Lake Bell Talks Baseball, Jon Hamm & Million Dollar Arm
Million Dollar Arm hit theaters everywhere this past Friday May 16th! Last week I had the opportunity to interview Lake Bell, who plays Brenda in the movie. She plays alongaside Mad Men star Jon Hamm (JB). If you aren’t familiar with the movie, here’s a great summary:
A sports agent stages an unconventional recruitment strategy to get talented Indian cricket players to play Major League Baseball.
Check out a summary of our interview with Lake Bell!
Q: You are the only one in the film who was unable to film in India. How do you feel about that and were you sad you were not able to film there?
I feel like I got left out of the coolest trip ever but with that said, I’m not really complaining. When all the boys came back from India, they did a lot of complaining about the 127 degree weather, how they ate all of these exotic foods and got very sick. I was like I would have taken all of that. Packed my Pepto-Bismol and just sucked it up to have a life experience. Super bummed about not getting to go to one of the most extraordinary places in the world. Maybe they’ll do Mrs. Brenda the sequel *laughs*.
Q: How do you prepare for the role?
Because it’s a true story, the thought is that you have to find something about the real person. In this instance, because none of us are playing iconic characters from history, it’s an indifference ballgame. It’s more that you have to adhere to the message and honor the thematics of the story itself versus the literal hand gestures and physical quirks of the character. I did meet the real Brenda at the premiere.
Q: How do you balance between being director and actor?
The balance happens organically. If you take on a directing role, that sucks up a massive amount of time. Once you understand your schedule, everything makes sense. Making a movie takes years of your life and you can’t take any acting jobs if you are in pre-production, acting or post-production. You can take on a lot more acting jobs at one time. For instance, in the past few months I have been in three different films. Acting can be much more versatile in terms of your schedule.
Q: Between actor, director and a writer which do you find more fun or prefer?
I feel incredibly lucky to do all three. Each one is different. Directing is like an athletic sport and a whole different set of muscles. Acting is emotionally a different journey. I am going to go with the annoying answer and say I love them all. I was an actor first and foremost and always have a place in my heart to create different characterizations.
Q: Can you talk about any of the challenges you faced while filming?
We shot in India and Atlanta. Atlanta is particularly finicky with weather. A lot of the exterior scenes we ran into a lot of problems with rain. It would be raining on one side of the film and bright and sunny on the other side of the film. Those are the production problems we ran into. In terms of the shoot, it was delightful. I’ve known Jon [Hamm] for many years and we are buddies. I was really excited to be a part of the project.
Q: Are you a baseball fan? Were you familiar with the Million Dollar Arm story?
I know ding dong diddiy about it so I was unaware of the story.. Jon is an avid baseball fan and didn’t even know anything about the story either so I didn’t feel too badly about that. It was such an extraordinary tail and amazing to be a part of a project that exciting. You don’t even need to be a sports fan to understand the story is extraordinary.
These young guys at the time overcame so many cultural and athletic obstacles to arrive at their goal. Dreams they didn’t even know existed. The raw undeniable talent of an athlete in success is utterably inspiring.
Q: What were your favorite scenes?
I kind of like scenes that I’m not even in. I love Pitobash who plays Amit (Deepesh Solanki), Suraj Sharma who plays Rinku and Madhur Mittal who plays Dinesh. You’ve got your trifecta of awesome Indian talent in the movie. I think that they are so masterful at evoking true emotion and comedy at the same time. I’m a sucker for all scenes with Pitobash. He’s the translator.
Q: You have several scenes in the movie where you skype with Jon. Did you actually skype with Jon in India?
No, sadly I did not get to skype with the real India. Jon and I done the skype scenes in Atlanta. Those types of scenes are done with a film camera and an unflattering fish-eye lens rigged on to the computer so it would give that affect.
Q: What is it most about your character Brenda that you most admire?
I really admire her no bullshit policy. She is very much an advocate of tough love. She stands up for herself. Brenda’s part was written really beautifully to be more assertive and unafraid of bunching Jon’s character in the proverbial gut. I admire that.
Q: The real JB was on the set for a while, did he give you any insight? What did Brenda say about your performance?
JB had a lot to say. He mainly coined her as a bad ass. The real Brenda wasn’t a doctor but a helicopter broker. She is a bonified badass!
When I met Brenda at the premiere, she was smoking hot and so lovely and sweet. She was highly complimentary and said her friends felt like I had nailed her physicality too. It was fantastic because there were a lot of natural similarities the way we hold ourselves.
Here’s a great interview of Lake Bell:
MILLION DOLLAR ARM opened in theaters everywhere on May 16th!