FanBolt recently had the chance to sit down with Topher Grace and Teresa Palmer, the stars of Take Me Home Tonight. The pair stopped into Atlanta a couple weeks ago to promote the film which hits theaters everywhere on March 4th.
I was extremely excited to be able to talk to both Grace and Palmer after I saw Take Me Home Tonight last month. The film felt like a true 80’s film to me…. like a John Hughes movie… a difficult thing to accomplish considering how many 80’s flicks of today feel like they’re just making fun of the genre. When I sat down with Grace and Palmer, that was one of the first questions I asked…
It felt like a true 80’s movie to me.
Topher Grace: That’s exactly what we were trying to make, yeah.
I’m wondering when you were coming up with the idea for this film, what elements did you have to keep in mind to not come across like you were making fun of 80’s movies?
Topher Grace: Right, that was literally what we were trying to do. So the first that you have to do is strip it of any knowledge of the future. Meaning when someone said, “Look how tiny this cell phone is!” You know that’s a spoof movie about the 80’s. What they’re saying is, we all know cell phones get so much smaller. Or when you’re holding a big brick cell phone like that, but if you don’t know that cell phone get smaller, you wouldn’t say, “Look how tiny this phone is.” It’s huge, you know?
I don’t even think people talk about their cell phones. You know what I mean? Like, no one in the 80’s said, “What’s the deal with these shoulder pads?” It was just a fashion.
Topher Grace: By the way all the songs that we took out were like you know “Rock Me Amadeus”, to basically like “Who Let the Dogs Out.” You know, yeah that song was a hit, but it’s so specific.
Teresa Palmer: And cheesy [laughs].
Topher Grace: And cheesy, we try to keep everything really bad-ass and really real. Kinda like went back in a time machine and just made an 80’s movie.
Teresa Palmer: We didn’t want the audience, while they’re watching it, to be reminded of that, “Oh yeah! We’re watching a movie in the 80’s!”
Now there’s a scene in the movie, which is also in all the trailers, with a giant ball which the party goers are hoping someone gets in and takes a ride in. Can you tell me a little bit about where that concept came from?
Topher Grace: That was Jeff Filgo of Jackie and Jeff Filgo who wrote the script. It’s from Houston, and there’s an urban legend in Houston about the cage. They drag people in a cage behind their car. ZZ Top actually wrote a song about it called “Master of Sparks.” I don’t think Jeff has ever seen it, just kinda heard about it, but that’s why we had the dad talking about it. It’s an urban legend that this ball existed forever, so when you went back 20 years, his dad was probably at the house party where they were trying to roll the ball.
Daze and Confuse was made in the 90’s about the 70’s. American Graffiti was made in the 70’s about 50’s, and we wanted to be in that tradition. The best part, to me, in American Graffiti…You know Ron Howard’s one of our producers…. Is that through the film Harrison Ford is challenging people to drag races. You know that character is there for a reason. And right as the film is kinda resolving itself, it opens up at the end with this amazing drag race… this action scene where it changes where you thought the end of the film was.
We also just wanted a physical metaphor for “Just let go, Matt.” You know, just go! Don’t think too much. Who knows where it’s gonna end. That’s it. Nature of the ball, by the way.
Right, right, gravity.
Topher Grace: Exactly.
Now, you guys have met before this project right?
Topher Grace: We met at an audition.
Teresa Palmer: Yeah.
Can you tell me a little bit about your first encounter?
Teresa Palmer: I thought Topher wasn’t funny at all. I thought he was awful and just a really bad actor. Um… totally the opposite very happy to say [Laughs].
Topher Grace: I imagine her… I like her cander. [Looks at Teresa] That was very honest.
Teresa Palmer: Um… yeah, we met at an audition and we had a good chemistry from the start. We had a great banter between us and we kept on… We found it very easy to throw in lots of unscripted dialogue.
Topher Grace: We won’t tell you what movie it was, but I have seen the movie. Neither of us are in it. [Looks to Teresa] And I’ve seen that scene and it’s awful. I know we totally would’ve been better, but that’s that director’s cross to bear I guess.
But I recall coming back from that, and I was overseeing the writing of the script and thinking, “Oh man, that girl… she’s Australian but you’d never know it. She’s got a perfect American accent.” And I was like… just kinda like a blonde Natalie Portman. I don’t know what to tell you.
Teresa Palmer: I remember you said that to me and it was an amazing compliment because she’s one of my favorite actor so… thank you.
Topher Grace: Also you know how Natalie has that spunky side to her. Although she’s obviously an Academy Award level actress. I remember just thinking that it’ll be a lot of fun, there were also lots of serious moments we really wanted do… They don’t make those kind of movies anymore. Movies that are all raunchy… Great, you know what you’re getting…. Or all romantic. We wanted to do one like those John Hughes and Cameron Crow movies from the 80’s which had everything in it.
Now this was the first project you were an EP (Executive Producer) on, correct?
Topher Grace: That’s right.
Did that presented any unforeseen challenges for you?
Topher Grace: Trying to get use to editing, because I’ve never been in an editing room before. I always just show up for the premiere and be like, “What took you guys so long? Just cut it together.” There are a million movies within every movie that are shot and the editing really decides that. So it was really mind blowing, but it reminded me of when I started That 70’s Show, I’d never really acted before. It was a big fluke how that happens. So it was the same thing. I felt like my brain was on fire, but I was learning a lot of stuff I could use. So you know it was healthy but… it was if it was this much harder it was this much more rewarding.
So you’ll do it again?
Topher Grace: Not anytime soon. [Laughs]
Tell me a little bit about the music video you guys did.
Topher Grace: Yeah we had more fun on that. So great… not like anything I’ve ever done. So much fun.
Teresa Palmer: Yeah, I guess Topher and Gordon had the idea to reference iconic scenes from 80’s movies because we really didn’t spoof the 80’s enough, but in the music video we decide that there was room for us to go and sort of play around with something along the lines of 80’s films.
Topher Grace: Yeah, we had all this frustrated energy left over from not making fun of the 80’s, so let’s just do it all in a music video. You know Atomic Tom, their cover of “Don’t You Want Me” is the final song over the credits, and I liked it so much I thought it’d be great to get all the actors together and to just hang out. We’re all buddies.
Do you know how many movies or reference are in that?
Topher Grace: 39.
It seems like there’s a lot of great potential for extra footage for the DVD. Is that gonna be…
Topher Grace: Oh yeah.
Teresa Palmer: We’ve been going through that at the moment, haven’t you?
Topher Grace: I have. I’ve started doing the DVD now. It’s crazy, but yeah there’s a lot of great outtakes, and alternate takes, kinda behind the scenes stuff.
Teresa Palmer: Extra scenes that were in there.
Topher Grace: Yeah, it should be really great. We hope it’s one of those movies people will want to watch over and over. Like when I was younger, the films that were on HBO all the time, you just got really comfortable with them. Cause that was it. Those were movies that you hope are something people… I certainly watch a lot of times. I think in a nonsensical way, most of the scenes I’m not in I really enjoy watching again and again. Plus, the atmosphere of the set where we were all so close and all the same age. There was a level of fun we were having, and it kinda blended into the film a little bit.
Yeah, it’s one of the first movie that I’ve seen in a long time that I will wanna see again. That’s hard to do in a movie!
Teresa Palmer: Oh, that’s a nice complement!
Topher Grace: Thank you, that’s what we were really hoping would happen.
What are your favorite 80’s movies?
Teresa Palmer: I was born in 1986, so I didn’t really experience a lot of those movies growing up, but my favorite one would’ve been Labyrinth.
Topher Grace: Obviously the great John Hughes movies… 16 Candles is the most like ours. All just kinda in one period in time. I guess Breakfast Club too just during the day, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off… Also Say Anything which is very close to our plot line in the film. And Cameron Crowe also wrote Fast Times at Ridgemont High which was really close to Barry’s plotline in the film. So those two guys were good times for me.
What are your favorite television shows?
Teresa Palmer: Oh well mine… [Laughs] I only watch two stations which is the Discovery Health Channel and The Learning Channel. So my favorite shows are like Bring Home Baby or UFO Files. You know… a bit of a nerd! You know all the 911 emergency reality shows. Just all those sort of things.
Topher Grace: [Looks at Teresa] I’ve never heard of any of those shows. I would say, I really like Lost a lot. Really love that last episode. Mad Men is probably one of my favorite shows of all time… which is still on. The Colbert Report…
Were you happy with the way Lost ended?
Topher Grace: I was. I mean I was actually moved by it, and I thought it was so great… And then I went on the internet and I went, “Oh internet, can I love nothing?” Like there’s nothing that the internet likes. The internet is like your friend in high school who like…. you know what I mean? You’re watching Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back, and he’s like, “Do you notice….?” You know, he’s just pointing out all this lame stuff and you’re like, “It’s the best movie of all time!”
I just hate it. So that’s how I feel about the internet.
What other projects do you guys have in the works right now?
Teresa Palmer: I have a film out called I Am Number Four. And then I just shot a film. It’s an Australian drama thriller directed by Kieran Darcy-Smith and it’s called Say Nothing. I star alongside Joel Edgerton.
Topher Grace: And I did a movie with Richard Gere called The Double where we’re partners. I worked in the FBI, and he worked in the CIA… Partner together, hunting down a killer. It’s very different from this movie. And I did Too Big To Fail. Pretty standard HBO movie that’s based on the book Too Big To Fail. It’s an amazing cast. And then I did an indie-romantic-comedy…
Teresa Palmer: Popular guy!
Speaking of I Am Number Four I know it’s a little early, but I know that there are additional books planned. Have you talked about any additional films and if so do you know if you’ll be involved?
Teresa Palmer: Yeah, we all signed on to do 3 films, but that’s sorta standard procedure you do a big studio movie. I spoke to James Frey, one of the writers, at the premier of I Am Number Four. He told me that the second book is called The Power of Six, and my character is called Six. So it’s exciting.
Topher Grace: But it’s surprisingly not about Six at all.
Teresa Palmer: Yeah, we go on a journey to find Number 5, we have to wait and see how the audience reacts to the movie. If they wanna see the characters come back…
Do you know when the next book is coming out?
Teresa Palmer: In August.
Take Me Home Tonight is in theaters on March 4th, 2011. It’s hands down a must-see movie if you loved the classic 80’s movies. It won’t disappoint! And if you want so Take Me Home Tonight swag, check out our our awesome contest going on here!
Interview By: Emma Loggins