She's Out of My League Synopsis:
In the comedy "She's Out of My League," Kirk (Jay Baruchel, "Knocked Up," "Tropic Thunder"), an average Joe, can't believe his luck. Though he's stuck in a seemingly dead-end job as an airport security agent, against all odds, Molly (Alice Eve), a successful and outrageously gorgeous babe, falls for him. Kirk is stunned. So are his friends, his family and even his ex-girlfriend. Now he has to figure out how to make the relationship work, even though he'd be the first to admit she's totally out of his league.
She's Out of My League – In theaters March 12!
She's Out of My League Production Notes
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
When producers Jimmy Miller, David Householter and George Gatins began work on She’s Out of My League, they agreed the film’s success would ultimately hinge on keeping the tone real and the characters believable. “We all knew that what made the script unique was a combination of outrageous laughs, genuine emotion and real affection for the characters,” says executive producer Gatins. “We wanted to make a movie with heart. If the characters aren’t presented as real people rather than caricatures, then an audience isn’t going to become emotionally invested in whether or not they get together.”
The producers’ first step was to find a director who shared their sensibility and vision. “We had seen a short film by a young British commercial and sketch comedy director named Jim Field Smith,” recalls Gatins. “Jim had never directed a feature before, but he obviously had a flair for comedy that comes from a place that’s very real.”
Field Smith was in London, where he lives and works, when he got a surprise phone call from his agent in Los Angeles telling him DreamWorks had him in mind to direct a romantic comedy. “I really loved the script,” he recalls, “because the comedy came from the characters rather than being pure formula. I put myself on the next plane to Los Angeles and came out to meet with the producers.”
Field Smith sensed that screenwriters Sean Anders & Tim Morris had tapped into a universal experience. “It was such a solid concept and also had these fantastic characters,” he says. “I had read high-concept comedies and thought ‘wow, that’s great but I don’t know if I’m the right guy to direct that.’ This could have been just another geek gets hot girl story, but under the broader, more basic comedy, there’s an emotional core, and the fusion of the two is where the heart of the script is. Because of that, we can have the most outrageous scenes, but when they’re seen in the context of everything you know about the characters, you accept those scenes as real, and hopefully funny, situations.”
“That’s my kind of comedy,” the director continues. “I want to see characters who are real and relatable and then see them go through hell, because I want to imagine how I would react in that situation. “It's funny seeing someone slip on a banana peel. But what's funnier to me, is to see someone slip on a banana peel, and then while they're lying on the ground their phone rings and it’s their girlfriend saying ‘you’re dumped.’ That to me is immediately 400 times funnier, because they have to pick themselves off the ground metaphorically as well as literally.”
After speaking with Field Smith, the producers were convinced he had the ideal approach to the material. “Jim didn’t just focus on the two main characters,” says Gatins. “There are a lot of characters in the movie and they all hold an important place. He seemed to know how to handle everybody and make them distinctly different.”
The film’s leading male character, Kirk Kettner, works in airport security, but has always dreamed of being a pilot. Although the two jobs are close geographically, they are miles apart in terms of status and glamour, observes Field Smith. “Kirk is waiting for something to happen to him, but he’s not motivated enough to do anything about it. That is a situation a lot of young people find themselves in.”
Meanwhile, Molly, who was briefly a lawyer and is now happily running a party planning business with her friend Patty, is afraid to tell her parents. “The simple version of the movie is that she gives him the confidence to be himself and not care what anyone else thinks,” says Field Smith.
But despite her brains and beauty, Molly finds something in Kirk she didn’t even know she was looking for. “He holds the candle up to some of the problems and fallacies of her life,” the director continues. “Maybe she’s a 10 physically, but she’s concerned with money and what her friends think and how she looks—things that he doesn’t care about at all. It’s only because they start listening to the subversive voices in their heads and to their friends that it starts to go wrong.”
That advice begins with Kirk’s pal’s devising a not-so-foolproof system of calculating a person’s romantic potential. T. J. Miller, whose character Stainer is the ultimate arbiter of the rating system, explains the complex algorithms that form its basis. It begins with a simple one to 10 rating system, with 10 being the best, and one the worst. A select few, like Molly, are “hard 10s,” which means they really have no drawbacks.
From that initial number, Stainer applies exemptions, add-ons and deductions. What kind of car do you drive? If you drive a crummy car, that’s going to deduct a point—unless you’re an artist because you’re expected to have a bad car. A guy can get a point bump for being in a band or dressing cool or doing a little manscaping.
Based on Stainer’s calculations, Kirk is a five (that beat-up Neon he drives works against him), which puts Molly well outside the permissible two-point range.
“Personally I would never rate women on a number system,” says Miller. “I have my own rating system. To me, women should be rated on an alphanumeric code. For instance, some women would be an 849B.”
ABOUT THE CASTING 1
Casting the 30 speaking roles and nine major characters in She’s Out of My League would present a challenge for the most experienced director, let alone a first-timer like Field Smith. Fortunately, he was able to tap into his experience in improvisational and sketch comedy to help him find a company of like-minded players. “This is really an ensemble piece,” he says. “Obviously we have Molly and Kirk, our heroes, but much of the comedy of the movie comes from this outrageous group of friends and Kirk’s crazy family. It’s very dialogue-based. To be able to make that work, you have to have a group of performers who can fire off each other and keep the dialogue lively and real.”
The filmmakers put together a uniquely talented ensemble that includes comedians with stand up and improv backgrounds, television comedy veterans and gifted up-and-comers to play Kirk and Molly’s various friends and relatives. “We got very lucky with the cast,” says Gatins.
Both the producers and director say that the casting of Jay Baruchel was crucial to the film’s ensemble. He is Kirk in many ways, and vice versa. “Jay’s physicality, the way he speaks, the way he acts around other people basically fit Jay perfectly,” says Field Smith. “He has all these social mannerisms that are just hilarious. He’s got the longest arms of any man in the universe and so when he goes to shake people’s hands, he stands about three meters away. We built a lot of his quirks and persona into the movie.
“He’s also such a likable guy,” adds Field Smith. “We root for him and want him to end up with Molly. We want him to pull his socks up and tighten his belt, to get in there and sort his life out.”
Baruchel himself recognized a kindred spirit in the script’s portrayal of Kirk. “Kirk is the epitome of the Everyman,” says the actor. “It’s easy to stereotype a character like that by making him a nerd. But Kirk is happy doing his thing; he doesn’t have any great overriding ambition. He’s maintaining and happy doing so. I think that’s one of the things that attracts Molly to him. But when she starts courting him, it brings a whole host of issues with it. The guy who was comfortable in his own skin suddenly starts being insecure and paranoid.”
Despite his similarities to Kirk, Baruchel says the role involved some heavy-duty acting. “I had to go to work and kiss Alice Eve all day long,” he grumbles. “I have such a hard job. I know there are worse things I could be doing. But at the same time, it was definitely awkward. I have never kissed any girl I’ve dated in front of my friends. I had to do it in front of a hundred and fifty people plus.”
The contrast in the two actors’ professional backgrounds mirrors their characters’ differences, according to Baruchel. “She had just finished doing a play on Broadway,” he says. “I pretended to be stoned and say swear words in front of Seth Rogan and Jonah Hill. There are some interesting things that come from the meeting of those two completely different schools of acting.”
Eve, who had previously done a series of dramatic roles, welcomed the opportunity to play a lighter character. “I love a romantic comedy,” she says. “Who doesn’t? They’re the chocolate of the film world. And I love my character. She is a real person and she’s just straight down the line a good girl. I don’t often get a script where the girl is just so lovely. I couldn’t believe how favorably the script dealt with women.”
Although flattered, Eve says she did have some reservations about being cast as the “perfect” woman. “I’ve never felt under so much pressure in my entire life. It’s an incredibly tenuous position to be in.”
The filmmakers were looking far and wide for the right actress for the role, until Field Smith suggested they meet Eve. “We needed someone to play a fantastically good-looking girl who is also vulnerable and likable,” he says. “She immediately jumped into my mind as someone who’d be great for it.”
The director also had a brainstorm for the parts of Molly’s parents. “They’re played by my actual parents, who are both actors in England,” Eve reveals. “I’ve had four or five sets of parents in different movies and my mum has always said she wanted to play my mum one day.”
With a script that included an unusual number of strong supporting roles, the importance of the casting went well beyond the two leads. “We had all these incredibly unique people, and each of them so bloody talented,” says Baruchel. “Even if we had just stuck to the script, it would have been the funniest thing ever, but we all peppered it with our own stuff and it’s a hilarious juxtaposition of crazy characters and personalities.”
T.J. Miller, Nate Torrence and Mike Vogel play Kirk’s three best friends, who form his somewhat faulty lifeline to the world of romance. Director Field Smith couldn’t have been more satisfied with the performances by the three actors. “T.J. Miller has a four-year-old boy inside him,” says the director. “He’s very energetic and resourceful with vocabulary—a real comedy technician. Nate Torrence has this innate innocence and naiveté, which makes his character of Devon the perfect foil for the other guys. And Mike Vogel’s character, Jack, is one of my favorites. He has no emotional attachment to his advice and he comes out with these nuggets of dating wisdom which all seem to be cropped from some kind of playbook. When Kirk says Molly’s coming around for dinner with his parents, Jack tells him he’s jumping six moves. What has he been reading? Some kind of FHM article?”
ABOUT THE CASTING 2
Baruchel compares the actors’ interaction to playing in a band. “We each do our own thing so specifically,” says Baruchel. “Hopefully it works like music, so there’s one guy playing guitar, one guy playing bass, one guy playing drums, one guy trying his best to sing and the juxtaposition is ridiculous. At the very least, we find each other very funny.”
Miller says that while his character, Stainer, may seem harsh in his advice, he’s just looking out for his buddy. “These four dudes are a motley crew of guys trying to figure it out post-high school. Stainer is always trying to protect his friends, maybe sometimes in an aggressive and unhelpful way.”
This was Miller’s second time working with Vogel, with whom he appeared in “Cloverfield.” “I don’t know if you’ve seen Mike Vogel, but Mike is very intimidating, both physically and, psychologically,” he says. “He was on the cover of Men’s Health right after “Cloverfield.” I was on the cover of Toddler Bodies.”
Vogel’s character is the closest thing the group has to a ladies’ man. “He’s the go-to guy for advice on women,” says the actor. “And despite Jack’s advice, Kirk succeeds.”
The only non-comedian in the group, Vogel says he enjoyed watching his co-stars mine the script for laughs. “They’re not all big, broad characters just popping jokes at one another, though. There’s a genuine camaraderie that makes the dynamic between all of us work.”
Molly is getting bad advice of her own from her business partner, Patty, played by Krysten Ritter. “Patty’s pretty brutal,” says Ritter. “She’s honest and funny and loud, and she curses a lot. I had just finished working on Confessions of a Shopaholic where my character was really bubbly...so Patty was the perfect contrast because she’s really dry, really bitchy and always in black eyeliner.”
Ritter has a chance to show off a previously unknown talent in the movie. “I’m really into bowling, so I was thrilled when I saw that Patty had to bowl a strike. When I went to the set that day, they had hired a professional bowler to do it for me and I kept telling them. ‘No, I can do it.’ Well, this guy apparently lied on his resume, because he did not bowl a strike that day. I stepped in and, yes, that is me bowling!”
Kirk’s friends may make up a surrogate family for him, but he still has his real family to contend with. “The family members seem like these ogres who constantly beat Kirk down, physically and mentally,” says Field Smith. “His brother literally beats on him the whole time and his dad is always putting him down. One of my favorite lines in the movie is when Kirk says to Molly ‘I was going go to go to college but Dad bought a swimming pool instead.’ I think that sums up Kirk’s experience of life.”
Adam LeFevre heads up the Kettner clan as dad Walt. “As a father, his responsibility was to bring up boys to understand what it is to be a man, to be tough but tender, to be able to be drunk and still drive,” says the actor. “You know, things only a father can really teach a child. Walt is thrilled when Kirk shows up with this spectacular girl, because it means that something like this can happen in reality. If he had played his cards right, he could have ended up with Jill St. John.”
The family also includes matriarch Barb (Debra Jo Rupp), older brother Dylan (Kyle Bornheimer) and his pregnant fiancée Debbie, played by Jessica St. Clair. “She’s the kind of woman that’s not afraid to rock a bikini six months pregnant,” St. Clair says of her character. “And just because she’s pregnant doesn’t mean she’s off the market, you know what I mean?”
Lindsay Sloane plays Marnie, the ex-girlfriend Kirk is mooning for until Molly comes his way. “Marnie grew up being the hot girl in her neighborhood and has continued to think that she is that girl everywhere in the world. Nothing says sexy like horrible pink lips and really big hair!”
The actors are unanimous in their praise for first-time director Field Smith. “Jim comes from a background of sketch comedy in England, so he has a really interesting, innate instinct about it,” says Sloane. “He hears the rhythm and really knows how to hone things. He can find jokes in places where there aren’t any written, but he’s also smart enough and secure not to force anything.”
“His presence is very comforting,” adds Alice Eve. “On a movie set, the world falls down about ten times a day, and sometimes you feel like the whole thing is going to come to a screeching halt at any given moment. Jim holds it all together. When I look at him in those moments, I see nothing but utter calm. He’ll talk about something completely different, and the panic is over.”
“You’d never have known that this was his first film,” adds Debra Jo Rupp. “He knows how to give his actors breathing room. He let us play with each other and we got to know each other really well in a very short time. You have to trust yourself as a director to be able to give over to that.”
AIRPORTS, ARENAS AND AMBIANCE
As the filmmakers searched for the perfect city to serve as a backdrop for She’s Out of My League, they compiled a checklist of attributes: It needed to have luxuriously romantic settings, an NHL hockey team and perhaps most importantly, an airport that was available for extensive filming.
“First we looked for the airport,” says Field Smith. “It was one of the most important settings in the story. But finding an airport that you can film in the way we needed to is almost unheard of. It’s easier to build a set.”
While scouting locations, the filmmakers visited the Pittsburgh International Airport. After a tour of the facility, it was clear that the restrictions on time and access would make shooting there impossible. “We could film in certain areas between 2 AM and 3 AM, and in another area at 5 AM, but only with one camera,” says Field Smith. “As we were getting into the van to leave, someone mentioned there was a concourse that wasn’t being used, and asked if we wanted to see it. We were on our way to make another flight, but we figured why not?
“And then they opened this little door,” the director continues. “There was an entire half of the airport—empty. We could see planes through the glass, all the signage was up and all the moving walkways were still working.
“Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for us, fewer flights in and out of Pittsburgh had forced them to shut down an entire wing,” adds Field Smith. We were able to film there with unfettered access to the entire concourse. It was literally a case of opening a door, flicking a light switch on and suddenly we had an entire movie set right there. I felt like Alice in Wonderland.”
Even with half the airport to themselves, security restrictions for cast and crew were still tight. “Getting in and out of a working airport did present some logistical challenges,” says George Gatins. “Every day was as if we were all getting on a flight. We had to go through security, taking off our shoes and removing our belts. There were a lot of dos and don’ts. We were guests at the airport, so we wanted to make sure we didn’t overstay our welcome or cause any unnecessary inconvenience.”
The extras were instructed not to bring anything along that couldn’t be taken on a plane, even food or water. “And of course, no guns or knives, please,” Field Smith says. “But it was such an incredible find. We felt like we’d stumbled upon a secret. It was definitely the main reason we came to Pittsburgh, and then when we got there, we discovered all this other amazing stuff.”
The second key item on the list was getting the cooperation of a professional hockey team. Producer Jimmy Miller, a Pittsburgh native, had worked in the Mellon Arena as an usher when he was a teenager. “Jimmy still has season tickets to the Penguins,” says Gatins. “And one of his friends from college is a vice president with the franchise. The Penguins gave us access to everything we could have asked for. They gave us luxury boxes; they gave us seats right on the ice; they allowed us to shoot during a sold out game at the Mellon Arena.”
For a born-and-bred Briton like Field Smith, the learning curve on the popular North American sport was steep. “As a guy coming from the UK, I knew nothing about hockey,” he admits. “I went to four games during pre-production to get a sense of how to shoot it. Our very first night, we were filming in the front row right next to the ice. It was a baptism by fire, or baptism by ice, I should say.”
The first day of production for She’s Out of My League took place at the Mellon Arena during a live game. “We basically had 18,000 unofficial extras,” Field Smith remembers. “The Penguin fans were so patient about having a movie crew moving in and around the arena. We had to change the film magazine on the camera every ten minutes or so, and the residents of Pittsburgh were passing them down the row to us like they were hot dogs.”
The cast and crew were on hand for team captain Sidney Crosby’s first game back after an injury. “The crowd was incredibly excited,” he continues. “Jay got to meet Sidney Crosby, who’s his all-time hero. And we all got to see Jay turn into a blubbering five-year-old, which was hilarious.”
Some moviegoers may be surprised by the beauty of the “Steel City.” Located at the confluence of the Monongahela and Alleghany Rivers as they meet and form the Ohio, Pittsburgh has multiple bridges and a magnificent skyline that make a dramatic backdrop for the story. The filmmakers scouted the city extensively for the settings seen in the film, including the world-renowned Andy Warhol Museum and Mount Washington, which was named “Best Urban Vista” by USA Weekend. “Going in, we were unaware of everything the city had to offer,” says Field Smith. “Once we got there, we started tailoring the story around Pittsburgh locations. There’s a scene between Kirk and Molly in Mount Washington with the city in the background that is fantastic.”
In the end, the director found everything he needed in Pittsburgh, which was a pretty tall order. “It was a big movie in terms of the number of locations and people. It seemed like every scene involved hundreds of extras,” says Field Smith. “We would do a take and then it took ten minutes to reset 300 people in their starting position. I felt like I was given this huge toy to play with and thousands of extras and an air show and planes and stunt vehicles and cars and all kinds of stuff. The only thing we didn’t have was an explosion!”
By the end of the shoot, Field Smith was satisfied he had been able to make the movie he had originally envisioned. “When I first read the script, I completely pictured so many scenes in my head. So often you have to compromise on one thing or another, but happily I managed to keep it very close to what I originally visualized.”
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