Bad Grandpa Exclusive: Jeff Tremaine on How to Make a Funeral Funny!

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Johnny Knoxville did it again with Bad Grandpa as the film became an international smash. As Bad Grandpa hits DVD and Blu-Ray we talked exclusively with director Jeff Tremaine about what didn’t make the movie that is now on the deleted scenes on the home video release, as well as what it is about Knoxville and his work with these types of hidden camera movies that people just can’t seem to get enough of.

Bad Grandpa Jeff Tremaine Johnny Knoxville

Movie Fanatic: Given the nature of a film like Bad Grandpa with its hidden camera hilarity, having the film arrive on DVD and Blu-Ray has to be an added joy that all that comedy gold that you had to cut can now be seen.

Jeff Tremaine: First, we added 10 minutes of footage that was right on the bubble of being in the movie. There are a few scenes that as we were putting this DVD together, I started watching them and I was really regretting that they didn’t make the final cut -- one scene in particular -- the male strip scene.

Movie Fanatic: Oh, I know it!

Jeff Tremaine: Well, Irving (Johnny Knoxville) has invaded a male strip club and he’s running around in his underpants with his prosthetic testicles hanging out scaring all the strippers and all the people around. We had a stripper pole stage there, and he took it to the pole. It’s unbelievably funny to me [laughs]. A lot of what we did wasn’t adding new scenes, but we opened up certain scenes. Like, in the beauty pageant, he actually wins the beauty pageant. My favorite thing on the Blu-Ray is we made featurettes about a lot of the scenes showing how we did things. We put him winning the beauty pageant in there. You get a lot of those behind-the-scenes moments. When we shoot a movie like this, we don’t know how people are going to react. So we shoot multiple people running through the same gauntlet and in the movie, we use the best one. But, in the DVD, we get to show you all the other takes. Sometimes, they’re equally funny. It’s just a roll of the dice to see which one you’ll use.

Bad Grandpa Blu-Ray

Movie Fanatic: And when you are making a movie like this as you just said, you don’t know how people are going to react. Is that part of the thrill?

Jeff Tremaine: Thrill, gamble… stress is a good word to use [laughs]. That’s what made it so fun and interesting. It’s very psychological to try to predict how people will react. We go in and pile on punch lines so you think you know where the scene is going to end. We try to stay ahead of what they’re going to do, so we can do this. Like, in the funeral scene, what do we do when the body hits the floor and everybody panics? How do we populate a funeral for a woman that didn’t exist and it’s open casket? One of the ways we populated it, and we have a featurette on this, is one of the producers called around and said she loved gospel. We could hire a gospel choir and that would take up 13 or 14 seats. We hired them. The producer said it was his grandmother that passed and they don’t have any friends left, but she loved gospel and if they could come prepared to sing the song Joy Joy Joy (Down in My Heart), that was her favorite. We planted the seed that the gospel choir would come in, ready to sing the song. But, right when they get there, we surprise them that the service is already on, and if they wouldn’t mind sitting in the seats at the service. Our joke was, we knew the body was going to fall. But then, to drive that further, what if we had them sing a ridiculous song while the body was on the floor? Sure enough, it totally worked [laughs].

Movie Fanatic: We know Johnny is amazing at this, he’s been doing it for years. But the young actor you got to play Irving’s grandson, Billy, is incredible, and we could even tell that from the first Bad Grandpa trailer. How on earth did you find Jackson Nicoll?

Jeff Tremaine: It’s a one in a million chance to find a kid like this. We tried finding other kids. There are a million kids that can act well. But, how many can hold up when the kitchen gets hot? This kid, he stirs it up even more! A lot of my job was calming him down and making him not push things too far.

Jackson NIcoll Johnny Knoxville Bad Grandpa

Movie Fanatic: What is it about these hidden camera films, and the films that Johnny does, that people seem to be getting more and more into?

Jeff Tremaine: He’s the best at this. For instance, there’s the scene in the diner where he stands up and he [expletive] his pants against the wall [laughs]. If that was a totally scripted movie, I don’t think that scene would be that funny. But, the fact that it feels like a scripted movie, but everyone’s watching it knowing that that is real, it makes it so funny. 

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Bad Grandpa Review

Johnny Knoxville has the rarest of talents that is being able to slip into a character with a hidden camera rolling and produce...

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