Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel and director Jake Kasdan struck gold with 2011’s Bad Teacher and the trio are back with Sex Tape. The film also stars The Office and Bridesmaids veteran Ellie Kemper, and we caught up with the star for an exclusive interview to talk about the finer points of this talented trio.
The former Uptight Citizens Brigade member also tells us what makes a good improv situation, something she had in droves with The Office, and how working with her fellow improv vet Rob Corddry (he plays her husband in Sex Tape) was a dream come true. They share a history in Uptight Citizens Brigade, but never worked together!
As teased in the Sex Tape trailer, Diaz and Segel are a married couple with kids who are looking to spice up their sex life. They make a tape of them having sex over three hours, and through some misfortune, it gets uploaded to the cloud. Corddry and Kemper join forces with Diaz and Segel as they race around town trying to get back all the iPads that Segel gave out to friends as gifts that now have their sex tape on it!
Movie Fanatic: You had a nice view of the trio of talent that is Jake Kasdan, Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel that we first saw in Bad Teacher. Those three are just getting started and we’re thrilled they’re back together with Sex Tape. What is it you noticed about the three of them that is so creatively and comically astute?
Ellie Kemper: Bad Teacher was so funny and they have such a similar sensibility and their ability to mesh is effortless. They all bring something different, yet they all land on the same page. It mixes so well. One of the things that is most obvious to me is that they’re all nice people [laughs]. They enjoy each other’s company and they enjoy each other’s work. I hope they make a movie like this a year.
Movie Fanatic: To further narrow it down, Jason and Cameron seem like an odd pairing. But, something about their chemistry truly pops. What do you think it is?
Ellie Kemper: It totally works. It’s both on camera and off. How do you explain chemistry? But, there is something there. Cameron is so funny, and I don’t think that’s anything new. And yes, she does a full range of things. But, her comic sensibility is so sharp. Her performance in Bad Teacher struck me: Why was she not nominated for an Oscar? To make that woman so likable, just incredible! Similarly Jason, who we think of as being funny all the time, is also a strong actor. When they’re together, they bring out both pieces in each other.
Movie Fanatic: You touched on it, and you’ve been trained in the comedy world. Cameron came up as a model. Yet, she is so incredibly funny. Is it something natural that you think she’s got?
Ellie Kemper: I think so. With all funny people, there has to be some natural talent. She didn’t do stand-up. Her physical comedy, her facial expressions, her timing, her understanding of what makes a funny scene is just in there.
Movie Fanatic: I was so thrilled to hear that you and Rob Corddry were paired. I want to see a movie with just you and Rob!
Ellie Kemper: I would love that! I had never gotten to work with him before. We were both in the Uptight Citizens Brigade, so we know each other. But, we never worked together!
Movie Fanatic: You must have been so thrilled when you heard that was the pairing.
Ellie Kemper: Yes! I felt that I understood him without even knowing him. He’s a genius and it was so fun being in scenes with him, not totally knowing what was going to happen.
Movie Fanatic: You two are so trained in improv and of course Jason and Cameron have done it often over the years. Was there room for it with such a tight script like there was on Bridesmaids?
Ellie Kemper: Yes, there was, and it was nice to have the luxury of time to do that. We did the scenes as scripted and did a few takes as improvised. If it’s Rob Corddry, you want to give him a chance to go off.
Movie Fanatic: As someone who now has worked with him, what was your big takeaway from the Rob Corddry experience?
Ellie Kemper: That he listens. Sometimes [pauses]… I got to say, guys don’t listen [laughs]!
Movie Fanatic: No, they don’t.
Ellie Kemper: I’m glad you agreed as a guy! It was a nice surprise that he listened.
Movie Fanatic: How do you think your improv training has helped you? It clearly came in handy on The Office, but in terms of filming a movie like Sex Tape -- where does that aid you?
Ellie Kemper: If you’re schooled in improv, it seems like different things. Film can be more mathematical. The general theme of ensemble is where improv comes into play. Improv has always been about the ensemble and making the piece better and not the individual.
Movie Fanatic: Is it different on TV? I know on The Office with a cast full of improv-trained folks it was a given. But do the mediums differ in how it’s approached?
Ellie Kemper: I think The Office was unique with our cast of characters. That’s pretty rare, actually.
Check out the magic of Kasdan, Diaz and Segel and watch Bad Teacher online and be sure to check out Sex Tape in theaters July 18.