Superstar magicians Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton have ruled the Las Vegas Strip for years, raking in millions with illusions as big as Burt‚Äôs growing ego. But lately the duo‚Äôs greatest deception is their public friendship, while secretly they‚Äôve grown to loathe each other. Facing cutthroat competition from guerilla street magician Steve Gray, whose cult following surges with each outrageous stunt, even their show is starting to look stale. But there‚Äôs still a chance Burt and Anton can save the act ‚Äď both onstage and off ‚Äď if only Burt can get back in touch with what made him love magic in the first place.
‚ÄėThe Incredible Burt Wonderstone‚Äô stars Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi as long-reigning headliners and one-time best friends Burt and Anton, and Olivia Wilde as their glamorous magic assistant, Jane. Alan Arkin stars as old-school illusionist Rance Holloway; James Gandolfini as casino mogul Doug Munny; and Jim Carrey as the team‚Äôs number one rival, Steve Gray. Set for a March 15th release, the film is directed by Emmy Award winner Don Scardino (TV‚Äôs ‚Äô30 Rock‚Äô).
What is the secret to keeping a straight face on set?
Olivia Wilde: Jason Bateman taught me a secret that is a little bit dark (laughs). But in order to not break in a scene, you have to stare at your co-star and think of a reason to resent them. Think of the thing you like about them least, and you have to focus on that and it will stop you from laughing. But then the hard thing about that is when you‚Äôre working with people you have no reason to resent (laughs), and who you truly adore and look up to. But you have to think of something, it could be something like, ‚ÄúYour parking spot is so much closer to set than mine. I have to walk in the heat so much further than you‚Ä¶. I hate you.‚ÄĚ (Laughs) But it doesn‚Äôt really work, it may work for Bateman, but I had a hard time on this movie keeping it together.
What was the experience like working with the likes of Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi and Jim Carrey, and watching them on set do their thing?
Olivia Wilde: I could watch these guys do anything, but to see them play with each other was such a joy and a delight. I mean, I would spend a lot of time when I wasn‚Äôt in the scene standing at the monitor freaking out because you don‚Äôt get to see people with such different styles working together very often. Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi and Jim Carrey are very different actors, so to see them together was wild. It was kind of like a mash-up because they‚Äôre very much on different rhythms and yet they can jive together. I loved it. And then with Steve Carell, he‚Äôs also a producer on this film, and he‚Äôs such a good one. He really corralled everyone together into this wonderful environment where everyone felt safe to come up with ideas, and our wonderful director Don Scardino was so lovely. I had a chance to improvise with some of the greatest people in the business, so I felt very lucky.
I can imagine it must raise everyone‚Äôs game when you‚Äôre working with actors you truly admire‚Ä¶.?
Olivia Wilde: Oh, definitely. Everyone brought their A+ game and was so professional and tireless and committed. I remember watching the scene where Jim drills through his skull, and he did maybe four different versions of it, at least ten takes of an incredible exhaustive physical bit. Watching Jim Carrey is like watching a modern dancer, he‚Äôs using every part of his body and his voice. It was such a lesson to watch him, and I was inspired to try a bit more of the physical comedy after being among all these guys. I grew up watching Jim and it was just incredible watching the process, he‚Äôs such a perfectionist. And with Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi, there‚Äôs just something brilliantly hilarious about watching those two together. Their characters are hilarious (laughs). Steve Buscemi is the most adorable human being that ever lived, I could watch him do anything. The amount of improv that is in the film is astonishing, just because of how well they bounced off of each other.
You‚Äôve done so many different things in your career so far, but this movie is a lot about mentors, people you look up to. Do you have a mentor, or someone you particularly look up to, and did they find their way into your character Jane at all?
Olivia Wilde: For me, I haven‚Äôt had a chance to work with a lot of my mentors because many of them are no longer with us. I grew up loving Gilda Radner, Katharine Hepburn, Lucille Ball, and there‚Äôs a little bit of all of those in Jane, hopefully (laughs). You tend to glean from something you love that has stayed with you. I certainly have always loved comedy, and what I loved about Jane was her inner kind of ‚Äúdork‚ÄĚ. She‚Äôs really an awkward girl who loves magic, and you have to think, the kids that embrace magic as young people, they‚Äôre not generally the ‚Äúcool kids‚ÄĚ ‚Äď they really should be because magic is cool, but they‚Äôre usually not the cool kids. So we all talked about what brought all these characters together was a really similar experience as children: being an outcast. So once I had that in mind she kind of arrived for me and she became very clear. The idea of her having stage fright came from that thought.
What do you find more challenging, comedy or drama?
Olivia Wilde: It‚Äôs funny because the best comedians are great dramatic actors, they just understand the material, they really commit to the stakes of the situation. So you really approach it in the same way. I think comedy has a lot to do with rhyme, and that‚Äôs incredibly difficult. Comedy also has a lot to do with the rhythm of the other actors, so in a way I find it‚Äôs more collaborative than drama and that probably makes it a little bit more challenging. But I hope to do more comedy because I had so much fun learning from these guys.
What is it about a project or a script that sparks your interest, whether it‚Äôs comedy, drama, sci-fi, action‚Ä¶.?
Olivia Wilde: I now have the luxury of being a little bit more picky, and I try to trust my first instinct. In the past I think I‚Äôve convinced myself that something could be good (laughs). I‚Äôve read the script and said to myself, ‚ÄúOh, but it‚Äôs such a good job. I‚Äôll convince myself that it‚Äôs a better script than it is.‚ÄĚ But now I‚Äôm trusting my instincts more because I have the luxury to do so. And frankly I want to do things I haven‚Äôt done before, and there are a lot of things I haven‚Äôt done, so I‚Äôm looking forward to all of those scripts (laughs).