Home Comedy Date Night – Tina Fey on working with Steve Carell

Date Night – Tina Fey on working with Steve Carell

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Date Night - Tina Fey and Steve Carell
Claire Foster (Tina Fey) and husband Phil Foster (Steve Carell) make a shocking discovery at a police station where they thought they’d found sanctuary © 20th Century Fox

Tina Fey writes, produces and stars (as Liz Lemon) in NBC’s hit comedy 30 Rock. For nine years before that she was a head writer and cast member on the popular Saturday Night Live. It’s a show she continues to do guest spots on, receiving critical acclaim for her uncanny portrayal of Governor Sarah Palin. Recently she starred in Baby Mama alongside another SNL alumni, Amy Poehler, and co-starred with Ricky Gervais in his comedy, The Invention of Lying.

In her new movie Date Night, she plays Claire Foster, a real estate agent and mother. After seeing her best friends split, she and her husband, Phil (Steve Carell), decide to go into Manhattan for a romantic ‘date night’ together. When they arrived at the city’s newest hotspot for dinner without a reservation, they decide to grab a no-show couple’s reservation, only to discover the duo were thieves and Phil and Claire now have the police and the mob after them.

Were you looking for something to do with Steve Carell?

Yeah, I always really wanted to do something with Steve and the idea that it was a married couple who were grown people appealed to me, because I thought, ‘Yeah, that’s what we are in real life.’ At a certain point you can’t be making a movie about your goddamn wedding because at a certain point you’re getting up there. I just felt like this was a movie that if my husband and I got out we’d actually want to go see this movie and this topic. It appealed to me.

Did you and Steve have a lot of input into it?

Date Night - Steve Carell and Tina Fey
A shattered glass door is only the tip of the iceberg of what lies ahead for Phil (Steve Carell) and Claire’s (Tina Fey) unforgettable date night © 20th Century Fox

(Yes), we wanted the movie to feel that it was at the top of it’s intelligence in dealing with this couple and marriage.

We really wanted this couple to feel truthful and realistic to us and that they weren’t a couple who hated each other and were fighting all the time. They were just a real couple who were kind of worn down by their everyday lives and were in a way struggling to come together and that this night sparks that for them.

I think we tried to pursue jokes and beats that felt true to that.

Do you and your husband actually do date nights?

We don’t have it as formally. We maybe get it once a month, that my husband and I get out and it’s a massive effort to get a babysitter. If we get more than ten blocks from our house it’s a miracle and I’m exhausted.

Can you talk about the hilarious sequence where you and Steve are dancing in a strip club around a stripper’s pole?

Yeah. Shooting that sequence, Steve and Shawn (Levy, the director) and I agreed that we should not plan it, because then we’d just get into our heads about it and try to learn it too much ­ Otherwise it would’ve been too good and people would’ve gotten aroused and it would’ve been embarrassing in the theaters!

It was a sequence that I was kind of nervous going into, and I knew that I could count on Steve to deliver throughout it which he did with the robot (dance). One of my favorite things in the movie is Steve licking the pole and immediately becoming nauseous. I’d like to say that we went to a bunch of strip clubs and that we really studied and stuff, but we didn’t.

This is your first foray into action sequences – any scary moments or thoughts that you were a badass?

Date Night - Tina Fey and Steve Carell
In the midst of the date night from hell, Claire (Tina Fey) and Phil (Steve Carell) make a frantic call for help © 20th Century Fox

I thought that all the action stuff was really fun to do. I enjoyed those days. We spent several days and nights in those cars being pulled on giant rigs. I found it really fun, and it was impressive.

I watched the movie and I was like, ‘Yeah, and then I smashed that window.’ But then I thought, ‘I didn’t smash that window. A stunt lady smashed that window,’ but I thought that I smashed it. The last few days of the shoot were on a roof in New York City and that was good times, pretending that a helicopter was coming and screaming. Who doesn’t want to scream at Ray Liotta? [she laughs].

Do you want to continue doing 30 Rock indefinitely, or is fatigue setting in at this point?

I feel constant fatigue but I think we’ll keep going until we can’t anymore. I don’t know. I won’t know until I’m there.

On 30 Rock is Flloyd’s wedding going to take us to the season finale, and how crazy is that wedding going to be?

We’re building to a multi-wedding season finale. It’s good because apparently people like weddings and so we’re just trying to do a bunch of weddings. I think it’ll be our version of that. I think that Liz ends up having to have a function in three weddings on the same day.

Are you working up any new Sarah Palin material?

I’m hosting Saturday Night Live on April 10th and so I’m sure that week we’ll try something. You always try and then you see if it sticks through dress rehearsal, but yeah, tune in and see what we do.

Click here to read the interview with Steve Carell talking about Date Night and Tina Fey