Cast: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Andy Serkis, June Diane Raphael, Bob Odenkirk, Alexander Skarsgård
Director: Jonathan Levine
Running Time: 115 minutes
Synopsis: Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) is one of the most influential women in the world. Smart, sophisticated, and accomplished, she's a powerhouse diplomat with a talent for…well, mostly everything. Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) is a gifted and free-spirited journalist with an affinity for trouble. The two have nothing in common, except that she was his babysitter and first crush. When Fred unexpectedly reconnects with Charlotte, he charms her with his self-deprecating humor and his memories of her youthful idealism. As she prepares to make a run for the Presidency, Charlotte impulsively hires Fred as her speechwriter, much to the dismay of her trusted advisors. A fish out of water on Charlotte's elite team, Fred is unprepared for her glamourous lifestyle in the limelight. However, sparks fly as their unmistakable chemistry leads to a round-the-world romance and a series of unexpected and dangerous incidents.
Release Date: May 2nd, 2019
At the heart of this laugh-out-loud comedy about an epic romantic mismatch is a charming fairy-tale premise for our times. Charlotte Field is a bold, brilliant woman about to run for leader of the world. Fred Flarsky is a renegade Brooklyn journalist who can barely run his life. Can they really find happiness together? It's an outlandish long shot, but then again, that's one thing Charlotte and Fred share in common. Aside from the awkward fact that Charlotte was once Fred's dazzling, much-desired babysitter, the two share a love for flying in the face of the odds.
Now, they are both about to go for their most impossible dreams in a big way. Charlotte is aiming at nothing less than the future of the nation. And Fred? When Charlotte unexpectedly gives him a job as a novice speechwriter, he only hopes for a little time with her, no matter how incompatible they appear to be by every conceivable metric of power, success and appeal. But to their surprise, they make for a successful team. And to their total mutual shock, no matter how much the two of them together makes absolutely no sense, as Charlotte starts soaring the polls, their relationship starts heating up behind the scenes.
In the delightfully opposite roles of Fred and Charlotte, Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron ricochet off one another as two aspirational people pushing the edges of their comfort zones in love, work and around the globe. The result is both a sweet and raucously funny ride through a contemporary reality we all can relate to"one that constantly asks us to compromise while tantalizing us with chances to seize the day. While Rogen has gained renown for his hilarious and human portraits of everyday slackers, Long Shot drops him into new territory"with a self-deprecating character who has to find the belief, despite his glaring foibles, that he's worthy of a woman who is changing the world. "For someone like Fred Flarsky, dating Charlotte Field is almost like dating a princess," notes Rogen. "In America, politicians are our version of royalty. So it's a story that taps into a kind of grand fantasy fulfillment but at the same time it's as down-to-earth, irreverent and hilarious as any thing we've done."
Oscar® winner Theron (Best Actress, Monster, 2003), acclaimed for a career of intense dramatic and action roles, is as contrary a screen persona to Rogen as Charlotte is to Fred. A woman who has taken empowerment to the next level, Charlotte has no need (and definitely no time) for a relationship, and yet's she's drawn to the spark she spies all these years later in Fred. For Theron, the wildly contrasting energy between her and Rogen just made the chemistry sizzle even more on set. "There was something very authentic that happened between me and Seth and that's what this needed to not only be hilarious but also be an honest story of modern relationships," says Theron. "I think you really root for these two people to find a way to come together. There's such a huge yin and yang between them, yet they remind each other of what truly drives their ideals. Maybe because we're a bit like our characters, that same kind of rapport was there between me and Seth, and it just worked."
Rogen says that he too was taken by surprise at just how organic the humor and unlikely connection felt as production got under way. "Our dynamic was both funny and real," says Rogen. "I think the most shocking part of the movie is that by the end of it, you actually believe these two people who are so ridiculously different could make it."
An Odd Couple Is Born
Years before he first teamed with Seth Rogen and producer Evan Goldberg on The Interview, screenwriter Dan Sterling set out to see if he could enchant a character who had become entirely disenchanted. Then, Sterling was a writer on the irreverently topical The Daily Show. He started thinking about a guy who, not unlike himself at that time, had become cynical about everything from politics to love, because none of it seemed to be working very well. What if such a guy fell in love with a woman so full of vigor, power and light, he had to adjust his own view of the world just to have the most remote shot with her?
Thus was born Fred Flarsky, an unapologetically opinionated, gonzo-style journalist still trying to make his mark in an age of corporate media. "I saw Flarsky as a guy who is creeping up on middle age, whose career as a journalist is on the verge of dying and he's adrift in a lot of ways," Sterling describes. "And then I asked myself: who would be the most unforgettable, most powerful woman Fred Flarsky could possibly pursue?"
That in turn led to the creation of Charlotte Field, the flame Fred's been unable to put out since boyhood: his utterly unattainable babysitter, who from the second he met her inspired him…and seemed light years out of reach. Unsurprisingly to Flarsky, the wondrous Charlotte went on to become one of the most impressive and influential women in the world, while he's been muckraking for the local Brooklyn Advocate.
When they run into each other after all these years, just as Flarsky has lost his job in a last stand against a corporate takeover, Flarsky has no illusions. Instead, it is Charlotte whose fascination is sparked by this refreshingly genuine blast from her past, leading her to give Flarsky a trial run at being her speechwriter. At first glance, Charlotte's intercontinental sophistication couldn't be a wilder clash with Flarsky's klutziness and brash outspokenness. "Charlotte is powerful, glamorous and everything Flarsky isn't," laughs Sterling. "Flarsky would never assume he could be with a woman like her." Yet there are places they connect from the start. "Flarsky has a very strong sense of morality, even if he's self-sabotaging. Charlotte also has very strong principles, even if she's pragmatic and careful about them, knowing how the game has to be played," Sterling explains. "Part of the fun of their relationship is that as it gets going, Fred starts to get more comfortable with being cared about and Charlotte loosens up a lot"to the point of walking up to the edge of getting herself in trouble."
As Charlotte starts rising in the polls, they have to contend with the consequences of their growing bond. With Charlotte enjoying a media frenzy over her link to the bachelor Canadian Prime Minister, she tries to keep their fling a secret, but realizes that can't go on forever with the media glare. "At first, the story just has fun with them figuring out how to sneak around having this secret relationship," says Sterling. "But ultimately, they have to figure out how important is this thing, really? Are they willing to risk Charlotte's election chances or to risk even bigger things in terms of her having a lasting impact on the world?" This unusual situation"where the stakes of one improbable couple's personal happiness are so incredibly high"was an immediate draw for Seth Rogen and his producing partners at Point Grey Pictures, Evan Goldberg and James Weaver.
Point Grey Pictures made its debut with the critically acclaimed 50/50 and went on to bring such hits as the Bad Neighbors series, The Interview, Sausage Party and Blockers to the screen. But the company had never made anything with the scale, polish and mix of comedy and romanace that Long Shot would demand. The idea of stretching their comedy into the global sphere presented an exhilarating challenge.
"We haven't ever gone into this world before and that felt really exciting," says Goldberg. "It just seemed really fun that in the middle of international negotiations you suddenly have a classic odd couple thing going on."
It was Weaver"at the time still Rogen's personal assistant before he worked his way up to President of Point Grey"who first latched onto Sterling's script just after the company had locked 50/50. He immediately sensed an opportunity for Rogen to take what he's so good at into a story with both broader themes and a bigger heart. "To me, this story felt like it could be a very modern, outrageous take on the kind of old school romance that Seth, Evan and I have always loved and it would be a totally different thing from what people expect of us," says Weaver. "I felt there was also a kind of Beauty and the Beast element to Fred and Charlotte that had lots of comic potential. You have a woman who is trying to figure out how to be all things to all people, and then you have Fred who can't seem to get out of his own way."
With such a worldly foil in Charlotte, the more Weaver felt Rogen's everyman persona would shake up the telling of it. "You can get away with a lot more subversiveness and outrageousness when you ground comedy in a believable thing," he observes. "And vice versa. So even when you see Seth fall down a flight of stars in the hilarious way only he can, in that same moment, you also see Fred reconnecting with his childhood crush and coming to terms with who he has become."
The sheer oddity of this coupling really began to crystallize when Theron came aboard to play Charlotte as well as joining the team as a hands-on producer through her company Denver & Delilah. She also brough along Denver & Delilah producers A.J. Dix and Beth Kono, whose experience on such movies as the spy thriller Atomic Blonde and the Jason Reitman drama Tully further added to the film's mix. Then the team went in search of director who could blend Rogen and Theron, politics and pratfalls, awkward relationships and savvy foreign relations with warm yet unbridled humor. Point Grey couldn't help but think of Jonathan Levine, who had directed 50/50 for them. "50/50 had to balance emotion and humor and that's exactly what we needed for Long Shot," says Rogen. "Even though Long Shot couldn't be set in a more different world, the fact that we knew Jon can mix weight and lightness, which is so hard to do, was really important. He also made Warm Bodies, a movie where a girl falls in love with a zombie and it worked, which is crazy. So he just seemed like the perfect guy to do this."
Adds Goldberg: "Jon is also the rare ego-less director. He just wants a movie to be good, and he truly doesn't care whose ideas are used as long as they are awesome ideas."
Having always enjoyed his humor with a twist, Levine felt lured to the film's genre-busting elements: its globe-hopping settings and the chemical reaction between Rogen and Theron. "What interested me was working with two versatile actors you wouldn't necessarily expect to have this incredible chemistry. It was a chance to make a comedy that also brings in a lot of heart and the scale of a global adventure."
Levine especially loved that at the movie's center is a woman at the top of the power structure.
"Charlotte really excited me because I saw her character as an incredible opportunity to explore not only a woman of high achievement in the political world, but also what a woman comes up against when she's trying to be the best version of herself. What are the compromises she makes and won't make?"
He continues: "Charlotte's journey really speaks to anyone trying to stay true to the things that mattered to you when you were young. I'm always gut checking myself with questions like: 'would the young me be happy with this decision that I was making? Am I being true to that person?' That's what Fred and Charlotte ultimately bring out in each other."
While the backdrop of the film reflects the world of politics as we know it today"contentious, cutthroat, celebrity-driven, media-saturated"Levine points out that Long Shot is not a political comedy. "For us, the political world is a fun and timely backdrop," says Levine. "The emotional through-line of Charlotte and Fred was always the priority. But having a story that moves around the world and among powerful people, it felt like a chance to do something different with the comedy. We really challenged ourselves to make this movie incredibly funny, but also heartfelt, with an emotional core everyone can relate to."
Rogen on Fred Flarsky
He might not be the Prime Minister of Canada, but they don't come much more righteous, fair-minded or dedicated to tell-it-like-you-see-it journalism than Fred Flarsky. It's just that Fred seems to have also mastered the art of being his own worst enemy, often going a step way too far or stepping on his own feet while trying to do the right thing. These alternately riotous and touching contradictions were a blast for Rogen to explore, taking his unique style of sincere absurdity to a new, more romantic place.
"Fred is a very idealistic person who has never quite been able to become the person that he hoped he would be," Rogen describes. "I think Fred would describe himself as a highly principled but also highly misunderstood journalist, one who has not really gotten recognition for the risks he takes and the work he creates. But he's also kind of a self-destructive mess who doesn't believe in his own worth."
That finally starts to shift once Flarsky starts working for Charlotte Field, and begins to grapple with the outlandish fact that the Secretary of State appears to actually be falling in love with him, a rebellious Brooklynite whose idea of fancy dress is adding a baseball cap to his windbreaker. As Fred discovers he can make Charlotte happy, his own personal take on what happiness is evolves. "Fred recognizes that Charlotte's a really great leader, so it becomes fulfilling for him to learn to support her in that," says Rogen. "It gives him a chance to step back from his own ego and realize it doesn't always have to be about him and his stuff. He learns to take pleasure just in being there for someone else, which is completely new for him."
Even as Charlotte changes Fred, Fred aims to help Charlotte change the world. Having never quite recovered from the full force of her youthful idealism when she was his babysitter, he can't help but remind her of just how spirited and uncompromising she was back then. "Fred is able to re-spark the feelings that made Charlotte go into politics in the first place," Rogen says. "He reminds her of all these strong ideals that got watered down over the years. Fred has always been an advocate for sticking to your guns and doing what you think is right. Of course, he can be entirely overzealous in that when it comes to his own life, but Charlotte takes it to heart in her own pragmatic way."
Rogen recalls that there was an instant frisson of energy between him and Theron from the earliest rehearsals. "We always knew we needed someone with real gravitas to play Charlotte, someone who could go beyond what you expect from a character in a traditional R-rated comedy and create something more human, real and nuanced. Charlize brought all that"but she's also incredibly funny," he says.
For Rogen, Long Shot was also a shot at giving new life to the kind of sweetly emotional comedies that first made him fall in love with the movies"blending in 21st Century sensibility and relevance.
"Growing up, I honestly loved movies like When Harry Met Sally and Pretty Woman," he explains. "I loved how hilarious they were, how emotionally gratifying they were and how aspirational they were when it came to relationships. So I've always really wanted to make a movie that might do something similar: a movie as funny as any of our movies but with a strong romantic story that reflects our world right now."
Theron on Charlotte Field
If Fred Flarsky has never quite had the impact he hoped for in the world, or even in Brooklyn, Charlotte Field has reached the most rarified heights of international achievement and now has a chance, no matter how slim, to lead the entire nation with her vision. She's done it all, and she's hugely skilled at keeping it all under control"though perhaps just a little too skilled, which might be why she can't get her childhood neighbor Flarsky out of her mind from the minute he literally tumbles back into her life. For Theron, who has played indelible characters ranging from serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster, for which she won the Academy Award® for Best Actress, to Mad Max: Fury Road's fierce heroine Furiosa, part of the lure of Charlotte was taking on a role that reflects a moment right now when the power of women in the world has never been greater.
"For me to have the chance to play a character like Charlotte, who doesn't just throw all of her ambition away for a guy, was exciting," Theron says. "Charlotte is very much of this time and she's in a very conflicted place that a lot of women have to deal with - juggling work, ideals and personal life. I think that's why you ultimately root so hard for her and Fred, because nothing is really easy for them and they have to make some really tough personal decisions"I mean besides from 'should we do Molly?'"
Theron could understand why Charlotte might fall for Fred in the middle of the most serious and intense period of her seriously intense life. "Charlotte has always been driven, even as a kid, and she has always wanted to do big things and change big things in the world," she muses. "When we first meet her in the film, it seems that everything is working out exactly the way that she's always wanted, but she has paid a price. She has lost a little of what really mattered to her in order to succeed. And I think that's why Fred is so important to her. He wakes her up to all those things she used to believe in"and really still believes in!"
She continues: "Fred is so erratic, yet so sincere, he makes for a great comic character. And I had such a great experience with Seth. He understands story like nobody's business"but he also understands how comedy has to live and breathe and come from an authentic place."
Levine was blown away by how much life and joy"and also slapstick energy"Theron brought to Charlotte. "We all know Charlize is a great actor. What I didn't know is that she would be such a gifted physical comedian," he explains.
In one of Levine's favorite scenes with Theron, Charlotte has to attend to a major international crisis while coming down off a psychedelic high with Fred. "The body movements Charlize came up with in that moment are so super funny, it was a revelation," says the director. "The way she was able to amplify the humor, matching Seth, while also bringing so many nuances to her character, was amazing."
For Evan Goldberg, a beloved scene is when Theron goes from dancing elegantly with the Canadian Prime Minister in front of global news cameras to fooling around with Fred in a utility closet. "It's a moment when their relationship starts to feel like it's real," says Goldberg. "The moment had to strike this balance where you believe Charlize is there doing her very important job only to disappear into a private, fun moment that could be two kids at a high school sneaking behind the dumpster to make out during class."
Concludes James Weaver: "Charlize has a way of being so relatable and warm even when she's hysterically funny. It's hard to do that when you're playing someone who has the responsibilities of Secretary of State, who also has to be unusually intelligent and polished, but it's the way that you believe her as a real person that makes her performance work."
Surrounding Fred and Charlotte is a cast of comical characters from their disparate worlds. They include Fred's life-long best friend Lance, who has never let him down; no matter his misadventures. From the minute Fred re-encounters Charlotte, Lance is there, convincing him he's good enough to pursue the impossible. Taking the role is O'Shea Jackson Jr., an actor and rapper (under the stage name OMG) best known for playing his real-life father, Ice Cube, in Straight Outta Compton.
"O'Shea was someone who we found could go toe-to-toe with Seth on an improvisational level," says Levine. "The first day he and Seth were together, they had an amazing energy. It was a pairing that just feels natural, funny and like they were long time close friends, even though they had just met."
This was a different kind of role for Jackson, playing straight man to Rogen's uniquely human style of comedy. He immediately felt an affinity for Lance's relentless positivity. "Lance is a tech entrepreneur, a self-made man, who is super enthusiastic about everything, and he's aggressively enthusiastic about supporting Fred. Lance is always in Fred's corner. Whatever he needs, I got him," Jackson explains.
It is Lance who pushes Fred to own up to the idea that he, too, deserves love, something he's never fully believed. "Lance believes that you have to love yourself first and then you need to step up and do something about it," says Jackson. "He believes that if Fred proves to himself he's worthy of Charlotte Field's love, he'll realize the kind of potential that has always been in him from the beginning."
Jackson especially enjoyed having the chance to bounce off Rogen's comic instincts and says the entire ensemble is what made the film such an unusual experience. "You had everybody adding their own special spices to the soup, which is what makes it a dish," he sums up. "We all had so much fun with each other and I think that comes through in the feel of the movie."
Behind Charlotte stands a loyal staff, and no one is more devoted to her than her rabidly meticulous Chief of Staff, Maggie, whose job is to solve every problem long before one arises. Naturally, Maggie's consummate skills sniff out Fred Flarsky as an issue from the second Charlotte decides to hire him. Taking the role is Grace and Frankie star June Diane Raphael.
Theron adored both Maggie and Raphael's portrayal. "I really like the way the script captures the real work dynamic between two women in powerful positions who each want the other to only have the best," she says. "Junie is so incredibly funny but she always comes from this place of heart and she was always there for me."
Adds Levine: "June brought her own deadpan style of humor to the table. She nailed both the rivalry with Fred and the camaraderie with Charlotte that are so key to the comedy."
Raphael says she based the character not only on a real-life political chief of staff she met while preparing for the production but on the coterie of Hollywood assistants she's seen running people's lives like a manager runs a company. "I've seen these people who have such huge schedules that they have to have a team of people to act as gatekeepers," she describes. "I've noticed there's a certain kind of energy to the gatekeeper, a confidence and a power that comes from knowing nobody can get to this famous person without going through you. Maggie knows that while she might not be a public person, she's crucial to the Secretary of State's success, and she loves that."
As the gatekeeper, Maggie is staunchly opposed to Flarsky, first as a speechwriter but even more so as Charlotte's prospective relationship, which is not at all in Maggie's vision of Charlotte's future. "Why Charlotte hires Flarsky, and why he stays on the campaign, is a total mystery to Maggie," laughs Raphael. "But even if she doesn't understand it, she has to try to keep it from imploding Charlotte's future."
Working closely with Maggie is Tom, Charlotte's "body man," that indefinable Washington D.C. job that is part valet, part emotional support, part social buffer. Taking the role is Ravi Patel, a rising star who has been seen in Transformers, Master of None and in the documentary he co-directed, Meet The Patels. Patel loved having the chance to explore the high-tension world of political operatives. "Working for someone in the White House is a pretty fun thing to pretend to do," he laughs. "It's not an easy job, though. When you're a body man, problems come at you pretty hard. You have to try to anticipate what is needed long before it is needed. So Tom is just an incredible grinder who never stops."
On set, Patel garnered inspiration from watching Rogen in action. "Seth has a kind of musicality to the way he works, there's a rhythm to everything he does," Patel observes. "But he's also a really nice dude, and he's always cracking jokes, which keeps it fun."
Charlotte's boss is no less than the President of the United States"even if President Chambers is in way over his head as commander-in-chief and knows it. A one-time actor who played a popular TV President before he was elected, his main hope for his Presidency is to parlay it into his true ambition: the big move to motion pictures. Taking the satirically playful role is Emmy® Award winner and Golden Globe® nominee Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul), who is known for bringing a wry wit to his dramatic roles and a psychological acuity to his comedic roles.
"Bob is a master at playing that very charming yet calculating guy. He comes from a comedy tradition but he's got incredible dramatic chops as well. He was just a great fit for the role," says Levine.
Odenkirk couldn't resist Long Shot's script. "It was a fun read, it had something on its mind, and it had a complication level that a lot of comedies don't seem to get to. I like that at its core it is about achieving the best version of who you can be," he says. "The movie surprised me with how much humanity and heart it was able to retain and still be funny throughout."
He also saw President Chambers as a chance to go to town with a narcissistic character who is basically phoning in his work as POTUS. "Chambers is a total airhead," Odenkirk laughs, "and a goofball, but he looks the part of President so that's how he got elected. I get to be a complete idiot in this role and I loved it. Being a really shallow, grabby, egotistical clown can be super fun."
Charlotte takes Chambers by surprise when she starts dominating the news cycle. "He hasn't really paid close attention to what a smart cookie Charlotte is," notes Odenkirk. "She's way smarter than he is but he doesn't really notice. Everybody in his world is there just to help him get ahead"that's how he looks at it."
As a single woman in power, Charlotte especially rouses the media's fascination with her interactions with the also single and expertly flirtatious Canadian Prime Minister. Taking the role for all its worth is Golden Globe® and Emmy® Award winner Alexander Skarsgård (Big Little Lies). "We had such a great time with Alexander," says Levine. "Scenes with him would change on a dime because there was so much opportunity for comedy with his character. For example, the scene where he's eating oysters with Charlize was pretty much invented in the moment. We just had them riff on the idea that they were on a date, but he's really just this complete political robot manufactured by polling, and Alexander really got it and was so game."
Rounding out the star-studded cast is Andy Serkis, renowned for his nearly alchemical skills in bringing to life digitally-enhanced characters such as Gollum in the Lord of The Rings series and Caesar in the Planet of the Apes series. In Long Shot, he appears in prosthetic makeup as someone entirely unrecognizable in the part of media mogul Parker Wembley, who turns out to play a dark role in both Fred and Charlotte's careers. "No one said to Andy, 'we want you to sit through 17 hours of makeup every day for this movie.' It was entirely self-inflicted," laughs Rogen. "But Andy had a strong perspective on how the character should look and he gave us an incredible performance."
Serkis was so incognito that Levine didn't even know who he was when he first saw him on set. "We were already two weeks into the movie and one day I look up and I'm like, 'Oh, there's a hair and makeup test going on. Who is that guy?' I had no idea"but it was Serkis in awesome makeup. I love that his commitment was so high that he felt he had to do this."
Sneaking Around The World
Long Shot is the rare modern comedy that jets around the world's hot spots, moving from New York and Washington D.C. to France, Sweden, Argentina, Japan and the Philippines … and from formal dinners of state to explosive coup d'états. The creative challenges of a comedy with so many locations and moving parts only made it more exciting for the filmmakers. "The story has scope and scale that's not only a lot of fun for a comedy but also separates it from other movies we've done," notes Weaver.
To bring it all to life, and let the comedy roll in such sophisticated settings, Levine worked with a versatile crew led by director of photography Yves Bélanger, who has shot such acclaimed dramas as Dallas Buyer's Club and Brooklyn, as well as the award-winning TV series Big Little Lies and Sharp Objects; production designer Kalina Ivanov, whose work includes Wonder and the Oscar®-winning Little Miss Sunshine; and costume designer Mary Vogt, who recently designed Crazy Rich Asians.
Belanger brought a warm, natural, cinematic look that, as the filmmakers hoped, belies the story's outrageous comedy. "When we saw Big Little Lies, we thought Yves had created a very interesting look that could work for this film," recalls Weaver. "He created a totally different, non-comedic visual style that puts the focus on the characters."
Ivanov, too, had a strong vision. Early on she chose a palette of reds, whites and blues to anchor the election-time themes and rising emotions, as Fred and Charlotte's relationship moves from cold to red-hot. With nearly 100 different sets and locations to create, Ivanov had her work cut out for her, using the international city of Montreal as a hub to forge a diversity of global cities.
Yet, the underlying objective of her hard work was to not be noticed. "In a film like this, you don't want your design to be funny," she points out. "You want the characters and situations to be funny. I've always believed that in a comedy, the design should play the straight man in a sense."
While never going for an obtrusive look, Ivanov had fun with the myriad of locales, including replicating one of the most vaunted realms in the nation: the Oval Office. The design team was able to commandeer a set that had previously been constructed for the X-Men series, which was a perfect fit. "Because President Chambers is a former actor who starred in a TV show about the White House, we thought his version of the Oval Office should be inspired by television," Ivanov explains. "So we gave him a TV in there instead of the famous portrait on the wall and we gave him a desk that's not the Resolute Desk, because he's just not a serious President. We played up all the elements that a TV show would do in our version of the Oval Office."
When it came to converting a 747 into Air Force Two, which becomes a second home to Charlotte, Fred and Charlotte's staff, the designer consulted with a former aide to Secretary of State John Kerry. "We wanted that set to be grounded in reality and we got some great details from him," she says.
Perhaps Ivanov's favorite set is the party where Fred has his fateful run-in with Charlotte after all these years before nearly blowing it all with a mishap. "It was a big, awesome but challenging design because you have a stunt in the middle of this modern party featuring a performance by Boyz II Men," muses Ivanov.
For the costumes, contrast was the name of the game, with Fred in his trademark pastel windbreaker and bike pants, Lance in posh designer suits and Charlotte in the crisp, high-end clothing befitting one of the world's most powerful women. Vogt and Rogen collaborated closely on Flarsky's typical look, though the look, like Fred, is forced to evolve once he starts working with Charlotte.
"Mary and Seth came up with a really strong look for Fred, a ridiculous look that makes you realize that smart as he is, he's never really gotten out of his own way," says Weaver.
When Fred realizes his casual style isn't going to fly in diplomatic circles, he struggles to change it up. At his first big party with VIPs in Sweden, he dons a particularly unexpected outfit on bad advice. "That outfit is an authentic, traditional Swedish outfit," notes Vogt, "but the minute Seth put it on, we were all hysterical so we knew it was going to work for the scene."
For Field's look, Vogt studied a pantheon of potent women. "I looked at Queen Sofia of Greece and Denmark, Queen Noor of Jordan and Queen Letizia of Spain, who all have fabulous modern looks, among others. Kate Middleton (Duchess of Cambridge) was another influence as someone who dresses very fashionably but is highly respected. Of course, as an American candidate, we felt we couldn't go too far into high fashion or designer labels but Charlize and I talked a lot about how Charlotte might have her own modern take on a very classic look."
Vogt notes that Theron was closely involved in every aspect of her character's clothing. "Charlize came in with a strong sense of Charlotte's feminine elegance. She wanted to look tailored but soft, a bit like a contemporary Katherine Hepburn. We tried to create that through our choices of fabrics and cuts, with her gabardine suits. But as Charlotte gets closer to Fred, she loosens up, and her look becomes less structured."
Music also plays a role in bringing Fred and Charlotte together, with their mutual nostalgia for the 90s R&B hitmakers Boyz II Men drawing them closer. The filmmakers were absolutely thrilled to be able to bring the current incarnation of the record-breaking band into the film. "Getting Boyz II Men was kind of an amazing coup," says Levine. "The day they performed was one of my favorite days ever on a set. And it worked so well to create a common ground of pop culture for Fred and Charlotte."
From the performances to the look to the music, that entirely unlikely"but ever deepening"common ground was always the linchpin of the movie. Sums up Levine: "I hope what audiences get to experience is some of the fun and adrenaline and discovery of starting a relationship you never expected could happen. At the center of it all are Seth and Charlize finding the most amazing ways to create a connection that feels at once preposterous, intimate and real."
Release Date: May 2nd, 2019