9 More Things We Learned On The Set Of 'Sisters'

Including Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's "huge ritual" and why Sam Bee is topless.

Spending a day on the set of a Tina Fey-Amy Poehler movie yields too many tidbits for just one article. So here's a second one! Below are a few more things I learned while chatting with the cast and creators of "Sisters," in which Fey and Poehler play Florida siblings who throw a wild party before their parents sell their childhood home. 

1. It's hard to capture Florida by way of New York suburbs, but there's a reason director Jason Moore ("Pitch Perfect") and the crew built the sisters' home on a Long Island soundstage instead of using practical locations. In addition to Poehler and Fey wanting to film near New York City, where they reside, the crew agreed the party's escalating sloppiness would be easier to handle on a set they could control. Moore filmed the lengthy party scene -- the film's centerpiece -- in sequential order so the set's destruction would be gradual. "It’s a beautiful set, but it’s going to look like shit by the end," he said.

2. You can't cast Fey and Poehler as siblings and not have them do a synchronized dance. "I couldn't help myself," Moore said. "Tina and Amy do a dance that they did in their past." He said the scene is "tiny," but I trust it will be huge in our hearts.

3. Because the movie was filmed 15 months before its opening, Moore couldn't be sure what songs were appropriate for the rollicking house party. Knowing he didn't want to encase the movie in too much nostalgia given its '80s vestiges, Moore filmed the party at different speeds so he could drop in current songs during the editing process.

4. Samantha Bee, playing Fey's high-school pal who attends the party with her husband, is topless for most of her stint in the movie because her character wants to "cut loose in a very big way." Bee found out "right before" signing on to do the film.

5. Ike Barinholtz, who has known Fey and Poehler for years via the Chicago and New York comedy circuits, didn't find many projects that interested him after playing Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne's buddy in 2014's "Neighbors" -- until "Sisters" became "the one." Barinholtz had to get Mindy Kaling to release him from two months of "The Mindy Project," where he serves as executive story editor, and she obliged. "When I found out I got to play Amy's boyfriend, I was like, 'That’s great. I’ve been pretending to be her boyfriend for 18 years, so I’ll just keep doing that,'" he said.

6. Writer Paula Pell ("Saturday Night Live") always knew "Sisters" would be rated R because, as she puts it, she is a "filthy woman" who loves the F-word. "Paula just has this really specific, vulgar but sweet tone that I really was attracted to," Moore said of why he wanted to direct the film. Fey joked that, thanks to the R rating, we will "definitely" see her penis.

7. Fey and Poehler have a "huge ritual" to get into character. "We have a hot box," Fey said while Poehler nodded in agreement. "It’s kind of a sauna on wheels. We get in there and we wrestle each other. And then the sun comes up and they call us [to go to the set]."

8. One thing Moore learned from his experience making "Pitch Perfect": more jokes. That's where Pell's Post-it note method comes in handy. She scribbles alternate lines of dialogue during a take so the actors react organically to what's said, and that gives Moore and the film's editors ample options in the cutting room. Moore, who comes from Broadway and made his big-screen debut with "Pitch Perfect," was accustomed to weeks of preview performances that allowed for perfecting the material. With a studio movie, he said, a director is lucky to have three test screenings. ("If you're Judd Apatow, you may get five," Moore half-joked.) By the end of "Pitch Perfect," Moore realized, "Get more jokes. Try as many different jokes as you can. Do as much improv as you can so that you have lots of options. We had enough laughs in 'Pitch Perfect' to make it work, but that was the thing I learned: get as much as you can."

9. John Leguizamo, who plays another partygoer, can't stop dancing. While the actors were standing by waiting for the crew to reset the cameras for another take, Leguizamo was almost always seen in the background of the monitor boogying to the beat in his head.

"Sisters" opens Dec. 18.


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