Kyle Newacheck & James Vanderbilt Interview: Murder Mystery
A New York City cop (Adam Sandler) and wife (Jennifer Aniston) decide to take their 15 year anniversary trip to Europe and get invited to a very private party on a yacht. When the owner of the yacht dies suddenly everyone on the ship is a suspect. So Sandler and Aniston must put together all the clues and figure out who did it to prove their innocence in Murder Mystery.
Directed by Kyle Newacheck best known for directing and producing the Comedy Central show Workaholics and made his first directorial debut on Netflix film Game Over Man! Graduating from the Los Angeles Film School and has also worked on Parks and Rec and Community.
The film was written by producer and writer James Vanderbilt who made his directorial debut on Truth, a film with Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford. He has also worked on many films like The Amazing Spider-Man, The Rundown, White House Down and The Losers.
Newacheck and Vanderbilt are the perfect team to bring the whodunit genre to the big screen with the help from the team over at Happy Madison this action-comedy is sure to bring all the laughs.
Congratulations on your second directorial debut. Tell me about how different, um, the aspects of production go with a streaming service like Netflix versus a traditional studio.
Kyle Newacheck: Well, I know this, I know that like Netflix makes movies, they make them. And sometimes that a traditional studio and takes a long time to get that movie made, but honestly I've only made movies. Netflix So I'm like, I don't, James would probably know more.
James Vanderbilt: I mean there was, this was my first movie for a stream studio and there was no difference. I mean, in terms of production, in terms of scheduling, in terms of budget. I mean You know, and also it is, you know, it's, it's Scott Stuber runs it who, you know, ran universal and I worked for Scott there and you know, so it was exactly the same process. You know what I mean?
Kyle Newacheck There is a difference between Streaming Service Netflix? When I made my first movie and the streaming services Netflix where I'm in the second, the second name view. The second day because the first movie they just sent me up to Vancouver and I was able to do whatever. They were very hands off. I don't think I ever saw a Netflix person. It was like, we're making this and on this movie a little bit more, way more higher caliber. They were all over it. End Stueber was on board. This one, he was not on board the last one, but he came in and he's running Netflix more like a studio. Yeah.
James Vanderbilt: Also it helps you when you shoot in Lake Como. It's amazing how many people come to set and it's like, oh, you know, I think you, I think we need to go out and check on that movie were shooting in Lake Como.
Kyle Newacheck: Nobody wanted to go up to Vancouver and they're like, he's going to be fine, man. Yeah Let me refer you.
Was this actually your guys first time in Italy those locations like Lake Como.
Kyle Newacheck: For me. Yes.
James Vanderbilt: Well for, no, so I had been the Italy and Monaco which is why it's in the script. So I had gone with my wife to Italy and actually stayed at the hotel that Sandler and Aniston Stayed in and the reason the Monaco Grand Prix is in the movie is literally like my, I went to 12 years ago to a friend's wedding in France and then my wife and I went to Monaco afterwards and we'd had this massive night out and were awoken like we would been like four in the morning and like four hours later awoken by the loudest sound I can ever imagine. And had no idea that the Monaco Grand Prix was that morning and still like horribly hung over an f one cars flying past the hotel. And I was like, I was like, this is a movie. Like this has got to go on a movie. Yeah. That's where the Monaco Grand Prix got into the movie
Kyle Newacheck: Because he's drunk and he stumbled to Monaco. I got to go there
James Vanderbilt: Essentially yes.
You've had this script for awhile. How was it seeing it come to fruition and seeing it on the big screen and what made Kyle the perfect person to bring this to life?
James Vanderbilt:I mean, it's great. I mean I wrote the first draft probably 13,14 years ago, but like this is the best version and I mean this absolutely sincerely, this is the best version of the movie and the best version of the movie was ever going to be. And what was amazing about Kyle was he came in and he's great at comedy and he's super funny. But like the first thing he zeroed in on was like, we have to make sure the mystery works. We have to make sure the marriage works like and so he was so dialed into that aspect of the movie that I don't want say a comedy took care of itself because it never does, but it was like, no, no, no. I know the movie is going to be funny when I need to make sure works is all the stuff underneath it. And as soon as like he said that I was like, Oh word, great shape, we're going to be in a great place.
And for you, when you got ahold of this script, what was the first initial thing that you're like, all right, got it. I got to work on this film. I got to work on working with James.
Kyle Newacheck: I really, really love the idea of doing a genre comedy because I've been like pure comedy, you know, like for a long time.
That's all it is. It's great.
Kyle Newacheck: Yeah. It's just only exploration of what's funny. Nothing else matters. And then when I got the script from James and I knew that he was a disciplined writer with a very respectable background because I saw a Zodiac and I was, I loved that movie. So when I knew that James wrote this movie, I said, Oh, this is the correct formula to make it a genre comedy because we have a very strong backbone of the script. It was, it was there and the big swings of the mystery 13 years ago to now are pretty much the same.
James Vanderbilt: Pretty much the same. Did not.
Kyle Newacheck: They did not waver what wavered was like character motivations and like chemistry and you know, what we're characters came from and maybe omitting a few excess pieces that when you're trying to fit a movie into 90 minutes in the comedy format, you kind of get rid of it, you know? But yeah, I was, it was awesome to work. Changed my view of how to make a genre comedy. Yeah, it's cool. It's just cool to hear.
Where do you guys start off on building like an ensemble cast like this? I mean what do you look for particularly you guys looking for to cater to the story you created something that helped you make it for the film.
Kyle Newacheck: I mean I think we were, well it was very clear. So for the cast I wanted to do international cast, like I remember reading the script and saying, okay Sandler and Aniston are attached. I don't really want to see anybody else in the movie that I know. I think to make the, or that I recognize, you know, I think too, as an American filmmaker, I think to make it make the adventure work and make the fish out of water, tail work, we really have to take these fish and put them on water. You know what I mean? So I, I didn't want to cast the usual suspects of Sandler films. I wanted to cast globally. And Netflix is in a place where they can help cater. Yes. The global element. They can kind of guide because they have, they have pockets all over the world and they have information from all over the world. So we can kind of see, okay Mexico, what's going on in Mexico where we start on Mendez? No. And then I wrote an audition with him and he's funny as hell. And that's the guy, you know, and then it's like in England and in South Africa and was like, and that all came from Netflix. You know, like they would kind of start the, we would start the ball, they would be like, yeah. And then read audition and then it was just would work. Yeah.
James Vanderbilt: The other thing that I remember the first time I met you, you said, which I thought was super smart was this should feel like Sandler and Aniston had walked into another movie. Yeah. Like, and so what I think is really great about it is I think you take them out of this cast, this cast could be the cast in murder on the Orient Express. Like Luke Evans and Gemma and Walliams and Danny. Like they could all do, I mean Dave was literally the first time I met him. He was like, you know, I done this. He's like, I've done these for the BBC. And I was like, I know I'm a nerd who watches that stuff. So it was sort of this great thing where to Kyle dialed into an immediate list to make the fish out of water. Really feel like he passed it like an Agatha Christie murder mystery zone.
So you brought life to this genre of film. Is there any specific genres that you want to shine light on your future films. Like this one is the murder murder mystery who done it? we saw last year with Murder On The Orient Express. Is there any other different genres that you want to work on?
James Vanderbilt: I always slowed, I remember reading something about Alan Parker once, which said that he wanted to direct a movie in every genre, which I thought was super cool. Like, and I haven't, I've been really lucky to be able to work in a bunch of different genres. and that's always been more interesting to me than just kind of do it, you know, it's sort of, um, so I don't know if there's one particular genre I'm like aching to kind of do next, but I love the idea of being, you know, I, I, you know, this is the first movie I've really gotten into is like really a love story too. And so like it was fun to sort of play with that. But what I love about, is this doing this and I'd love to do another genre is, is there something so cool about being able to actually make a genre movie that also comments on the genre has it too. And you get to have your cake and eat it too in a really fun way. Because it's like we love murder mysteries.
Kyle Newacheck: That's the awareness of comedy that allows people to laugh when you can comment on what's going on within them. Cause I remember just, I remember I've met earlier with like Cara Delevingne play, Gemma Arterton part and when we were meeting it was like, I want, she was like, Oh, you know, Cluedo, and I was like, the game clue. Yeah. And she's like, yeah, this sounds like that. I'm like, did, that's exactly what this is. This is, this is people playing clue, commenting on the game. Yeah. While there playing it and in the, in the story. Yeah. So I thought that was like a pretty cool way of, it's like if you could comment on the game while while playing and it's sort of that kind of thing. Yeah. That's awesome. Yeah.
Yeah. I definitely felt a little bad for the person sitting next to me because during the whole film I was trying to figure it out and she's like, shut up, shut up, stop talking.
Kyle Newacheck: Oh cool. Yeah. That's great. I love that though. Yeah, that is, that makes me so happy. Just like, did you like what did you figure it out?
No, I actually thought it, um, it was the son had faked his death and come back with that [inaudible] if
James Vanderbilt: That's cool.
So I saw that you had some Workaholics alumni, uh, Eric come in and play a role. What, are there any other of your friends that you kind of wanted to a place in the film?
Kyle Newacheck: Well, I was gonna, I mean, Eric just was Jimmy. Yeah. We like tried to, I tried to imagine the other guy's in certain roles, you know, even Blake was even out in Italy and I was like, man, I got to find some kind of a cameo. But I just was like, I can't break the You did that though. Yeah. Break it. You know, it was like, yeah. And so Eric worked because you like the first part of the movie is supposed to feel like a Sandler comedy. I just want to take a left. So Eric is perfect for that world and welcoming And he's like that warm hug in the beginning of the movie just weren't good.
Describe the dynamic you guys have. We'll working with happy Madison. I was that you said you're a huge fan of him growing up in that production company growing up. How was that, you know, bringing them into the fold and helping get this film off, you know?
James Vanderbilt: Yeah. I mean for me they were just great because they, the movie had been set up at a couple of different places and Allen read it years and years and years ago and gave it to Sandler and Sandler was like, and it was, it was really interesting cause like we for a long time had trouble casting that role before Sandler. Got It. Because I like, my theory was a little bit, was there, a lot of guys didn't want to play at a truly equal part where the guy can't shoot the gun and the gun. You know what I mean? The guy is lying to the wife and like he's, he's not the sort of prototypical hero. And I think that's what Sandler loved about was like, Oh, I love the idea. I can't shoot a gun. And I love, you know, sort of that stuff. Still key kind of. They came in and really just champion the movie. And then when they moved over to Netflix they basically said, guys, we want to make this and, and, and we're able to get it made to, I mean, I don't think it's, you know, it's a secret that like it's, they spent a bunch of money on this movie and it's a gorgeous, wonderful travelogue, which I don't think would have gotten made at the budgetary level. It did, if not for their, you know, their clout and their dedication to making this movie the right way. So they've been fabulous partner.
Kyle Newacheck: So how did Jen, Jen came on when Netflix had it.
James Vanderbilt: Yeah. So Jen came on. Yeah, I'm, Adam always liked her for it. So it sort of like, you know, and so they brought her in and it was just like, at that point you knew what the movie was. And then Kyle came in right after that. And I think, which was super fun because it was like someone you know who had sort of grown up with their stuff. Then giving somebody like Kyle, like those toys to play with was so much fun to see.
Kyle Newacheck: It was unreal. Like I mean that cause yeah, I grew up, I mean I was in [inaudible] 95 or saying when you go to Madison three 94, 95 and I was like, you know, fourth grade. And so this is, he is integral in my comedic DNA. Like I can't, Billy Madison and happy doing more of that stuff is there tapes is, all of his CDs, they're all gonna laugh at you. What the hell happened to me? Like that's the shit that me and my buddies were wide like listening to and watching and making jokes. Yeah. So much so that I'm set a couple of times. Like, I don't like to quote a lot of movies because I'm just not necessarily that guy, but there's a deep reference to "Toll Booth Willie" where he says like Toll Booth Willie understand where's comedy albums is getting so pissed because people are fucking with them at the toll booth. and he yells like I'm coming out of the booth!! Anyway. That's it. That's all it was. Didn't always cracked me up. So then when I started directing and I was sit on the chair, I'd be happy watching the monitors and all that shit and if something's not going right, I would always say that I'm going out of the booth! , go fix it on set. And I found myself doing that on this movie and I did it once. I was like, I'm coming out of the booth and I looked and I was like, fuck Sandler's right there. you're like, this is this my life. Yeah, like yeah. And he like saw me and like kind of was like, Huh. And I was like, Toll Booth Willie. He's like, yeah. He's like, I know. I was like, I'm not saying that because you're here. I'm saying because that's in my DNA. I didn't know like I love you but we're going to get, it's like, oh good. It's great. Yeah. So he was so cool about it. I think he liked that too. Having fans there was cool.
So this is also different from your, your past work. Is this kind of a stepping stone into maybe different, different types of directorial films that you're going to be working on? Like maybe live-action or drama?
Kyle Newacheck: Yeah, I think so. I hope so. I mean, I, everything I've done before this produced and directed, yeah. So I've been the creator on it with, with the other guys that you know i work with Blake and Ders. This is the first one that I came in and just direct it didn't have a producer credit, didn't have a writer credit. I was just managing that. And it was the first time I actually saw those two careers as separate. So I saw the director career as something I saw my producer career as dumping. So I hope to take my director career into sky's the limit zone and make like something amazing. And if I end up producing those films, that's great. You know? I mean there was amazing. Yeah,
James Vanderbilt: You're going to see a lot more from it. I mean, he's amazing.
Are you guys going to work together again on future projects?
James Vanderbilt:Never. I already said no, no, that's fine. Yeah, no, we're already discussing yeah we talked about shit walking down here. Yeah, no, absolutely it was, I mean, so much fun. And just like the, the, when you know, like it's, I shouldn't feel like it's like part of the biggest trick and in making movies is making sure everyone's making the same movie line. You know what I mean? Like, which is huge. And so right from the jump, when Kyle's would have talked about his vision for what this says, I was like, oh, we're talking the same movie. Like, so it, as a writer it's really easy and comfortable deal to give him something and know that not only is he, you know, does he see what it's trying to do? But then he'll also make it better because again, like he says, he was just a director on this movie, but like it takes a village and the director's got to make sure all the jokes work. He's got pitch new line. Like, you know, he's got to work with the actors to bring this stuff out of them. So it's like a long answer short. Absolutely. Yeah. Totally together again.
You had a tease in a Game Over Man where there is a yact was this this kind of like kind of serendipitous to where this took off as far as it did
Kyle Newacheck: There was a lot of production similarities coming from Game Over Man, where we had, yeah. Yeah. We had the yacht at the end of the film and we shot on the yact here we had the outside of the builder where they take a zip line through it, you know, they may do that ironing board, zip line. One thing, this one, they're out on the ledge, you know? And I was like, that's cool. And then also the guys find themselves behind the bed. There's sex going on
James Vanderbilt: Like I remember I saw Game Over Man. I was like, Oh, he'd done this scene on that
Kyle Newacheck: I know how to do this and I just won't show my friend's dick in this one.
Or any exploding chihuahua.
Kyle Newacheck: Yeah you kill a dog you're hated forever. Yeah. That shit's hard to come back from. Just emotionally, you know those live and learn. I'm just floating around in Hollywood.
Were there any things from the originals script that omitted from this or you wanted to include in this film?
James Vanderbilt: I mean there's always stuff that kind of like not, I don't really think so. I'd be like there. There's stuff that's in the movie that's from the original script that I'm amazed survive like their jokes in the, you know, it's like there was a death in the library. Joke has been in that script from the beginning and there was one cut of the movie where it was out of the movie and it was still, I think it was the one time I was like, please put this joke back in for me. And you did. And it's in the trailer too. So I was like, okay the joke lives.
Kyle Newacheck: Um, kind of like defines the movie. I can't believe it got cut out.
James Vanderbilt: No, it's, you try everything. But it was like wasn't me. You know, man, it's all good. It takes a village. Um, but yeah, no, there's nothing. I don't think so.
Kyle Newacheck: I know the library was originally going to burn down.
James Vanderbilt: Absolutely. There was, the library was a huge fire, a sequence
Kyle Newacheck: And I was like, cause when I read the movie and new Stars Wars, I was like, oh, there's, this is going to be amazing. And it all beautifully mapped, even storyboard it. And it was like cameras going around and they kiss in the library burning down. Yeah it was a moment and we cut it out because of production. We couldn't afford it.