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Arts and Entertainment

LAist Exclusive: Celebrity interviews at the LA Premiere of The Hammer

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Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla at the Hammer premiere | Photo by Gary Reisman

This past Wednesday night, stars convened at the Arclight Theaters in Hollywood for the Los Angeles Premiere of The Hammer, starring radio/TV personality Adam Carolla. (Read the LAist review of the movie.) The event drew a healthy number of famous faces, including Jimmy Kimmel, Sarah Silverman, Carson Daly, David Allen Grier, Dr. Drew Pinskey, Jeffrey Ross, Joel McHale, Mark Walberg, Julianne Hough (Adam's dance partner on Dancing with the Stars), David Koechner, Christopher Titus, John Salley, Bill Simmons, Camryn Manheim, and Jane Lynch, along with the cast, director and producers of the film. After watching the premiere, guests gathered in the Arclight lounge and afterparty and enjoyed movie-themed cocktails, compliments of Stoli Vodka.

LAist.com was on hand for the premiere and afterparty and snagged exclusive interviews and photos with the cast, crew and some of the guests. Interviews after the jump...

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The Hammer opens Friday, March 21 at:
Laemmle Sunset 5 (West Hollywood)
Laemmle Playhouse 7 (Pasadena)
AMC Burbank 8 (Burbank)
Laemmle Monica 4 (Santa Monica)

ADAM CAROLLA:

LAist.com: You seem to have a love/hate relationship with the city of Los Angeles, and this movie seems to reflect that. Was that intentional?

Well, Los Angeles, like any city, has it's good parts and it's bad parts. We tried to represent both sides of it in the movie. I grew up in the valley, and the valley has it's good parts and it's bad parts. Actually LA probably has a lot more bad parts than good parts.

Your jump-rope skills looked impressive in the movie. Were those real, or were there some special effects?

Yeah we had a great time with those scenes, and believe it or not, we pretty much shot it all in real time. We actually only spent about 15 or 20 minutes shooting the jump-rope scene.

You have a lot of unusual skills, including the ability to ride a unicycle, and you managed to work in a quick shot of that into the movie. Where did you learn to ride a unicycle, and more importantly... why?

Well, why... ? We'll never know. Where? Well, my dad was dating a chick that had one, or her son had one, and I used to play with it out in the street, and eventually I just taught myself how to ride it.

Word is that you'll be involved with the American version of Top Gear? Is that true? Are you going to be the host?

Yes, it's true, and yes, I'll be hosting. It's gonna be on NBC. I don't know when, it hasn't even begun yet.

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15 years ago, when you and Jimmy Kimmel were just role players on the Kevin & Bean radio show, did you ever think that you'd both achieve the kind of success you've had in recent years? Jimmy has a network talk show, you have your own syndicated radio show and now starring in a movie... was this the plan all along?

No, I never thought about any of that shit. Nope. But I'll do it!

JIMMY KIMMEL:

Had you seen the movie before tonight? Or was tonight the first time you saw it? What did you think?

Yeah, I'd seen it a few times already, and a few different edits of it. There used to be a very graphic, very explicit sex scene in there before, and I think they made the right decision to cut it out for the final version. No but seriously, I think it was really great, I thought everybody did great in it.

Back when you and Adam were just part of the cast at the Kevin & Bean show, did you ever imagine the two of you would go on to have the success that you've had?

Well, technically, we may have been Kevin & Bean's underlings, but I always felt like I was the boss. And Kevin and Bean acted like it too. But those were fun times. I invited those guys here tonight.

Any chance for a sequel to Windy City Heat?

We're working on it.

DAVID ALLEN GRIER:

You and Adam are good friends. What did you think of his starring role debut?

It was really sweet. Adam's performance was very organic. Our boxing trainer was in there, Terry Claybon, he was the guy holding the pads. Oswaldo was great! He's a real find. I don't think he's gonna be doing construction much longer

CHARLES HERMAN-WURMFELD (Director):

You previously directed Kissing Jessica Stein. How did that experience compare to working on The Hammer?

Well, they're both romantic movies, and they're funny, with great actors, and have a lot of heart. This was a sports movie, which is quite a departure from Jessica Stein, and it stars Adam Carolla, who is not your "Jessica Stein type" necessarily. He told me he didn't see Jessica Stein, but he heard it was good!

What were some of the challenges you faced while directing this movie?

Well, when it comes to sports, I'm a big sissy, so the boxing part was challenging. But I took on the challenge. I trained with Terry Claybon down at pound-for-pound gym. He's the guy who trained Denzel Washington for The Hurricane. I wanted to learn how to box, so I went down there with House and Adam and those guys, and I learned how to throw a punch. So, basically Adam and Terry made a man out of me!

Tell me about Adam Carolla's skills as an actor.

You know, I'm looking around LA, and I'm wondering where Humphrey Bogart has gone. I'm wondering where Walter Matthau is. And then I realize, holy shit, my guy is that kind of movie star. He's a dry comedian, he's of a certain age where he's not a pretty boy anymore, he's just a guy that everybody loves. People think, 'oh, it's the Man Show dude.' I'm thinking Walter Matthau, I'm thinking Humphrey Bogart. Jimmy Stewart. I feel like he can be a major star. I really believe, too, in a quirky way, that demographically, young audiences love him. There's a whole generation of young men and women who went through puberty and came into their sexuality laughing with Adam Carolla, and they love him. They want to see him in a movie. I think that this weekend will prove that he's got a real fan base. So, look out studios!

Do you like working with comedians?

I do, I love great comedians, and I'm really interested in developing stories with great comedians, the way I worked with Adam, the way I worked with Heather and Jennifer, the girls from Jessica Stein. It's a really good genre for me I think, and something I want to do is help artists who are really attempting to put a vision out there themselves, and as a director, to bring my vision to that vision, and sort of marry the ideas in a way. You know, the soup that me and Adam cooked up is really flavorful, but it's really unlikely... I'm like this big sissy, the Legally Blonde 2 director, working with Reese Witherspoon and Sally Field, and then the Man Show guy! You're thinking, 'this doesn't compute.' but in an odd way, it's perfect.

Where did you find the actor who played the other boxer? The Robert Brown character?

That's Harold House Moore. He was an unknown, to me anyway, when he came in for the audition and just owned that part. There was no one else after that. We were crazy for him. His character went from the overconfident guy to the nice guy. House has a lot of heart. Look out casting directors and directors, this is an actor to watch as well... Harold House Moore.

The movie seems to often make reference to it's location of Los Angeles.

Yes, it's a love letter to the valley. Los Angeles has been kind to all of us. I came here with nothing, from humble beginnings in San Francisco, with my bicycle and $300 to my name. That was over 10 years ago. Heather also, you know, made it here in LA, so we love LA.... and, like anything you love, it's flawed, and fucked up, and we tried to show it all in it's truth. And you know, in LA, there's no "there" there. It's not like in New York, where you could just point your camera at the twin towers, and you've captured New York. LA is a little more elusive, but I hope we captured some of it in this movie. I've pounded the pavement here, rode my bike, then borrowed my sister's old volvo, and then finally got my own car. Which I'm trying to give up now. LA, we've got to quit the automobile! We've got to make the dive, people! Let's build light-rail! Let's take the red line all the way to the ocean, ya know? In fact, if LA wants it, I'd be happy to run the show for 3 or 4 years to put all this into effect.

What will be your next project?

Well, I'm working on a documentary about the historic African roots of the American banjo. I've been a banjo player for 20 years.

HEATHER JUERGENSEN (Lindsay Pratt)

You worked with the same director & producer on Kissing Jessica Stein. How was this project different?

Well, I wasn't the writer on this one. Although, I was married to the writer! So, I would say, when notes on the script came in, instead of me getting them, I was giving them. That's one difference. No writer likes to get notes, especially from your spouse! Another difference is, honestly, Kissing Jessica Stein is ultimately a girls' movie. Chicks love it. Guys liked it too, but really it's about women. It's about what goes on between women. The Hammer is about what goes on between guys... sports, competition, winning, losing, being a buddy with someone, going toe-to-toe with a friend... that's all part of the guy world, and not part of the Jessica Stein world at all.

Were there any major obstacles that you had to overcome to get this movie made?

Well, there were a few roadblocks. Earlier in the development process, the roadblock was getting the money to make the movie. Because, nobody saw Adam Carolla as a movie actor.

So your husband wrote the screenplay, based on Adam's story idea. How did he know Adam?

Well, my husband Kevin (Hench) wrote for Adam and Jimmy Kimmel on the Man Show, and Adam came to Kevin with the idea for this boxing movie, and talked him through the story, and then Kevin went away and wrote the script, and that's when Eden and I got involved. Eden was the producer on Kissing Jessica Stein. So really, it was like, Adam's brainchild, Kevin helped midwife it, and the Eden and I helped to make it, and it was one of those things where you work with people you know, and you work with people you like, and that's really what this was. The entire process took 5 years.

What's your next project?

I have a script that I'm working on that, oddly enough, is another sports movie. It's about a girls' track team in Texas in 1964. It's based on a true story. Kevin is also noodling on a new sports movie with Adam. I think they're a great team, so I hope they get somewhere with that idea.

You're an actress, a writer, a producer... sometimes all three at the same time. How do you juggle multiple responsibilities at the same time?

The thing is, once you write something, you don't want to give it away. Well, I don't anyway. So that's where the producer hat comes in. And I never bother writing something unless there's a role for myself. So, I end up doing way too much, but that's just my personality. It's about knowing when to let go of one hat and put on another. As an actor, it's not good to be thinking like a producer on the set. They're opposite parts of your brain fighting for attention. A producer has to be very detail-oriented, a writer is worrying about everything and everybody, and an actor needs to be very self-centered. I don't mean that in a pejorative way, you really have to get inside yourself and get lost, you have to tune the world out, and if a producer tunes the world out, things can go to hell in a handbasket, you know? So, I have to actually force myself to remember that on the days that I act, I have to forget all my producer duties. Which can be hard, but you have to do it.

In the movie, your character is very interested in the LaBrea tarpits. How do you really feel about the tarpits?

I love them! I love the way they smell. I think it's fascinating that there's this prehistoric bubble coming up out of the ground right on Wilshire Blvd.! And I think Adam is just kind of a crumudgeon about it honestly.

JONATHAN HERNANDEZ (boxer Victor Padilla)

What are some of the other films you've been in? Have you ever acted in a sports movie before?

Well, I started acting when I was young, and this is my 16th year of acting. I was recently in The Bucket List. But yeah, this is my first athletic sports film.

Had you ever boxed before?

I played sports... club soccer, basketball, football. But no boxing or sparring or anything like that. We had a month of training before the movie, and within that month, I had a snowboarding injury and had to have surgery. And bless their heart, they said it's OK, to make sure I was alright and then hit the gym with House and Ace, and see what happens. I'm not sure I had the job quite yet, I think those workouts were like an eye test or something. Luckily, I passed!

Your character liked to pray a lot, but was vicious inside the ring.

The whole character was like, derived around that whole Roman-Catholic latin culture style of fighter. A beast in the ring, but devoutly religious. I loved it.

What's next for you?

A horror film. It's called Chain Letter, and should be out by the end of this year, God willing. It's directed by Robert Taylor. Other than that, I'll be producing music, and finishing my degree at UCLA.

HAROLD HOUSE MOORE (boxer Robert Brown)

What other projects had you acted in before this movie?

I did a movie with Robert England that will be out later this year, and I had a small part in the Rosa Parks Story. I made the transition from modeling and sports.

Did you have any experience boxing prior to the movie?

No, my main sport was basketball, I played on a semi-pro basketball team, and I've pretty much always been athletic, and that helped me pick up on the boxing quicker. But I had no boxing experience prior to the movie. And I have big respect for all professional boxers. It was harder than I thought. For me, basketball comes easy, but the good thing is, all sports have basic fundamentals that you can learn.

Did you take any hard shots during he filming of the boxing scenes?

Absolutely! Hell Yeah! As a matter of fact, I'm looking for Adam's ass right now. I'm gonna clobber him in the back of his head! They didn't tell me Adam was a former Golden Glove boxer, and I was gonna get hit until after I got the character. I was like, what?! And for some reason, he wanted to relive those moments on me.

So there's a lot of truth to the idea that Adam still has a lot of legitimate boxing skills?

There's a lot of truth to it, and think that's a part of how Adam was so vulnerable throughout the movie, and allowed people to see a more intimate side of his personality rather that the wise-crackin smart-ass comedian that people know him as. Because, the movie is so similar to his life. It's autobiographical.

So the pointers he was giving you in the movie were legitimate?

Yeah absolutely. He was helping from the first day I stepped in to start training, when I got cast for the movie. He was a part of our training process, along with Terry Claybon, who also worked with Denzel Washington. He was very helpful. You know, I'm a basketball player, and basketball players get really low on defense, but boxers need a lot more poise. I remember the first time I got into the ring, I was dying after 30 seconds, and Adam, even though he's older, could go for like 2 minute rounds. And I'm thinking, he's old, and if he can do it, I can do it. But I was tired after like, 20 seconds!

Your character was kind of a cocky jerk in the beginning, and then warmed up later in the movie.

I don't think he was really cocky, I think he was just so focused, because this shot at the Olympics is all he had, it was the only opportunity for himself. At the beginning he saw Adam's character as a threat to his goals. But then he realized that, you can't take advantage of people to get where you want in life. That's why he ended up telling him, 'hey man, Coach is taking advantage of you.' Because ultimately, he didn't hate Adam's character, he just didn't want anybody interfering with his goals. Also, the character is young and has some growing up to do.

OSWALDO CASTILLO (Ozzy)

What was it like to have such a big role in your first acting job?

Ya, this is my first movie, My friends are everything, a lot, all around me man.

Are you going to continue acting in the future, perhaps do more movies?

Why not? I'm waiting for some more opportunities!

Was there any discussion about perhaps using an actor with more experience to play the part of Ozzy?

It's a difficult part, you know, to say something, from my head, the opportunity came up, and I do it. Why not?