Gill Pringle chats to Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams on the set of the playful new action-comedy, Game Night.
It’s after midnight on a cold winter night on Atlanta’s millionaire row where the producers of comedy Game Night have borrowed a luxury mansion for a key scene which sees our intrepid heroes making their escape.
No super powers here – just a group of pals who meet regularly for game nights who find themselves plunged into the middle of a murder mystery.
The most competitive among this gang are husband-and-wife game enthusiasts Max and Annie, portrayed by the formidable duo of Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams.
Chatting with McAdams between takes, the actress confesses her own competitive streak to STACK. “It depends on the game,” she says. “I play Running Charades with my friends and family while Code Names has also become a big recent favourite.
“I like the camaraderie that comes with it. I have a little bit of social anxiety, so going to a party and talking to a bunch of strangers makes me want to stay home forever, so to be able to go and do something active, that everyone’s in together, you wind up having a lot more to talk about at the end of the night.
“Games allow you to dive in with strangers instead of, five glasses of wine later, still trying to come up with something to say,” argues McAdams, 39, who has largely eschewed comedy since her roles in hit movies Mean Girls and Wedding Crashers more than a decade ago.
Enjoying recent roles in Spotlight, Doctor Strange and Disobedience, she’s happy to keep changing things up. “I’m not a creature of habit, I like variety in life. I try to diversify and keep things interesting for myself; I feel like I do better work if I’m challenged and haven’t done it before. Comedy is such a different muscle than crying on set every day,” she says in a nod to her role in classic weepie, The Notebook.
After directing and starring in comedy Bad Words five years ago, STACK suspects Bateman to be a highly competitive individual, and we’re not wrong, he admits. However with Game Night, he has a lot more at stake than winning a game, having signed on as producer.
For a while he even intended to direct Game Night himself, “But then I felt like there are some people that could probably do a better job of this particular concept then myself, and I immediately thought of John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, because its got some similarities to the fun we had on Horrible Bosses,” he says.
“Games allow you to dive in with strangers instead of, five glasses of wine later, still trying to come up with something to say”
Bateman believes himself to be a good boss, easily assembling Game Night’s dream cast of comedic talent, including Jesse Plemons, Sharon Horgan and Lamorne Morris.
If Game Night takes some comedy tone from Horrible Bosses, then Bateman says the goal is more Martin Scorsese’s After Hours.
“We really liked this notion of embracing the whole night of it all like with After Hours, which existed all throughout the night, and had a noir feel to it. Just like with Horrible Bosses, a lot of that happened at night and it helps when you’ve got people that are basically suburbanites like us, out and exposed in the night when they’re usually underneath their duvet covers watching TV. Instead, we’re out there battling people that are kind of dangerous.”
Shooting through the night is certainly a lot more fun for Bateman with McAdams cast as his wife. “I’ve always been a big fan of hers and we really felt like we landed a big fish there. She’s been great and I think she lends a lot of class and pedigree to it.”
Game Night is in cinemas on February 22.