Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis team up for Peter and Bobby Farrelly’s new comedy, Hall Pass. The play best buddies, respectively, Rick and Fred who have been happily married for a long time. They love their wives, but like most men can’t help checking out other women. Fed up with their behavior, Rick’s wife Maggie (Jenna Fischer) and Fred’s wife Grace (Christina Applegate), decide to give their significant others a hall pass for one week, where they are free to go out and do what they want, no questions asked.
But their dreams of the single life don’t pan out the way they had hoped.
How are your characters with women other than your wives?
Owen Wilson: Most guys can’t help noticing a good-looking woman walk by, but most of them do a better job at being subtle about it. With others, like Rick, it’s like they have their heads on a swivel.
Jason Sudeikis: Rick and Fred aren’t the coolest guys in the world but they don’t know that. I always find it funny when people think they’re so sharp and act like they know what they’re talking about when, clearly, they don’t.
Why does Rick want to have a hall pass?
Owen: It’s not that his marriage is bad, just a little predicable, and he has this illusion that if he was still out there, single, he’d just be crushing it. But that’s not necessarily the case. He really has no idea what it’s like anymore. Besides, you have to wonder if he was ever that great to begin with.
Rick has a rude awakening of what it’s like to return to the game after a 20-year absence. The rules have changed. I think he always knew he was lucky to find Maggie, but he didn’t know exactly how much.
How would you compare Fred and Rick?
Jason: Rick is more thoughtful about the hall pass, asking himself, ‘Should I be doing this? Is it a good idea?’ whereas Fred is gung-ho. He’s like, ‘Let’s do it!’ Fred is the guy who, if they were discussing a plan on the battlefield, would take off before the plan is fully explained. He’d be the first one out of the foxhole.
When you work for the Farrelly brothers you know there are going to be some compromising scenes, was there anything you read that you said you wouldn’t do?
Owen: I’ve known them for a little bit, but I’d never worked with them, [but] I always felt comfortable that we were on the same wavelength, sense of humor-wise. I didn’t have that fear like, ‘Oh, these guys are going to be thinking something’s funny that I don’t think is funny.’
Jason: I think I only heard about the bathroom scene, with the gal with the stomach troubles, a couple of days before we shot it, and it was a surprise to me. It was as shock, it wasn’t there when I initially had the script read to me!
In many of your films you’ve played a party animal. In this movie you’re different, did you enjoy doing it?
Owen: I did, I think that one of the things that [the Farrelly’s] had in mind when they talked about me playing the character was having a real look for the guy. I remember my older brother, who is actually in the movie, coming to Atlanta where we filmed, and just seeing me in my wardrobe and going, ‘You look so bad.’ Just putting on the clothes made you feel like, ‘God, I’ve got no game.’ When you’ve got pleated jeans on and orthopedic shoes, you don’t feel very sexy.
Who would be your hall pass?
Jason: 1967 Rachel Welch. Who am I kidding? I’d take 1997 Rachel Welch, not today though. I’d take Helen Mirren now.
You just became a father. Do you see similarities between your character growing up in this and your real life?
Owen: Definitely that is the arc of my character, towards the end of the movie where he’s looking at the wedding picture of him and his wife and realizes how special that was and what a good thing his has.
For myself, this is my first child so that’s a pretty amazing thing. There are all kinds of beautiful moments but I don’t know that it made me think, ‘Now everything’s completely different.’
Were you surprised this movie ends up being very pro-relationships?
Jason: No, I read the script! I would say not necessarily surprised, I was hoping that was the lesson that would be potentially learned, because I do believe in the idea of love, marriage and monogamy. But I was happy that it happened, and I liked that that question will be bandied about. I feel like the commercial alone causes some sofa discussion or pillow talk between couples.
I can imagine the conversations being had after people see it. You’re laughing and having a good time, then, afterwards, you might be asking each other, ‘What would you do if you had a hall pass? Could you handle it?’ I think it could open up many cans with many worms.