Confess, Fletch director on Jon Hamm and screwing with jerks

Irwin M. Fletcher, crime-solving reporter for novelist Gregory Mcdonald, better known as “Fletch,” was never a very conventional hero. After Chevy Chase put its own goofy, pratfall-filled spin on the character in 1985s Fletch and its sequel, the film franchise fell into limbo for three decades as various filmmakers sought – unsuccessfully – to bring Fletch back to the big screen.

Thankfully, Fletch’s time in Hollywood purgatory ended this year when filmmaker Greg Mottola and Mad Men star Jon Hamm has teamed up for Confess, Fletch, based on the second book in the McDonalds series. The film casts Hamm in the lead role and has Fletch investigate an international art theft which, as things often do around him, turns out to be more complicated than it seems.

Mottola sat down with Digital Trends to discuss what sets Hamm’s version of Fletch apart from its predecessor, what makes IM Fletcher special, and whether we’ll see more Fletch stories down the road. .

Jon hamm holds a drink in a scene from confess, fletch.

Digital Trends: The post-Chevy Chase Fletch franchise has struggled to return to the screen. How did it come to you, or vice versa, for this film to happen?

Greg Mottola: Jon came to me about two years ago and told me he had been approached by Miramax. They said, “We have the rights to all the books except the first one. Would you ever be interested in playing Fletch? And unbeknownst to them, when Jon saw the original Fletch young man, he went to get the books and read them. He was a broke teenager, so he stole them from Waldenbooks, he says. He loved them and he knew there was another way to make movies.

The first movie was a Chevy Chase vehicle, and Chevy brought a lot of their style and shine to it. I love that movie. But Jon said to me, “I can’t imitate Chevy Chase. It wouldn’t be good. I want to do it in a way closer to the tone of the books. I love crime novels and movies based on them, so I read the first five or six books, and absolutely loved them.

How did you decide Confess, Fletch which story to adapt?

Jon had already thought Confess, Fletch made the most sense to do now, and even before I got involved there was another writer, Zev Borow, adapting that one. Zev is a great writer and directed a script that was – as Jon said – a great hilarious movie…for Chevy Chase. Zev is a huge fan of the original and I think he couldn’t resist trying to write Flex 3. It’s not that it wasn’t good. It was really good. We just felt that wasn’t quite what we wanted to try to do.

So because Zev hadn’t used as much of the book as I’d hoped, I did a pass on it and went back to the book, and took characters and scenes and elements inspired by the book and I put them back in the script. I also changed the tone of the comedy a bit, knowing Jon like me and writing to his dry sensibility and ability to rely on his charm to get away with being a sage. This is where it all began.

Jon hamm looks right while wearing a los angeles lakers hat in a scene from confess, fletch.

Chevy Chase is such a tough act to follow. What aspects of the character did you focus on to make this version of Fletch special?

One of the things I absolutely love about Chevy’s version of Fletch is the kind of Marx Brothers-level mayhem he would bring to any situation. He would confuse people so much that they wouldn’t know what to say. These are things that weren’t necessarily in the book. They were all his.

In Jon’s case, the character clearly has a moral code in some areas, and none in others. It’s an interesting and unconventional approach. I always feel like he’s on the side of good, but he doesn’t mind going to great lengths to get justice or truth or anything. It’s kind of a wish-fulfillment, because we live in a time where there are so many bad people doing bad things, who seem to suffer no consequences. Fletch is a guy who says, “I’m not going to wait for justice or the police. I’m just gonna go out there and do this.

But there is a feeling that he would never strike. He only really fucks with jerks. He just goes the extra step of messing with people if they are white privilege assholes or people with authority who don’t deserve it. For example, he respects Griz (Ayden Mayeri) and Monroe (Roy Wood Jr.), the two cops who pursue him throughout the film, but he will constantly lie to them – even though he reluctantly loves them. And I think they like it too.

Ayden mayeri and roy wood jr. Investigate a crime scene in confess, fletch.

What was it about Jon that fit this version of the character so well?

Jon can be very dry. This character doesn’t have to be sentimental. He can have his positive feelings about people and express them in his own way, but he is never gloomy. It’s not Don Draper. He has no dark past. It’s not haunted. It has no damage. He kind of goes through life in that flippant way and kicks people — or he kicks them. I think he’s having fun. I think he loves life.

Jon has played a lot of dark characters, and he’s also played a lot of pretty silly comedic characters. [Jon] makes Fletch feel like a real human being, in that he gives a dramatic performance in places, but [this version of Fletch] also lets Jon be funny in a sustained way, but in a very dry and more subtle way. As a fan of his and a friend, I was really excited to work on this with him.

The Confess, Fletch novel was published almost 50 years ago. When you adapted it for this film, what happened to bring the story into a modern setting?

One of the things I really love about the books is that Greg McDonald inserts social commentary into them. There are several things about the sexual revolution in Confess, Fletch and social mores and other fun and interesting stuff and, I think, cutting edge observations at that time. But it was a different time. So I thought, “Let’s sneak a little commentary on the moment we’re living in right now.”

For example, I address the fact that Jon, looking the way he does, can kind of move around the world of the wealthy – yacht clubs and high-end art galleries and expensive apartments – and they’ll see it as one of theirs. . Fletch doesn’t have the same value system as these people, but he’s happy to let them think he does, because it lets him get away with whatever he wants. And that is addressed in the film. His white privilege is called out by the character of Roy Wood Jr., and in other places as well.

Jon hamm dons a country club chic sports jacket in a scene from confess, fletch.

The character of Lucy Punch (Tatiana Tasserly), who is a wealthy influencer, is a sending of the idea that there are people on Instagram and elsewhere who are constantly telling everyone that they can be self-fulfilling. – and all they need is the perfect home and designer clothes and the Caribbean’s most expensive beauty and vacation products. And it’s like, “Yeah, that’s great. You are really rich. The people you sell to are really rich. But you make us feel bad, because we can’t do this.

The fact that there’s no acknowledgment from people like that, that what they’re doing is commerce in this world of wealth disparity, is something I think Fletch would actively hate. So my strategy in this scene was to bring Fletch in and act even more horribly than she is to confuse her. He’s acting even more superficial and despicable than she is, so she’s a bit lost and that throws her off balance.

The supporting cast in the film is amazing. Were there any performances that surprised you, maybe bringing something to a character that you hadn’t originally planned?

Yes, I was very lucky with the casting. One of the ways we broke the Fletch curse is that we agreed to do it in very little time and with very little money. And we got all these great people to come and do it largely as favors for me and Jon.

Annie Mumolo’s equivalent character in the book is this lush woman who lives next door to the apartment where the murder takes place. He is a sad character who is visibly in love with the guy who lives in the apartment. I wanted to keep aspects of that, but I didn’t think I had the space to create a true portrait of her like they do in the novel. I had to condense it, because she will only get one big scene. So I wrote to this person who I think we all know as someone – a person who is so disorganized and oblivious that it’s unbelievable that he is still alive.

And then Annie came in like a whirlwind, and she was such the character in those moments that I was glad there was a fire marshal, because I really thought she would burn the set down. She’s amazing and made that scene a lot funnier than what I had on the page.

Annie mumolo smiles in a kitchen in a scene from confess, fletch.

There are so many more books in the Fletch series. Is there a chance we’ll see more of Jon as Fletch? Have you thought about where this might go next?

If I’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to do another Fletch movie, I’d happily do it again. And of course it would be nice if we had a little more time and a little more money. I would probably try to make a more visually ambitious film and build on this one. It was our first dip in the genre and it would be nice to go further.

But it’s such a weird moment now in movies. This movie is getting that kind of hybrid, theatrical and on-demand and Showtime release. I don’t think anyone really knows what to do with movies right now. Honestly, I thought we’d go straight to streaming because it’s a bit of a small movie, but now some people can see it in theaters, which is good. But honestly, I don’t care where you watch it, as long as you watch it. I’d rather you didn’t see it on your watch, though. It’s the only place I draw the line. If you have to watch it on your phone or iPad, so be it. As long as you watch it.

Directed by Greg Mottola, Confess Fletch is in theaters and available via digital on demand now. It will premiere October 28 on Showtime.

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