Best known for bringing Iron Man to life, Jon Favreau swaps the director’s chair for the actor’s hat in Chef
Going back to his roots of writing, directing, producing and starring in a film, Jon Favreau wows the audience as a charismatic chef in the upcoming indie comedy, Chef. In the film, Favreau has to balance freedom of creativity and his dominant boss or make a decision that could change his life forever. The actor tells us more about how much of the character is himself, working with John Lequizamo, Sofia Vergara and Scarlett Johansson and how he learned the tricks of the trade.
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. That’s when you get into trouble with improvs. People get selfish. But acting is a very selfless thing. So, he was always great. Plus, he’s a really hard worker, for as long as he’s been at it. He was really inspiring. He’s an actor’s actor. He always acts like he’s very lucky to be on the set everyday to get to work.
Training for the role
I came out here and worked with Leguizamo at the restaurant he was working at. And Roy Choi, the chef, who 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 it. So for three months, I worked with him very closely. I knew the basics of cooking and I read books and did my research. And the bug bit me, and I’m still doing it.
Expression through food
As a director, you have to be able to pick something that excites you enough that you can breathe it and make a million different decisions about it, and love it. And food was something I thought was very cinematic. I love Big Night, Eat, Drink, Man, Woman and Jiro Dreams of Sushi. I wanted to do something about that world, especially with this rockstar chef culture, I thought what a great character. But then on the same token, I know the creative process. I know the balance of art and commerce. And people in the movie business tend to be a little bit more realistic about it. People from chef culture, they never thought they were going to be public figures when they started working as chefs. And so you’ll get people who are a lot more flawed and a lot more dramatically interesting.
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 I met with her — she was the first person I met with — and she was down for it. And Scarlett I knew from “Black Widow” and she’s just super-smart and cool and got it. Both she and Downey coming on were a big favour on both their parts. This was not a high-paying gig by any stretch. As a matter of fact, it paid as little as the guilds would allow to get it made.
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. And here, we just set out to do a road trip. And so the idea of just taking the truck on the road with the cameras and going form town to town, filming in the real environments and getting the authentic backdrop and music was great.
Slated for release today.
— Team Indulge