Ten years after directing his comic success Ghostbusters, Ivan Reitman stands poised once again to take the sci-fi genre by storm. Although he put his proton pack aside years ago, Reitman has remained in Hollywood waiting for his next big hit.
In his new film Evolution, Reitman goes back to basics, employing the talents of David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, Julianne Moore and Sean Scott to fuse comedy with an apocalyptic thriller.
The Hatchet spoke with Scott, Jones, Duchovny and Reitman to find out details about Evolution (DreamWorks).
From the outset, Reitman said he worked with writer Don Jakoby to create a groundbreaking apocalyptic film.
“Don Jakoby turned in something called Evolution, which was a very serious movie, but that had this very new interesting new threat to the earth. That’s very hard to find.” Reitman said.
The story itself is indeed new and unlike the usual run-of-the-mill sci-fi thrillers. Evolution tells the story of two community college professors named Harry and Ira, played by Jones and Duchovny respectively, who discover a crashed meteor filled with one-celled aliens.
The introduction of common people as main characters is something Reitman strove for, he said.
“I generally like the idea of the common man who is smart doing something heroic and special,” Reitman said.
Jones, who plays a community college teacher and volleyball coach, said he was particularly excited about his character.
“I feel very strongly that Division 3 college volleyball coaches are underrepresented in film,” Jones joked.
After their discovery, Ira and Harry find that the single-celled aliens evolve quickly into monstrous creatures that threaten mankind’s control over the Earth. Aided by wanna-be fireman Wayne (Sean Scott) and government scientist Allison (Julianne Moore), they attempt to save the world from an alien invasion.
Duchovny, whose more notable works are serious roles, said he found a comic role challenging.
“In a comedy, if you don’t laugh, it sucks,” Duchovny said, “You don’t leave a comedy and say I really liked it, I didn’t laugh once but it was a great movie.”
Duchovny showcases his dry wit and a latent sense of exhibitionism in Evolution. One of the movies most memorable scenes features Duchovny mooning an enemy. But it may be that Duchovny was not as willing to go all out as it seems.
“That was a prosthetic ass . my ass was too nice, they didn’t think my character should have that nice of an ass,” he said.
For Scott, who has starred in films such as Road Trip and American Pie, being funny and tasteful was a welcome challenge.
“I think we’ve seen every semen, piss joke you can see,” Scott said. No one is really responding well to that anymore.”
Evolution marks a major career moment for the young actor.
“It was the first time I ever got offered something right away,” Scott said. “It was nice going into something this big knowing that they have the confidence in you.”
Scott found himself awestruck at times working with his idol.
“David (Duchovny) is one of my favorite actors,” he said. “I love David. It was amazing to work with him, to get to realize how cool and funny he is.”
Scott said he had reservations working on a big-budget movie with special effects. He said he found working with computer screens behind him difficult.
“It’s really a challenge, you really have to think about what’s going on. You really have to act, which is something I’ve never had to do,” Scott said.
“MadTV” star Orlando Jones, most recognized as the TV promoter for soft drink 7 UP, said he felt a connection to his role. His character is a sleazy college professor bent on catching the attention of his students.
Jones said a professor stole his first college crush.
“I had a bunch of professors in college who were constantly hitting on the female students,” he said. “It was obvious. I was like, `when are they gonna put you away?'”
Another part of the role that excited Jones was its neutral stance on racial issues.
“This is the first time I’ve seen a black guy and a white guy who were friends in a movie and one of them wasn’t a convict,” Jones said. “We’re two cats who know each other. There’s no ridiculous hook. Though that’s a subtle statement it was an important one.”
Reitman said he came into the project hoping a new presentation of racial relations.
“I wanted to set up a black/white relationship that was sort of fresh for the screen,” Reitman said. “It wasn’t always the black guy who is sort of the fast talking street guy and the white guy who was the educated one. These are both generally smart men who are on an equal stature with one another.”
The on-screen dynamic of Evolution was most likely an extension of the playful working environment. Scott and Duchovny constantly play tricks on each other.
“I felt like the younger guy always getting picked on,” Scott said. “Like I’d be walking in a store with my jacket on, I put my hands in my pockets and it’s filled with raw meat, and I’m like `Damnit Duchovny.'”
Duchovny said a number of inside jokes kept the cast amused during production, along with strange set props used for the sci-fi flick.
“The attention to detail in a movie with this kind of budget is awe-inspiring,” Duchovny said. “When you think about the fact that someone sat around and thought about what kind of genitalia the blue monkey would have – it was kind of hermaphroditic. Julianne Moore called it a `testina’ . That was odd because I found myself staring at it, and I didn’t want the monkeys to see us looking at them.”
The actors experienced a fire on the set, because of a mishap with special effects.
“All you hear is blast, and you run,” Jones said. “And we looked back after the shot was over and it was like, keep running because the set is on fire.”
With Evolution, Reitman has once again presented a sci-fi thriller that possesses remarkable wit. If the film follows in the steps of Ghostbusters as a summer blockbuster, it will be thanks to Reitman’s talent as a director.
“(Reitman) has got a complete vision of the kind of movie he wants,” Duchovny said.
The kind of movie Reitman said he wants is a summer hit, and with Evolution, he just might get it.