It’s never too early to get into the holiday spirit. Case in point: the exclusive new trailer (above) for the family comedy Love the Coopers whose epic cast includes Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Olivia Wilde, Anthony Mackie, Amanda Seyfried, Marisa Tomei, Ed Helms, Alan Arkin, and June Squibb.
If Love the Coopers reminds you of other festive movies with big ensembles, like Garry Marshall’s Valentine’s Day and New Years Eve, that’s OK says director Jessie Nelson, who also wrote and directed the Oscar-nominated 2001 drama I Am Sam. “We’re in the spirit of Love Actually or The Family Stone,” she tells Yahoo Movies. “We’ve got a lot of comedy but we also have a lot of warmth and heart — that embraces the painful insanity of the holidays.”
Here, John Goodman is in the role of family patriarch, something we haven’t seen from him for nearly 20 years, since his days on the hit sitcom Roseanne. (And while Diane Keaton plays his life mate, try not to get confused by the voice of her Father of the Bride hubby Steve Martin, who serves as the film’s narrator.) “He was really excited to get a role like this,” says Nelson of Goodman. “He had that dream dad vibe and Diane had always wanted to work with him.”
Staying true to the spirit, the film was shot last wintertime, just after the holidays. And it was cold, recalls Nelson. “It was insane because we were in blizzards in Pittsburgh in the dead of winter. I remember one day shooting a scene with Diane and John and our camera truck froze, I think it was the fuel… And a snow globe, a key prop in a scene, burst because it was so freezing,” she says. “The biggest challenge was navigating that large of a cast in that weather. Some of them had to shoot outside in 10 below. They were all incredible troupers.”
Alan Arkin with director Jessie Nelson on the set of ‘Love the Coopers’ (Photo: CBS Films)
The actors also ate real Christmas dinners, enough to last a lifetime. “It took us four days to shoot the dinner scene. They had to eat maybe 65 Christmas dinners,” says Nelson with a laugh. “It was really incredible food, made by the food stylist behind Chef. Initially the cast was thrilled to eat it,” she adds. But as the meal orgy drudged on Nelson says the actors got to feeling overstuffed. “I could see them become kind of comatose by the end of it.”
The scene that impressed Nelson the most was when the family goes Christmas caroling. “I had no idea of the level of musicianship from some of my actors. Alan Arkin is an amazing ukulele player. John Goodman plays the harmonica beautifully. Ed Helms can play the guitar so well. Diane sings beautifully, and June Squibb has a beautiful voice. It was amazing what they did with that scene,” Nelson recalls wistfully.
You can catch the Von Trapps Coopers in all of their frozen, overfed musical glory in theaters starting Nov. 13.