Best known for bringing Iron Man to the big screen, Favreau returns to his indie roots with Chef this weekend
Writer, director, producer and actor, Jon Favreau makes a comeback in front of the camera as a charismatic chef in the indie comedy, Chef. He plays a chef who quits a restaurant following creative differences with his boss and the actor lets us in on how the plot somewhat mirrors his own career. He isn’t just acting in the film, for last month, Favreau whipped up a feast including steaks for a media event before promotional activities continued. Clearly, his three-month stint with Los Angeles chef Roy Choi paid off. Favreau tells us more about wearing the toque, working with Sofia Vergara and Scarlet Johansson, and how it is easy to portray food and chefs wrongly.
Keeping up with John Leguizamo: Oh, he’s the best. I’ve known his work for so long and we’re both improvisers. What I like about him is he’s not just a comedian improviser, he’s an actor. So it’s never at the expense of the scene.
Training for the role: I came out here and worked with [Leguizamo] at the restaurant he was working at. And Roy Choi, the chef, is one of our producers and the guy who came up with the menu. But I have to get the chef culture right, and most movies don’t. Most chefs are disappointed with how their world is depicted on the big screen. And so every step of the way, whether it was the script or my training or the way the food was presented in the movie, he oversaw. But first he sent me off to a very condensed version of traditional French culinary training, just so I could be exposed to what my character would’ve been exposed to. Expression through food: As a director, you have to be able to pick something that excites you enough that you can breathe it, you know, every day all day, and make a million different decisions about it, and love it. And food was something I just really thought was very cinematic. I love Big Night. I love Eat, Drink, Man, Woman. Jiro Dreams of Sushi. And there were so few films like that, I wanted to do something about that world, especially with this rockstar chef culture.
On casting Scarlett Johansson and Sofia Vergara: Sofia was somebody who I didn’t know personally, but as I wrote the role it was very clear that I don’t know who else it could have been. She was definitely my first choice. And Scarlett I knew from “Black Widow” and she’s just really super-smart and cool and got it, and both she and Downey (Robert) came on; it was a big favour on both their parts. This was not a high-paying gig by any stretch.
Inspiration for the road trip format: I started writing it, and thought, “Oh here I am, writing a movie where I could stay home and really celebrate Venice and the culinary culture in California and Los Angeles.” And then, lo and behold, like everything else I’ve written without a structure, I ended up on the road. In Swingers we went to Vegas. In Made we went to New York. The idea of just taking the truck with the cameras and going from town to town, filming in real environments, was great.
Chef is scheduled to release today.