Keeping Up With the Joneses

Even with two married character sets, the film’s core pair may really be Galifianakis and Hamm, who have known one another for years. Hamm was an early guest on the web show Between Two Ferns, where Galifianakis occasionally plays a clueless and sometimes softly belligerent cable-access talk show host.

“I’ve known Jon before Jon was Jon Hamm,” recalls Galifianakis. “A lot of leading-type guys like that don’t have humor. They think they do, but they don’t.” Hamm has it in spades, as evidenced by his appearances in Bridesmaids and 30 Rock. With Mad Men in the rearview mirror he’s been going deep with TV stints on Wet Hot American Summer and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. “He’s funny like a comedian is funny,” Galifianakis enthuses.

Hamm describes how his friendship with his co-star helped make this film happen, with Greg Mottola (Adventureland, Superbad) directing.

“I’ve known Zach for almost 15 years now and really wanted to do something with him not on the internet,” Hamm explains. “When I did Between Two Ferns it was very early on in the Mad Men thing and I don’t think that people knew who I was, or cared, or thought the guy from Mad Men would be funny.” The show worked out really well, however, and fanned Hamm’s love of comedy. “I had a blast. We shot 90 minutes that we culled down to 2 1/2 [minutes] and it was fun.”

This is where you begin dreaming of seeing the other 85+ minutes of Between Two Ferns outtake footage.

Keeping Up With the Joneses

Hamm had worked with Mottola on the Larry David movie Clear History, seen on HBO in 2013. The reunion was part of this film’s appeal. “Greg has been remarkably effective at bringing that kind of humanity to all of his films,” the actor said. “Humanity” in this case applies to the cast, and also to the fact that Hamm’s character isn’t pushed into delivering just one tone.

“My character is not just this straight-laced action figure,” Hamm explains as he thinks about the role. “He has a sense of humor and as we find out in the movie, he’s sort of a reluctant spy. He’s really good at his job, he just doesn’t really like it because it’s not fulfilling to him. That was the place we jumped off with this character — that was the spice that stirred the soup for me, anyway.”

That “reluctant spy” angle also causes some conflict with the character played by Gal Gadot. “She loves being a spy,” Gadot explains with undisguised enthusiasm. “That’s the problem they have in their relationship. She’s so much into this world and he’s not. He doesn’t like the lies, he doesn’t like playing an act. She’s all about the adrenaline — the mission.”

Nine months before the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Gadot isn’t about to give away anything related to Zack Snyder’s movie, much less the solo film that follows it. She does give off a sense of great anticipation, however. “I can say, being the mother of a 3 1/2 year-old daughter, it’s very important for me to show her that women are great. I’m looking forward to doing [Wonder Woman], and I hope everyone is going to enjoy it and be inspired by it.

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Keeping Up With the Joneses opens on October 21.

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