Disclosure: I was invited by Sony to interview the cast. However, all opinions expressed are mine.
Four days ago I had the privilege of sitting down and chatting with the cast of Pixels Movie – Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Josh Gad and Director Chris Columbus. The cast was what you would expect them to be, friendly, personable and eager to answer our questions.
As kids in the 1980s, Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler), Will Cooper (Kevin James), Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad), and Eddie “The Fire Blaster” Plant (Peter Dinklage) saved the world thousands of times – at 25 cents a game in the video arcades. Now, they’re going to have to do it for real. In Pixels, when intergalactic aliens discover video feeds of classic arcade games and misinterpret them as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth, using the video games as the models for their assaults — and now-U.S. President Cooper must call on his old-school arcade friends to save the world from being destroyed by PAC-MAN™, Donkey Kong™, Galaga™, Centipede®, and Space Invaders™. Joining them is Lt. Col. Violet Van Patten (Michelle Monaghan), a specialist supplying the arcaders with unique weapons to fight the aliens.
Interview with the Cast of Pixels Movie
When asked how it was working with Adam Sandler and Kevin James for the first time Josh Gad, joked that it was nightmare, but ultimately a dream come true. He gushed about how much he admired them as his idols. He grew up watching Adam Sandler on Saturday Night Live. Josh added that him and Kevin were cut from the same cloth and he was someone he always wanted to work with. In addition he gushed about the fact that, Director Chris Columbus, defined his childhood. “Goonies and Gremlins were the movies that defined Josh Gad and made me the national nightmare I am today.”
Michelle Monaghane describes how she felt playing the girl power in Pixels, “It felt awesome! I think what was exciting, really, the job title and the name really got me for this film. She’s lieutenant Colonel Violet Van Patton. I mean, Thank You!! I could not say no to that! She’s a weapons designer for the government. She gets to design an amazing weapon called Light Cannon. She’s cool. She’s strong. She’s confident! She’s got beauty and brains and brawn. That’s what I loved about her. ”
When asked, if any of them played classic arcade games in preparation for the film, Chris Columbus, said he only knew Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. “I was a little older so hanging out in an arcade would have been kind of creepy for me.When I was at NYU I played in a bar, but when I got the movie I had to really learn a lot of games like Galaga and Centipede. But these guys were experts, Adam and Columbus.”
Adam Sandler responded, “It was our whole life growing up. We were 10, 11, 12 years old. That was a big deal. The arcades opened up.” In turn Kevin James answered, “I played Jubilee, that was the thing. I was out of the house” Adam Sandler added, “You got to leave the house. Your parents said ok. There were girls there, there was some food. There were tough kids you were scared of. I remember you got to take the bus. Ours was downtown. It was called The Electric Dream Factory, just like in the movie. You got on the bus, you hung out with a couple of your friends, your parents gave you, like, a dollar. You could choose to play one game and spend seventy five cents on a McDonald’s hamburger, or you could play all four games and have nothing to eat.” James added, “Guess which one I chose? chuckling, I never played! The bus would drop me in front of the arcade and I’d just walk to McDonald’s.”
Director Chris Columbus on how they decided on soundtrack for the film, “Surrender was in the script from the beginning and then working for the weekend, it was something we tried in the editing room but when we put in the movie, suddenly it was really cool. And it’s weird how some of those songs you thought were not so cool or cheesy back in the 80’s suddenly have a life today. The Queen song came in towards the end of post production process, we fell in love with that and it became Brenner’s theme.”
On the comedic timing, ad lib and vying from the script, “We’ve always believed in ad-libbing but not as much as Josh Gad over here.” says, Sandler. “That scene when we’re talking to the Navy Seals. That might go down as one of my favorite days ever on a film set. It was also one of the worst because we could not keep a straight face.” added, Monaghan. She continued, “those guys are nothing short of miraculous. We were shooting an R-rated movie for a little bit. That was a lot of amazing and brilliant improv.” Sandler chimed in, “Every day Josh Gad was in a scene was bananas.” James chimed in, “The crew actually chipped in and bought him a car because of all the overtime.” Sandler concluded, “Me and Kevin were like, ‘This guy, Josh Gad is young and excited and he likes being here!’ We were like, ‘We gotta get home, man!’ It was great. Loved him. Genius boy. ”
They each shared their favorite quotes from the film –
Gad: I love it when Pac-Man says, Wagga Wagga Wagga Wagga. *laughs hysterically* I think that was one of my most memorable moments.
Sandler: He didn’t initially want to do that! *laughing* Chris had to talk him into it.
Gad: He was like, I want to try something new. I always say Wagga. *laughing*
Monaghan: I liked the scene with Professor Iwatani, when he was like, ‘My sweet boy.’ and it cuts to Josh and he’s like, ‘it’s so sweet!’ and it turns completely sideways. I love that beat so much.
Gad: There are so many great ones, but I think Peter Dinklage’s lines are so insane. The way that someone carries himself like that. The overconfidence kills me.
Sandler: Iwatani though, that was the best. We wrote this script a bunch of different ways. Columbus had the script and he sent it over with all the Iwatani stuff. That was the hardest I laughed. That was all Columbus.
Columbus: The funny thing is that we were dealing with a lot of game companies to get the rights…who really, really loved their characters. I had had so many conferences and at one point, I was like, what if one of these guys were a little crazy and really thinks that one of the characters is his son? *laughing*. That’s exactly where that inspiration came from.
Columbus on Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) and special effects, “We built the entire Donkey Kong, all of the platform. It was mind-boggling, you walked into that stage it was stunning, and these guys were in harness and they can explain how painful the process was, but we really didn’t want to do everything CGI, we wanted to actually have a tangible set that these guys can actually perform on, except for the obviously CGI Donkey Kong and barrels but it think was a pretty grueling days of shooting for these guys.
Discussing the atmosphere while on set, Sandler concluded, “Every combination was great. Everyone you’re talking to was a great time. There wasn’t a person you hung with that didn’t have a great time.”
Check out the official trailer below
From the whole interview, you can definitely tell they had a great chemistry, and I agree with Sandler, the combination worked.
The movie opens nationwide Friday, July 24th.