The Farrelly Brothers and the Secrets of Dumb and Dumber To


It may have taken 20 years but, as of today, Jeff Daniel’s Harry Dunne and Jim Carrey’s Lloyd Christmas are back on the big screen with Dumb and Dumber To, the first sequel ever tackled by the sibling filmmaking team of Bobby and Peter Farrelly.

The original Dumb and Dumber marked the debut feature from the Farrellys and, in a new interview with, the pair look back on their creative path over the past two decades, recalling a nightmarish two weeks on the first film where they feared they might be fired any second and relating a number of neat secrets behind the production on the second film, including the true story behind the Jennifer Lawrence cameo that didn’t make the final cut.

CS: There’s a continuing theme of family — especially the sense of a non-traditional family — that appears throughout your films. Is that something that is inherent in working alongside your brother?

Peter Farrelly: It’s not conscious. We don’t think, “Hey, let’s write about family.”

Bobby Farrelly: We do write some stuff sometimes where we look back and go, “Wow, this is a little close to the vest.” That happened on this one. My wife had a child that she gave up for adoption before I met her. Then that child came back into our life. That’s kind of what happens in the story here. She was like, “Oh, that’s so nice to write about me.” We were like [sheepish grin]. It just kind of came into play. I wasn’t thinking about it.

Peter: We had good childhoods for one thing. Most guys that I meet in the comedy business have been through the ringer, man. I remember I was with Larry David one night and the people at the table next to us had a birthday. They brought the birthday cake and they sang the song. He said, “I never did that.” I said, “Did what?” He goes, [blows]. I said, “What do you mean?” He says, “I’ve never done that. [Blows]”. “Wait, you’ve never had a birthday cake in your life?!” “Nope.” I said, “When you were growing up and it was your birthday, your parents never got you a cake?” “Never.” “Not once?” “No.” That’s what it was like for him growing up. No birthday cake or anything. He was married at the time, so I said, “She must have gotten you a birthday cake?” “Nope.” I said to her, “You never got him a birthday cake?!” She said, “He never wanted one! He just didn’t want a birthday cake!” I said, “But, yeah. Surprise him one time with a birthday cake. He can blow out the candles. He never had that. Never.

Bobby: And it was nice of you to eventually do that for Larry, right?

Peter: Uh? [Sheepish grin] But we had a good childhood! If that’s coming through — the family thing — it’s because we’re lucky to have good families and friends and stuff like that growing up. It’s just a natural extension of having a good childhood.

CS: Is this a film that has been made, in your minds, over these decades or is it a more recent thought of, “Let’s do a sequel and come up with something?”

Bobby: I think every couple of years we would think, “[Maybe]?” It would cross our minds, “If we were to do a sequel to ‘Dumb and Dumber’?” We did know that it set itself up for a sequel. The guys never grew. They never changed. We just thought back on their lives and asked, “What would they be doing now?” We’d think about that every couple of years. Then it was like, “Omigosh! It’s been twenty years!” It had been a long time and we had to decide, “What is the explanation? What have they been doing?” The bit we do at the beginning of the movie helped us quite a bit. After five minutes into the movie, you’re not worried about that. They’re back.

Peter: We never had a plot and it took a long time to get things going. We had thoughts but, the longer it took, the more they changed. At one point we thought, “You know? He could have a 20-year-old daughter.” We wanted someone for Jim to be chasing. What we didn’t want was to deny their age. To act like Jim’s a young guy chasing this girl. We have them point it out. Harry is like “Lloyd! She’s 22! You can’t go out with her! Go out with someone your own age!” And he’s like, “But what would we talk about?”

CS: How did you come across Rachel Melvin for the daughter role? She really felt like she carried some of the same young comedy energy that the guys did in the original.

Bobby: Isn’t she great? We auditioned a lot of young actresses and we saw some great, great talents, but there was something about her when she came in that reminded us of those two guys. We thought she’d be perfect for the daughter. She’s very pretty. She’s striking. And so likable.

Peter: We liked her energy. She’s a great actress. She was a sleeper. You know, when you’re casting people, you get a lot of phone calls from a lot of agents. Big agents. They’re like, “You gotta see so and so!” She wasn’t someone we were getting these calls from. She was just someone who slipped through. She was a sleeper. We couldn’t stop thinking about her!

Bobby: Both of us after the audition were saying, “What about that Melvin girl?” We both wanted to get her back to see if she could do it again. Each time she just kind of shined in a way where we were like, “Oh my god!”

Peter: We had never heard of her. We didn’t know she existed until we saw her come in the room.

Bobby: I remember almost thinking for a minute that she looked so much like Jim that people would think she was Jim’s daughter.

Peter: I never saw that, but other people did. But yeah, she was great.

CS: There were rumors during production that Jennifer Lawrence was doing a cameo. What’s the truth there?

Peter: We were hanging around with Jennifer Lawrence when they were filming “Hunger Games.” She’s a huge, huge “Dumb and Dumber” fan. She reached out. She can quote every line of the movie. Like, every line of the movie in order. She kind of reached out through somebody we worked with. We all went out to dinner one night. Jim wasn’t there yet. I remember it was me, [Bobby] and Jeff. She was just giggling like crazy at everything Jeff said. She was laughing saying, “Oh my god! It’s like being with Harry!” So there was talk of her coming and doing a cameo — because we have other cameos in the movie — but it just got too complicated. Because she’s a superstar. You can’t just throw her in the movie without agents getting involved.

Bobby: She was in that other movie and I think she was just beholden to that.

Peter: But she was great to hang out with! So great. Really, really cool.

CS: What’s the biggest difference in your lives between making this sequel now and making the original?

Bobby: you’d think the answer would be, “Oh, wow! We have a lot more say now!” and “We have a lot more budget to work with now!” But honestly, we had about the same budget. They were squeezing us then and they’re squeezing us now. There’s still all these hoops you have to jump through. So, in a way, the answer is, ‘Not so much.’ But that’s a good thing!

Peter: I will say, on the first one, the first two weeks were really, really horrifyingly scary because A) we didn’t know what we were doing and B) they told us — and I don’t know why they told us this! — right out of the gate, “By the way! You can be fired without ’cause for the first two weeks.” We were like, “Wait, what?” They were like, “If we don’t like the dailies, you’re done.” Because they were giving us a chance. If we didn’t have it it two weeks, we could be replaced. With no explanation! We would just be out. So every time the phone rang for two weeks, it was like, “Who is it?” “It’s your mother.” “Phew!”

Bobby: She’s gonna kick us off the picture!

CS: “The studio asked me to tell you?”

Bobby: Traitor!

Peter: So it was more stressful for me, the first one. On this one I slept a little better, I guess. I don’t know. The first one was so much fun, we didn’t think we knew everything. It was kind of fun to make a movie that way because you have so much enthusiasm.

CS: When you’re writing, do one or the other of you gravitate to, say, Harry over Lloyd?

Peter: Not really. But you do know when it’s a line that’s definitely Harry and when it’s a line that’s definitely Lloyd. It just feels right. There have been times where we had it where Lloyd was saying something that Harry should say and we had to say, “Wait a minute! That’s not Lloyd!”

Bobby: That’s a perfect Harry line!

Peter: The way I kind of think about it is that, in some ways, Harry is smarter than Lloyd in that, for one, he can read and he has a little bit of common sense. Lloyd may have a cockamamie idea and he’s the guy to say, “Lloyd! You can’t do that!”

Bobby: I think in the film, when they’re at the door with Pee-Stain’s parents, there was something on Harry’s face going, “This is just wrong.” But there’s nothing Lloyd that says that.

Peter: But despite that — despite the fact that Harry might be nick brighter, he follows Lloyd. Lloyd is the leader.

CS: He’s got the confidence.

Peter: Yeah! Lloyd’s got the confidence, so Harry’s behind Lloyd even though he should know better. I always think of the scene in the first one where they pick up Joe Mental in the first one. They pull up and Lloyd is like, “I don’t know? We don’t normally pick up hitch-hikers!” Right behind him, you can see Harry glaring at him. Then Lloyd goes, “But I have a good feeling about this one!” Right then you see Harry [start to beam].

Bobby: Yeah! Total follower.

Peter: Smarter, but a follower.

CS: What was the actual thing that happened that sort of sparked things off in finally getting a sequel green lit?

Peter: The hardest gut to corral has been Jim over the years. He’s had this incredible career where he’s getting pulled this way and that way. People don’t know it, but he’s an incredible artist and he’s taken — I don’t know how many — years off to do his art.

Bobby: He’s never sold any, but you wouldn’t believe it. You wouldn’t believe his art. We went to an art show of his. He didn’t sell anything, but he had a show. It was in Palm Springs a couple of years ago. I was going there thinking, [frowning] “Oh great. This is gonna be terrible.” [mock smiling] “Oh, hi there! This is going to be so much fun!” But then it blew our minds, that art. Everyone in there was like, “He did this? You can’t be serious?”

Peter: People will know it one day. It’s incredible.

Bobby: That’s just how Jim is. He’ll take three years off, quietly, and do this other thing. Those years went by and you’re not going to make it without Jim. Then, one day, Jim was in a hotel room. He probably hadn’t seen “Dumb and Dumber” in 15 years. He turned on the TV and it came on. He said he just got nostalgic and called Pete up.

Peter: He watched the whole movie and then called me. He said, “There is so much love between those guys, I was just so happy to see them again.” That’s when we got the ball rolling. That was about four or five years ago.

Bobby: It takes a lot of almost doing it to get it done.

Peter: During that time, of course, we’re doing other stuff. We made The Three Stooges. We went on with our lives. You can’t just wait and hold your breath. We always have a couple of things and we just work it out.

CS: You guys have an amazing selection of character actors. Do these just come from auditions or do they come through special connections to specific people in the comedy world?

Bobby: Very rarely will we think about a part in advance. A guy like Don Lake — who plays Doctor Meldmann — comes in to audition and we just know, “That’s our guy.”

Peter: Someone like Rob Riggle we were aware of, but we didn’t know him. Then we have a couple in our camp that we like to use. We didn’t want to use them in this movie, though, because they had been in the first movie. We didn’t want to have the same actors in two different roles, I guess.

CS: When did the tech conference become part of the film’s plot?

Peter: It was inspired by TED Talks. We actually reached out and wanted to have it actually be one, but they were like, “No thanks,” which was pretty surprising to us. So we made our own KEN Conference.

Peter: Have you ever been to a TED Talk?

CS: No, I’ve only seen videos.

Peter: I went to one when we were researching this. It’s like 3,500 bucks a ticket. It’s sold out a year in advance. I drove down to one, spur of the moment, in Long Beach. I thought I could just grab a ticket and go in. They’re like, “$3,500.” I’m like, “You’re sh–ing me!” “And we’re sold out. But, if you want to drive down to Palm Springs, you can see it on closed circuit for $1,500. Those things are in demand!

CS: Do you guys know what’s next for you?

Peter: We’re not sure. We’re thinking about maybe him doing something and me doing something separately, which we’ve never done before.

CS: Is there any chance of another “Three Stooges”?

Peter: If guys like you ask that question enough there will be! We loved doing “Three Stooges,” but Fox would have to get, like —

Bobby: Yeah, ‘Stooges’ is something that I think is just starting to find its audience right now. Kids are watching it and they’re watching it over and over. We’re starting to hear a lot of, “Oh my god! My kids love ‘The Three Stooges’!” I would do that again in a heartbeat.

Peter: Those three guys. They were so impressive. My fear was that two of them would be great and one of them would be okay and stand out like a sore thumb. Each one of them was just so impressive.

Bobby: That was a fun one. It was kind of like a cousin of “Dumb and Dumber”.

Peter: They’re kindred spirits.

(Photo Credit: Brian To /

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