Buddies Jim Rash and Nat Faxon Discuss Coming of Age in ‘The Way, Way Back’

Yahoo! Movies
The Reel Breakdown

By Jim Rash and Nat Faxon

With "The Way, Way Back"  Oscar winning writers (“The Descendants”) and TV stars (Rash - "Community", Faxon "Ben and Kate") adding "director" to their resumes as their first indie hit expands this weekend. The pair not only wrote and directed the film but play supporting roles in it.

The old friends chatted with each other about their work and let Yahoo listen in.

Jim: Was it hard for you to play such an unflattering character, a flunky at the Water Wizz?
Nat: [Sound of door closing. Me running down the hall, weeping]
Jim: You deserve to be awarded for your willingness to play unflattering characters like Roddy.
Nat: [Through the elevators doors, screaming and then in a weepie, weepie voice] I am a leading man, a leading man!
Jim: And scene.
Nat: Now that we’re directors, we can say “scene.”
Jim: A nice beginning, a nice middle, and a nice end.

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Nat: Jim, what is it like going so against type for the role of Lewis (his "Community" character). You are typically seen as an action hero, but you’re really getting into that nerdy nebbish side of you.
Jim; Oh, Nat, it’s a challenge, when Hollywood has always seen me as eye candy, someone you instinctively expect to save the world. For me to play a nebbish and a curmudgeon, well, if you looked at me those would be the things farther from your mind. You’d see an American hero aka Bruce Willis.
Nat: Since, now we know who we are as actors, what does that insight do for you as you move into the next stage as a writer?
Jim: Well, I would say, it’s a natural evolution. A lot of what we do as actors and performers and with our background in improv lends itself to writing and delving into character and finding out why they are the way they are, and finding their flaws and missteps and the bad choices they make.
Nat: Those are things sometimes you ask yourself as an actor when you’re playing a role. Certainly, when you’re writing a role, it feels very natural going from one to the other.
Jim: This is a side note. We’re going into our bromance mode. So, Nat, what is your favorite thing about me on the writing side of things?
Nat: Hmmm. There are so many things it’s hard to pinpoint one but I think I am constantly wowed by your dialog and the rhythm in which it is written. There is a clear distinction in terms of character. No two characters ever sound the same. There is a pace that is distinct and unparalleled, in my opinion.
Jim: I literally just cut him a piece of cake.
Nat: So, Jim, what most surprised you about watching me as a director?
Jim: Ummmmm. [Puts his hand to his mouth, pushing down a little bit of throw-up. Nervous] Nat, I think you know I operate on a level of stress that can be debilitating at times. I appreciated the amount of time where my stress shuts me down while yours tends to keep you level-headed. I was impressed watching you talk to actors, to see you in that kind of control. It’s nice to see you as an actor, translate that into you as a director.
Nat: [Grabs tissues, weeps uncontrollably for an uncomfortable amount of time.]
Jim: We were fortunate in the sense that not only were we able to put this movie together and populate it with people that we adore and respect and love as actors, we were also blessed they were good people. We filled the cast with nice collaborative talented folks that were doing this for the love of making a small movie.

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Nat: We shot the entire movie in Massachusetts on a compressed schedule. We shot the house stuff in Green Harbor. And the water park was at the actual Water Wizz in East Wareham. So, Jim, was any of the script’s father-son angst autobiographical?
Jim: The very first scene of the movie happened to me, although I didn’t have all that stuff that followed. My stepfather said I rated a three out of ten possible. I did have that moment but I think I came out OK.
Nat: I think we’re still trying to figure it out. TBD. No, I think Jim is way up there now. He’s at least a seven.
Jim: I have to say I accept that if a seven is where I am.
Nat: Room to grow, Jim, room to grow.

photo : Filmmakers Jim Rash (L) and Nat Faxon attend the premiere of Fox Searchlight Pictures' "The Way, Way Back" at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on June 23, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. ( Kevin Winter/Getty Images)