Jim Rash And Nat Faxon Talk The Way, Way Back

The writer-directors spread the sunshine

The Way Way Back

In the new issue of Empire* we take a closer look at two of indie Hollywood's freshest and funniest voices, Jim Rash and Nat Faxon - Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, if you want to be all alphabetical about it - and quizzed them on their new comedy-drama The Way, Way Back*. Here's what they told us...

Jim Rash does not enter the room dressed as Ava Gardner and announce that he’s happy to Dean us. How disappointing. The man who plays the flamboyant Dean Pelton on Community is in his normal wardrobe and sitting alongside old mate and regular writing partner Nat Faxon to talk up their co-directorial debut, The Way, Way Back. The title refers to the distant back seat of Trent’s (Steve Carell) car where awkward, lonely teenager Duncan (Liam James) finds himself as he, his mother (Toni Collette) and Trent’s daughter Steph (Zoe Levin) journey to a summer home on the Massachusetts coast. What follows is a coming-of-age tale for Duncan, as he meets the local water park’s man-child manager Owen (Sam Rockwell) and finally learns to have a little fun. And yes, dancing Sam fans, Rockwell gets to bust a move or two.

Hatched by Faxon and Rash eight years ago, the comedy-drama was the spec script that bagged them the job of adapting Kaui Hart Hemmings’ novel The Descendants. That, in turn, saw them up on stage at the 2012 Oscars picking up Best Adapted Screenplay, and flashing a little leg, alongside director Alexander Payne. “It didn’t greenlight the film, but it did open doors a little wider,” says Rash of the Oscar win.

The story was born from a real-life incident. “The first moment in the film, where Trent calls Duncan a “three” (in terms of attractiveness) happened to me in real life,” Rash explains. “We’d talked about how someone deals with that as a possible TV idea. I think we sat on it knowing it was such a great story, but we didn’t know what to do with it. Then we were going to do a water park comedy with fun, eclectic people and at some point they just melded together.”

The pair are both actors, Rash more obviously successful (though who can forget Faxon’s indelible turn as Glenn from Copy Shop in Hamlet 2?), and have been writing together for years. When it came to directing, though, they had only worked on one TV pilot before making The Way, Way Back. But the experience has got them chomping at the bit to do it all again, and go bigger. Much bigger. “Something with a ton of CGI,” laughs Faxon. Rash grins. “And just a green-screen dome, with nothingness.” Faxon nods: “Ideally in the $300 million range.” What would the Dean say?

The Way, Way Back is out on August 28.