So it was that and “Spy Vs. Spy” that were the impetus for you being hired for Scooby Doo. ^ Yeah, I was hired for “Spy Vs. Spy” because Jay Roach had read The Specials and really liked that.
And he was attached at the time? ^ Yes
Where does that project stand? ^ Jay’s completely the man to me. He’s the one who got me started.
Did any of that come into play with Scooby Doo? With Jay? ^ What do you mean?
Obviously Jay works with Mike Myers a lot (Myers was attached to Scooby Doo) or was that just completely separate? ^ Totally separate. It was just Warner Brothers.
They needed a script and they knew your work. ^ Right. Lorenzo DiBonaventura, who’s the president of production at Warner Brothers, really liked my take of “Spy vs. Spy.” He’s got a strange sense of humor just like I do and he was really the one who wanted me to write Scooby Doo.
So, were you a fan of the cartoon series? ^ Yeah, totally. When I was a little kid I used to watch it every week. I was especially fond of the hour-long mysteries with the special guest stars because I loved Abbott Costello and seeing Scooby Doo team up Abbott & Costello was awesome. And I loved Batman & Robin and they teamed up. Everybody who they teamed up with I loved. I loved the Harlem Globetrotters, I liked Sonny & Cher, I liked the Apple Dumpling Gang, and those were all the people that they were teaming up with. I always just thought that it was the weirdest thing to have these real people in cartoon form teaming up with this talking dog. Even as a little kid I was aware of the strangeness of that and that turned me on. So I liked that.
Will we see any of that in the movie? ^ Yeah. They have a special guest star at the beginning of the movie that helps them to solve the crime. Basically Fred is part publicist so we realize that Fred has been having these guest stars along all of these years for the publicity that it brings Mystery Inc. (Laughs) They’re there for no reason. I mean, obviously they can’t help. What is David Hasslehoff gonna do when fighting a paper mache dragon? (Laughs)
Now, you mentioned “Spy vs. Spy” and Scooby Doo and that you might be working on the sequel. Is there a fear as a writer that you’re going to be typecast as the TV guy—taking existing materials and re-creating it for the movie screen? ^ Well, you know listen man, I like doing whatever I’m going to do so. I mean, now I’m doing “Dawn of the Dead” (laughs) and most people think that’s my best script. And also people love my romantic comedy (“The Newlyweds”) which isn’t based on anything else. So, no I’m not actually. I’m not afraid of it.
Okay. ^ You know people have a tendency to put you into categories.
Right. ^ When I wrote The Specials, I mean The Specials is about a group of people who just happen to wear costumes. It’s not really about superheroes. It’s about people who happen to be superheroes, not superheroes who happen to be people. But still, when that script went around town I was offered every single second-rate superhero project that you can imagine from a Aguaman TV series they wanted me to write to the Teen Titans to Electrawoman and Dyna-Girl (laughs) everything came my way. And I’m like dude you know I wrote this comedy, I should be offered comedies not superhero movies, but I was offered superhero movies.
So the same thing that happens to actors can happen at every level. ^ It does happen. How many different projects is Ed Solomon being asked to write? How many different projects is Ron Bass being asked to write? They’re all asked to write the same sort of thing. Richard Price makes a living by writing cop dialogue. That’s what he does.
So with Scooby Doo I guess the series ended in the seventies, is that correct? ^ Ended? No, it went on forever.
Well, I know they still make the movies. ^ What happened was there was the original series, then they had the Scooby-Doo hour-long movies, those were the ones where they teamed with the celebrities. So the very early ones, those are considered by most people to be the primo things.
And than they kept bringing it back with Scrappy and the Uncle… ^ Yeah, people have different ideas of when Scooby Doo jumped the shark (laughs). Generally it’s believed they jumped the shark with Scrappy Doo. Some people believe it’s the celebrities, but I love the celebrities, so I think that’s cool. Some people think it’s the wacky races, I thought the wacky races where hilarious.
So when you say you’re a fan you’re not kidding. ^ Yeah, and I also had to watch everything when I got hired. I got sent a box full of shit from Hanna-Barbara of all the tapes. So I watched everything.
Why was the decision made to do the movie now? ^ They’ve been trying to do this for ten years. They were looking for the right script. I came in with my take which they liked and they hired me to write the script which they liked, so they project was green-lit.
Let’s talk about the director a little bit. ^ Raja (Gosnell).
He directed Never Been Kissed and Big Momma’s House – what were your feelings when he was brought to the project and how did that evolve during the shooting? ^ Well, it’s always an adjustment when a director is hired because you’ve been writing the script in a certain way, but Raja made the shift unbelievably easy. First of all, he’s an extremely mellow and likeable dude. He’s an ex-surfer and he’s just very mellow. Being around Raja was very easy. The adjustment for him joining the Scooby Doo crew and taking the helm—it was just an easy adjustment and we get along well. I loved working with Raja.
So there was no screenwriter/director animosity? ^ No, absolutely not. You know he has a great chance with this movie because with a lot of his other movies, like Big Momma’s House, he was hired right before they started shooting so everything else has been a rush job. But with this movie we had the time to make this a big movie. He’s proven himself just amazingly. The movie’s really good and a lot of that’s due to Raja.
Okay. I’d like to go over the casting a bit. But first let me get this out of the way. With the hot couple Sarah Michelle Geller and Freddie Prinze, Jr. working together for the first time, what was the dynamic like on the set? ^ I had a strange situation because I always seemed to be flying in when Sarah was flying out. I actually hung out with Freddie way more than I hung out with Sarah.
Okay. ^ Their dynamic is basically between the two of them. Their relationship is absolute sincere. They’re a great couple. They’re really sweet to each other. They’re head over heels in love. They really are. And Freddie’s just the nicest guy.
Was there any difficulty with fans storming the set? ^ Oh yeah, that was a hassle. (Laughs) Not storming the set. Freddie and Sarah rented this house that was humongous because you get a lot of bang for your buck in Queensland, Australia. They had this house that must have had twenty bedrooms in it. It was enormous. It was just this ridiculous monstrosity of a house on the ocean. First of all, very shortly after being there some fuckin’ local radio station had a competition where you could win $500 if you could tell the radio station where Freddie and Sarah were staying. Our lawyers came down hard on them, but what a fucked up thing to do. With Australia, it’s not like Los Angeles. I have a friend that works over at Kings Row, a famous restaurant that a lot of celebrities go to. He says that in the whole time that he was working at that restaurant as a waiter there was only one person who ever came in, and they had Jim Carrey in there, Tom Cruise and everybody, there was only one person who ever came in that everybody just turned and stared at and that was Monica Lewinsky. (Laughs) And I’ve heard that from everybody. Monica Lewinsky is like the biggest head turner in the world. I don’t know why. Maybe people feel that because she gave the President a blowjob on her knees that she’s not worthy of not staring at her. (Laughs) But anyway, yeah that was crazy in Australia. Sarah is just so incomprehensibly famous that it’s difficult. She is really famous. And so that made it difficult. So I would go out with those guys a lot. When we went out, I like to go gambling, and (Linda) Cardellini (Velma) and I would go gambling all the time and it was a lot more difficult for those other three actors to go out gambling.
She’s probably not recognized there. ^ No. In fact “Freaks and Geeks” just starting playing in Australia while we were there. And it was on some small station, so it wasn’t really done up too much. So, yeah, she wasn’t recognized at all. Actually Isla Fisher who plays Mary Jane was recognized a lot too. She’s famous in Australia. She was on one of these “Neighbors” type shows.
With Scooby Doo obviously there’s a history there. People know the characters. How involved with the casting were you and what were you thinking at the time? Let’s just go one by one. Like Freddie Prinze as Fred. ^ Well, I mean first of all I was as involved with the casting as any writer is.
Right. ^ And that is that they showed me all the tapes and asked my opinion. Which is an awesome concession for someone to make in Hollywood. And that’s all because the producers are awesome guys, Richard Suckle and Chuck Roven. So, they would ask my opinion and I would give it to them. I mean I was completely happy with all the casting. The part of Fred was the hardest one to cast. In every other role I felt like there were lots of people who came in and did a good job, it’s just that those people were the best. But with the role of Fred, he’s a young guy so he’s got to be like in his mid-twenties, pompous and arrogant, that’s what our Fred is like. (Laughs) He’s a good-looking guy and he knows it and he’s a ladies man. He’s the kind of guy that women love and men hate. You know he wears that little…
The Ascot. ^ The ascot, and everything else. So it was really hard to get somebody. Somebody who would have been great was James Spader fifteen years ago.
Right. ^ He had that when he was a young man. That he could be both likeable and like this bastard. And Freddie, he’s just really good in the movie.
Get the rest of the interview in part three of DOING THE DO WITH JAMES GUNN>>>
Posted on June 15, 2002 in Interviews by Ed James
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