Interview: Peter Farrelly Talks THE THREE STOOGES & Jersey Shore

Peter Farrelly, the Stooges, and Bobby Farrelly on set

Writer/directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly achieve a life long dream of bringing their favorite childhood show "The Three Stooges" to the big screen this weekend and CineMovie  caught up with half of the funny duo Peter Farrelly to talk about the hardship of adapting such a revered show and characters into a modern comedy.

The directors behind Dumb & Dumber, Kingpin, and There's Something About Mary tell CineMovie they didn't want to reinvent THE THREE STOOGES but honor them with an homage to the characters. At one point, Sean Pean and Jim Carrey were rumored to be interested as the Stooges but Peter reveals early contenders were more inclined to to create their own versions of Moe, Larry, and Curly which the Farrelly Brothers were not looking to do.  They eventually went with familiar faces from television with MadTV's Will Sasso as Curly, Will & Grace & Broadway star Sean Hayes for Larry, and through an open casting found unknown actor Chris Diamantopoulos to play Stooges ringleader Moe.  They surrounded the smaller named actors with popular actors and personalities such as Larry David, Glee's Jane Lynch,  Modern Family's Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Hudson,  model turned actress Kate Upton, and yes, the clan from Jersey Shore in need of some Moe love.

Peter reveals more about his passion project THE THREE STOOGES in our Q&A below.

PF= Peter Farrelly

Cinemovie: Congrats on getting this movie to the big screen. I know it was a long process for you.

PF: Only a lifetime.

Cinemovie: What was the hardest part about it?
PF: Boy, every part was hard. I guess the hardest part had to be convincing the studio that you can take the Stooges characters, put them into a modern setting, and make it fun.

Cinemovie: Was there an open casting?
PF: That was very hard too. It ultimately became an open casting but early on the studios wanted to go with big names. However, every time we’d meet with a big movie star, they’d talk about doing their version of Moe, Larry, or Curly. We didn’t want that. We wanted a very specific thing. We wanted them just as you know them and that was a little daunting for some actors. They were a little put off by that, but that’s where we wanted to go. Our first goal was to please the hardcore Stooge fans. We figured if we could do that then everything else would work out.

The Three Stooges movie 2012   Photo: 20th Century FoxCinemovie: When an actor takes on a character that has previously existed on T.V. or in film, they tend to want to take on their own version. With The Three Stooges, you can't really. I wondered how that was going to work in this case.
PF: It’s like Batman. Everyone does their own take. We didn’t want a new version of Moe and Curly. That’s hard to tell somebody you have to do it a certain way.  It’s scary too.  Ultimately, we opened up the casting. We did pretty much a world-wide casting call, saw over a thousand people and we just took the three best.

Cinemovie: That’s where you found Chris, correct?
PF: Yes. Chris Diamantopolous nobody had ever heard of. He is a well-known stage actor, but we didn’t know him. Of course I knew Sean Hayes and Will Sasso and I was a fan of those guys. But, I didn’t know who Chris was and he knocked our socks off. The studio, because they hadn’t heard of him, was like “Who’s this guy, is he your cousin or something.” We fought for him because he was the best and he turned out to be some kind of genius.

Cinemovie: Sean Hayes turned out to be the biggest surprise. You seem him and think,  “Oh my God, that’s Larry.”
PF: He was great. I knew how talented he was but until they do it, you’re not sure they could actually do the role.  He was fantastic right out of the gate. We had him work with Billy West. Billy is sort of the all time Larry expert. He always goes on Howard Stern and does Larry. He came on as a consultant and worked with him and then it really got crazy good.

Cinemovie: There are no action scenes but  was there training for the Stooges?
PF: We did like six weeks of rehearsals before we shot. We never had done that. We usually do rehearsals over two days and get on with it.  But this one had a lot of choreographed hits, and teaching them how to hit. They have to hit each other. They’re not missing. You don’t want people to get hurt. They had to work with stunt guys.

Cinemovie:  For some of the stunts, you clearly see that the falling bodies are dummies and not stunt men which is hilarious. Why did you decide to stick with the slapstick-style tricks?
PF: Because the Stooges were on a short budget, when they had dummies falling off of a building, they wouldn’t even take the time to cut away to somebody reacting to this and then come back to the real guys which would have made it little more seamless. They literally just froze and locked the camera and then put them in the same position.  We found that funny how little they tried to hide it, so we decided to do it that way. In fact, we were going to do more of that stuff, but when we did the studio said “No, no, no, you’re taking us out of the movie now.”

Cinemovie: Which of the stooges was your favorite growing up?
PF: When I was a little guy, my favorite immediately was Curly. He was the first guy I noticed and I found him hilarious. I loved Curly for many years. Then one day when I was just about a teenager, I realized Moe’s kind of the guy who’s making it all work. It’s his overreacting and his short wick that was making everybody react. Ultimately, a couple years later I realized Larry’s my favorite and he’s been my favorite ever since. He has the toughest job. It’s all about reacting and it’s very subtle. A lot of guys can do Curly and Moe, only a couple guys could to Larry. Larry is very specific and very hard to do.  He’s my favorite.
I love the stooges so much because there is no weak link. There’s not like two funny guys and one not so funny. They’re all as funny as each other and that’s what makes them so interesting. You can watch the movie and enjoy any of them.
the-three-stooges-movie-image  Photo: 20th Century Fox
Cinemovie: Larry David and Jane Lynch are in it and they’re pros at improvising. Did you unleash them or did you have them stick close to the script?
PF:We always unleash everybody at a point. First we write the script and we ask everybody to do the lines and then we say okay lets try something different. Even the stooges could do that. We wanted them to stay in the characters we were all familiar with, but they could then come up with their own lines. Larry David is one of the few guys who are sort of like a Bill Murray type, where you get out of the way and let him do his thing because he’s a genius.  Jane Lynch was doing something she normally doesn’t do; play a sweet person.  She usually plays the mean one. It turns out; we think this role was a lot closer to her actual personality. She was just a pleasure to work with.

Cinemovie: Throughout the years of working with your brother Bobby, has divvying up the duties changed, or do you have a rhythm from film to film?
PF: We have a rhythm. We pretty much do it the same. My brother and I are from the East Coast and my wife is from California. She couldn’t stand the weather, so we moved back to California. Now my brother is in Massachusetts and I’m  in California and its made the writing more difficult. We have to get together with each other for a few weeks, here and a few weeks there. Other than that we cast the same, direct the same, edit the same… we do it all together.

Cinemovie: When the trailer came out and we saw that Snooki was in it, there was kind of a online backlash. Is that what you were looking forward to? Did you even follow that outrage?
PF: Yeah. There was a backlash online when the movie was announced ten years ago. Some of the hardcore Stooge fans, not most, think its slightly sacrilegious to make a Three Stooges movie. What we felt was that it was sacrilegious that kids today weren’t familiar with The Three Stooges. We wanted to bring them back and put them in a modern setting. The idea to us of Moe slapping out the Jersey Shore gang killed us and that’s why we wanted to do that.

THE THREE STOOGES is in movie theaters April 13, 2012.

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