see a trainer, the idea is that you’re going to better yourself, you’re going to engage in such-and-such a program and then things will improve for you. On some kind of pragmatic level, it works — if you go to the gym X number of times, you will see certain results, and then it’s human nature to think “and then all my problems will be resolved” but we know that’s not true. You’re always you and whatever you brought in there with you, you’ll take out with you. So that was part of the structure of the movie, too, that we could work our way to this happy ending but that didn’t mean that we’d “solved” these characters’ issues, they still were who they were.
I loved that despite the setting and intensity of Guy and Cobie’s characters, the film really wasn’t about any physical “makeovers.” Still, I was wondering, Kevin, how much actual working out you had to do in the course of shooting the film.
Kevin: Not that much, there wasn’t a whole lot of time to get in a significant workout. I remember, though, when we were about a week or two away from shooting the scene where I had to do these pull-ups. All I had been doing up to that point was eating and gaining weight for the character. So then I started panicking about that scene and I did go to an actual gym to try to get strong enough. I think I did two pull-ups on my own and then half of one with Guy Pearce’s help!
I know it was part of your character, but do you feel a shred of vanity when all the reviews call him a schlub?
Oh, no, it’s actually pretty true! The truth is I didn’t gain that much weight, I just showed up the way I am. I wish I was a bit more committed to working out, I mean, look at Guy Pearce!
I think he’s a fantastic actor but it’s irritating that he’s close to my age and still has a body like that.
Andrew: I know! But if you ask Guy about it, he’ll tell you how out of shape he is.
Oh, please! You wrote the character of Trevor with Guy in mind, right? Where else would you find someone that age who was so perfect for that role?
Yes, I did. I had met with Guy about something else years earlier — we had a breakfast meeting that went on for quite a while. I’d always been a fan of his work but I just found him so fascinating in person. He was a teenaged bodybuilder so he was very comfortable in this world.
Did he correct you on any of the fitness stuff you wrote in the script?
Yes, he’s far more knowledgeable about all the exercise stuff than I could ever be. There’s this one scene where he pulls himself up on a bar and inverts his body in this insane way — I never could have written that, I don’t know the words for that kind of thing! In the script it just says, “Trevor does some pull-ups.”
Kevin: I loved that shot, it looked like the camera was rotating.
Andrew: But it wasn’t, it was just Guy Pearce rotating!
I thought Cobie Smulders was just great as Kat. She’s out in the billion-dollar Avengers movie right now, was it challenging to get her for this much smaller film?
Cobie has only been in things that are massively successful — which is why I wasn’t even familiar with her work! But I watched some clips of her and we talked on Skype and it such a thrill to realize she had that element that I needed. It was just luck and good timing that she happened to be available.
Slotting you in between her crazy successful TV show and billion-dollar movie.
Kevin: Cobie is such a humble and lovely person. Such a joy to work with. I remember it was Canada Day one day on the set and someone asked, “How are you feeling today, Cobie?” and she said, “I feel great — like a million Canadian bucks!” (Laughs.)
Andrew: She is one of Vancouver’s finest!
Kevin, I jumped for joy when I saw your wife, Elizabeth Berridge, playing your ex-wife in that one scene because I love her as an actress. Was that your doing?
Kevin: Beth and I had gone to a screening of Computer Chess in New York. I had already been talking to her about Andrew and his films. I kept saying, “This guy is great, you’ve got to see his movies!” So she got to meet him at that screening and later he asked her if she’d be interested in playing that role.
It’s a great scene, there’s so much going on there. Of course, I have to admit that my second thought was, “Oh, look, it’s Amadeus’s wife!” Has she gone a week in 30 years without someone bringing up her role in that film?
(Laughs). I think she gets that a lot. She even gets that from ME a lot!