Adam Devine is a clown, and a successful one at that. Whether he is chaos incarnate on the big screen in the his latest movie, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, or just an actor doing junket interviews in The Sink’s backroom, he’s going to bring the funny.
Question: How much of the movie was improvised on set?
Answer: “36% I would say,” Devine replies matter-of-factly. “If we’re talking improv, I got to give you stats.”
The co-creator, writer and star of Comedy Central’s Workaholics has come into his own with a few big screen supporting roles under his belt — Pitch Perfect 1 & 2, The Final Girls, The Intern — but now Devine is making the move into a starring roles with Mike and Dave, loosely based on the real life exploits of Mike (played by Devine) and his brother Dave (Zac Efron) Stangle, authors of the book Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates: And a Thousand Cocktails.
“[Those] guys are lunatics. Like in a fun way,” Devine says of the Stangles.
Devine explains that even though the script — by Andrew Cohen and Brendan O’Brien — was based on the Stangles’ book, Devine had not met them prior to shooting and did not have a chance to model his performance after them. But as it turns out, that wasn’t much of an issue.
“You meet them and you’re like, oh yeah, this script is pretty spot on,” Devine chuckles. “They’re awesome. They’re like party tornadoes. They came in [and] they were drunk like fifteen minutes in. … Later at the hotel, they got kicked out of the Jacuzzi because they somehow got naked with pack of Australian model girls. Like, how did that even happen? I’m the star of a movie and that didn’t even happen to me!”
With the Stangles’ exploits as a jumping off point, Devine drew on his background in comedy, particularly in improv, to flesh out the character and explore different aspects of each scene.
“We improved constantly,” Devine says. “We shot like six movies. You would take the script and do it that way, and then Jake [Szymanski, the director] would be like, ‘You guys have any ideas?’ … And he is so smart and so funny, that a lot of times I’ll be improving and be like, ‘I am spinning gold!’ And then he’ll go, ‘Try this.’ And you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s so much funnier than the bullshit I was doing.’”
A smart director helps, as do Devine’s colleagues. Alongside Devine and Efron are the two dates of the title, played by Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick, Devine’s Pitch Perfect co-star.
“I feel like she’s going to be the Meryl Streep of our generation,” Devine says of Kendrick. “She works all the time, and she’s also a great actress. She takes it very seriously. She’s can do comedy and she can segue and do these real dramatic and cool roles. Or do some huge musical.”
The source material, Devine’s comedic background and his co-stars all works in his favor, but what Devine is most excited about is what Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates represents as a whole: inclusion, not exclusion.
“That’s exactly what I like about where comedy is right now,” Devine says. “It’s like the snarkiness and meanness of several years ago — that is where comedy was, kind of being too cool for stuff — that’s kind of gone. Now it’s kind of like we want everybody to have a good time. It’s more earnest. And if you’re the stick in the mud, then you’re the stick in the mud.”
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is in theaters starting July 8.