Champions Interview: Bobby Farrelly on Modern Comedy & Woody Harrelson

ComingSoon spoke with Champions director Bobby Farrelly about the upcoming sports comedy movie. Farrelly discussed the difficulty of modern comedy and his thoughts on Jim Carrey’s retirement. Champions is set to release in theaters nationwide on March 10.

“Woody Harrelson stars in the hilarious and heartwarming story of a former minor-league basketball coach who, after a series of missteps, is ordered by the court to manage a team of players with intellectual disabilities,” reads the film’s synopsis. “He soon realizes that despite his doubts, together, this team can go further than they ever imagined.”

Jonathan Sim: Champions is very much a movie about the disabled community. How do you think filmmakers should represent disabilities in their work and why is Champions the story that you wanted to tell?

Bobby Farrelly: First off, my brother Peter and I have been making movies for a long time and we always wanted to include people with disabilities. For whatever reason, we did it early on and it worked for us. It came to our attention that that community is underrepresented in film, so we didn’t want to be guilty of that too. We’re drawn to stories about people with disabilities.

I think the way that filmmakers should portray them is to just show the full-rounded humanness of them. Don’t always make people with disabilities into heroes or don’t make them into villains or don’t make them like they have to be a certain stereotype. Just show that they’re just like everyone else. They just have a disability. It’s, it’s that simple.

This is your first time working with Woody Harrelson since Kingpin in 1996. What made you want work with him again on this film? Was it easy to get back into that actor-director partnership?

Woody’s been a friend since even before Kingpin, so we’ve known him a long time. I have incredible respect for him. I always marvel at the career he’s had, the choices he’s made, and just how good he is in every performance [and] every role he plays. So I was always eager to work with Woody again and, yeah, it picked up right where we left off immediately. He was meant to play this role of Marcus in Champions, because he loves basketball, he’s a real people person, and he’s just a tremendous actor. So I thought he was the perfect guy to play this part.

You and your brother have made tons of hilarious comedies How would you say that comedy as a genre has evolved since the 1990s and has your style adjusted for the times?

Well, these are times now when it’s actually way more difficult, I think, to make a comedy, just because society’s changed and there’s a little bit of a “you can’t do this, you can’t say that” sort of feeling to a lot of things. So comedy becomes a little bit more difficult. I think any filmmaker has to adapt to that. I think it’s kind of cyclical in that it will come back because I’m a big believer that, people, comedy’s a good thing. That it makes people laugh and laughter is a healing mechanism in society. So you can’t take away comedy. It wouldn’t be good for everyone. You can’t take it away completely. So I think it’ll come back. Right now it’s been a little bit more difficult. There’s been fewer comedies, but they’ll come back.

You’ve gotten to work with the legendary Jim Carrey on multiple occasions, but in the interview from last year, he said that he was thinking of retiring. What can we do about this? Would you ever work with him on a film again?

Yes. Do you have a good script I can send to him? Jim, he’s had an incredible career. He is talking about retiring right now. He’s that guy that … whatever he’s doing, he gets into 100%. And right now, I believe he moved to Hawaii and he’s just taking it easy. I think he’s taking walks on the beach and he’s just happy with that right now. I believe he’ll come back later on in life, because he’s such a talented performer that I think the calling will come back to him. So I think it’s a temporary thing with him right now.


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