Justin Bartha sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the latest episode of “At Home With The Creative Coalition,” a podcast featuring unplugged and uncensored conversations with today’s biggest stars. In the newest episode, Bartha talks about the “painful” legacy of “Gigli,” why Disney almost fired him from “National Treasure,” working with Martin Brest, how he knew “The Hangover” was something special before it hit theaters, and much more. Highlights below.
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Highlights from “At Home With The Creative Coalition” featuring Justin Bartha —
On the disappointment of “Gigli” becoming known as an all-time bad movie:
“You know, there were so many factors, so many things that factored into what happened with that movie. And, you know, we worked for a year on that thing, and everyone poured their heart and soul into it, which almost every movie is like, no matter what the result is. It just so happened that, you know – there’s no blame being passed – but there were so many factors that came into play that kind of then birthed, you know, this end product that is now kind of a punchline. And it was so disappointing and painful, the result. But during the making, it was literally a dream come true, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I mean, to see Martin Brest work. To live within that character, no matter what people’s opinion. You know, the great thing is we know how hard we worked on it, so even the backlash or the legacy – if you can call it that – of that movie, it can’t quite permeate the hard work and the passion. You know, Ben [Affleck] put a lot, we all put so much work into it. And it’s so disappointing, and it’s shocking, and it’s a lesson. But while you’re shooting it, it’s like, it’s a dream come true. It’s just myself, Jennifer Lopez, and Ben Affleck for the whole movie, in a car, basically. And you’re working with this person, Martin Brest, who I still hold, you know, as one of the great American filmmakers of all time. I mean, I still watch his movies in awe and try to figure out how he did what he did.”
On working with Martin Brest and how it influenced his film career:
“You know, Martin Brest, there’s a lot of differing opinions when it comes to him, whether it’s his work with actors or the crew, but I learned a couple different things. I saw the care he took with his actors. He had such love and care for his actors. But he was also, you know, he’s notoriously meticulous. He did, you know, 50 takes to 90 takes sometimes of every single scene. So the vision that he had was unrelenting, and he kept going, and it was like, you had to give yourself over to your director. You know, even when you’re like, ‘What? Didn’t we get it?’ You have to give yourself over. Now, on the other side of the spectrum, he sometimes did not have a great working relationship with the crew. And that, to me, as someone that had always kind of had an eye on wanting to make my own films, that seemed wrong. The duality of his working relationship with cast and crew was something that I just had no experience with. So I had to, as a guy that had never been on a set, had to realize […] I don’t want to treat crew in that specific way.”
On how he landed his role in “National Treasure” and almost got fired for giving too many suggestions:
“So, Martin Brest had worked with… Jerry Bruckheimer [on] ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ and said some very nice things about me to him. And yeah, it was one of those things where I read for this role, which seemed, at the time when I read it, I was like, ‘Oh, I know this guy. This is something specific.’ And then I had very specific ideas about that character. And yeah, I went out to LA, which I had never spent that much time in, and they put me up in a hotel in Century City. You know, you’d see like the couple other people auditioning, and then, you know, I went in for Jerry and I just, it was one of those things where it came together. And then I think at the time, thankfully, I was so cocksure of myself where, I remember, I went in for this big table read. Disney, and this huge thing. Nic Cage, and, you know, all the executives. And I was, like, at the table read, giving notes. Again, a 25-year-old or whatever at the time. And I was, like, giving notes and I had such specific ideas about the character. I would be like, ‘No, this is what this guy has to say. This is the idea.’ And during the break of the table read, they called my agent and they threatened, they’re like, ‘If he doesn’t f****** pull his s*** together, we’re gonna fire him right now.’ But I didn’t know that. I was annoying. Oh my God. And they tried to call me but I don’t know if I didn’t have my phone, or I didn’t have a phone. And I kept on going after the break. I was being annoying. But there’s also a part of it where you’re like, ‘That was all in the cards there.’ All of those ideas also ended up in the movie. So it’s like, yes, I didn’t understand the machine of it all with Disney, because the only other experience I had was ‘Gigli,’ and I was so involved with kind of, you know, sitting and rewriting stuff with Ben [Affleck] and having such a collaborative effort with Martin. All of this stuff that I went into that not knowing, I was like, ‘Listen, if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it my way.’ And they were like, ‘Who the hell is this guy?’”
On how he knew “The Hangover” was something special:
“I mean, that was one of those slow builds where – you know, at that time, I was the most famous person of those guys. Now it’s the opposite. But sometimes, you see an actor’s performance live and you’re just like, ‘This is exactly what it should be.’ And usually, that’s like – you know, on average, usually, it’s like, maybe, one or two actors if you’re lucky. During a production, you say, ‘Oh, they’re great. They’re really in the pocket.’ With ‘The Hangover,’ the three guys – it was just like, ‘They are all in the pocket. This is perfect.’ Especially Zach [Galifianakis] and Ed [Helms]. And Bradley [Cooper] I already knew. I’d already done a few movies with Bradley. So I already knew how special he was. But Zach specifically, you’re like – and I would talk to Todd [Phillips] about it. You know, Todd would be the first to say that a movie is 90% casting, and no one has used Zach right yet. And he was like, ‘This is right for Zach.’ And the studio obviously wanted all the big names, and blah, blah, blah. And he’s like, ‘These actors are the right pair. ‘ The reason that makes him so great is that he has a vision, a very specific vision, that almost no one else can see. And he sticks to it. And with that, it was like this build where every day, you’re like, ‘It feels so good. It feels so good! There’s something about our chemistry, especially those three guys that feels so right.’ And every day, another one of us would be like, ‘There’s something going on here. This is good. People are gonna realize that this is good. ‘ But of course, you could never predict what it became, but we knew that we were having just a great time and that we couldn’t stop laughing on set, and that it was going to be something special. Whether people knew it or not.”
More about “At Home With The Creative Coalition”
Hosted by The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, “At Home With The Creative Coalition” brings listeners intimate portraits, key moments of discovery, and “art and soul” conversations with iconic entertainment industry personalities from the big screen to the boardroom, from L.A. to D.C. Listen now at http://thecreativecoalition.org/podcast.
Upcoming guests include New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Isaacs (“Compromising Positions”), Melissa Manchester (“Don’t Cry Out Loud,” “Through the Eyes of Love”), Yolonda Ross (“The Chi”), and Tramell Tillman (“Severance”).
Previous guests include Jason Alexander (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Shiri Appleby (“UnREAL”), David Alan Basche (“The Exes”), Asante Blackk (“This Is Us”), Carly Chaikin (“Mr. Robot”), Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Alan Cumming (“Schmigadoon!, “The Good Wife”), Ethan Cutkosky (“Shameless”), The Creative Coalition President and actor Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is the New Black”), Griffin Dunne (“This Is Us”), Kerry Ehrin (“The Morning Show”), Wayne Federman (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Michael Fishman (“Roseanne,” “The Conners”), Jim Gaffigan (“The Jim Gaffigan Show”), Willie Garson (“And Just Like That…”), Judy Gold (“The Other F Word”), Nicholas Gonzalez (“The Good Doctor”), Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Tony Hale (“Veep,” “Arrested Development”), Evan Handler (“And Just Like That…,” “Californication”), Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond,” “The Middle”), Jon Huertas (“This Is Us”), Jason Isaacs (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Harry Potter”), Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Chad Lowe (“Supergirl”), Aasif Mandvi (“The Daily Show”), Rachel Mason (“Circus of Books”), Marlee Matlin (“CODA”), AnnaLynne McCord (“Let’s Get Physical”), Eric McCormack (“Will and Grace”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs”), Katherine McNamara (“Shadowhunters”), Molly Smith Metzler (“Maid,” “Shameless”), Marta Milans (“Shazam!”), Rob Morrow (“Billions”), Kathy Najimy (“Younger”), Ken Olin (“This is Us,” “Thirtysomething”), Haley Joel Osment (“Future Man,” “Entourage”), Joey and Daniella Pantoliano (“The Matrix,” “Memento”), Bill Prady (“The Big Bang Theory”), Kyla Pratt (“The Proud Family”), Jessica Queller (“Supergirl”), Anthony Rapp (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Reid Scott (“Veep”), Mona Scott-Young (“Love & Hip Hop”), Alena Smith (“Dickinson”), Julie Taymor (“The Lion King”), Krista Vernoff (“Grey’s Anatomy”), KT Tunstall (“Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” “Suddenly I See”), Matt Walsh (“Veep”), Alfre Woodard (“Clemency,” “Luke Cage”), Constance Zimmer (“Good Trouble”), and David Zucker (“Airplane!,” “Scary Movie”).
More about The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating its members on issues of public importance. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. For more information, visit https://thecreativecoalition.org.