I had the exciting opportunity to meet the kids behind Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day during the #VeryBadDayEvent Press Day. Travel and accommodations were covered by Disney, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. All photos are courtesy of Disney.
Never before have I been so impressed with young actors than I was when we sat down with Ed Oxenbould, Dylan Minnette and Kerris Dorsey, who play the Cooper kids in the movie. I could tell that they genuinely liked each other and had fun doing the movie together – a fact that was very apparent on screen.
From joking around on set to writing songs together, these kids really did become “family” as they played brothers and sister in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. They talked about how much fun this movie was to make, and how much they enjoyed each other.
“It didn’t even feel like we were working.” – Ed Oxenbould
On working with Steve Carell
Acting along side someone as well-known and funny (and universally liked!) as Steve Carell must have been a dream for these young actors. When we asked them what it was like working with Steve, they couldn’t stop raving about him. Dylan mentioned that Steve could have them in tears on the floor just by telling them what he was having for lunch.
Ed agreed, “Yeah, you could just look at him. And he’ll give you one look. And you will just be in uncontrollable laughter.”
Kerris said, “(His humor) is so witty and so impeccable. You can just tell by looking at him, like talking to him that’s he’s just so smart. And the wheels are always turning.”
Kerris gives some acting tips
Kerri’s character, Emily, was sick during the majority of the movie, so one of the bloggersin our group asked what it was like acting like she was sick for so many scenes (and if she had any good tips for us in case we wanted to take a sick day….).
Kerris said, “I feel like if I ever get like sick and sound sick my parents are gonna be like, no, mm-mm, we know your tricks. It’s all about the voice, I’ve found. It’s in the back in your throat and then in your nose. So anything like– M’s have to be B-sounding. I just watched a lot of like You Tube videos of people talking when they’re sick.
People post videos of themselves in any capacity. So there are literally people like, hey, I’m sick today. You know, and you just listen to it. So, yeah, it’s all about the voice. And then really heavily lidded eyes and then maybe like eyeliner or something underneath your eye or something like that.”
On learning to speak with an American accent
I thought it was quite amusing that Ed Oxenbould, who plays Alexander – a boy obsessed with all things Australia – is actually from Australia. To play the part of Alexander in the very-American Cooper family, he had to practice speaking like an American. His on-screen siblings said that he did such a good job with his accent that they often forgot he spoke any other way.
Ed said, “It was pretty hard. But also kind of easy at the same time ’cause I was brought up on American film. Because there’s a lot of American TV, a lot of American film in Australia. So I knew what it was. But it was a little rough around the edges. Actually, it was really bad. So I had training. And I just learned all the little tips and tricks on just to sound authentic.
On maintaining their composure during funny scenes
One of my favorite scenes in the movie is the scene in the van when they all start singing (you’ll have to see the movie to appreciate just how funny this scene is). Dylan, Ed, and Kerris talked about what it was like to film that scene and keep a straight face. Believe it or not, that scene was completely improvised (though I’m sure they had a lot of fun practicing that one).
Ed said, “There was one scene in the car that was completely improvised. I would walk around set going brr-brr-brr, just making the stupid noises. And Miguel, the director, said “I just want all of you to do it.” It was kind of ‘what?’ And then we all did it. And Steve started doing it. And you can see in the background everyone’s laugh. And there was blood in our faces ’cause we’re moving our shoulders like that. But it was so hard to keep a straight face.”
Kerris said, “Yeah, you had to keep a straight face. We were in such close quarters. I think we got kind of loopy at one point.”
The conversation quickly turned to the “other” car scene, outside the DMV. I’ve watched that scene twice now and laughed even harder the second time.
Kerris said, “We had to isolate it so that, you could hear the sound of everyone, so we didn’t have to like go back in post(-production) and do it. So Dylan would do his part. And we would all have to mime-talk. And then when Steve did his part, literally, I could not (handle it).”
Dylan said, “Well, he was yelling at me like about crashing the van, improvising. And I’m off camera. And I feel so bad ’cause I’m near tears on the ground laughing. And he’s still yelling at me on camera not breaking character. It was so difficult.”
Kerris went on, “I just wanted them to like never call cut so we could just keep going. It would’ve been funny for like two more hours.
The #VeryBadDay Soundtrack
Kerris Dorsey’s character plays a teen who is getting ready to play the lead role in Peter Pan. I noticed in the movie that she has a beautiful voice, but I was interested to hear that she actually writes music…including the Best Worst Day that plays at the end of the movie. Not only did she write it, but she performed it as well. One of the bloggers raved about the soundtrack and how catchy the music was. Dylan Minnette’s band, the Narwhals, also has a song in the film.
Kerris: “Well, Miguel actually called both of us (she and Dylan) and said he knows that we’re both musicians. And he said I would love it if you wanted to write a song for the movie. And my sister’s a singer/songwriter. She’s so talented. And so I asked her if she wanted to write it with me. And then we had like a short window that we could do it, that we could fit it in. And so we were…fingers crossed. And we watched the trailer sort of for inspiration. And obviously I knew what happened in the movie.
And we sort of tried to capture the essence of, you know, like Disney and the worst day sort of turning out to be the best day. And it all came together in a way that it’s in the end credits. So we were really happy.
In our interview with Steve Carell, he mentioned that said the kids wrote a song for him that made him a bit emotional.
Ed said, “That was the genius minds of Kerris and Justine Dorsey. All the way during the set we had this– on the party, we always had the song Beds are Burning by Midnight Oil. So that was always in our heads. So the song was to the tune of that. But it was all about working with him and all about his character. And it was really cool. We all sang it. And, yeah, he did get really emotional. It was really nice.
Kerris said, “Yeah, it was very emotional. And the whole crew was there on the set. And we got to sing it together. We had the lyrics and everything. And they had a little speaker that they let us use to play the song. And it was such a like special moment.
The #VeryBadDay Take-away
We asked Dylan, Kerris, and Ed they each took away personally from working with Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, and such a fantastic crew.
Kerris said, “This was our take away.”
Ed continued, “This. This friendship.”
Dylan said, “Honestly, that’s true because now that we’ve done this, I can’t imagine not doing it because we have become such good friends that I literally can’t imagine not having the experiences that we’ve had after filming. Like it’s such a strange thought that it was kinda like fate. It’s kinda weird to say. But it really was fate because we’re really close.”
Kerris agreed, “It’s cool to have a movie that you are proud of and you enjoyed making. And then literally to walk away and go…my life would be completely different if I hadn’t done that movie ’cause I wouldn’t have met the people I met and had the experiences that I have. So it’s very dear to our hearts I think.”
“This is the best project I’ve worked on”. – Ed Oxenbould
On working with Bella Thorne
Bella Thorne plays the girlfriend of Dylan’s character. He shared his thoughts about working closely with Bella.
Dylan, “It was great. I think that Bella does it perfectly but she also does it in her own way. So Celia’s very hateable. But at the same time there’s a part of you that like…”
Kerris piped in, “You understand her. Yeah.”
Dylan continued, “You understand what she’s saying. And it’s interesting how she did it ’cause she is not completely mean all the time. She’s also kind of cool and kind of careless. She’s like Willy Wonka like or–
Ed continued his thought, “But, yeah, like she’s trying to get her point across…”
Kerris said, “And she’s so just normal and straight, I feel like relatable in that way. And prom is so important to her. And, you know, her social standing is so important to her character. So it’s like, you kinda get where she’s coming from, you know? She wants her day to go perfect just like, you know, Alexander and Emily and everybody wants their day to go perfect. So I feel for Celia. I feel bad for her.”
I’ll end the interview with this quote from Dylan.
“It goes without saying that this is life changing. I mean…the experiences that we’re all gonna have together throughout life now just because of this. I’m gonna always be able to watch this movie and think that this was such a great time in my life that I’ll never regret doing it ever. So it’s really special.” – Dylan Minnette
Like ALEXANDER on Facebook: Facebook.com/DisneyAlexander
Follow ALEXANDER on Twitter: @DisneyPictures
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day OPENS this Friday, October 10.
© 2014, Food Fun Family. All rights reserved.