Director Jay Roach tells MTV News the comedy takes win-at-all-costs politics to an ‘absurd degree.’
By Kevin P. Sullivan
For the past few years, Jay Roach, the director of the “Austin Powers” series, has alternated between making comedies and true-life political films for HBO. His latest effort, “The Campaign,” combines those two very different genres.
In “The Campaign,” which hits theaters on August 10 Will Ferrell plays a popular incumbent North Carolina congressman who suffers a scandal and faces a political opponent for the first time in year, played by Zach Galifianakis.
We spoke with Roach for our Summer Movie Preview and learned just how ridiculous politics can be and what it’s like to have Ferrell and Galifianakis on set together.
MTV: You’ve been switching between political films and comedies recently. What’s it like to combine the two?
Jay Roach: That’s been an enjoyable part of this one. I’ve been working on some more serious films at HBO, but Will and Zach and Adam McKay came up with this idea and asked me to get involved about two guys running against each other for a congressional seat and mentioned that it would mostly be about how the win-at-all-costs approach to politics these days could be taken to an absurd degree. It might be funny. I pictured those two guys, Zach and Will. I’ve worked with both of them briefly on other films, and the idea of those two going up against each other in a super, super negative campaigning situation made me laugh. It would be a chance to delve back into some of the political issues but in a very comedic format.
MTV: Do you find politics funny?
Roach: It’s funny, but it’s painful. It’s painful that it does get absurd. There’s definitely humor, but when you’re doing it about real-life situations, it makes me anxious. It’s uncomfortable. I spent a fair amount of time to put people back into uncomfortable situations that they, in a certain way, wish to avoid because they already happened. I’m trying not to let them forget about them. It’s a painful thing to ask the audience to go through. It’s a little therapeutic in a different way to laugh through it, as opposed to cry through, because I found myself crying through the other stories. This one, I’m laughing.
MTV: Did doing those political films before help you make this political comedy?
Roach: It did help that I had a little bit of a background and had done a little bit of research. I’m still very naRead also...
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