Going in Style is released on April 7th and stars Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin. This Q&A is with Ann-Margaret (who plays Annie Santori) and Zach Braff (Director).
Going in Style is released on April 7th Nationwide
Had you seen the 1977 Going in Style, directed by Martin Brest, starring George Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strasberg?
ZACH BRAFF: Yes, I had seen the Martin Brest film, which I think is a terrific movie. Our Going in Style has a more comedic tone, but I retained the first film’s wonderful subtext about society’s treatment of seniors.
What specifically drew you to Theodore Melfi’s screenplay?
ZACH BRAFF: I was blown away by Ted’s work! His screenplay had a little bit of everything: heists, romance, heart, and social commentary. I was really impressed that Ted had been able to get it all in there.
What was it like for you to direct this amazing cast?
ZACH BRAFF: I didn’t want to be a deer in the headlights, because actors want a leader and not someone who is intimidated or scared. I will admit to being nervous at first, so I used my acting side to hide it.
ANN-MARGRET: We never knew it!
ZACH BRAFF: The cast made it easy for me because they never gave me the, “Kid, who do you think you are?” treatment. They liked my work and were so respectful. So, it was a really collaborative experience. They never made me feel like I was that annoying 4-year-old…
How does Going in Style compare to the previous films you have made?
ZACH BRAFF: My previous films had a relatively small budget compared to this one, which is my first studio picture. But my directing style did not change, even with the bigger budget.
You’re also well-known for your work in front of the camera. Were you tempted to act in the movie?
ZACH BRAFF: I thought about it because there was a role I could have played. But I had never before directed anything of the scale of Going in Style and I wanted to just focus on my work behind the camera.
Ann-Margret, how was it for you to walk onto this production?
ANN-MARGRET: When I came into the makeup, hair and clothing test Zach had ‘50s and ‘60s songs blaring, and I went crazy! I screamed, “Yes!”
ZACH BRAFF: I had them all dancing! They just got along so well. I believe the key to their hearts was music, because one thing they had in common was that if I put on the right song they would go crazy.
What was your favourite aspect of the story?
ANN-MARGRET: It reminded me of the film Grumpy Old Men, in which I worked with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. That movie had this wonderful feeling of friendship and warmth, and Going in Style has a very similar feeling. Another connection between the two films is that my character in Going in Style, Annie, has a crush on Alan Arkin’s character – who is grumpy all the time – which is so cute! Also, I loved that this film says that love and sex don’t stop because you are a certain age!
Well, you have great onscreen chemistry with Alan Arkin. What was it like working with him?
ANN-MARGRET: Alan is weird: he talks weird, walks weird, acts weird and looks weird (laughs). I said that to his wife, who said, “He is uniquely weird…”
ZACH BRAFF: The two of them have such great chemistry together! And they obviously have the same sense of humor, as I’d often find them off in a corner on set giggling and cracking each other up.
What were the challenges of shooting the film’s two heists—a practice one in a grocery store and then the big bank robbery scene?
ZACH BRAFF: The supermarket sequence was actually more challenging to shoot because I had to put Morgan Freeman in a basket and have Michael Caine drive an electric cart to which that basket was attached around Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in the middle of summer. Michael and Morgan did almost all of it, even through traffic and on a very, very hot day.
ANN-MARGRET: And Morgan is 6 feet 2 inches tall!
ZACH BRAFF: We made a special cart with a basket for Morgan, which could hold him comfortably. It was so comfortable that he didn’t want to get out of it!
Comedies that are fun to watch are not necessarily fun to make, but it really seems like you all had a good time making this one.
ZACH BRAFF: We laughed a lot! Going in Style is about friendship and family, and if you had seen these four luminaries on set you would have seen how they became a great group of friends. It really shows in the film.
ANN-MARGRET: I looked forward going to work every day.
What was it like to shoot in New York?
ZACH BRAFF: We shot all over the city. Also, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Alan Arkin and Ann-Margret can’t walk a foot without a crowd forming. So, it was definitely a challenge.
Zach, your father has a small part in the film. How did that come about?
ZACH BRAFF: My dad has had a crush on Ann-Margret for a long time! When I would mention other movie stars that we were considering for Going in Style, he would say, “Okay, that’s interesting.” But when I mentioned the possibility of casting Ann-Margret, he said, “Now, that’s a different story!” Yes, he has a very small role in the movie, but more importantly he had a chance to meet Ann-Margret, which was very sweet.