Making Magic On The Set Of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

By Eric Eisenberg 2013-02-27 03:33:44discussion comments
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Between interviews we had the pleasure of watching the cast and crew film two scenes, and while one of those scenes can actually be seen in full in the trailer above – the shot where Burt and Anton arrive on-stage via wires and introduce themselves to the crowd – the other has yet to be revealed.

A big moment in the story for Olivia Wilde’s character, Jane, the scene begins with Burt and Anton getting off stage for a quick costume change, making snippy comments at one another and being generally unpleasant. When their female assistant complains, asking if they can do one show without a “bitch fest,” Burt responds, “Not unless you leave,” which, naturally, prompts the assistant to quit. When Anton protests, saying that it’s the second assistant they’ve lost in a month, his partner responds by grabbing a random stagehand – who happens to be Jane – and after asking her if she knows all of the tricks makes her the new “Nicole.” And thus her career as a magician’s assistant begins.

But talking to the actress before the set-up, Wilde explained that there is a lot more to Jane than just being the eye candy during performances. “It’s great to play a character that has this kind of defined arc,” she told us. “She really goes on a journey and comes into her own, and she ends up not only transforming herself, but also Steve [Carell]’s character. It’s just fun.”

It was fascinating to watch Carell shooting the scene, as after each take he would leave the stage to watch what they had shot on the monitors and talk with Scardino. He would then use what he had gleaned from the video and chat, fixing his blocking, his timing and wording.

“I'm trying to kind of modulate,” Carell explained when asked about the habit. “I'm trying to figure out, for one thing, a sense of where the cameras are and where they're looking and what's reading and what isn't reading.” After the first few takes he realized that he was bringing too much energy and pressure to the scene, which was unnecessary for a couple of old pros. “After watching a couple of them, I got the sense that it needed to feel a bit more well-worn and routine. I wanted that to look like it had been done many, many times before and not that this was the first time for everybody.”

Keeping on top of each shot is also important for his role as a producer, learning what kind of coverage is needed so that they can plan for the future. But those same duties also had an important influence on the pre-production stages of the film, including casting.

“I had some very specific casting ideas,” Carell said. “There were a lot of people interested in doing the movie, but we had a very specific idea as to the types of actors that we felt would be right.
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