The glitz and glam of seventies LA had come to blistering rain of London last week as The Nice Guys came visiting on their worldwide press tour. Nestled in Mayfair and not a short walk away from Green Park, The Playboy Club played host – with an actual Bunny – to hordes of soaked press and the drier stars of the film as they ached to delve deeper into the underbelly of Shane Black’s latest romp.
In a room adorned with seventies aesthetic, including a cocktail bar where Russell Crowe, Matt Bomer, producer Joel Silver, and, of course, Shane Black were all propped up, the buzz over yet another successful crime film.
“For me, there is a sort of bone deep DNA to this kind of thing that steamed from raiding my father’s book shelf and finding all of this old-school tough guy material,” says Black who directs and writes The Nice Guys, a movie about a heavy and a PI teaming up to solve a seedy crime. “My writing partner Anthony Bagarozzi and I decided that there weren’t enough Private Eye movies and the idea sort of fell upwards over thirteen years until we had the right actors and it sort of magically came together.”
Though The Nice Guys only came together recently, Silver and Black (yet another great detective name) have been friends for a long time and worked together in the industry for the same amount. When Black turned around and said he wanted to do the project, Silver jumped on board. “It’s no easy thing,” ruminates Silver on the history they’ve shared. “We go back thirty years when he was a 20 years old writer from UCLA and wrote Lethal Weapon in ’86. We then made it in ’87, followed by Lethal Weapon, Predator, and The Last Boy Scout. Then he went into a creative introspection which I wasn’t a part of. He came back and wrote The Nice Guys in 2001 and we tried to make it as a television series then as a mini-series. Black moved on to Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang then Iron Man 3 and that was one of those “get out of jail free” cards. He next said I want to make The Nice Guys.
We started talking about it and Russell came on board which helped Ryan [Gosling] come on to the project because he wanted to work with Russell. Then we had a movie.”
It’s interesting that Gosling leapt into working with Crowe because their chemistry was key to helping develop the charm and hilarity of the film. “You can’t manufacture that, you really can’t,” says the jovial Crowe who is in high spirits for today’s press conference. The Australian Academy Award Winner triumphs as Healy, the punch first, ask later heavy who becomes partner’s with Gosling’s hysterical PI, “You have to be tuned into one another and no matter what improv or steps he takes, I’m actually with him because I’m listening to what he’s doing and anticipating what he’ll do next without making any assumptions. You have to be able to see what the other guy is doing and follow him.”
Notable in The Nice Guys is Ryan Gosling’s high-pitched scream that Crowe admires: “It freaks me out. That’s the best scream in a feature since Gene Wilder.”
Nestled next to Crowe is the man making them all scream in the movie – not like that ladies (though we all remember Magic Mike) is Matt Bomer as the villainous assassin John Boy. “It’s always fun to get to paint with different colours,” says Bomer who has starred in Glee, American Horror Story, and The Normal Heart for which he won an Emmy “I’m essentially a fanboy whose working with these people I admire. Joel and Shane are basically my childhood. I got to see two of my favourite actors create these symbiotic comedic performance where one doesn’t work without the other-”
“- Oh, I could’ve made it work without Ryan, mate” interrupts Crowe in his usual Australian twang and causes a ripple of laughter within the room as Bomer states that “every moment was a pleasure.”
The Nice Guys really flows due to this bromance and the improvisation between Crowe and Gosling as they bounced lines and humour off one another. Crowe says, “We’re both very respectful of the script and will do it the way it reads. But also bring in ideas every day like ‘what if we move it like this or like that?’ As long as it works within the spirit we intended.”
After talking about with Crowe reuniting with Kim Basinger after L.A Confidential, the conversation turns back onto Crowe and Gosling’s more important and vital romance. Especially the moments that led to corpsing (ruining a scene with laughter.) “If you take the 26 years’ experience I’ve had making lead roles – 49 feature roles or whatever – I’d have corpsed less than I have done on a single day shooting The Nice Guys”
Pointing to the poster behind him of Ryan Gosling, who sadly couldn’t attend the press conference, Crowe laughs and says, “This little bastard makes me laugh and I suspect he was up every night coming up with ways to do so. He just has this natural comedic gift and he’s a funny bastard. I laughed all the time.”
“We blocked a bit of LA and it’s a simple shot,” continues Crowe about one such example of the Gosling natural humour and possibly the first of many. “We have to pull in, look at a billboard, and say a couple of lines of dialogue and then drive off. So we pull in and Ryan is not on script and jamming on this idea he has had in his head about German Spank Films. I can’t even get the idea out of my head because he’s going off on one in that pseudo German he does in the film, saying 25 words that sound like they should be shit and arsehole but aren’t real. Joel Silver –“ Crowe gestures to the orange clad man beside him – “is standing in the middle of the street screaming ‘I’ve got the whole goddamn strip blocked off. Not tonight guys! Not tonight!’
And he scurries behind monitors and I turn to Ryan and go ‘Are we going to follow the script?’
And he goes…’Nope’”
There’s a sea of laughter at the thought of a producer losing his hair over grown men causing mischief in car on set. Clearly, shooting The Nice Guys was a cascade of fun with two supposedly professional actors at the centre of it. However, the cast profess that Angourie Rice, who played Holly – the 13 year old daughter of Ryan Gosling’s Holland March -, was the professional. “She always came on set prepared and she has a very limited experience. Yet she has a fine intellect and a real enthusiasm for the craft. Ryan and Shane worked with her to get her to a place of ease and she really began to flower because of that,” enthuses Crowe about the star in the making.
Black is equally as fervent about his young lead, “She is so guileless and so open. I’ve read a few reviews and they all mention her and I turned, saying ‘are you aware of the press you are getting?’ They all read ‘steals the movie’ and ‘only thing that’s good without question.’ She doesn’t even know how good she is. Such a wonderful innocent little girl.”
Working alongside big industry names must’ve been nerve-wracking but Silver states it was the guidance of Gosling in the audition process that helped Rice blossom. “He researched every performer himself and took time to find out about them. We had a whole day of auditions and she was the last one in!”
“Joel just touched upon Ryan’s work ethic there.” continues Russell, adoring more praise upon his co-star. “He made them comfortable in that situation.”
The experience with the young actors was different for Bomer. After all, he has to throw one supposedly through the window and threaten them with a gun. “They were consummate professionals,” stresses Bomer, locking eyes with me after I asked the question and I momentarily got lost in his blue-eyes. “It was the first thing I filmed and I wanted to aggregate with them, stressing that I was a parent and we were just playing pretend. They both starred at me very blankly like ‘so what?’ and were going ‘what is that all you got? Have you got another take in your?’ They really took me to school.”
“Although, it wasn’t so much a young girl but a tiny stunt person,” stresses Black.
“I didn’t want to give anything away!”
The Nice Guys is peppered with a whole lot of absurdity. Not to give anything away but there are surreal moments that are met with as much glee as the rapid quick fire jokes. Black stresses that no matter how weird the scenes were, if he could get Silver on board, then it would go in the film. “We have a similar sensibility and know how to make a successful film. My best financial…no, that’s not true… my best creative successes are when he comes along with me”
The Nice Guys is such a great film that could warrant sequels and even a series such as Silver mention. Black admits that he has toyed with the idea. “I liked them in this time-locked franchise and the sequel would be something in the eighties and an issues to do with that era.”
Whilst Crowe says “For some reason Ryan and I thought The Nice Guys: Mexican Detectives is hilarious. I can’t even say it without laughing…” which is true as he goes off giggling about the concept.
The franchise idea certainly would leave more room for improv and that electric chemistry we received off the pair in this raucous. “My biggest problem is trying not to crack up and ruin a take,” says Black though they all stress it leapt off from his script.
“When I talk about it,” Russell continues after alluding that Ryan Gosling thought his name was schmuck thanks to Joel’s bemusement at his antic. “It’s not manufactured from thin air. But Shane was very trusting with us and the ideas were always open.”
The spirits were high (though not flowing from the conferences fake bar) with the collective leaving us in laughter. Pouring out into the modern streets after being transported to the seventies for an hour, the buzz about The Nice Guys is high.
Did I mention we’re totally on Russell Crowe’s twitter?
Because we are…
What a nice guy!
Watch the full press conference now!
THE NICE GUYS IS OUT 3rd JUNE
READ OUR REVIEW