Scarlett Johansson Rough Night

Scarlett Johansson Rough Night

Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, Zoë Kravitz
Director: Lucia Aniello
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rated: MA15+
Running Time: 101 minutes

Synopsis: In the edgy comedy Rough Night, five best friends from college (played by Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, and Zoë Kravitz) reunite 10 years later for a wild bachelorette weekend in Miami. Their hard partying takes a hilariously dark turn when they accidentally kill a male stripper. Amidst the craziness of trying to figure out what to do, their night takes some hilariously unexpected turns, ultimately bringing them closer together when it matters most.

Rough Night
Release Date: June 15th, 2017


About The Production

'This movie might seem to be about friends who find themselves in a not-so-average bachelorette party through a series of very over-the-top events, but the movie is really about friendship," says Scarlett Johansson, who expresses her comedy chops in Rough Night. 'We often can take for granted the people that know us the best… This movie is a sort of cautionary tale about taking that for granted – and also it's a celebration of that kind of deep friendship. Underneath this wild, raunchy comedy is a movie with a very warm heart about friendship."

The director, co-writer, and a producer of the film, Lucia Aniello, says she was reflecting on how the formative friendships of her life had changed over time, and that inspired the film. 'It's based on so many relationships that I have had, the feelings that I have with certain people from my past," she explains. 'It's about figuring out how your past fits into your present and your future."

Producer Matt Tolmach responded equally to the underlying themes as well as the hilarious comedy that Lucia Aniello and her longtime co-writer, Paul W. Downs, brought to the fore of their screenplay. 'First and foremost, the movie is hilarious," he says. 'The characters are so funny; the voices are so authentic. They created this insane movie about a group of women who go on a bachelorette party weekend and accidentally kill a guy – but it's actually all about their friendships. It's what Paul Downs and Lucia Aniello do as writers – crazy hard comedy that's completely grounded."

'The thing that makes Lucia Aniello and Paul Down's comedy break through to me is that the characters are completely recognisable," says producer Dave Becky. 'We all know these girls – the planner, who might be a little too needy, or the one who would seem to have it all figured out but you don't know what she's not telling you. They love all of these characters, and because they love and know them so well, we can all laugh at the comedy in their idiosyncrasies."

In fact, Rough Night is the first big-studio MA-rated comedy to be directed by a woman in nearly 20 years, meaning that Rough Night has a completely unique perspective. 'I think it's obvious that there's been a dearth of stories told from the perspective of women, especially in the comedy world," says Lucia Aniello. 'Nothing against the MA15+ comedies directed by men – but it does feel like the authenticity of a woman's point of view can only make the female characters feel that much more authentic."

'Lucia is a comedic genius," says Matt Tolmach. 'The thing that sets her apart is that all of her comedy is grounded emotionally – even in the most absurd comedy short or episode of -Broad City,' everything she does has an emotional truth to it. Because of that, she knows her characters so well and has a clarity and confidence about the story in a way that's extraordinary, given that this is her first movie."

'I definitely wanted to make a movie that makes you want to grab your girlfriends and go to the theater and laugh together, but I also wanted to make it the kind of movie that if you bring your boyfriend or husband or guy friends that they can enjoy just as much," says Lucia Aniello. 'Its job first and foremost is to be funny, but it was also important to me that it explored friendships and I absolutely hope that it makes the audience think a little bit more about the people in their lives, maybe people from their past that they're not as close with anymore, and seeing the movie makes them want to re-connect. Rough Night is more about those friendships " the people who would do anything for you " than it is about a dead body."

Lucia Aniello and Paul Downs have been paired as a comedy team for more than a decade, first meeting in an improv comedy class, then spending more time together. 'We started dating, and we were thinking of ideas because we were together all the time," Lucia Aniello recalls. 'We started making videos on the side, putting them online – and nobody saw them but each one got slightly " barely " better. We really enjoyed the process of making them – we started to understand how to produce our own stuff, how to cut our videos, and we really became experienced in the process from every stage. We still didn't know where it was going, but it was a satisfying process to make things together. Now, we're still writing and producing together, and figuring out the best way to do that."

Those videos led to Lucia Aniello and Paul Downs working as writers of the television hit 'Broad City," and Matt Tolmach counts himself among the fans. 'I followed the show and started to ask, -Who are the people who made this show?' That led me to Paul Downs and Lucia Aniello and to their company, Paulilu, and to their videos, and it turns out that their manager, Dave Becky, is a good friend of mine – he manages some of the funniest people on the planet. He'd send me the Paulilu comedy shorts, and they were brilliant."

In the film, Scarlett Johansson plays Jess Thayer, the bride-to-be who has dedicated her life to public service, and has set her sights on becoming a member of the state legislature. 'She is definitely a socially conscious person," explains Scarlett Johansson. 'She's involved in the community and wants to make a positive difference in people's lives. That's why she's running for state senate."

Jess' devotion to her constituents has come at the expense of her personal relationships. 'Along the way, she's neglected the people that are closest to her, as we do sometimes," explains Scarlett Johansson. 'She's career driven and focused on making a difference."

'Jess is one of those people who has moved on from her crazy college days and is trying to forge a new life in a genuine, earnest way," explains Lucia Aniello.

Johansson was excited by the idea of working in comedy. 'I read the script and it was just so funny," she says. 'It made me laugh out loud, and I'm not a person that laughs out loud. I laugh a lot on the inside, but it made me belly laugh. I just loved how real the relationships were between these girls and how very earnest the characters were. I responded to these characters and how very real and raw they are."

In Johansson's portrayal of Jess, Lucia Aniello was in awe of her uncanny ability to strike the perfect balance between humor and vulnerability. 'Scarlett Johansson not only is such an incredible actress, but, she also can be vulnerable, goofy, and silly," says Lucia Aniello. 'The ability to have that in a lead has grounded the movie exactly how I think we intended it to be. Scarlett Johansson can also destroy a punchline – she can just kill it. It's just been incredible to have that flexibility with an actor."

Kate McKinnon portrays the Australian Pippa (a/k/a Kiwi) , who is Jess' eccentric friend from her semester abroad down under. 'She's the freest spirit there possibly could be," says Kate McKinnon. 'There are no rules with Pippa. But even though she's a strange bird, she's also sincere, tender and sweet – she has an absolute joy – which I think is a good combo."

For the filmmakers, Kate McKinnon's extraordinary comedic talent is the special ingredient that makes Pippa such a likeable and compelling character. 'She's the new spice to the relationship," says Lucia Aniello. 'Kate McKinnon comes in and quickly gives such a dynamic personality to the character. From the moment she shows up, every little pixel in her body tells you so much. She's amazing."

Underneath Pippa's organic nature and sincere honesty, Kate McKinnon believed that there was a performer just waiting to emerge. 'When we first talked with Kate McKinnon about the character, she said, -I don't know why, but, I feel like maybe my character's a rapper,'" recalls Paul Downs. 'She does Iggy Azalea on -Saturday Night Live,' so we thought it might be cool if she did something a little different – and we envisioned the character as a first-round contestant on a singingcontest show. So we suggested that to Kate McKinnon, and the next day, we got a voice memo – she had written an original song about Pippa's experience. It is so funny, and so earnest, and truly brilliant."

Some of Pippa's personality traits, as well as her name, were derived from one of Lucia Aniello and Downs' real-life friends. 'Like the character Pippa, we have a friend who really does say things like -b'genius' and -amazoir,'" says Lucia Aniello. 'Although the character in the film is not based completely on our friend, there are little pieces of real life Pippa that are in the fictional Pippa."

Jillian Bell plays Alice, Jess' overly possessive friend who relishes reliving the past. Though the two were very close when they were in college, the passing years have changed that friendship. 'Alice thinks she's still Jess' best friend," says Jillian Bell. 'Alice believes that she and Jess are much closer than they actually are and that they can still have fun times together." 'Alice is the one pushing to have this bachelorette weekend in order to recapture the good old days," Jillian Bell continues. 'She is definitely stuck in the past. She's holding onto old memories, and old friends, unable to move forward, and this experience propels her out of the past."

For all of Alice's shortcomings, her intentions are well-meaning. 'Alice is one of those friends who hugs too hard and is a little too loud, but her actions are sweet and well intentioned," explains Lucia Aniello. 'She's that friend that will always be in your corner, and Jess takes that for granted a little bit. Eventually, Jess comes to the realisation that her friendship with Alice is invaluable."

Playing Alice required Jillian Bell to do a lot of physical comedy. 'My character has a lot of stunts in this movie," says Jillian Bell. 'I actually had more stunts than everybody else. I got a call letting me know that I had too many stunts in the movie. And I thought, -That's the first and last time I will probably ever get that call. I never do stunts.' It gets a little wild, but, it's fun."

Frankie, played by Ilana Glazer, is the consummate activist. 'Frankie is a hyper-politicized rich kid from Brentwood who thinks the things that she does are very important," says Ilana Glazer. 'She forgoes a life of leisure to devote herself to making a difference."

Being an activist, Frankie finds herself often at odds with the law which comes in handy with their dead stripper predicament. 'Frankie has a complicated history with the law," explains Ilana Glazer. 'She has some legal history from both sides, mostly from the side of a person being convicted of something. And so, she knows to call a lawyer right away."

As committed as she is to making the world a better place, Frankie's own life could use a little attention. 'Frankie uses the world's problems as a way to not deal with her personal relationships," explains Lucia Aniello. 'She falls in love a lot, but at the end of the day, she isn't willing to put in the work, which is especially interesting because she has had a past with Blair.

They had an intense relationship in college, but although their relationship didn't end on bad terms, it was never given a chance to blossom. Now, Frankie's at a place where she's having to decide what she's doing with her life and Blair helps her realise that she is just running away from her problems."

Blair, played by Zoë Kravitz, is the successful, straight laced, proper and seemingly puttogether one of the group. However, outward appearances can be deceptive – there is more turmoil going on in Blair's life than she would rather admit. 'Blair is the conservative one in the group," says Zoë Kravitz. 'She's married. She has a child. She's a businesswoman. She has chosen a more conventional and materialistic route."

But that's the façade, and then there's the reality. 'Blair is separated from her husband and fighting for custody of her child," says Zoë Kravitz. 'She cares more about how she appears than actually connecting with her friends and telling them what's going on."

Blair's stylish look was as much a challenge for Zoë Kravitz as portraying any of her character's emotional baggage. 'Blair has these crazy nails," states Zoë Kravitz. 'I cannot function as a human with her nails. I can't text. I can't button my pants, but, then I realised that is where her head's at. She's very much about her appearance and her status."

In Zoë Kravitz, Lucia Aniello knew she had someone who could accurately capture Blair's dual nuances in a both a touching and humorous way. 'We knew that Blair's character was going to be tough to play, but Zoë just understood her," says Lucia Aniello. 'Blair has a sharp and dry wit, but she also has an interesting depth because she gets hurt all the time, gets back up and dusts herself off and goes for it again. Blair's resilience makes her relatable and lovable."

Ilana Glazer and Zoë Kravitz's real life friendship helped inform their characters' on-screen rapport. 'Zoë and Ilan Glazer have such incredible chemistry that comes from their off- camera friendship," says Lucia Aniello. 'They play off of each other extremely well. It is something organic that cannot be faked."

Paul W. Downs portrays Jess' selfless, doting fiancé, Peter, who is happy to be in the background giving Jess the love and support she needs to pursue her political ambitions. 'Peter and Jess met after college," says Paul W. Downs. 'They truly love each other and are excited to be getting married. They have a good relationship and make each other better."

'It was important for us to represent a couple that is in a functional living relationship," says Lucia Aniello. 'They're both trying to do the best they can. Peter may feel a little neglected with Jess constantly working, but Peter is a good guy who cares a lot about her, and she loves him, too." Peter will go to great lengths for the one he loves. 'When Jess reunites with her friends, they make her get a little crazy," says Paul W. Downs. 'When Peter sees this unfamiliar side of Jess, he worries that their relationship might be in jeopardy, and he freaks out because Jess is the woman of his dreams."

'A miscommunication fuels his fears and leads him to take extreme measures," adds Lucia Aniello. For Lucia Aniello, Peter's desperation was a vehicle to add more comedy to the story. 'Paul W. Downs 's funniest, to me, when he's desperate," says Lucia Aniello. 'We knew we were writing it for him so we wrote with that in mind. We have him fall, faint, and doing all kinds of stuff because he's so gifted at physical comedy. I could write a thousand more pages for Peter to endure on his way to win back Jess."

Demi Moore and Ty Burrell play a Miami couple on the prowl looking to swing and swap partners. 'Lea and Pietro are an over-sexualised middle-aged couple who take an immediate interest in Blair," says Matt Tolmach. 'They have this warm, next-door quality with an overt voracious sexual lust."

Late in the film, Colton Haynes of 'Arrow" appears. 'Just when you think you know what's happening in this movie, Colton makes everything unpredictable," says Paul Downs. 'As soon as we heard his name, we knew – he's perfect. We didn't have to come up with any other names. He's never had a hard-comedy role like this before, but he is so, so funny in the movie that he's going to blow a lot of people away."

The unsung hero of the film is actor Ryan Cooper, who plays Jay. 'This was one of the hardest roles to cast because we had to find somebody who was willing to play a dead person," says Paul Downs. 'There is only one scene with dialogue and then he plays a dead person for the rest of the film, but he's also a huge piece of the movie. We are so lucky that we found Ryan Cooper because he's physically gifted, funny, but also he let himself go through torture. He was thrown out of cars, put into the ocean, stuffed into things that he shouldn't have been stuffed into. He did an incredible job of playing dead."

Matt Tolmach says that Ryan Cooper proved to be an incredibly gifted physical comedian. 'It's an incredibly challenging role, because you can't react to any of the craziness happening around you," he notes. 'Playing dead isn't just playing dead – there's a way to do it that is real and funny. He created a presence in his deadness, whether it was getting dumped off the jet ski or hitting his head or popping his eyes open after Kate McKinnon tries to close them. These are acting moments, and he did it brilliantly."

Moving a human being put the girls' strengths to the test. 'The most difficult thing to do was lifting a dead body," says Jillian Bell. 'It's surprising what a workout it is. We said that by the end of filming, we would be in good shape just carrying around this dead man."

To become a corpse, Ryan Cooper entered into an opened eyed, meditative state where he enjoyed being a voyeur of the action going on around him. 'I find playing dead relaxing," says Ryan Cooper. 'I meditated for an hour and a half, focusing on one point, as a little prep."

'Most of the time I keep my eyes open," continues Ryan Cooper. 'It's been hilarious seeing the girl's reactions and having a hand in a face, a face in a face, a foot in a face, and showered by spittle."

About The Production

For the look of Rough Night, the filmmakers sought a visual aesthetic that not only complimented the actors, but was also stylized and edgy. 'We wanted to find a younger Director of Photography doing exciting work," says Paul Downs. 'Sean Porter shot Green Room and 20th Century Women. He has a unique and distinct look, and he made a lot of sense both logistically and style-wise. We didn't want the film to look bright, glossy, gauzy, and commercial; Sean Porter gave it an edgy, fresh, funny and unique look, a little more stylized and with a little bit more grit to it."

'He was able to make these women look beautiful and the locations look incredible, but also making it feel real," continues Paul Downs. 'It's a tall order to make something feel accessible and look pretty, but also feel real, and be a little bit different than the norm."

In keeping with the edgy tone of the film, production designer Bob Shaw had to balance the vibrant pastel colors of Miami with the dark humor of the film. 'When I met with Paul Downs and Lucia, I brought some images of Ocean Drive in Miami," says Shaw. 'You couldn't help but notice that half the buildings were lit with pink neon, and the other half, are lit with blue or aqua neon, and this is the general tone of Miami, that was inescapable. So, we knew that this was going to be a very important part of the palette."

'There are a lot of edgy elements that needed to be offset with a bright backdrop," adds Lucia Aniello. 'That helped give the film a little more of an unsettling tone when it needs to, but also, a brighter tone when something might otherwise seem a little bit too much."

Costume designer Leah Katznelson created distinctive looks reflective of the character's personalities and evolution beyond college. 'The script was refreshing, funny and offered an exciting opportunity to create very distinct characters between the women," says Leah Katznelson. She started by brainstorming about who these women were in college, and how those people had transformed themselves into adults.

For Jess, Leah Katznelson created a practical and functional minimalist wardrobe. 'It was important that Jess looked like a candidate, someone who would be a politician but who is also young and approachable – more of a grassroots organizer," says Leah Katznelson. 'Jess has taste; she doesn't spend a lot of time paying attention to high fashion but is always put-together. So, her look was very clean, and consistently so, throughout the film."

'Alice is the polar opposite from Jess," says Leah Katznelson. 'She has planned this weekend. She is very excited about it. She has planned every outfit to a T, what she's going to wear by the pool, what she's going to wear to dinner, what she's going to wear to the club. So there are a lot more color, life, and patterns to her story."

Pippa's style reflects her esoteric personality. 'We played into the idea of her being a bohemian personality," says Leah Katznelson. 'She is well-traveled but is not necessarily grounded in reality. She flies by the seat of her pants and beats to her own drum. So, we wanted that to be translated through her jewelry choices."

Blair's look represents affluence and status. 'The key to Blair was keeping her completely monochromatic for every outfit," says Leah Katznelson. 'When we first see her, she's all in cream. She's a very classic, refined New York woman. All of her tastes are very specific, elegant, and timeless. She is the woman that wears four-inch heels walking down the street in New York City – everything is very expensive and looks that way."

The Occupy Wall Street movement inspired Frankie's style. 'Ilana Glazer got inspired a lot by looking at Occupy Wall Street photographs and studying the milieu of the contemporary activist," says Leah Katznelson. 'It's a combination of music festival meets Greenpeace meets Woodstock. It's a mishmash of militant inspired clothing for her, à la vintage Levi's."

Lucia Aniello says that Leah Katznelson's contributions helped shape who the characters are – and it is from those characters that all of the comedy springs. 'Leah Katzelson is so gifted and special," says Lucia Aniello. 'She understands exactly who these characters are. If you get a snapshot of each person's wardrobe, even without faces, you would know who's who. She nailed it immediately."

Rough Night
Release Date: June 15th, 2017


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