Interviews with the Cast of Playing with Fire: In Theatres November 8th!
In theatres November 8th, I’m thrilled to be sharing with you today my interviews with the Cast of Playing with Fire!
I few months ago, I braved the colds of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to spend some time on the set of Playing with Fire and interview some of the cast members including John Cena, Keegan-Michael Key, Judy Greer and Brianna Hildebrand along with Producer Todd Garner and Director Andy Fickman.
This post is in partnership with Paramount Pictures. All thoughts, opinions and experiences and character crushes are 100% my own!
I’m always excited about good fun family friendly films, and this one promises to not only be a ton of laughs, but also seems to have a wonderful storyline!
When straight-laced fire superintendent Jake Carson (John Cena) and his elite team of expert firefighters (Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo and Tyler Mane) come to the rescue of three siblings (Brianna Hildebrand, Christian Convery and Finley Rose Slater) in the path of an encroaching wildfire, they quickly realize that no amount of training could prepare them for their most challenging job yet – babysitters. Unable to locate the children’s parents, the firefighters have their lives, jobs and even their fire depot turned upside down and quickly learn that kids – much like fires –are wild and unpredictable.
The Cast of Playing with Fire
Playing with Fire has such an amazing list of cast members: John Cena, Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo, Brianna Hildebrand, Dennis Haybert and Judy Greer just to name a few. Plus I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that we’ll see some young new talent come out of movie as well. From the tiny clips we were able to catch here and there, the child actors in this movie appear to be both adorable and talented!
I’m excited to share my interviews with just a few of the cast members that I think will give you some fun insight into not only how much fun they had making this film, but the strong messaging that they all enjoyed and appreciated during the process. I’m also sharing a few tidbits from Directory Andy Fickman and Producer Todd Garner.
Interview with John Cena
I’m cracking up over this photo that was taken of me with John Cena on the Playing with Fire movie set … he’s HUGE. And, it was SO cold on that set … my hands were icicles, but it didn’t phase him a bit! He was so much fun to interview, but most of all, he was kind, very friendly and such a gentleman. No WWE stuff happening that day, although I was sooooo super tempted to belt out “The Time is Now” just for kicks. I refrained, although I might have been singing it a little in my head throughout the interview, lol.
I think interviewing John Cena might just be the interview – out of all of my celebrity interviews – that earned me some serious mom points with my teenage son. He’s a huge fan. My son and I had just went on a movie date to see the movie Bumblebee (also staring John Cena) just a few days before my interview with him. We LOVED Bumblebee and what I most loved about it was how family friendly is was, and the fact that my teenage son wanted to see it WITH me. It’s getting harder and harder to find family friendly movies that we agree on, so I’m very thankful when movies like this come along. Playing with Fire seems to have that same feel to it, so I asked John his thoughts on that, and what type of through process goes into accepting a role in a family friendly film like this:
There is a decision-making process in most everything I do. I’m not going to say that these are the only movies I do. I’ve done some adult comedies which are very funny. I’ve done some straight action movies. The thing about movies like this and like Bumblebee–the thing that those have in common–the same sort of ethos to them.
This one hit me especially hard because it’s a story about a gentleman who is dedicated to his work and thinks there is nothing else in life except work and then gets a set of circumstances that change his mind. And that’s like exactly where I am in my life right now. So, when you read something, and you get emotionally charged by the words, when movie magic takes over, it’s awesome. And I think that’s what you see right now.
…this is a heartfelt, wholesome movie about the importance of family, friends, and togetherness. ~ John Cena
We have a great group, we have a great director. Everyone kind of knows who they are. And they also–make no mistake about it–they also know what movie we’re making. We don’t get these funny gifted people who also want to come on the movie and turn it into something that isn’t appropriate for kids and teens. So, a lot of times, you know, if that’s the only comedic tool you have in your tool box, then you change the scope of the movie, and it’s not as heartfelt. Like this is–this is a heartfelt, wholesome movie about the importance of family, friends, and togetherness.
So, we just happen to be lucky enough to use smoke jumpers as the backdrop. It’s a conscious decision, but that isn’t to say that I won’t make a conscious decision to do other types of movies. It’s just when you commit to doing something like this, you have to know what kind of movie you’re making.You do the best you can and make a movie that makes you guys feel good when you go see it.
Interview with Keegan-Michael Key
And guys!! Keegan-Michael Key!! First of all, JUST as hilarious in person as you might think. FUNny!! We had the chance to watch them film a few scenes with Keegan-Michael and the kids and honestly, you could just feel the connections they had! Even from the little bits and pieces of takes that that were were able to see on the set, I was able to capture that very strong feeling of family and relationship that just oozes out of the scenes. Keegan-Michael spoke to the strong relationship messaging in this film:
I think part of the message is you can find family anywhere if you open yourself up enough and you’re vulnerable enough to just the human experience at large. You will, I think, organically find parental behaviors coming out of you.
I love these children, and I barely know them. But I love them. I have nephews and godchildren that I adore. And I know it’s a different bond than a parent has with a genetic child,but I do believe also–I do believe that love is love is love and that there’s so many people in the world that–that need to experience this kind of ephemeral thing that we call love. You can’t explain it. But, I don’t believe necessarily one has to be connected to you genetically for you to express that.It’s something that makes us so very different than the rest of the life on the planet.
The way we love is different than the way cats love or birds love or dogs love, walruses love, or dolphins love, you know?
I think you are really going to love him in this movie. It was fun hearing him in Toy Story 4 (as Ducky!) and I was also excited to learn that we’ll be able to hear him in the remaking The Dark Crystal. (The 10-episode run will premiere August 30th on Netflix.)
Interview with Judy Greer
You know how I mentioned earlier how COLD the set was!? It was FREEZING and I will say that Judy Greer was all kinds of brilliant for being about the only person who had on a warm coat! She was also all kinds of awesome and a wonderful asset to the cast of Playing with Fire. I loved the chemistry that we were able to capture between here and a certain smoke jumper during the filming takes that we witnessed.
Super friendly and hilarious, you might know her from roles in movies like Ant Man, Ant Man and the Wasp, Jurassic World and a teeny tiny role in Tomorrowland. (one of my favorite movies and I always thought they didn’t give her enough of a role in this movie, but that’s an entirely different discussion….something I should have asked in my interview with Tomorrowland Director Brad Bird)
If you’ve seen any of Judy’s other work, you also know that aside from being a very talented actress, she’s funny! Very quick witted and that was definitely the case when asked about what it was like working with John Cena:
There was a funny day when like we have the scene which–I think it was my first day of work–where like our characters are starting to soften up and like lighten up towards each other. And he takes his shirt off, and like I see him in the reflection of a mirror. He is like behind a shelf. And I see the reflection of him without his shirt on, and I’m like, “Oh.” …..But then, like in real life, I totally forgot my lines because when he took his shirt off, I was like–and then, all of them were waiting for me to talk. And I was like, “I’m so sorry, I can’t remember my lines.” And everybody started laughing. They were like, “We were all the same way…” Every single person was like, “Ah.”
Now I get like a million texts a day from my husband who is like, “You know, I cleaned the drain of the sink. I don’t know if John Cena would be like cleaning the drain of the sink. I just want you to know I’ve been able to give Mary her medicine (that’s our dog) every single morning, and she hasn’t bit me. And I don’t know if John Cena would be able to feed the dog her pill every morning.”And it’s like always a test about like the things that he did that probably John Cena wouldn’t be able to do. I’m like–I pretty much think he could do anything. I’m not telling him that. I’m enjoying it, though. He’s like–my husband is like,“I don’t want to be that muscular. It’s a choice, actually, for me.”
Interview with Brianna Hildebrand
I think this movie is like a really good feel-good movie, and it reminds you that if you don’t have the perfect family–which nobody does–you can always make your own family with whoever you love in your life.
Interview with Director Andy Fickman
Another huge highlight of our time on the set was a quick chat with Director Andy Fickman. If you aren’t familiar with him, he is an American film and stage director and screenwriter and also happens to have been the executive producer of one of my ALL TIME FAVORITES: the original Disney show Liv & Maddie. (*If you haven’t watched that series, I highly recommend it. Honestly, some of the very best writing and creative storyline work I’ve seen in a series, and so fantastic for young girls. I’m still sad that the series ended, but my daughter and I are still watching re-runs… SO good!) BUT, all the more reason for me to be excited about this movie, he’s brilliant!
When asked about why this movie, his answer was pure gold to my mama ears:
I have always enjoyed family entertainment. What I’ve done with family entertainment, which I’m sure you can appreciate, is the fact that it was very hard when taking my son to finding things we could do together, tofind things that we could both enjoy– on the same on television. It was hard–there were things that we’d watch that were very kid-friendly that I would be like, “Okay, we’re good with that theme song, aren’t we?” And then, there would be something really clever that I’d find that he and I would really like. We’d enjoy something that we could just kind of bond over. So, when I started doing directing and writing, it felt to me like this is a world worth exploring.
This just spoke right to my heart because that is what Liv & Maddie has been for me and my kids and to know that there are directors out there making these family movies with purpose. Man. I’m a big fan of Andy Frickman. Solid.
Interview with Producer Todd Garner
And of course, along with the strong family and relationship theme that we kept hearing about, this movie is about smoke jumpers. The set was literally a huge warehouse that featured a forest and a fire station, cabins … all of the things that you might see out in the middle of the wilderness.
Producer Todd Garner shared with us that a lot of research went into bringing all of this together in a believable manner and honoring the professional and the heroes that are smoke jumpers, while still creating an entertaining and fun comedy.
And then he spoke, as the others did to the family friendly aspect of this movie. He’s a parent and I was thrilled to hear the “why” behind this movie:
I want, first of all, everybody to be able to go and have a great time with their families. And then at the end of the day, I always try to sneak a little aspirin in the applesauce of, you know, being a family. Being good to each other and doing the right thing. So, that’s always a big part of what I do.
Three cheers for the aspirin in the applesauce and giving us a movie that we can all enjoy together! I can’t wait to see this in theatres, how about you?