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In his time as a director, Peyton Reed has gone from helming TV documentaries and episodes of the Back to the Future animated series, to feature films like the teen classic Bring It On. In 2015, Peyton Reed made the jump to directing big budget superhero fare with Ant-Man, and now this weekend's Ant-Man and The Wasp. The latest MCU film is a blast, with great action set pieces that probably weren't easy to shoot. However, the most challenging scene Peyton Reed ever shot isn't in Ant-Man and the Wasp or its predecessor. The most difficult was actually the dinner scene in the 2006 comedy The Break-Up, as he explained:
One of the hardest things I ever had to shoot was in The Break-Up, the dinner table scene. It's a scene in The Break-Up where Jennifer Aniston's family is meeting Vince Vaughn's family for the first time, and it's a lot of characters and a lot of actors, and structurally it's a really long scene at this point in the movie. Servicing all these characters, I think, it took like three days to shoot this one dinner table scene.
This may not be the scene you would expect, but it is certainly a memorable one. The dinner scene is one of the most awkward and funny scenes in The Break-Up, as Vince Vaughn's Gary is squirming in his seat while John Michael Higgins' Richard sings in his face. A great scene to be sure, but its just a dinner scene with very little camera movement, how could this rom-com be more challenging than fight scenes and the Quantum Realm? Just watching the scene it might be hard to see what made it so difficult, but Peyton Reed further explained,
That's a weird thing, because it's not a car chase or something really technically complicated, but by the time you're on day three of a dinner table scene that's comedic, keeping everybody's energy fresh and in the moment --- because they've done the scene over and over, because you have to shoot it for each character --- that was one of the big ones.
There are nine characters sitting around a dinner table in the scene, which lasts for several minutes. As Peyton Reed elaborated to Syfy Wire, the sheer amount of coverage needed for the scene is part of what made it such a challenge. Every character needs to have their moments and be represented, which requires each of them to be shot from like 4 or 5 different angles in what is a fairly long scene. That means moving the cameras and changing lighting to make sure everyone looks their best... which takes a ton of time. Also, one of the primary jobs of a director is to get necessary performances out of the actors. As Peyton Reed recalled, after the third day of filming the same comedic scene, some of that spontaneity and energy gets zapped. So maintaining the sense of urgency and keeping the performances where they need to be is another major challenge.
You can see how it all turned out in the video of the dinner scene below:
Watching this after hearing Peyton Reed's explanation, you can begin to see how much this must have taken. There are single shots, two-shots, wide shots and over the shoulders. And with the dinner table setup, even the actors just on the edge of the frame or out of focus are still performing, so there's a lot to cover. This goes to show how even scenes that seem simple and aren't visually impressive can still be extremely difficult to film.