Peter Farrelly admits that he and his brother, Bobby, never get their first choice when it comes to lead actors. Put it this way: Could you imagine "Dumb & Dumber" with either Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Martin Short as either Harry or Lloyd? If the Farrelly brothers had gotten their way, that would have been a much different movie, and a much different "Dumb & Dumber" sequel would be shooting this fall. (Yes, we talk extensively about that.)
The same thing happened with the Farrellys' new film, "The Three Stooges." Famously, the original cast was supposed to include Jim Carrey, Sean Penn and Benicio del Toro as Curly, Larry and Moe, respectively. Here, Peter Farrelly discusses, in depth, why that lineup didn't work out, why it was all for the best, and what lies ahead for Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne in "Dumb & Dumber 2."
Last time we spoke, you told me about your long drive to Idaho to clear your mind and you asked me about the first time I saw "Dumb & Dumber" -- and how I drove from Missouri to Canada immediately after seeing it.
Absolutely! You were with a friend of yours and you just came out of the theater and just went. That's a great story. I just did another one of those trips. I just drove up to Whitefish, MT. Just a "to clear the head" thing.
Did you have to fly back this time?
No, I actually drove. I anticipated maybe flying back, but I had the energy to make the whole thing. I keep threatening to write something for some magazine about the advantages and beauty of just getting in a car, by yourself, and driving long, long distances. At least 1,200 to 1,300 miles. And to be in a car and have all the new music and just be by yourself -- and I don't have a cell phone, I've never had one. The peace and quiet, it's heavenly.
I think they're going to get mad if I don't ask a question about "The Three Stooges."
Yeah, let's talk about that.
I remember in the '80s, "The Three Stooges" were on all of the time. Are they still on? Are you worried that people under 20 will be like, "Who are these guys?"
I would say that most little kids today do not know the Stooges. In fact, that's kind of why we wanted to make the movie. The Stooges, to us, are the funniest guys in our lifetime. They brought be more laughter than any comedy group. And, yeah, kids today don't know them. It kind of chaps me when you read online from hardcore Stooge guys that, "This is sacrilege; how dare they?" Well, it's sacrilege that kids don't know about the Stooges.
You're probably going to tell me I'm wrong, but there's a scene in this movie in which Curley gets a chainsaw put to his head. I don't remember anything that extreme happening during the original shorts.
No, they do. But we had a chainsaw. They did it with a regular saw. See, that's the kind of thing we can do, like the microwave oven over the head. Like, things they didn't know about, but would have done. But they did saws over the head all of the time, but a chainsaw, to us, is a little more interesting. And that is one of the ones where you're like, "Ugh, gag, ga, ga."
What does that noise you just made mean?
That is one that you kind of have to glance away. But, then, when you think about it, "The Hunger Games," you've got kids killing kids -- and it's PG-13. So it's not like it's that extreme, what we did.
There were rumors of Jim Carrey, Sean Penn and Benicio del Toro playing Stooges. How real was that?
It was pretty close. Except, this is the thing: We never really get who we want. From the beginning, with "Dumb & Dumber," Jim Carrey was the 150th guy offered that movie. Everybody else passed. But you can't imagine it with anyone else. It's kind of been like that throughout. Woody Harrelson, you know, he wasn't the first choice for "Kingpin," that's for sure. I was begging after everyone else had passed. I was like, "Come on, please, Woody."
Who was your first choice for "Dumb & Dumber"?
You know, I don't remember who it was, but I can guarantee that everybody at that time -- the Martin Shorts, Bill Murrays; you know, the comedy guys ... Chevy Chase -- I don't know, they probably don't know that either. And after we went through every single actor who could get a movie made had passed. You see, a lot of these people didn't pass. What happened was: you send it to their agent and their agent looks at the title "Dumb & Dumber" and they pass. They never give it to the guy.
Nicolas Cage told me that he was almost in it with Carrey.
Yeah, exactly. They were good friends. We had people passing who never had movies made. We'd see a guy in a commercial and offer him the role and he'd pass. Everybody passed. In this case, those guys were definitely interested. Here was the problem: When guys came in, they say, "Yeah, I'd kind of like to do my take on Larry." And I'd say, "Actually, we want to do a very specific Larry." This isn't Batman where you can do a different Batman every episode. We want Moe, Larry and Curly. We're writing new material, but those characters have to be spot on. And a lot of actors were like, "No way. I'm not doing that." They wanted to bring themselves to the role. So that was why so many actuary passed. But, ultimately, it was a blessing.
So the three actors I mentioned wanted to do their own take?
Well, it's more complicated than that. They all wanted to work together and if one of them dropped out, you lose the other two. It wasn't that all three said that. So when we hold firm, one drops out and then the other two are gone. That happened over and over.
There's a warning at the end of the movie aimed at kids about the violence in the film. Is that a legitimate concern?
Well, my brother and I wanted to do that because, at the end, it's a PG movie. I want to make that very clear: it's a family movie. But, you didn't want kids walking out of there, poking each other in the eye or hitting each other with hammers. Of course, if you put a written disclaimer, seven-year-olds aren't going to take the time to read it.
So, filming on "Dumb & Dumber 2 is going to start this fall. From past discussions that we've had, you know that movie means quite a bit to me. Where do we pick up with these guys? Last we saw them, they're walking home from Aspen with no money, no vehicle and they just passed on the Hawaiian Tropic Bikini Tour.
I'm sorry to say, that's top secret. But I will say this: It picks up today. It's 17 or 18 years later. It's not like a month after that happened. It's today. And we explain what they've been doing all those years.
I know you had nothing to do with it, but did you not like the "Dumb & Dumberer" prequel?
You know, I never saw it. That's the truth. But, by the way, I wished the filmmakers well on that. I don't blame them for making that movie. They're young guys and the studio said, "Hey, we want to make this movie." The came to us and asked, "Do you want to make a prequel?" And we said, "Absolutely not." Because every 16-year-old is dumb. The idea is that these guys are 45 and they're idiots. That's what is interesting to us -- a lot like The Three Stooges. So we didn't want to do it, but I hold no ill-will against anybody in that movie. I want to make that very clear. But we just didn't want to do it.
How does that work? How did you two not have even a little bit of say?
Because once you make the movie, they own it. Like how "Airplane 2" got made -- and that wasn't the Zucker brothers. Generally they don't go off and do that kind of thing, but, you now, they did. But, I get it. I wish they hadn't done it, but it's not something I lost sleep over.
You've never made a sequel before. Was there any thought to any of your other films? Maybe "There's Something About Mary 2"?
We've had a few opportunities where the studio said, what about making "There's Something Else About Mary"? And it didn't seem natural to us. It seemed like a money grab. You know, it seemed like that movie was over. However, from the very beginning, I always said I would make a sequel to "Dumb & Dumber." Jim had so much going on over the years and he was just waiting for the right moment. Then, a year or so ago, he came to us and said, "life's too short." "Dumb & Dumber" is something that he's really proud of for the joy it brings people and he wants to make people happy. And that's the God's honest truth, he goes, "Let's just do it. It's silly, it's fun, it's going to bring a lot of laughs to the world."
If it was always a time constraints problem with him, did you think about trying to talk him into it instead of filming "Me, Myself & Irene"?
No, I never pushed him. There's no pushing Jim. No. In the back of my mind I always thought, It would be nice to do it. But, honestly, it was never something ... I kind of felt that the day would come. I guess. And I hoped it would come. There was also talk at the time of doing "Kingpin 2." "Kingpin" didn't do well.
It's more popular now that it was when it was released.
Yeah. Absolutely. It only did like five million dollars on opening weekend. It was very disappointing. But then it became a big thing on DVD. In fact, "Kingpin" made less money at the box office than any of our movies.
That's surprising to hear said out loud.
But! Then it ended up becoming very popular, so there was talk of "Kingpin 2." But, then, it felt like that story was told and we didn't want to go past it. "Dumb & Dumber," we left them exactly where we found them at the beginning. It's just the perfect movie to do more than one of. As is the Stooges, probably.