In Wanderlust, in theaters this Friday, Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston star as George and Linda, who leave the pressures of the big city and join a freewheeling community where the only rule is to be yourself.
Manhattan has been stressing the pair out and they were hanging on by a thread. George gets downsized from his financial firm and Linda’s depressing documentary is cancelled, they can no longer afford their overpriced “micro-loft” in the West Village.
So, they pack up head south to move in with George’s McMansion-living jerk of a brother, Rick (Ken Marino) and his slightly drunk wife Marisa (Michalea Watkins) who live in Atlanta. On their way, the pair stumble into Elysium, an idyllic community populated by colorful characters including a nudist, a drunk, and ex-porn star. After spending one adventurous night among these characters, George and Linda decide to give a new lifestyle a go and begin to question how they should live the rest of their lives. Elysium could be just what the two need.
Wanderlust is directed by David Wain from a screenplay by Ken Marino & David Wain and produced by Judd Apatow.
Wain and Marino have collaborated numerous times over the past 23 years, and an early version of Wanderlust was born out of a six-day marathon writing session
behind closed doors. Marino explains, “We thought it would be interesting to create a comedy where a couple has temptations in a world where you could argue that it’s okay to break all of the rules of civilized society. We figured this notion would make for an interesting comedy that hasn’t necessarily been done before.”
Wain continues, “The core of this movie explores the idea of a commune functioning in today’s world. It’s about people trying to rise above human nature, but who ultimately can’t.”
George (Rudd) is hesitant to indulge in Elysium’s temptations of drugs and zero boundaries, Linda (Aniston) becomes fully immersed. George comes to realize how much she means to him and that he doesn’t want to share her within the communal setting. “We wrote this so that viewers get that there are two sides,” says Wain. “Linda goes off the deep end, but it’s at her husband’s urging. Little does either of them know at the beginning just how deep of an impact Elysium will have on their future together.”
When considering the cast, Rudd had previously worked with Marino and Wain on Role Models and was interested in the finished script. Once Rudd signed on, the filmmakers brought the script to Aniston who offers that she instantly realized a kinship with Linda. “I felt parallel to her and what she was going through,” Aniston offers. “It was like coming out of your shell and letting your guard down.”
The two also worked on the film The Object of My Affection 14 years ago, and Rudd was a co-star in later episodes on the iconic TV series Friends which Aniston starred in. Aniston comments on their friendship, “I just love Paul dearly. We’ve known each other for such a long time, and I have to say he’s a darn good actor.”
Producer Apatow says of the two, “Jennifer was excited about doing something more extreme in comedy, and she’s certainly got her opportunity here. She’s one of the most gifted comedy actresses of all time, and it was fun to combine her with Paul because they’re such good friends. When people have that chemistry to start, then it’s a lot more enjoyable to put them through this nightmare situation together.”
Once the core cast was complete, the filmmakers had to find all the cooky counterparts who live in Elysium. To portray Elysium’s founding father, Carvin, Wain and Marino approached Alan Alda for the part. Recalls Wain: “Alan was our shoot-the-moon choice. We would say things like ‘Obviously, he won’t do it, but let’s put him on the list.’” Carvin, referred to as “The Lion” by the rest of Elysium, is wheelchair-bound, is a bit touched by senility and has a memory that ends in the 1970s.
Seth, Elysium’s charismatic leader and lothario, producers found Justin Theroux. Wain explains this casting, ““The first day we wrote ‘commune,’ there was a ‘Justin Theroux-with- long-hair-type guy’ in that draft. We weren’t even planning on casting him, but it was one of those things where we kept looking for that guy. Then we thought, ‘Let’s just cast Justin Theroux!’”
Malin Akerman was cast to portray Eva, the en- chanting beauty in Elysium who proves to be most distracting to George when he and Linda agree to open their relationship. Kerri Kenney-Silver, who plays Kathy, is the seemingly omnipresent hippy with the ability to show up at the least opportune time. Joe Lo Truglio plays nudist Wayne. Kathryn Hahn, who plays Karen, an adult-film star turned moon goddess, describes her character as a “damaged soul.” Karen’s younger sister is Almond, a pregnant free spirit who is much more suited to the commune lifestyle than her wild-card sibling. Almond is portrayed by Lauren Ambrose. Rounding out the cast is Jordan Peele, who plays Rodney, the father of Almond’s baby. He embodies the spirit of Elysium and believes what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine. Finally, making a cameo is actress Linda Lavin, who plays George and Linda’s Manhattan real-estate agent, Shari.
Rudd observes that the sequestration and familiarity among the actors only added to the tones of the film. “Because we shot the majority of Wanderlust on a farm, we actually were living communally,” he says. “We became a closer-knit cast. We would eat dinner together and hang out after shooting and on the weekends.” Aniston continues, “We shot for three months, but I wanted this to go on for 10 years. We had an incredible amount of fun, and it just kept getting better.” Aniston met her current boyfriend on set, Theroux.
Will George and Linda move back to Manhattan, or stay with their new friends in Elysium? Find out February 26 when Wanderlust hits theaters. [R]