It’s timely and occasionally necessary to look at things from a different point of view…
In What Men Want we meet Ali Davis; a successful sports agent who’s constantly boxed out by her male colleagues. After a wild night out with her girls, she mysteriously gains the ability to hear men’s thoughts. With her new found power, Ali looks to outsmart her colleagues as she races to sign the next basketball superstar but the lengths she has to go to will put her relationship with her best friends and her new love interest to the test.
Flipping the script from the original What Women Want, What Men Want is a fresh take on an old tale and how both sexes ultimately treat each other. In advance of the DVD/Blu-Ray release we got the unique please to talk with star Kellan Lutz about comedy, his unique role in the film, the genius of comedic performers, super powers and hopes for the future…
Dave Voigt: Obviously congratulations on the movie, can you talk a little about getting pitched on a movie where your character name on the call sheet is ‘Captain Fucktastic’?
Kellan Lutz: You know the script was just so damn funny and I loved What Women Want back in the day and the influential role that it played not just with Mel (Gibson) in the main lead but also how it played with gender stereotypes and with Taraji (P Henson) here in this type of film obviously you’ve got to have the long term more stable love interest and then you’ve got to have the guy who very obviously catches her eye and would have people gravitate towards him but then the he ends up flipping the script when we discover his preferences. When I was talking with director Adam Shankman, this isn’t a role you really see on any kind of call sheet and it was really different. I REALLY love diving into the character and figuring out what we’ll do with it all, making sure it isn’t super risqué or anything but to make sure we play it kind of comedically risky. It was really fun working with Taraji on this and I had a great time.
Is comedy a big thing for you? I remember seeing you on the TV show 30 Rock in a guest spot and I was taken a back because I don’t think I expected you to be as funny. Is comedy a reason why you got into acting?
Well at the end of the day it’s all entertainment right? And I’ve always loved entertaining because everyone loves a good laugh; I even broken doing a lot of comedic stuff with Stick It and Accepted and even for me the stuff I love to kick back with and enjoy is comedies; TV or films. I love being in that world and getting to work with performers who really are comedic geniuses and it’s such an engaging challenge to try and keep up with these people that were really all over the place in What Men Want.
Your big scene with Taraji is pretty bold and physical and I can imagine that you were both throwing yourself into the working pretty hard. How difficult is it to really keep a straight face when you are performing something in the moment is really over the top in many ways?
Yeah there was A LOT of laughter that day! You can see some of it on the deleted scenes on the disc and really the fun thing about working is just getting the chance to improv. When you are able just throw in the most random stuff while you are working, that’s what makes the day so fun. For example in the apartment scene with Taraji on every take we’d always throw in some little variations and that’s what makes the job some much fun, especially when you’re working with the kind of quick and funny people that we had on this movie.
For them it’s like breathing and they use improv all the time. It’s so much fun when you say something or do something and you know it landed and you get a laugh from behind the camera, which really is the joy of the work.
Now a lot of people and a lot of films will give lip service to doing the gender role reversal but What Men Want actually does it and does it well. How important do you feel it is to have a movie like this right now?
Important might be the wrong world, but it is certainly timely and it fits in the pop culture zeitgeist pretty well right now and really at the end of the day it all comes down to having a good story that people can connect with. I don’t know when Adam Shankman got his hands on it, but I think the timing was really perfect for a movie like this in the market place.
From your perspective, does it all boil down to story when you’re looking at roles or is there a genre or a type of movie or even a type of role that you haven’t been able to do in your career yet?
You know it’s funny; I was talking about this with my team the other day and personally I really love stuff that feels grounded and genuine. I really haven’t done that many of them, I mean something like a 500 Days of Summer which is this really excellent movie that just feels…genuine and grounded in reality, something where I’d actually get to play something close to who I actually am as a person. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing the hero/action guy type of parts and living in these kinds of fantasy worlds. Just something better rounded and ultimately relatable is what I am keeping my eyes open for these days.
This is something that has always fascinated me because I can imagine that there would be a different kind of vibe when you’re walking on to a comedy set versus any other type of shoot. Do you have to come into each kind of job that you take with a different mindset or am I ultimately over thinking it and is a job, just a job?
Oh for sure! Every job really is different even though it is obviously in a very similar space with the goal to entertain people. It’s important to put in an effort to bring fresh air into every character that I do. There are dramas that I’ll do where you really have to tackle it with much more of a serious mindset because you want to be able to live in that headspace that you need for that character and give yourself as much back story as you can but with other ones, it’s just about having fun and comedies really are that space where you can come in and just play. Historically I have WAY more fun on a comedy set then I would on any kind of other shoot. When you just get to be there to see these legitimate comedic talents shine and getting multiple takes to play around with different ideas it’s amazing to watch. And I mean at the end of the day everyone involved from the director, the actor to even the editor just want the material to come out the best it can be, the one that gets the most laughs and is ultimately the most entertaining movie for people to watch, and getting to be a part of that kind of creative energy is really a beautiful thing.
Like we see with Taraji in the film, we all WISH that we could read other people’s minds but we may not always like the result. If you could have any kind of power or ability (without any kind of consequences) what would it be?
Hmmmm…you know I love flying and I’d love to be able to do that but if I can to pick one, I think the big thing for me would be the ability to heal, and I don’t just mean me but really anyone. I don’t know man, but there’s something about seeing kids sick with like cancer or terminal diseases that really gets to me and if I could do that it would be cool…
What about you? What would you pick?
You know honestly (and selfishly) I think I’d love the ability to teleport from place to place instantly. I live in Toronto and sometimes commuting just feels like such a waste where I could be doing better things with my time.
I get that, Nightcrawler from X-Men was always a favourite of mine. That’s cool.
In this business you’ll never REALLY know what job or opportunity might be around the corner and I’m curious for you as an actor is there a career or even a kind of life goal that you’ll hope to achieve or is something as simple as just getting the opportunity to keep exploring as many new opportunities that might come your way?
Yeah, you know the truly great thing about being in the entertainment industry is that there are a lot of lanes to it. Even recently I’ve been looking at the theatre and trying to do some more theatre stuff because it’s different and switching it up would be a cool thing to try from some of the other avenues I’ve gone down.
Plus you know I’d love to star in my own action trilogy/franchise (Laughs). I’d love to produce, I’d love the chance to direct; there’s really just a plethora of options out there, even writing something! It’s really just such a cool industry to be a part of in anyway. I mean as much as you are sometimes waiting to see what kind of roles come your way there’s also the freedom to try and create something for yourself. Sure there’s always more of a risk, but even when you boil it down to your own personal story, if you tell it the right way it could make a film that someone might want to see.
That ability and that freedom just feels really fun to me and the really cool thing about this industry from my perspective is that when it comes down to it, the future is a pretty unknown thing. I like that feeling. I mean I have this movie in Puerto Rico that I might do, plus the FBI: Most Wanted show that I start on in July will be really interesting with up fronts coming up, make it all really sort of fun for me and there’s a weird adrenaline rush to the life that we live that I really enjoy.
What Men Want is on DVD & Blu-Ray now!