In Revolution Studios’ comedy “Zoom,” Tim Allen plays Jack, formerly Captain Zoom, an out-of-shape former superhero who has lost his powers. Jack is reluctantly called back into action to turn a ragtag group of kids into a new generation of superheroes and save the world from certain destruction. Helping him out are comedy legends Chevy Chase, Rip Torn and former “Friends” actress Courteney Cox who work at the kid’s training base. Allen and Cox sat down to talk about the film recently:
Question: It took a tremendous amount of courage to where that gray suit.
Tim Allen: Oh boy, the movie would have been, actually, getting into that suit. I told the producer and the writer, who happened to be my partner, because he and I wrote one draft of this, that the superhero movie should be watching guys get in superhero suits; it took two guys literally moving my privates around, going ‘ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!’ and I thought the movie – there’s a lot of stuff that didn’t end up in this cut. It’s more like Knights than superheroes to me. That’s what I thought; this was set up to be a parody of that because puttin’ the suits on and then you’d have a trailer like Batman would have, ‘Oh, look at Batman’s trailer, he’s got a huge semi and six people.’ You’d actually dress in that stuff then go fight and get out of it – ‘Batman’s got to hydrate, bring him back in.’ And, ‘g-d I’m so hot; I didn’t realize the Flash was so strong.’
Question: Which superhero did you relate to most growing up and talk about correlation with being different like superheroes vs. being an actor?
Courteney Cox: Was Bewitched a superhero?
Tim Allen: Yes.
Courteney Cox: Ok, good; well she was my favorite.
Tim Allen: Which husband?
Courteney Cox: I liked the first one.
Question: Why was she your favorite?
Courteney Cox: Well just cause I love witches and she was pretty and she could you know go from place to place with just a little twinkle of her nose.
Tim Allen: These people don’t like you already.
Courteney Cox: But that first answer about the superhero suit-that was a good one.
Tim Allen: It was, I just didn’t talk about my sack or anything; I wanted to be Flash. That’s why this character came up; I wanted to be – I considered when I was – because I read comic books when I was a kid all the time and all of them had problems. Superman was a little creepy because of the kryptonite thing because he could be brought down by a frickin’ green rock, horrible. That Lex Luthor already seemed to have an endless supply of, so you always bring out that; but the Flash, they never really examined how fast he could go.
Question: So that’s where the story came from for this?
Tim Allen: Yeah, there really is no end to how fast he can go; the balance of this shifted, skewed a little younger cause the real sci-fi had to have a lot of pipe laid and the studio said it would just get too long. But the idea is that Zoom, if he starts running, he really doesn’t know how to stop. And that’s how the original problem arose because he sent the guy into another dimension because he could barely stop himself and he scared himself so he kind of – when you do something terrible, you put a limit on yourself and you don’t want to go back again and that’s why I always liked the Flash. Because no one ever discussed how fast could the Flash run. And we thought if this, here’s a geek – I’m still like an 11-year-old – if this guy Zoom when says I’ll be back in a second, he literally would be standing there and goes, ‘got it.’ And the studio went, ‘Well, how do you show that?’ And I go, ‘That’s not my problem.’ No noise, I’m back because I can run that fast; I literally had the studio look at me like you people are looking at me now – ‘wow, that’s interesting.’
Question: Courteney, can you relate to that whole feeling of being different?
Tim Allen: Look at her face – has she ever been not accepted? She was in that popular group.
Courteney Cox: When I was a kid I didn’t feel like I fit in because – this is really silly and I probably shouldn’t say it, but, I didn’t think anything was funny. So I used to go home and literally cry to my mom and my step-dad at the time, and I didn’t think anything was funny – I couldn’t laugh. And all my friends thought everything was really funny and I didn’t, so that was really a big thing for me to be able to learn to laugh. And then of course I got to work with Tim Allen.
Tim Allen: Like years later though – there’s a whole period –
Courteney Cox: That’s true, I got to work with some funny people and it really helped me because I’m not kidding. I just am a snob when it comes to humor.
Tim Allen: Bruce Springsteen’s funny!
Courteney Cox: Does that apply at all my way?
Question: Who helped you find your humor?
Courteney Cox: Jim Carrey was probably like
Tim Allen: Who?
Courteney Cox: No, Michael J. Fox, Jim Carrey, all the cast of Friends and Tim Allen.
Tim Allen: It’s not cause I’m just sitting here – yes it is. The thing about that I like is when kids, especially boys are a certain age they feel powerless because you don’t have any control over your emotions and your testosterone. And, unfortunately, I would – comic books are an outlet for kids and that’s because they feel powerful. When I was kid, we just dreamt – the powerlessness you feel for some kid at about 11 or 12, superheroes exhibit their, especially Spider-man, one of the best ever. Is that he’s a fallible guy, always twisted, and he’s always deciding whether he’s going. When I was a kid, I’d steal some money; I’d take just a couple cars and still be good. I wanted to kind of do both, rob from the rich, but keep a little bit in your garage and then give the rest to the poor.
Question: Tim were you aware of the Galaxy Quest parallels?
Tim Allen: Yeah, this was all about that – but it was a real tough sell because Galaxy Quest was real delicate, and the parody reality of it. And I’m staying it out of respect for Sony, because it was tough to tell them that this was what it was all about. The underlying thing and there’s still, and I’m being even conservative, 85% of the Galaxy Quest-ish look at superheroes still in this. They still wanted to skew it so kids would understand but they left a lot of the adult references in it. I got to be the smartass, which I really wanted to be that didn’t’ take any of this seriously; but in this case, the guy did have a superpower. I had this long speech in the movie, explaining that essentially that you just go get rogue guys; that’s what superheroes do – you don’t actually do anything. You’re never around burning buildings; is there an alarm? Superman can get there quick – he’s the only guy that can do that. But how busy would he really be? He would be so busy blowing out fires, stopping domestic disputes – don’t make me break your back with my little finger. The reality is that superheroes couldn’t do what civilians get our selves into and that’s where I wanted this parody to go.
Question: Courteney, you have some pratfalls in this? Did you get lessons from Chevy?
Courteney Cox: I didn’t ask for lessons from him – Tim, you helped me with my pratfalls.
Tim Allen: I pushed her down a lot.
Courteney Cox: But it was fun; I was glad that that was part of my character as opposed to just being the girl in the movie. It was fun to play kind of a klutzy scientist obsessed with comic books.
Question: You actually pushed that yourself – more of that flipping and falling.
Courteney Cox: It was one of those things where I read the script and I knew that I wanted to work with Tim, and I thought it was really sweet and fun adventure film. But I thought that the girl’s character was a little too much like the girl’s character who at first she’s not attracted to the guy and whatever. I remember Tim saying, ‘I would be attracted to that.’ But I remember saying to him, ‘But I wouldn’t be attracted to you.’ Not in real life but he was wondering how he’d be attracted to me. I’m like, ‘It’s a movie, deal with it.’
Tim Allen: That’s a good acting note – ‘It’s a movie; deal with it.”
Courteney Cox: No, but I mean he wanted me to be really strong and beautiful. I’m like, ‘No, I’m a nerd; I should be obsessed with you.’ Yes, I’m a little goofy but maybe I’m funny and you’ll find me endearing – I think it worked out.
Tim Allen: It did.
Courteney Cox: But I just didn’t want to play the typical girl.
Question: Does being a mother effect the roles you choose?
Courteney Cox: It just occasionally pops up; I just thought this would be a nice – I, personally, and I’m not just saying this because you’re here, but I’m such a huge fan of his [Tim Allen]. Galaxy Quest was one of my all-time favorite films so I thought it would just be fun to play opposite Tim in something that Coco would be able to see one day. But it would be a little while before she’d be able to see this movie just because it’s a lot going on.
Tim Allen: It’s a little scary.
Courteney Cox: It’s a little scary and hard and she won’t understand just yet but it would be nice one day for her to see a movie with Mom in it.
Question: How about Barnyard? Does she pick up your voice in it?
Courteney Cox: I did take her to Barnyard, to the premiere. And the coyotes in Barnyard were a little intense. So she woke up at 4 o’clock in the morning going ‘Movie.’ And I was like, ‘Think about swimming and circle time;’ that may have been a mistake.
Tim Allen: Circle time?
Courteney Cox: And bubbles.
Question: Being around Chevy and Tim, was there more improv in this?
Tim Allen: Tell him how funny Rip and Chevy were.
Courteney Cox: Well, yeah, this movie was definitely quite a place to hang out because we have Rip Torn and Chevy Chase and Tim Allen and then myself, and we have some younger kids. Just the personalities were pretty fascinating. Rip is something, very talented and he’s kind of out there. Then Chevy who is always doing, not pratfalls now, but everything is a joke – and generation gaps, and then Tim; it was crazy.
Tim Allen: I like stirring stuff up.
Courteney Cox: And Tim likes stirring stuff up.
Tim Allen: Yeah, baby!
Courteney Cox: So it was really fun making the movie and very interesting.
Tim Allen: We were all in this same town, too, so we had this little area that we could walk to and have dinner. The whole experience was fun; Rip so intense and Chevy is such an icon. I kept saying it was hard to be around these guys, even though in this particular case I was number one on the call sheet. Rip was like, ‘Wait! When are you guys gonna stop talking?!’ He didn’t get improv sometimes because I’d float a little bit, and he’d, ‘I gotta know when you’re gonna stop so I know when to start!’ I’m like, ‘Calm down.’ I had to give him an out point. ‘I’m the hammer, you’re the nail; now we’re the hammer and the nail!’ He’d give all this; I’d walk away. ‘Rip, what did all this mean? I don’t know the hammer and the nail thing.’ Just don’t get him irritated cause he’ll just start yelling again and he’s so intense! And all of a sudden just drill these lines that looks like he wasn’t acting.
Courteney Cox: Yeah, he’s really great.
Tim Allen: Just great. But he wasn’t used to being around a guy who –
Courteney Cox: By the way, Tim cuts up all day – he only time he gets a little not nice is around 4 o’clock; his blood sugar drops and he needs some food. Other than that, it’s non-stop jokes from the time you get up until the time that they call wrap – except for 4, it’s like, ‘Tim, what happened to your personality?’
Tim Allen: Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.
Courteney Cox: ‘Get him some protein, people.’
Question: Courteney, what’s it like getting back into acting again?
Courteney Cox: It’s been great; I’m actually about to go back to television and do a dramatic series for FX called Dirt, which is going to be really fun. I’ve loved it; I’m a little worried because David’s going to be working the same time I am and we’ve never done that. So who gets Coco out of bed if I’m leaving at five and he leaves at five-thirty? Hopefully, she’ll know how to do it herself. No, we’ll have to have a sleepover.
Question: What’s Dirt about?
Courteney Cox: I play an editor of a tabloid and it’s really kind of a dark, salacious, sexy –
Tim Allen: Huh, much unlike the real business.
Courteney Cox: Ian Hart plays my paparazzi and it’s great; it’s a really fantastic series. We were producing and then I read the script when it finally came in and I said, ‘I gotta do this.’
Question: Did you do a lot of research? Hang out at The Star for awhile?
Courteney Cox: I talked to the editor of Us and I just had dinner with Rebecca Wade from The Sun. Yeah, I’ve done some research.
Tim Allen: You can talk to the people out in front of your house.
Courteney Cox: Oh, no, two things happened; I went to Disneyland and there was a photographer taking pictures as I was riding a rollercoaster and the wind flapping my mouth back. I was like, ‘Oh, David!’ David jumps over the thing and gets him and says you got to get out and calls the security, because Coco was there; we were there for her birthday so we had kicked out. But then I felt bad.
Tim Allen: And you had him killed, right – because they can do that.
Courteney Cox: He was at Disneyland and maybe he wanted to ride some rides so I said, ‘You can stay in the park, you can have one picture but I have to have your card and we want to interview you.’ So he came into the writers’ room and gave us a lot of information. And this guy sits out in front of my house; I saw him behind the curtain and I said, ‘I see you’re there; you can have a picture but give me your card.’ So I’m now making friends with the ones as long as they – I mean, that’s the end of my friendship with them but –
Question: Did you come around to empathizing at all with them?
Courteney Cox: No, to them it’s a job but to me it makes me want to sell my house in Malibu.
Tim Allen: What’s the location? Do you have the address?
Courteney Cox: Yeah, remember when you honked. “Can I come in?”
Tim Allen: Yeah, I can never come in – ‘Stop by anytime!’ That’s exactly what I do; I get in the pickup truck, she said stop by. That’s what she meant; just hang out in front, take pictures.
Courteney Cox: Yeah, I don’t let him in.
Question: Tim, is TV a thing of the past to you?
Tim Allen: I love being on films because it’s a new group to annoy; I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve done like six in a row and I like it – just finished with Travolta, Martin Lawrence, Bill Macy and myself doing a biker movie called “Wild Hogs”. It’s been the most fun and, literally, going from Zoom, a riot to a very different situation and now this. I love doing this and television scares me; right now, I don’t know what it is now anymore
Question: If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
Tim Allen: In Zoom – Zoom’s superpower – he can run faster than the speed of light, he has no limit to how fast he can move and he con back inter-dimensionally. He doesn’t really know his power; that’s why the new suit came on – the one that Chevy designed – the chafing so he wouldn’t explode. If you ran that fast, the chafing – your ass would explode. So I wanted to avoid that scene, which I’d love to do personally – ‘Arrrghhh!’ But that’s the power I’d like to have; Spider-Man’s cool, too – that swinging through New York City is cool but Spider-Man can get hurt, you know? He’s not super-human.
Courteney Cox: I’d like to fly.