Emile Hirsch is intriguingly learning from J.K. Simmons that a true connection and sense of purpose can even arise during the most unforeseen circumstances in their latest film, ‘All Nighter.’ The actors’ new buddy comedy humorously showcases how a biased father must overcome his preconceived judgments about his daughter’s former boyfriend and ask him for his help in finding her, against his better intuition. The movie’s director, Gavin Wiesen, reunited with his former college roommate, writer Seth W. Owen, to create an amusing and sentimental exploration into what it means when a person from your past unexpectedly reemerges in your life, and ultimately changes your perspective and future.
The Good Deed Entertainment production is now playing in select theaters, as well as on VOD and Digital HD. The film has also secured an agreement for a subsequent exclusive U.S. Premium Pay TV run with Starz.
‘All Nighter’ follows Martin (Hirsch), a struggling LA musician who’s nervously meeting his girlfriend Ginnie’s (Analeigh Tipton) intimidating father, Mr. Gallo (Simmons), for the first time. Mr. Gallo is a tough-minded, no-nonsense international businessman who never has enough time for his daughter. At dinner together, Mr. Gallo is resolutely unimpressed by Martin, which causes Ginnie’s boyfriend to become increasingly more uncomfortable as the night goes on, and the meal ends up being a disaster.
Six months later, Martin’s broken-hearted over being dumped by Ginnie, who has moved on from their relationship. As the musician tries to contend with the end of his connection with his former girlfriend, her fathers shows up at his door looking for his daughter. Her cellphone is off and she has not responded to any texts or emails. Although it’s the last thing he wants to do, Martin agrees to take Mr. Gallo to where he believes Ginnie is living, but they’re shocked to discover that she isn’t there. The duo is subsequently forced to spend the rest of the day and night together, as they search for her all over town.
As Martin and Mr. Gallo attempt to solve the puzzle of what is going on in Ginnie’s life, they encounter her crazy friends and get into increasingly desperate situations of their own making. Some property is destroyed and some laws are broken, but an uneasy friendship between Martin and Mr. Gallo is formed as they discover that they, rather than Ginnie, are the ones who are truly lost.
Hirsch, Tipton and Wiesen generously took the time recently to talk about starring in, and writing and directing, ‘All Nighter’ during an exclusive interview from Los Angeles. Among other things, the actors and filmmaker discussed how they were drawn to the natural comedic elements that arise between Martin and Mr. Gallo during the time they spend searching for Ginnie together, which helped form an organic chemistry between Hirsch and Simmons. The trio also mentioned how they embraced the opportunity to shoot the comedy throughout L.A., since not only do the locations play a major part in Martin and Mr. Gallo’s inability to find Ginnie right away, but they also rarely get the opportunity to make an indie film at home.
The conversation began with Hirsch explaining what interested him in playing Martin in ‘All Nighter,’ and how he became involved in the film. “I was dogsitting for my friend, Ashton Holmes, who’s a really good actor. He came home and said, ‘Have you read this really good script?’ I asked him what script, and he said, ‘They’re holding auditions for this script. I think you’re really like this character, so you should read it-it would be a really good part for you.’ So I read it and said, ‘I can kind of see it.'”
The actor added that he pass the script along to his agent, who agreed that the role would be a good fit for him. “I was excited about doing something different than some of the other films that I had made around that time. There was a comedic element that I was excited about. I’ve been working for so long, and have made so many movies, that I get excited about projects that are unlike anything I have starred in before,” Hirsch explained.
“I think the comedic element is something I hadn’t done in a long time, probably since ‘The Girl Next Door’ and ‘Prince Avalanche.’ When I made ‘Prince Avalanche,’ I had a lot of fun with the comedy. I enjoy watching, and performing, comedy,” the actor further revealed.
“For me, it’s about getting the comedic timing down, and breaking down what you think is funny. I think a lot of the time in comedy, you have to rely on your instincts,” Hirsch also noted. “So if you don’t have a sense of humor, it’s way harder.
“But all the people I think are funny on screen are funny off camera, too. They’re fun to chat with, and they have a certain sensibility,” he further emphasized.
“I agree with that-it’s totally about being able to work beyond the script and improvising,” Tipton also chimed in on the subject of actors being able to infuse comedy into a film.
“I also think that Emile demonstrates a real understanding of comedy, and what’s funny and what isn’t funny,” Wiesen noted while also discussing his views on incorporating humor into movies. “He brought something that you’re not totally even aware of to his character. You can’t force something like that, as you either have it or you don’t. But Emile was able to bring that to his character.”
The filmmaker became attached to direct ‘All Nighter’ after he wrote and directed his first feature film, the 2011 romantic drama, ‘The Art of Getting By.’ After the movie was released, the helmer spoke to his “college roommate, who I hadn’t spoken to in quite a long time. He’s also a writer, and had come up an an idea, and asked if I had wanted to get involved.
“I immediately responded to the material, and thought it was hysterical and had some memorable characters. It also didn’t have super broad comedy, which I’m not a big fan of, so it seemed like a great opportunity,” Wiesen divulged.
The director added that he did see himself “as the character of Martin, in a way. It’s almost like something I could have written myself, in a semi-autobiographical way. So I felt as though I could bring a lot to the material.”
Tipton then delved into how she became attached to play Ginnie in the comedy film. “I was in Ohio when the offer came in. I was really excited to become involved, and get to work with a really talented cast.
“I’ve never approached a movie this way, as I didn’t really have many days on set,” the actress also divulged. But she admitted that the few scenes she did shoot for ‘All Nighter’ were indeed informed by the adventures that Ginnie’s father and ex-boyfriend have together as they’re trying to find her. “So I think the most important thing I got about the character was that what the audience sees in Ginnie matches what Emile’s character sees in her. So it was an interesting exercise in trying to not overthink anything.”
The opinions the main characters form of each other though out the story are mainly influenced by their experiences they share together, and the places they visit largely influence those interactions. “The project had been through the development process for awhile with Gavin. The story had been set in different cities, based on the different actors were we approaching” to play Mr. Gallo, Hirsch divulged. “With each actor, the city would change; it was set in New Orleans, New York, Toronto, Atlanta and and San Francisco. We were talking about all of these different cities.
“The city is such a big part of the film’s narrative that when J.K. came on board, we decided to make it in Los Angeles. That was a major turn of events. Gavin and I were over the moon about that, because J.K. had just won his Oscar (in 2015 for his role of Terence Fletcher in ‘Whiplash’),” the SAG Award-nominated actor also revealed.
“We didn’t know exactly what city we were going to be able to shoot in. Emile and I wanted L.A. to be the answer, but we weren’t sure that it was going to be possible, so we considered other cities,” Wiesen also shared. “The exciting thing about Los Angeles is that we both know it so well, given that we both live here. Also, small, independent movies don’t often get to shoot here too often. So it was a pleasure to get to shoot here.
“We were able to shoot here, because J.K. signed on and also lives here, and we didn’t have a lot of time to go somewhere else. He also wanted to be close to home. So we got to film here and truly make it the characters’ movie,” the filmmaker revealed. “The locations were enormously important, so the majority of the pre-production consisted of searching for places that we could film in across Los Angeles. That allowed us to make a love letter to the city, especially the part of L.A. that you never get to see.
Hirsch further expressed his admiration for his main co-star in ‘All Nighter’ by noting that “I have so much respect for J.K., so I tried to be as prepared as possible. I had been involved in the project for so long that I really knew the material. But J.K. is so on point all of the time, and he’s always there and ready to go. So it was just about us trying to rise to meet him on the level that he lives on. I think J.K., Analeigh and I all got along really well as people. The bond that we had (on set) was real.
“I think when you’re dealing with something that so much of it comes down to chemistry, that’s not something you can act or force; it just happens, or it doesn’t. I think we got lucky on this film, because we all naturally had chemistry. It’s weird, because it’s not really connected to talent all the time. You don’t even need to get along off camera to have chemistry on set,” the actor further shared. “J.K. and I wanted to show all the beats of the script that we thought were so good.”
Wiesen then revealed that “Emile and J.K. brought notes to the script. Emile also suggested a bunch of lines that made it into the film. J.K. also shared some input on logic about how the characters would talk.”
Hirsch also noted that the chemistry that he and his co-stars brought to the screen was aided in part by the fact that ‘All Nighter’ was shot independently. The actor added that one aspect he relishes about making indie films is that they only shoot over the course of a few weeks, so time doesn’t feel as drawn out on set.
“It’s funny, because I primarily do independent films,” Tipton also chimed in on the experience of shooting her acting roles. “Shooting movies so quickly is all I’ve ever known. Having 28 days on this film was a luxury; I just did another film in about 18 days. I’d say that shorter schedule isn’t too abnormal for indie films. So as long as you have a competent crew and director, you shouldn’t lose too much time creatively.”