The Farrelly brothers decipher the cult scenes of Mary at all costs

Mary at all cost
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Cameron Diaz admits to having hesitated to shoot the scene of the “gel” in the hair.

Mary at all cost returns tonight on TFX. comedy with Cameron Diaz was released on July 15, 1998 in the United States, and to celebrate its twentieth anniversary as it should be, variety then contacted directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly to talk about creating unforgettable scenes for their crazy comedy. They also called on a few actors to talk about their best memories of the shoot. We are republishing their words to wait until the rerun of the film.

Will Cameron Diaz return to the cinema one day?

The fly accident: “It’s funny because it’s true”
“Homer summed it up perfectly,” Bobby Farrelly has fun remembering the famous sequence where Ted (Ben Stiller) finds himself at his in-laws’ house with his penis stuck in his fly. “‘It’s funny because it’s true’ (a reference to a famous replica of the simpsons). What is taken from reality always seems more hilarious to us. With Peter, we wondered ‘What very embarrassing thing could happen to this kid?’ The duo then recounts that in their childhood, their little sister had invited school friends to the house and that one of them had had the same accident while going to the toilet. “He had gone up to the WC and ‘zipped’ his penis. He stayed in there for a long time. Our father, who was a doctor, had to come upstairs to ask him: ‘Hey kid, are you okay in there?'” The parents decided to keep the secret for years so that the children wouldn’t make fun of their classmate. “The day they told us, we were laughing so hard! We remembered that (when preparing Mary) and we thought it would work well in our story.”

Mary at all cost
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the “gel” in the hair: “I wondered if it was not going to harm my career”

It is certainly the most famous sequence of Mary at all cost : when Ted invites Mary to dinner and she borrows some “gel” for the hair, which turns out to be semen (it’s a long story). She doesn’t realize anything, but he finds himself destabilized by the strange lock that she will keep erect on her head during the evening. The directors claim that this idea “is loosely inspired by a real fact“, but they don’t detail (“I remembered the kid’s story, but I can’t tell you all my secrets!”, Bobby replies laughing). On the other hand, they say that they hesitated to keep this scene: “We were wondering if it was going to cross the line. If it didn’t trigger bursts of laughter (during the first screenings) we had planned to remove it. The goal is not to shock people. On the contrary, we want to make them laugh. (Cameron) told us she was ready to do it, but on the big day she had a second of hesitation.”

The actress confirms. “I wondered if it was going to hurt my career. You can’t know how something is going to be received when it’s never been done before… I had faith in Bobby and Peter because they are hilarious, and when I saw what it looked like visually, I knew they were right. They know how to put heart into their stories. No matter how shocking it may be, there’s always something ‘intrinsically good at what they do: in the plot and also in the way their characters relate to real people. It all makes it easier to forgive their jokes.’ On this subject, Bobby remembers that this sequence became the favorite of Cindy, a longtime friend of their mother: “When she told us that, I knew it was going to be a success.”

Their first meeting with Mary
“Cameron was at the very top of our list and when we met her, she went up again!exclaims Bobby. We both left that first date saying to ourselves, ‘I love this girl.’ That’s exactly what we were looking for (…) It works because she’s adorable. next why all these guys (Ben Stiller, Matt Dillon, Lee Evans) fall for her and make themselves look ridiculous trying to win her affection.”

Keith David, the perfect father-in-law

Bobby then talks about some supporting roles he loves in Mary at all cost, starting with the girl’s stepfather, played by African-American actor Keith David. “We did several auditions, and when he showed up, he blew us away.” The director adds that he wanted to bring up the subject of the blended family in a positive way and that the fact that the stepfather is black “changed the dynamic”. “I love their relationship. Sometimes a stepfather comes into your life at the right time. It’s not a question of biological paternity, it’s a question of upbringing: who took care of you? My stepfather was a lovely man, and I drew inspiration from him for several characters. He loved his wife, and when your wife comes in with her kids, you love the kids too.”

Mary at all cost
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Warren, a crucial role: “We were surrounded by disabled people, it was natural to put them in our film”

Peter Farrelly details why Darren, Mary’s brother, is mentally retarded. Relatives of a disabled neighbor (“Whoever asks Mary for a kiss in the movie is a great guy”), the two brothers wanted to talk about it without taboo. “One of our friends had a broken neck in high school and was a paraplegic, too. We were surrounded by disabled people, it was natural to put them in our film. But the studio was like, ‘No, no No! It makes people uncomfortable.’ So I insisted: ‘It’s wrong, it’s bullshit. In life, some people have disabilities, and you have to show them.'” The duo held firm and 20th Century Fox relented.

W. Earl Brown, the interpreter of Darren, details that it was never a question of making his character funny or ridiculous. “I felt it instinctively. From the audition, I was playing it seriously. If you try to be funny with a role like that, it’s going to screw up. The public is going to hate you because you make fun of a disabled person .” He then recounts an unforgettable compliment received for this film some time after its release, that of a woman whose brother, suffering from trisomy 21, recognized himself in the character of Darren when he discovered Mary at all cost with family. “She said to me, ‘From the first scene where you come to school looking for the baseball, he got up off the couch. He said nothing, walked over to the TV, we looked and said, ‘He’s special, like me. Then he sat back down and we laughed a lot for the rest of the movie. All together.'”

Magda kept her fake breasts!

Lin Shaye, already in Dumb and Dumber (2014) and king pin (1996), reunited with the Farrelly brothers for the memorable role of Magda, Mary’s eccentric neighbor, obsessed with tanning (which required 4 hours of makeup a day), men and her dog. She reveals that while someone stole the wig she wore on set, she kept her fake boobs: “I thought I had to keep them for fun. I really hung them in my window (to recall the famous sequence of the film where the viewer thinks he is going to see Mary topless but finally falls on Magda’s drooping chest). And I wrote underneath: ‘Magda’s boobs. Mary at all cost. 1998.'”

She also relates that during her “kiss” with his dog Puffy, Cameron Diaz could not hold back a giggle, which was a lot more to the directors. On the other hand, when the same doggie passes through the window, Bobby found that the actors were not surprised enough. To capture a genuine expression of shock, he literally showed them his c..: “He loves doing that!”still laughs Shaye, who recognizes that their reaction filmed at that time, which was kept in the final cut, is much more natural.

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