Los Angeles, Ca. – When the CEO (Jennifer Aniston) announces plans to shut down their underperforming branch days before Christmas, operated by her hard-partying brother, he (T.J. Miller) and his Chief Technical Officer (Jason Bateman) must rally their co-workers and host an epic office Christmas party in an effort to impress a potential client and close a sale that will save their jobs. The latest comedy from directors Will Speck & Josh Gordon (Blades of Glory) co-stars Olivia Munn, Jillian Bell, Vanessa Bayer, Courtney B. Vance, Rob Corddry, Sam Richardson, Jamie Chung, Randall Park and Kate McKinnon in the funniest movie of the holiday season.
Directors Will Speck and Josh Gordon were immediately drawn to the concept of a magical night where professional and social barriers were less defined.
“There’s a universal wish fulfillment in having one night of the year where people live honestly, perhaps with some help from drugs and alcohol,” says Speck.
“Jen and Jason are very close friends,” says Stuber. “They spend a lot of time together on and off camera, which results in their great chemistry. The relaxed, fluidity of their performance style really sets the tone for the whole cast.”
“We’re all like family at this point,” says Aniston. “There’s definitely a shorthand and confidence as to how we all work together. If you have that trust, you can immediately tell one another what works and what doesn’t.”
“We created this character for Jennifer because she’s absolutely fearless when it comes to playing somewhat unlikeable characters in comedies,” says Gordon. “For her, the more daring the role, the better.”
» QUOTES FROM THE CAST
“The cast is such an unbelievable who’s who of comedic actors,” says Rappaport. “It’s like combining all these great ingredients to make a really satisfying meal.”
“I subconsciously based my character on an actual boss I had once who believed you could have a great time and still get your work done,” T.J. Miller recalls. “Working with Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston was intimidating,” Miller confesses. “But they’re so warm and professional. Even though I’ve been watching them my whole life, they were incredibly supportive to a less experienced actor like me.”
“All of these comedians are so talented, you don’t want to strictly confine them to what’s in the script,” Producer Scott Stuber continues. “They have such great instincts, that whenever they had ideas for jokes, we’d give them the freedom to do another take, which gave us a lot of great material to play with in post.”
“My character is a drug dealing bad-ass pimp,” says Jillian Bell from 22 Jump Street. “I based my character on Drexl from True Romance, one of my all time favorite pimps. It was important to Will and Josh to keep her scary to provide a real threat to the other characters. I thought it’d be fun to also give her some anxiety issues, as that’s not something we’ve seen in many previous movie pimps.”
» LOCATION SCOUTING
Gordon stated that a lot of their favorite movies were shot in Chicago, including a number of classic Christmas films. “We knew early on that we wanted the movie to be set in Chicago,” says Gordon. The creators would soon run into a production miracle. Snow would fall whenever they’d be shooting scenes, saving them the need for artificial snow. With the special effects team on hand to provide artificial snow, the skies opened up in and provided a late season dusting of the real thing. “For the next few days, whenever we’d shoot outside, we’d get snow,” Gordon recalls. “It was pretty incredible.”
Later in the film, Miller’s Clay strolls across the State St. Bridge and tells Josh that he doesn’t need much clothing in the winter because he adds 30 lbs of weight for “insulation.” In reality, Miller wore multiple layers underneath due to an unusual cold snap in Chicago creating temperatures in the high 20s. The natural snow and wind made the scene all too real for the actors.
After initial coverage of Chicago had wrapped, the production moved to Georgia, where Bateman, Munn and Miller had to herd reindeer into a freight elevator in the loading dock of the AT&T building in midtown Atlanta, which would soon become an obstacle for the reindeer. “It’s hard shooting reindeer in the middle of the summer when they’re losing their coats and their antlers,” Gordon recalls. “We actually had to construct our own antlers to be fitted on each deer. They were a lot of work, but completely worth it.”
» ANDREW LAWS JOINS THE PARTY
Andrew Laws (Production Designer) and his team took inspiration from Mies van der Rohe’s Dominion Centre in Toronto. “We’d looked at shooting in some actual Mies van de Rohe buildings, but it’d be cost prohibitive to do a lot of the things we had planned,” Rappaport recalls. “Sometimes the best way to shoot it is to build it.”
Laws and his team created a gargantuan 30,000 square foot office space on two levels that took up two soundstages (production took down the adjoining wall between the stages to build out the office set) with a two story atrium in the center with offices surrounding it on three sides with a prominent staircase.
“Since the set is such a large space with windows everywhere, we didn’t want to go the green screen route,” says Stuber. The set was so large and comfortable that many crew members would sleep on the various couches during lunch and even the actors found their special areas to hang out during down time.
“It’s amazing how quickly it felt like a real office,” Gordon recalls. “Everyone began to inhabit their own areas. T.J. spent a lot of time in Clay’s office and bathroom, even though it wasn’t working.” After her first exploration of the stage, Jennifer Aniston was impressed with the scale and detail. “It seems so real. I haven’t been on a set like this in a long time.”
“It’s a nice thing to hear from the actors because when they feel that they’re in an environment which allows them to give more,” says Speck. When everyone gets imbedded in it, the process feels very natural.”
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