Gilbert Gottfried’s Problem Child Director Recalls Standing Up for Him – The Hollywood Reporter

Although Gilbert Gottfried had previously made small film appearances, including in 1987 beverly hills police iiit was a surprise hit Problem child which served as a breakout role.

The 1990 film, which is credited as Universal Pictures’ highest-grossing movie of the year, starred John Ritter and Amy Yasbeck as a couple experiencing ups and downs after adopting Junior (Michael Oliver). Director Dennis Dugan hired Gottfried as a nervous adoption agent after seeing him do stand-up in Los Angeles, and the filmmaker learned that the actor’s boisterous personality on stage was quite different from his on-screen demeanor. real life.

“He was the sweetest guy,” Dugan, who had previously directed episodes of Moonlighting but he never starred in a feature film, he says the hollywood reporter. “You would think that maybe he was a guy who worked in the back of a library, putting books on the shelves. He was the kindest, calmest guy, and then you’d say action, and like an atomic bomb, he just blew up.”

Dugan, who would go on to direct numerous films for Adam Sandler, including Happy Gilmore (nineteen ninety six), Big potato (1999) and both Grown ups movies, praises Gottfried as “one of the funniest guys I’ve ever worked with, for sure”. He also remembers a time when he had to go to Universal to defend the comedian, whose death was announced Tuesday.

“I got yelled at, this was early in the shoot,” says Dugan. “The vice president of Universal called me at the time and he said, ‘What are you doing? You are shooting so many movies! If you normally shoot 6,000 feet, this is when you had film, one day, I shot 18,000 feet, and the next day, I shot 20,000 feet. It doesn’t matter now, but at the time, the movie was expensive and it was a low-budget movie.”

Director Dennis Dugan on the set of Problem child (1990).
Universal Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

He continues: “So they were yelling, ‘What are you doing there? You’re way over budget on the movie. And I say, ‘Well, we’re doing a comedy, right?’ And they say, ‘Yes’. And I said, ‘Well, we have Gilbert Gottfried. And when I would say action, Gilbert Gottfried does the script and then he just starts acting. You don’t say cut. Just let it go. Don’t watch how long it lasts – watch the movie and see what you think. So they called me and said, ‘Okay. You’re okay because he’s that funny.’”

Dugan, whose last project was the 2020 film Love, weddings and other disasters starring Diane Keaton and Jeremy Irons, jokes, “He was a wonderful guy to work with, completely committed, and when he started acting, you’d think should compromise because he would go as crazy as you can.”

The director, who emphasizes that the key to making a good comedy is getting a good script and then hiring funny people to deliver it, shares that his experience with Gottfried had an impact on future films.

“Working with him really helped me later on,” admits Dugan. “Anger Grown ups It was a great example because we shot a scene with those five guys and then we started shooting, and then they just started blabbering. I knew from working with Gilbert, if there’s a fire going, just throw wood on it. Because you can yell things at them in the middle: ‘Try this, try that,’ and that was the same with him. He would do anything you asked of him, and 3,000 times more.”

Dugan also recalls that Ritter found it easy to connect with Gottfried. “Ritter was as funny and good a partner as you can imagine,” says the director. “If you’re on set with Gilbert and you’re surrounded by a shooting star, you just say, ‘Great, let me take the ride,’ and Ritter loved that.”

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