Collette Wolfe is a name you’re going to start hearing a lot more of in Hollywood if she keeps things going at this rate. When your first project is with Danny McBride and rising directory Jody Hill you know you’re headed in the right direction. “The Foot Fist Way”, Wolfe’s first movie, was filmed in 2006 and nearly lost on the shelves if it hadn’t been for comedy masterminds Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Since then she’s gone on to roles in Ferrell’s “Semi-Pro”, the upcoming Anna Faris flick “The House Bunny”, and is filming right now for the latest Jody Hill project “Observe & Report” which co-stars Seth Rogen, Ray Liotta, Anna Faris, and Patton Oswalt.
Last week I had the chance to talk with Collette about her experiences on “The Foot Fist Way” from the set of her next movie. We talked about what it was like working with director Jody Hill, the unpredictable Danny McBride, and even got a few tidbits on her role in Hill’s current project, “Observe & Report”. And no, you can’t have her phone number.
WBM: Could you tell us how you got involved in The Foot Fist Way (FFW)?
Collette Wolfe: All the main casting for FFW was done in LA. They all knew each other from film school. Then they came to Concord, North Carolina to shoot it. I was in grad school at the time for Sociology and counseling kids. I was doing theater, local theater, and I decided I wanted to pursue acting because there were some opportunities in North Carolina. So I showed up at an open casting for The Foot Fist Way. I guess they had just written this character (Denise) in, so they hadn’t cast it in LA, they cast it in Charlotte. So I went to the audition, then they called and said I got it. I quit my job so I could do the movie and it ended up being a really good move.
WBM: Tell us about Denise’s character and her role in FFW.
Wolfe: Fred Simmons, the main character played by Danny McBride, he has some issues with his wife, Suzie. The first introduction to my character is when I come in and decide I’m going to take Tae Kwon Do to stay in shape. Fred Simmons then tries to use her to make his wife jealous. In one scene he’s telling Suzie there’s this new student and she’s got a college degree and all this stuff to make his wife jealous. Then as it turns out, his wife turns out to be kind of a slime and cheats on him twice in the movie and so he goes on his own personal journey. Throughout it he tries to hit on Denise and tries to start up this relationship with Denise but she is not at all interested. There’s one scene where it gets particularly awkward. He asks her out and then he tries to kiss her. At the end of the movie, when he decides to try and get back with his wife, he has a break-up scene with Denise, but they’ve never dated. He tells her she can’t take classes there because he doesn’t want an old flame at his place of work because he’s trying to work things out with his wife. So she’s kind of a victim of his craziness.
Throughout the movie he tries to hit on her, especially when he starts to feel bad when his wife cheats on him. He tries to get her to go out on dates. The whole time she’s just trying to deflect his advances then she’s surprised in the end when she gets kicked out of class because he feels like he needs to break it off. There’s a pretty cool scene where he tries to kiss her and tries to make a connection with her where there isn’t one. She’s not blatantly mean to him, she’s a nice girl. It just gets awkward. She tries to make like everything is okay and he just constantly pushes it to the edge of making it weird.
WBM: How much of Denise’s character is from you? Since they had just created the character did you have freedom in what you did, or did they have a very exact character for you to be?
Wolfe: I hadn’t even read the script when I went to the audition. I had an agent who sent it to me and while it wasn’t going to be paid, but had read the script and said it’d be good. I didn’t really know a whole lot of what they wanted, so I simply went off what I was given. Really it was just how would I be in these kind of circumstances. To create that comedy it doesn’t require a lot of preparation because it was really just be as natural as possible and reach off what Danny is giving you. So I did that and it happened to be what they were looking for. Danny didn’t do the audition with me, they had some other actor with me. In a lot of other auditions they just have someone reading lines to you while you have to full on act like you’re living the moment. What was nice about the FFW audition was they had an actor there that did the scene with me that really did come towards me and try to kiss me and I had to avoid the kiss. The nice thing about the way they held their auditions was it was really real. It made it easy to be organic and natural, which was really what Jody Hill, the director, was going for. He wanted something very real and natural.
WBM: Working with Danny McBride must have been pretty entertaining on its own. Can you tell us about your experience working with him?
Wolfe: I wasn’t expecting much, I certainly wasn’t expecting all this to happen. My first day, I came to rehearsal, and I had been doing the independent films and the student films so I was used to work with not so good directors and actors and so I came in with very low expectations. From the very first rehearsal I remember thinking, “he’s really good!” I was incredibly surprised because you don’t get that caliber of actor on little films in North Carolina. So I remember being really surprised.
It was really interesting to watch him work because McBride and Jody Hill had sort of a loose style where they would do what’s in the scripts and then they’d do a lot of improve. That prompted me to take an improv class, because it made me really nervous because they had me do a scene in the movie where this guy asks me out for dinner and it’s clearly very platonic, but Danny McBride’s character sees this happen and gets very jealous. So they had me improv that and there were a couple of things that they had me try for improv and they were so good at it, working together and having both been writers on the script. Some of the things in scenes Danny would just rip. They’d tell me to just react naturally to whatever he’s doing. It was pretty amazing to see and it made me want to go and take improve classes so I’d be ready. I think he’s just naturally a funny person. When he talks in real life it’s pretty damn hysterical anyway. His brain just works that way. So you put him in these circumstances and it’s pretty great to watch.
WBM: Receiving so much attention from Will Ferrell and Adam McKay must have been very exciting. How did their recognition of FFW help the film?
Wolfe: It became this thing where a lot of people in Hollywood who rule the comedy world had seen it, really liked it, and certainly recognized Danny McBride and Jody Hill’s talent. Danny started getting hired on all these projects. Jody started being able to sell pitches for scripts to studios. It immediately got attention for the main players who created the film. The film itself would have been shelved, I think, and not even gotten a US distribution, had it not been for Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. When they came on board it did get a lot more publicity. It just helps. They’re powerhouses in Hollywood and so for them to advocate your film it takes it to a whole different level.
WBM: When you first signed on to FFW did you have any sense of how much attention and praise it would end up getting?
Wolfe: I had no idea what was going to happen with this movie. It’s beyond my wildest imagination, the things that have come as a result of just showing up and doing that small film. We had the premiere the other week and it was just insane. Will Ferrell and Adam McKay were there and talking about the film before it screened. It was really surreal. I never would have thought that was possible, to show up, do this film and have all these amazing things happen.
WBM: What’s the release plan for FFW later this month? Wide release versus limited?
Wolfe: It’ll be limited release and the way I think it’s going to work is on May 30th it’ll come out in LA and New York. Then after that it’ll do a city to city tour, maybe in college towns. So it won’t have a wide release, but it has the potential. If enough people see it and the theaters are packed everywhere it goes, then sure it can be opened up to wide release, but I think this is the schedule set for it right now. Then the DVD will be released at the end of the summer.
WBM: What can we look forward to seeing you in next? Any other projects planned with Danny McBride or the other people you worked with on FFW?
Wolfe: I don’t have anything lined up with Danny, but I am working again with the director, Jody Hill, right now on “Observe & Report”. “Observe & Report” is a comedy for Warner Bros. starring Seth Rogen, Anna Faris, Ray Liotta, and Michael Peña. My character, Nell, works at a Cinnabon type store in the mall where Seth works. Seth’s character, Ronnie, and I become really good friends. We’re kind of like two peas in a pod because we both really want to do a good job but we’re constantly messing up. Patton Oswalt, the comedian, plays my boss and there’s constant conflict between Patton and I because he kind of treats me like crap.
So I’m working on that now with the same director, but I haven’t had the chance yet to be in anything else with Danny. He does make a cameo in “Observe & Report” though, we just don’t share the scene. I think he’ll be in there with Seth and Liotta.
I know that Jody and Danny are doing the series for HBO, East Bound and Down. So I’m hoping at some point to get a guest starring role on that with them.
I’ve also done a couple of other projects that I’m excited about. I’ve got a great team of agents and managers, so I’m going out on the right auditions it’s just a matter of when I’ll strike.
WBM: I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with Wild Bluff Media. I’ll let you get back to the set now, but will look forward to talking with you about “Observe & Report” when you get cleared to discuss it more.
Wolfe: Yeah, totally. Thanks so much.