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Seth Gordon's Horrible Bosses

The film and documentary maker triumphantly returns with his latest release talking to us about his past love for arcade games and the comedy in killing your employers

Seth Gordon came to everyone’s attention with his 2007 directorial debut ‘The King of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters’ which delved into the highly competitive world of arcade gaming and has since moved onto supporting documentaries from young filmmakers. Horrible Bosses, a pitch black comedy about a trio of friends plotting to kill their employers, marks his return to mainstream movies and he spoke to Dazed about un-prettying Colin Farrell, turning serious issues into comedy and why making documentaries is more stressful than directing A-list actors.

Dazed Digital: How did you get involved with Horrible Bosses?
Seth Gordon:
I thought the script was terrific; it’s one of the few scripts I’ve read in a long time that made me laugh out loud.

DD: You have a great cast; did you have a list of people you wanted for certain parts?
Seth Gordon: I knew I wanted the three guys (Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudekis) to be people that the audience would be familiar with but weren’t necessarily big movie stars yet. I think the chemistry between the guys is remarkable and it’s not something you could possibly plan; they’re all exceptional comedians in their own right and they found a real amazing rhythm with one another.

DD: How was the look of Colin Farrell’s character developed? It’s almost wrong you’ve made someone so good-looking so abhorrent in every way.
Seth Gordon:
We wanted to make the look support the performance and vice versa and he was really excited about playing a really greasy version of himself that would make him unrecognisable. I felt like he was letting go by channelling his demons which was terrific and thank god, it’s such a crazy look.

DD: Were you concerned the sub-plot between Charlie Day and Jennifer Aniston being misunderstood? It would certainly be perceived differently if the roles were reversed.
Seth Gordon:
That’s a real issue but for me, I think there was comedy to be had in reversing the typical gender and having it done on a guy who couldn’t possibly entertain those kind of advances. I fully acknowledge that it wouldn’t have any power if it was the regular version but I don’t think this film tries to do anything beyond give everyone a good hard laugh, which is therapy in its own right.

DD: You studied architecture before jumping into film, was filmmaking always a quiet dream?
Seth Gordon: I studied architecture in college and that was what I thought I was gonna do for the rest of my life. I spent some time in Kenya while still in college and I found the process of documenting and capturing what was happening in that village became more interesting than the architecture. When I got back from that trip I was compelled to tell the story and that eventually led to me learning how to edit and learning how tell a story with pictures. Architecture was over as far as I was concerned.

DD: Was there a point when you realised King of Kong was something unique?
Seth Gordon:
We knew we had something good but I was still surprised that anyone wanted to watch it. It’s such a heroic story that transcended the triviality of computer games to interest more people. I’ve been playing arcade games since I was a kid; I knew about the wall of fame, I knew about the great players and we wanted to tell the story of the guy who beat the world record in his garage. Then we met Billy (Mitchell) in person and were captivated by his character and how different it was to Steve (Wiebe) when we met him. It gradually began to take shape and became this story about opposites.

DD: How does making a mainstream comedy compare to making documentaries?
Seth Gordon:
I would say that both require a tremendous amount of focus and point of view. In a way, documentary is a lot harder because you don’t know what the hell the story is and you have to figure it out as you’re going along, you can’t control real life. So I found documentary to lead very well into mainstream films because at least there’s a script!

Text: Limara Salt

Horrible Bosses is released in cinemas nationwide on 22nd July