Will Arnett & Amy Poehler Interview, Blades of Glory

Posted by: Sheila Roberts

Time for another interview! This time with comedians Will Arnett and Amy Poehler who sat down with Movies Online to talk about their new movie, "Blades of Glory,” directed by Will Speck and Josh Gordon based on a spec script by Jeff and Craig Cox. The film produced by Ben Stiller centers on the over-the-top comic travails of two disgraced world champion skaters, Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell) and Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder) who must overcome their considerable differences and get back in the game by becoming the first competitive male pairs figure skaters in history.

The adept comic performers (and real-life husband and wife) were cast in the pivotal roles of the film’s outlandish villains, Stranz (Arnett) and Fairchild (Poehler) Van Waldenberg—the brother/sister skating team whose champion status is threatened by Chazz and Jimmy. The film also stars William Fichtner, Jenna Fischer, Romany Malco, Nick Swardson, Rob Corddry and Craig T. Nelson.

Speck and Gordon comment, "Amy and Will walk that fine line in comedy that is so difficult to tread—this kind of humor is about amplifying recognizable idiosyncrasies, and that’s what makes people laugh. If a performer gets too broad, you’re pounding people over the head with a shovel. There’s art in their subtlety, and those subtle choices combine to build larger-than-life characters. Their work is just great and hilarious.”

Unlike Heder, Arnett is no stranger to ice skates. "I grew up in Canada, so I think that it’s part of your birthright to be able to skate,” he says. Arnett relishes the role of comic antagonist, which he played so memorably in the Emmy-winning "Arrested Development” and in the Robin Williams-starrer "RV.”

Producer Stuart Cornfeld observes that Arnett is more than willing to go out on a limb with his comedy: "One of the things that’s amazing about Will is that he’s really good-looking, and yet he’s willing to push, in a comedic way, way beyond that. He has this likeable personality, but he doesn’t use it to get the audience to like him. He’s willing to just go out there as far as he can. It’s really fascinating to watch.”

The Stranz and Fairchild relationship is intense and a bit … well, off, according to Poehler, who has demonstrated her mastery for comic subtext during her many years on "Saturday Night Live.” But she doesn’t want the audience to get any wrong ideas about them. She reasons, "Sure, Stranz and Fairchild spend a lot of time training together. They often have to do very intricate moves in very tight spaces. And some people feel that they’re a little too close. But that’s because they both want to win. The idea of winning excites them.”

Following "Blades of Glory,” the Emmy-nominated Arnett will be seen in Bob Odenkirk’s "The Brothers Solomon,” the ensemble comedy "Hot Rod,” and will then re-team with Will Ferrell in "Semi-Pro.” Arnett recently lent his voice to the animated sequel "Ice Age 2: The Meltdown,” and also co-starred opposite Robin Williams in "RV,” the family road trip comedy directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. He was most recently seen in "Let’s Go to Prison” with Dax Shepard and Chi McBride. He’s currently attached to star in "Most Likely to Succeed” for Universal, "Dad Can’t Lose” and "Get ‘Em Wet” for Paramount, as well as "The Ambassador” for DreamWorks and Paramount, which he will also executive-produce.

Poehler is in her sixth season on "Saturday Night Live” and her third as the co-anchor of "Weekend Update.” 2007 will also be the year that Poehler hits the big screen with several feature films. In addition to "Blades of Glory,” Poehler will star in both New Line Cinema’s "Mr. Woodcock” opposite Billy Bob Thornton and Seann William Scott, and the Warner Bros. comedy "Spring Breakdown,” opposite Parker Posey. May 18th, 2007 will see Poehler lend her voice to the successful "Shrek” saga, when "Shrek the Third,” comes out. She will also appear in "Fast Track” with Zach Braff, Jason Bateman and Amanda Peet, and "Southland Tales” for director Richard Kelly ("Donnie Darko”).

Here’s what the comedic duo had to tell us about working together on "Blades of Glory”:

Q: Have you worked together before?

Amy Poehler: We did briefly on Arrested Development, I did a couple of episodes of that, Will’s show on Fox, but no, not really other than this film. We’ve done a few other little things here and there, but nothing in this capacity. We’ve never played brother and sister before, I’ll tell you that.

Q: He could skate and you can’t?

Amy Poehler: That’s right, I couldn’t.

Q: Did you help her or did you just let her fall down?

Will Arnett: I think I helped. I tried to be a positive influence as much as I could.

Amy Poehler: Yup, there’s a lot of trash talking going on between us and Ferrell and Heder, so we had to stay a team.

Will Arnett: We let our skating do the talking, right?

Amy Poehler: Right, yeah, sure. If that’s the case, then I have a terrible speech impediment.

Will Arnett: That’s not true. Amy learned to skate – basically, you’d skated a few times before, but essentially learned how to skate for the movie and did a really good job.

Amy Poehler: Thank you.

Q: Did you guys get this together, or did one of you get on first and then the other?

Amy Poehler: We came in pretty much the same time. We woke up one morning and there was a tap at our window.

Will Arnett: A really lonely tap.

Amy Poehler: Yup, it was a really quiet, lonely tap, and we looked out at Will Ferrell in his bathrobe crying.

Will Arnett: Streaming, holding the script.

Amy Poehler: And he said, ‘If you don’t do this, it isn’t going to happen.’

Will Arnett: Please, yeah, please. Begged us to do the movie, and we said, ‘We’re going to need three weeks. We need three weeks to think about this.’

Amy Poehler: Our salary came out of his pocket.

Will Arnett: We demanded that, we wanted him to really feel it.

Q: What was it like meeting Scott Hamilton?

Amy Poehler: It was exciting.

Will Arnett: It was very exciting.

Amy Poehler: I grew up watching skating all the time in the Olympic stuff, and he’s a delight. Have you guys met him? (we say no) He’s a delight.

Will Arnett: He really is, and he also lends an air of legitimacy to what we do, potentially he’s a piece of insurance that will prevent us from being assassinated by the skating community.

Amy Poehler: Yes, I will put Hamilton up against anybody, any day.

Will Arnett: Well, we shouldn’t be putting him up against anybody.

Amy Poehler: But I would love to watch him fight someone.

Will Arnett: Okay, we don’t need to have some sort of fight pit with Scott Hamilton.

Amy Poehler: It’s a good idea.

Q: Did you guys base your characters on anybody you might have seen in the skating world?

Amy Poehler: We did actually, we kind of based our – I know I based the character of Fairchild on like those really put together, almost like prima ballerinas or gymnasts, like really focused gymnasts, or like the ladies on the top of cakes.

Will Arnett: One of those. Yeah, you know, there are moments in the movie we’re definitely – inspirational moments that we witnessed watching some skating, luckily the Olympics happened right before we started shooting, and as we were sort of prepping and getting ready, and I don’t know if anybody remembers last year from Torino, but the ice-dancing couples, the pairs, there was an Italian couple who were incredibly…

Amy Poehler: Remember them?

Will Arnett: The guy screwed up…

Amy Poehler: and he dropped her.

Will Arnett: He dropped her, and they were about to win it all, they had come out of retirement and they go to their final thing, they freeze at the end, and she won’t let it go, like standing there 30 seconds. And then they go to the ‘kiss and cry’ area, which is after the…

Amy Poehler: That was one of the things we learned.

Will Arnett: We learned the kiss and cry, they’re sitting there and he’s like ahhhh, just waiting for the scores, and she’s like boring a hole through him. [pretends to be him looking wide-eyed around the ring] Whoa, wonder how we did.

Amy Poehler: And the announcer was like, ‘She will not forgive him.’ We were like, ‘That’s good, we have to remember that,’ real life drama.

Q: What about those costumes?

Amy Poehler: Aren’t they insane?

Q: Did they feel just ridiculous or did your character think they were wonderful?

Amy Poehler: Always, our characters in this film always think that they’re on, always think that someone’s watching, hoping someone’s watching.

Will Arnett: Even at home.

Amy Poehler: Yup, even at home. And so every time we put one of those on, including our hip-hop outfits, really off the mark, we thought they were hip-hop, they were really off the mark, so they always believed that they looked pretty good.

Q: Did you have spandex fittings?

Amy Poehler: The gentlemen had more spandex in many ways than the ladies, which is a nice twist, isn’t it? Usually the ladies have the spandex. We did a lot of fittings and I had costumes that plugged in and jingled and jangled.

Will Arnett: The costuming on the movie was very elaborate and at a certain stage when we were getting ready, before we started shooting, they were doing camera tests and things like that, and we realized after having watched the Olympics that you can’t go too far in this area. Nothing is over the top.

Amy Poehler: We had to pump it up.

Will Arnett: It really needed to be pumped up, and that’s how we ended up going to the place with the so called hip-hop outfits or the Marilyn and JFK –

Amy Poehler: And Julie Weiss, the costume designer, she’s amazing, she’s also worked on such amazing stuff as Brazil, and she gives you an example of actually out there –

Will Arnett: Truly just eccentric and really thinks outside of whatever the box is in, it’s outside of that.

Q: Did you have a favorite?

Amy Poehler: I don’t know, I kind of liked my hip-hop outfit the best just because it was disgusting.

Will Arnett: I liked the JFK and Marilyn stuff too though.

Amy Poehler: Yeah, and you got to wear a little JFK skirt, didn’t you?

Will Arnett: I did, JFK was a one piece, except for – in order to achieve the bottom of the suit jacket, I had to wear essentially what amounted to a skirt that I clipped around as the last piece.

Amy Poehler: So every morning before he’d start working you’d clip on your skirt, like you guys do, you clip on your skirt and you started your day.

Will Arnett: It’s not emasculating at all.

Q: Was there a full routine for JFK and Marilyn?

Amy Poehler: Yes, there was, and I’m hoping that it will be on the DVD as an extra.

Q: You shot the whole routine?

Will Arnett: We shot bigger pieces than ended up in the movie…

Amy Poehler: and then we’re going to tour with it too. The studio doesn’t know that yet.

Will Arnett: We’re here promoting the tour as well. How many nations are there – 185 or something, we’re doing all of them, we’re doing every country.

Q: Did anyone get hurt? Were there any injuries?

Amy Poehler: No, no injuries, except for some bruised egos.

Will Arnett: Oh man, that is juicy.

Amy Poehler: Just some broken hearts and bruised egos. No, luckily, knock on wood.

Q: With a film like this there is usually a lot of stuff that gets edited out. Besides the dance sequence, was there a sequence that you were heartbroken was cut out?

Amy Poehler: We did get to do a lot of stuff, a lot of stuff that I remember being genius, do you? But we got to play around a lot, we improvised a lot of stuff too so that was fun.

Will Arnett: There are always going to be things that you do that when you see the final cut of the movie that you miss, and Blades of Glory is not about our journey, so…

Amy Poehler: Speak for yourself.

Will Arnett: Obviously it is, but I have to say that.

Amy Poehler: Every time that we’d do something funny, Ferrell would accidentally like hit the camera or lose the film.

Will Arnett: Hot coffee all over everything.

Amy Poehler: Hair in the gate, all that crap.

Will Arnett: But that’s Ferrell.

Amy Poehler: That’s him.

Q: Amy, how do you like taking over the update desk?

Amy Poehler: I’ve loved it. You know, I took it over two years ago, if you can believe it. When I came in with Tina, I guess that was two years ago, and then, yeah, and then she left, when was it, last year and it’s such a daze. But it’s been really fun this year with Seth Meyers and we’ve been having a really great time. I think it’s been a great season.

Q: I meant taking over this year?

Amy Poehler: Taking the lead, yeah, okay. I miss Tina a lot, I see her all the time and love her show, 30 Rock, we’re actually going to do a film together in just a couple of months, this summer, so…

Will Arnett: What?

Amy Poehler: It’s called Baby Mama and we’re going to shoot that in New York this summer.

Will Arnett: And when does that come out?

Amy Poehler: I don’t know Will, we’ll probably be seeing you all again for that. I miss her a lot, but I’m happy to do it with Seth. We have a great time. I think he’s great at it.

Q: How did it change when she left?

Amy Poehler: Just less flowers and butterflies.

Will Arnett: More unicorns.

Amy Poehler: Thank you, less flowers and butterflies and Seth brings a little bit more unicorns. That’s the difference, that’s the difference.

Q: What’s it like when you have a host who is there more for ratings than for comedy

Amy Poehler: Who are these hosts who are there for ratings?

Q: Let’s just say Paris Hilton, for example. Is there a difference when you guys are preparing the show?

Amy Poehler: You know there isn’t because we have such a short amount of time to do the show, it really is old school variety show, about a week to prepare and get it up, and so it’s its own kind of force -- that show that carries you along whether you’re ready for it or not. No, the show really isn’t any different, I like to think the show is also about the cast as well as the host, and I think that the cast and the writers are really amazing, so it’s not really different.

Q: Was there any time when you were doing this film that you just couldn’t get through a scene because you couldn’t stop laughing?

Amy Poehler: We’ve had a lot of… We’ve had a lot of good…

Will Arnett: Not once.

Amy Poehler: [Laughs]

Will Arnett: I have to be honest with you.

Amy Poehler: We did a scene, the scene where we’re all in this room when we’re giving our sister advice. Farrell was off camera doing the other side of the phone call.

Will Arnett: He’d clearly been drinking.

Amy Poehler: Clearly, and it was early.

Will Arnett: Yeah, it was early.

Amy Poehler: It was like 8AM.

Will Arnett: No, seriously, he was there on the other side of the room.

Amy Poehler: So that was really fun because we got to improvise together and get ready for whatever his…because they hadn’t shot his side yet.

Q: Was there a lot of improv?

Amy Poehler: There was.

Will Arnett: There was. Yeah.

Amy Poehler: There was a good amount, yeah, and Will is such a great improviser. Will and I would just come to set, we’d take the script, we’d throw it up in the air. [Laughs]

Will Arnett: [Laughs] Yeah, they’d arrive on set, they’d hand you the script, and I’d say ‘No thank you.’

Amy Poehler: I’ve got it all right here. [Laughs]

Will Arnett: Yeah.

Q: Was that kiss your guys idea or….?

Amy Poehler: Those were doubles. Those were kiss doubles.

Will Arnett: Those were doubles we used. We don’t kiss on film.

Amy Poehler: We don’t kiss on film. We just keep it for at home. But our doubles did a really good job.

Will Arnett: Really good. Believable.

Amy Poehler: Yeah, they did a really good job.

Q: Are you also doing the voice of Snow White?

Amy Poehler: Yes, in ‘Shrek 3,’ and I’m playing her very bossy.

Q: Are you doing the Disney version?

Amy Poehler: No, I thought the take on it for me would be that Snow White seems to have a lot of people under her that she’s in charge of, so I thought she would be a little Type A. She kinda tells it like it is and she bosses everybody around and also the rest of the ladies are Maya Rudolph -- I forget which character she is; Rapunzel, I think -- and Cheri Oteri and Amy Sedaris and we all play the crazy princess friends. Yeah, it’ll be fun.

Q: Is that a major role or just one of the background cameos?

Amy Poehler: I think it’s one of the… [goes into character] There are no minor roles, are there? I’m going to say not only is it a major role, it’s a … What’s higher than a major role? General?

Will Arnett: A four-star general.

Amy Poehler: It’s a four-star general role.

Q: You’re also in "Southland Tales”?

Amy Poehler: Uh huh.

Q: Are you still in it because I know they cut a lot?

Amy Poehler: I don’t know because I haven’t seen it. Have you seen it?

Q: No.

Amy Poehler: Has anyone seen it?

Q: No one may ever see it.

Will Arnett: It’s going to be like "The Day the Clown Cried.”

Amy Poehler: Maybe.

Will Arnett: Do you know that movie with Jerry Lewis? It’s something like that. Nobody’s ever seen it.

Amy Poehler: Nobody’s ever seen it.

Q: What’s Will in? He is in some stuff.

Amy Poehler: Yeah, coming up, "The Brothers Solomon” is coming out which is a great film with Will Forte and then… [turns to Will who looks surprised] What else? [Laughs] You’re not getting blood sugar crash are you?

Will Arnett: No. You go ahead. [Laughs]

Amy Poehler: Okay, then also… The great thing about Will is… No, we have a couple things coming out the next couple months.

Q: Can you each tell us something shocking about each other that audiences would not know about you and that’s not necessarily true?

Amy Poehler: Yes, thank you. No, do you think I’m going to tell you the truth?

Will Arnett: Amy can shoot a 3 point shot. She can sink it 9 times out of 10.

Amy Poehler: Yup. And Will has the ability to fly.

Will Arnett: Yeah.

Amy Poehler: A lot of people don’t know and which you keep under wraps.

Will Arnett: Well, because just for security and military reasons. I’ve done a lot of work with the military and I’m not really at liberty to talk about special ops stuff and I can’t really say where in the Middle East and it’s just, you know… And you woke up safe this morning. You’re welcome. That’s all I can say. This interview is over.

Q: Will, you have about 10 upcoming credits on IMDB.

Will Arnett: Yeah.

Q: Your last film was kind of weird how they handled it. They didn’t screen it for us and we did the press. Is that sort of a bump on the developing film career or what’s going on?

Will Arnett: No, not really. That was a movie that I didn’t have as much to do with in terms of… You know I was cast in that movie in prison. But I’m very proud of that movie. I think it got a really bad shake and I think a lot of people… It’s very, very easy to say that it was a crappy film, and people love to get on the band wagon and really slam it, but we made that movie for 4 million bucks which in this day and age is zero. Nobody ever gives us credit for that. We made it in 5 weeks.

Amy Poehler: It’s really funny.

Will Arnett: It’s a funny movie. It’s not the greatest movie ever made. I’m not saying that, but…

Amy Poehler: You just said that!

Will Arnett: I just said ‘oh the greatest movie ever made.’

Amy Poehler: Yes!

Will Arnett: ‘Let’s Go To Prison.’

Amy Poehler: Yeah.

Will Arnett: But anyway I don’t really see it as a bump. We have other films coming up. I did "The Brothers Solomon” which I saw you on the set of.

Amy Poehler: Oh yeah, that’s a really funny movie.

Will Arnett: That’s a really funny movie and Will Forte wrote a really funny script.

Amy Poehler: We only work with Wills.

Will Arnett: We only work with Wills, yeah.

Amy Poehler: That’s it.

Will Arnett: It’s always hit or miss and you’re just trying to work with funny people and work with people you like and do stuff that strikes you as being funny or interesting or whatever, and the rest of it, there’s not much you can do about it. It’s kind of out of your control.

Amy Poehler: I will say though we’ve got a lot of control for ‘Blades of Glory’ and we know it’s going to open big. We just got the word in.

Will Arnett: Yeah. We just got the word that we’re going to open $5 million more than ‘300.’

Amy Poehler: Yeah.

Will Arnett: What’d they end up doing?

Amy Poehler: $70 million.

Will Arnett: So $75 million!

Amy Poehler: Sounds great.

Will Arnett: That’s not hard.

Q: Is it more fun to play the bad guys?

Amy Poehler: It is more fun.

Will Arnett: It is.

Amy Poehler: It’s way more fun to be evil. What was fun about our stuff was that we had to look like from the outside that we were all sweet but inside we were rotten to the core. That was really fun to play. We spent most of the film…also Stranz and Fairchild…I think Fairchild is kind of mean to Stranz too during the film. It was really fun to play the bad guy because as a woman sometimes you don’t get to do that. You have to be like…

Will Arnett: Nice.

Amy Poehler: Nice.

Q: Have either of you ever worked for two directors before and what was that like?

Will Arnett: I have. On ‘Arrested Development’ we worked with the Russo brothers, Joe and Anthony. I actually really like it. I think it’s kind of an interesting process because as a director your number one job is basically problem solving and you’re just inundated with problems and when you’ve got two directors, you’ve got one guy who can deal with a lot of problems and then the other guy can deal with the actors. By delegating that way, I feel like you can get a lot more accomplished oddly.

Amy Poehler: Uh huh. I prefer working with 10 directors. If I had my choice, I would have 10 different directors.

Q: One for every scene?

Amy Poehler: Yeah, one for every scene. Really, honestly, I would love one for every day.

Will Arnett: Or work on 10 movies at the same time …

Amy Poehler: Simultaneously.

Will Arnett: With one director.

Amy Poehler: Well when we do ‘Blades’ 2 through 11, we’re going to shoot them all at the same time.

Will Arnett: Oh my god, we just signed on. It’s really exciting.

Amy Poehler: We’re making it in New Zealand. We’re making less.

Will Arnett: We’re making less money.

Amy Poehler: I’ll have to talk to Peter about that one.

Q: When you came out on the ice in the stadium, what did that feel like?

Amy Poehler: It was really scary. We were nervous the night before. We were joking that it was the ‘Movie Olympics.’ We have such respect for the real skaters because it is so terrifying. We couldn’t even imagine.

Will Arnett: They’re incredible athletics.

Amy Poehler: Going out there and doing that and not being able to screw up and start again. I can’t even imagine.

Will Arnett: And as a kid who grew up in Canada, coming out into an arena on skates was just so awesome. It’s like a dream come true. Every day I got to go work at a rink and that was really…

Amy Poehler: We did have a little thing the night before. We were like ‘We can do this. It’s going to be really great tomorrow.’ We had to psych ourselves up a little bit for it.

Will Arnett: Yeah. And we sacrificed a goat.

Amy Poehler: And we did. Ten. But it was a Saturday.

Will Arnett: It was a cute goat.

Amy Poehler: It was a Saturday.

Will Arnett: It was so cute.

Amy Poehler: We always do that on Saturdays.

Q: How was it spending all day working together and then going home?

Amy Poehler: Well, when we got home, [laughs] we’d just go through a very intense ritual of cleansing ourselves of our characters.

Will Arnett: Yeah.

Amy Poehler: And every day Will and I would go into different decompression chambers until we worked it out.

Will Arnett: Well we sleep in decompression chambers at our house.

Amy Poehler: Uh huh.

Will Arnett: It was fun for us because Amy works on her show and for the last few years I’ve been working on ‘Arrested Development,’ and then a year ago or whenever it was that we started shooting this movie, we had the opportunity to work for much, much more…

Amy Poehler: I think we started shooting this movie ten years ago.

Will Arnett: Ten years ago, yeah, ten years ago this April. We had the opportunity to work together every day so that was kind of great. It was a lot of fun and obviously to play brother and sister was kind of …

Amy Poehler: Creepy.

Will Arnett: Creepy. Awesomely creepy.

Amy Poehler: Awesomely creepy.

Will Arnett: Yes.

Q: Amy, are you looking for a full time movie career?

Amy Poehler: I thought you were going to say full time job. I am definitely looking for a full time job.

Will Arnett: That would’ve been rude.

Amy Poehler: I’ve got one more year at SNL and I’m hopefully going to be doing some stuff this summer. Do you have a full time movie career that you’re offering me because I’ll take it. I have my resume [pretends to reach for resume].

Q: Can you talk about your Nickelodeon Show?

Amy Poehler: Yeah, it’s called the ‘Mighty B.’ It’s about a little skateboarding girl in San Francisco and she’s a Girl Scout and she lives with her hippie single mom. When she dreams about being a superhero, she dreams about being this thing called the ‘Mighty B.’ She’s part of the Honey Bees Troupe so she dreams about turning into a superhero. It’s really, really great and I’ve got great people doing it. Nickelodeon is really excited about it and I think it’s excellent. The creators -- myself, Cynthia True and Erik Wiese -- worked on ‘Sponge Bob’ and ‘The Fairly Odd Parents’ and a bunch of those shows so I’m very lucky to be working with them.

Q: Do you do the voiceover?

Amy Poehler: Yeah, I’m the voice of her. Her name is Bessie Higgenbottom and she’s really cute. Yeah, it’s been super fun. I just wanted to do something positive for girls that doesn’t involve being boy crazy or being mean to each other. It’s kind of the opposite of that.

"Blades of Glory” opens in theaters on March 30th. I invite you to read my interviews with Will Farrell & Jon Heder and Jenna Fischer.

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