A year after fans came through (and then some) to make the Veronica Mars movie a reality, the film is finally ready for its audience. Last week, we had the opportunity to talk to director/series creator Rob Thomas and stars Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars), Jason Dohring (Logan), Chris Lowell (Piz), Krysten Ritter (Gia) and Ryan Hansen (Dick) about the film. Because you may not have seen it yet, we've left out all spoiler-chat for this one, but they did have some fascinating things to say about the movie, including what it was almost about, whether or not they thought fans would meet the Kickstarter goal, the digital spinoff that's in the works, and what Veronica's up to these days. And for you LoVe fans, Jason Dohring told us how he and Kristen Bell reacted back during the first season, when they first found out Veronica and Logan were going to kiss.
The Plot Almost Involved The FBI, A Tijuana Drug Cartel And An Assassination
The actual plot of the movie has Veronica on the brink of working as an attorney in New York when she's called back to Neptune to help Logan, who's suspected of murdering his pop star girlfriend. There's also a Neptune High reunion (Go Pirates!), which offers plenty of opportunity for familiar faces to make appearances. But Rob Thomas said that before they went in that direction, there was a whole other plot -- alterna-plot? -- being brainstormed that sounds like it would've linked to Veronica's planned (but unfulfilled) FBI pursuits to her present-day situation.
"I had this whole other plot, that we found her in the FBI and there was a San Diego politician assassinated by what we think is a Tijuana drug cartel," Thomas revealed. "And Veronica is sent there as an FBI agent." But he said trying to get that to dovetail with things going on in Neptune began to feel strained. So they went with the murder mystery, which gave Veronica a reason to return to Neptune, and just in time for the reunion.
Veronica Has Choices To Make
In high school and college, Veronica was a bit ahead of the game, maturity-wise, however the movie picks up nearly a decade later with Veronica about to begin her law career, and Kristen Bell pondered the idea that maybe her character digressed a bit in the years that have passed. "I think, Veronica was wise beyond her years as a teenager and I almost feel like digressed a little bit as an adult," she explained. "I think, it’s a more immature notion to run from who you really should be, ought to be, your true north. She wanted to get rid of all the drama, so she sought out a lifestyle that was simple and stable, away from Neptune, and in the first few moments of the film, it starts to dawn on her that it’s pretty boring and it’s probably not who she’s supposed to be. So, as an adult, she’s kind of run from herself."
So where do we go from here? That's a question Veronica is faced with as the film progresses, because her choice is about more than one thing. Chris Lowell, who plays Veronica's boyfriend Piz, breaks it down pretty well here...
"New York represents this life that she has been really aiming for," Chris Lowell explained. "She finally escapes Neptune. She obviously leaves a lot of things behind that she loves, but she also leaves behind a lot of baggage that she doesn't want to take with her. New York represents a clean slate, and a professional career and a new life and a stable boyfriend, and all these things that she maybe thinks that she wants. And I think Neptune and that other lifestyle and Logan are the risks in her. They bring out the excitement, the unknown, the instinct and the sort of mischief and made it deeper... sexier, steamier, more smoldering... Love."
Jason Dohring, who was sitting next to Lowell during his response, agreed, adding, "She's obviously torn between two lives and what she thinks she should be doing based on 'Now I'm supposed to...' in life, and what drives her as a character, which I think is making things right, solving things, following a passion. Not just some day-job or something like that. As hard as it is to tear her away from Chris, I'm going to try my best."
The Series Wasn't A LoVe Story From The Start
Let's go back to Season 1 for a minute, because the LoVe (LOgan + VEronica) story is one of the things fans are pretty invested in. Veronica and Logan's turbulent relationship became a major arc over the course of the series' run, and it is addressed in the film. That's about as detailed as we're going to get on that front, but let's look back to the beginning of the series, before LoVe became a thing, when Logan was the 'obligatory psychotic jackass' at Neptune High, serving as little more than an antagonist in the form of a super-09er. And then came "Weapons of Class Destruction" and that kiss at the Camelot that seemed to come out of nowhere in a perfectly jaw-dropping, what-just-happened kind of way that changed everything.
So, did Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring know going into the series that their characters would eventually get romantic? According to Dohring, no. He and Bell were thrown for a loop on that one when they first found out.
"I think they told us around Episode 6 or something," Dohring revealed. "'You guys are going to be together.' We both had the same instant reaction, which was 'What the fuck are you talking about. There's no way.' And they're like, 'Yeah, it's just too good. In three episodes, you're going to kiss.' We were like, 'Are you kidding me, how's that going to work?'"
But as LoVe fans would agree, it did work, not only as a twist but as a dramatic new direction for both characters that would be revisited in roller coaster fashion over the duration of the series' run.
"The fact that I think that the guy was never going to wind up with her from the start, it was written like that," Dohring said. "It was so cool when they did because sometimes they lay the seed. 'It's like, here's the antagonistic guy but they kind of share this little thing."
"Yeah, I agree with you," Chris Lowell chimed in. "I think it was really out of left field in the best way."
"So when they kiss, people were just like "What?!"," Dohring went on. "'How could that be,' which is so cool, because those are the moments you're looking for and to lay all the groundwork before it happens so that it really makes it impactful."
Dohring also didn't anticipate the fandom that would develop in support of LoVe. "I don't try to play that people would like him or anything like that," he said. "Because he does all these horrible things..."
"And they just love him," Lowell interjected. "I, on the other hand, play so hard for people to like me and they just hate me, what does that say?"
For reference, because there's only so much that's going to come through in text, Chris Lowell and Jason Dohring are really funny together.
Kristen Bell Knew The Kickstarter Campaign Would Be A Success. (Everyone else was less optimistic.)
For a bit of background history on the Kickstarter campaign, as Ryan Hansen explained it, Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell approached him, Jason Dohring and Enrico Colantoni about doing the video to pitch the Kickstarter idea. They did it, they handed it to Warner Bros. "And Warner Bros. sat on that Kickstarter video for a year," Hansen said. "And then I think someone at Warner Bros. was like, 'Hey, we should give them a shot.' And they did."
Krysten Ritter says she was all for reprising the role of Gia for the film. Rob Thomas asked her about a month before they launched the Kickstarter, just to make sure she was interested. "I was like, I would've done a cameo, I would've done anything because it's so exciting to be a part of history," she said. "The fans wanted it. Kristen wanted it. Her passion for the film is so infectious and beautiful. So yeah, it was about a month before the Kickstarter and we didn't know if it was going to happen or not or if it was going to get made or green lit. And here we are."
So we know some of the cast and Rob Thomas were up for doing the movie and trying to rally the fans' support, but how confident were they that, so many years after the series went off the air, fans would be excited enough for a movie to pay for it out of their own pockets?
According to Kristen Bell, she may have been the sole optimist among the bunch. "I felt very confident that we would make our goal in 30 days, but I’m an optimist," she said. "I think I was the only one that was confident. Rob was terrified. I think everybody else was being polite, saying 'sure that sounds great.'"
Ryan Hansen thought the effort could go either way. "We honestly had no idea. We knew we had a nice solid following, but had no idea what that meant," he said. "Does that mean they're going to give like a hundred dollars total? I don't know. It's just crazy."
Backers put in a lot more than a hundred dollars. "I was slack-jawed when I saw how quickly the fans made it happen," Bell said of the Kickstarter's success. "And I felt like my head was going to explode on day 30 when we’d made 5.7 million dollars." Bell calls the series' fans exceptional, noting that they entrusted them with their money. That includes the backers who shelled out for a set visit incentive. "Some of them paid far, far more than they should have for a regular movie ticket, and some of them got great experiences," Bell said. "We took those experiences very seriously. When they came to set, we wanted to make it a big party. We wanted it to be just everything they’d hoped it would be, and it was a bit nerve-wracking, because they funded our film. They’re our bosses essentially. It ended up being so much fun, because there was such a love on set for this project. It’s a really nice energy to be around."
Did the cliffhangers at the end of Season 3 affect fans' eagerness to see this movie get made?
From what Rob Thomas says, it sounds like he sees a direct connection there.
"When we got cancelled at the end of Season 3, the network came to me and said, you might want to think about tying this all up and give it some sense of conclusion and completion, give her a nice ending moment, and I made the decision that if they were going to cancel us, I wanted to make it hard," he said. "I didn’t want it to be easy and so it has been unsettling for the last seven years that we left her in that bad place, but I think if I wrapped it up in a neat bow, we would not be here today." He went on to outright say that he thinks his decision to leave us hanging with Season 3 led to the eventual success of the Kickstarter campaign. "I think fans would have hated to see the show end, which I’m grateful for, but if I put Veronica in a nice spot at the end and tied up all the loose ends of Veronica Mars, I don’t think there’d be a movie today."
If There's A Sequel, It Probably Won't Be Kickstarted.
Will fans want a sequel after seeing this movie? Kristen Bell may have put it best when she told us, "I think that’s the great thing about Rob’s writing is he dangles a carrot often. He’s a temptress and I like that he writes that way because I always want more."
Without revealing anything specific about the ending of the movie, we will say that the film will leave fans wanting more. But will we get more? Rob Thomas says he's game and he thinks Kristen is game. We confirmed as much when we spoke to her, asking if there was any talk of bringing Veronica back for something else. Her answer was a prompt and enthusiastic, "Yeah, and I'm the one talking about it. I would come back in a heartbeat."
But don't expect it to happen through Kickstarter, at least, not if Bell has anything to say about it. From what she says, fans have done their part. "They put their cash on the table, They put their money where their mouth was and they proved they were an audience that would support this film," she said. "That’s all we needed. So, for me I want to see this made like any other movie, where you don’t have to presell it to your fans, and I would do another incarnation of Veronica in a heartbeat."
Of course, the future for Veronica Mars may very well hinge on how well the film does, but Jason Dohring says they already consider the film a success. "If it makes like ten dollars, I consider it a success because we raised it through the fans, so we don't have to make any money particularly, and if it's good for the fans, then that completes the cycle for me" Chris Lowell added to that, saying, "I think the biggest priority, the fans paid for this film and we're absolutely giving the fans what they want. So that's the success. If it's even a modicum of how successful it could be, I think there's definitely potentially a future for more iterations of the show in some capacity, whether it's in cinemas on TV, or online."
Would the follow-up be another TV show or a movie?
Dohring says they've heard things being thrown around. "I think when it was mentioned to me, Rob sort of talks about films," he said. "Which I think is good because it's maybe easier to get the cast together."
Cast availability is certainly key, and it's something that works really well for this new movie. Expect a lot of familiar faces (and some great newcomers!) As Lowell put it, the movie coming together the way it did was "serendipitous." Well, let's all hope for a bit more serendipity so a sequel can happen!
The Digital Spinoff Series Is Coming Soon(ish)
While we cross our fingers that this film isn't the last we've seen of Veronica Mars, there is the planned spinoff digital series that's in development. That was announced back in January, at which time, Rob Thomas said that the project, which would air on CW's online outlet CW Seed, would center on Ryan Hansen "attempting to put together a Dick Casablancas spinoff of Veronica Mars" and he added that there was no date yet. That still appears to be the case on both fronts.
"This was kind of supposed to be like a little promo for the movie," Hansen told us. "Like, we were going to shoot a little thing. And then it kind of became a bigger thing when CW announced it. And so, Rob was like, 'I'm really focused on my pilot,' and no one really had time to do it before the movie. So we're still going to do it, probably after Rob does his pilot."
Rob Thomas is currently working on an adaptation of the DC comic iZombie for the CW, and it sounds like we'll have to wait until that's wrapped up before he gets to the digital series. But Hansen describes the planned digital series as a spinoff of a spinoff and more in the vein of Party Down than Veronica Mars. "It's more fun," he said. "And all the characters will be in it, but as themselves."
We asked if he'd be channeling a bit of Dick in his portrayal of himself. His response, "Yeah, I'm going to have to. I don't know how else not to. There will be Dick in me."
Veronica Mars arrives in select theaters and Video On Demand on Friday, March 14. We'll have more to share with you from Rob Thomas and the cast about the film after it hits theaters, so be on the lookout for that next week!
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