On Friday, November 14th, the Farrelly brothers will open their new movie “Dumb and Dumber To”, nationwide nearly20 years after the original was released. Peter and Bobby Farrelly are responsible for writing and directing some of comedy’s most watched over and over again movies including “Kingpin”, “Something About Mary”, “Me, Myself and Irene” and their first hit “Dumb and Dumber”. This week, the Farrelly Brothers sat down for an episode of “Unmasked” on SiriusXM to talk with host Ron Bennington about the new movie, and their incredible careers. Peter and Bobby talked about the sequel to “Dumb and Dumber”, working with Bill Murray on “Kingpin” and the films that inspired them when they were younger.
They also took the opportunity to discuss all the obstacles that almost kept “Dumb and Dumber” from being made. And the film may have never been made at if it wasn’t for a bunch of California stoners. After realizing that he kept mentioning “weed” during the interview, Peter Farrelly explained to the Unmasked audience how his roommate’s pothead friends kept the plans for the original movie “Dumb and Dumber” in motion, and later gave him the confidence he would need to stick with their vision.
“I was living in L.A., a guy named Jimmy Shay. And I was pretty disciplined. I would stay in on weekend nights writing. I was always working. Jimmy would go out partying. And he would always come back at like two in the morning with 3 guys or 4 guys, always different. Friends of ours. And he’d walk in and they’d be all lit up and they’d say, ‘Pete, can you read that script?’ And I was, ‘Aw come on’. They’d say, ‘Please. Read the script.’ And I would read ‘Dumb and Dumber’ to them aloud while they toasted up bones and they would be howling. Howling on the ground. And as I was reading it, every time I would tell it just like the movie. I’d read it in an hour and a half. I’d fly through the description, just get to the plot. And these guys would all be laughing.”
Peter explained that this did two things for him. It let him know it was a good script, and it helped him figure out which weren’t the good parts. “I could feel myself trying to rush through [the lesser parts of the script] to get to the next good part and would mark that part that I’m rushing through and say, ‘Concentrate on this. You’ve got to fix this. You shouldn’t have to rush through this.” Over time, he said, the script got better and better, and that gave him the confidence he would eventually need, to stay with the project when there were obstacles. “We just never wanted to quit on it because we believed in it,” he said. “I always felt there’s a little part of you thinking, ‘Maybe they’re right. Maybe it sucks’. But mostly I thought, ‘No. They’re dead wrong.'”
There were plenty of roadblocks in the Farrelly brothers’ way, including difficulties casting Lloyd Christmas. It seems that nobody wanted to play Dumb (or Dumber). They said they were turned down by 150 actors before they cast Jim Carrey including Michael Richards and a guy whose only credit was a Burger King commericial. Richards passed on the role because he didn’t see the film as a comedy. Bobby recalled that Richards told them “It’s just like ‘Of Mice and Men’. ‘This is Lenny and George.’ ‘Great story, let’s take the jokes out.” Richards later apologized to the brothers. Peter said, “He did come up and he was very gracious. Like, ‘You must think I’m an idiot that I was trying to cut those jokes.” The Farrellys didn’t hold it against him, but Peter said that it rattled them at the time, making them wonder if they were just “way off” with the movie.
But getting turned down by Michael Richards wasn’t even the most disparaging casting disappointment. It got worse, Peter said.
“Well, I remember the low point was when we had offered it to a guy we saw in a commercial. We had seen him in a commercial. He’s got nothing. And somehow, we tracked him down and we offered him the roll and Bobby walks in the room and he looked at me and says, ‘The Burger King guy passed’. It was like, ‘What??’. He goes, ‘The Burger King guy passed’. I said, ‘You’re shitting me! What? He can’t be getting offers for movies’. That happened.”
Signing the right person to play Harry Dunne was also a challenge. Peter Farrelly explained that they wanted Jeff Daniels, and Jim Carrey wanted Jeff Daniels, but they were having trouble getting the studio to agree. The studio wanted a comedic actor. They eventually relented, but because the studio didn’t want him, they lowballed him.
Jim Carrey if you recall, by the time the movie was about to be made, ‘Ace Ventura’ had come out and it was a big hit. So, Jim Carrey ended up getting $7 million for that movie. The movie cost $16 million….They didn’t want Jeff, but Jim wanted Jeff. We wanted Jeff. So, they offered Jeff 50 grand. He took it.”
One of their idols, musician Todd Rundgren was brought on to do the music for the show. “He did an awesome job,” Peter said, “but he didn’t quite get the movie.” One time when they were in the editing room, they were having a debate about a scene.
“Someone said, ‘I think we should trim it’. And someone else said, ‘We should cut it’. And someone else said, ‘We should keep it’. And we were debating it, going back and forth. And I looked over at Todd who was sitting there quietly. I said, ‘Todd, what do you think?’ He goes, ‘You’re asking me?’ I said, ‘Yeah. What do you think about this? Cut, keep, what?’ He goes, ‘If you’re asking me? I’d cut half the movie’.”
But it was that experience with the group of stoners that kept them grounded, and confident, so thanks to that group of stoners, “Dumb and Dumber” is now a part of the American comedy lexicon, and “Dumb and Dumber To” will be in theaters this Friday.
The Farrelly brothers’ “Dumb and Dumber To” starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels opens nationwide on Friday, November 14th.
Ron Bennington’s Unmasked with Peter and Bobby Farrelly premieres this Friday, November 14th at 2 pm Eastern on the Ron and Fez Show. You can listen on SiriusXM’s Raw Dog Comedy Hits Channel 99. Replays of this episode will run Saturday, November 15th at 7 pm et and on Sunday, November 16th at 2 pm and 10 pm et.
Unmasked — an hour long interview show talking about creativity with comedians– is taped before a live studios audience. In addition to hosting Unmasked, Ron Bennington also hosts Ron Bennington Interviews and is the primary voice on The Ron and Fez Show weekdays from noon to 3pm et on SiriusXM. For information on how to get tickets to tapings of Unmasked, follow@UnmaskedShow on twitter.