Date Night: Interview with Steve Carell and Tina Fey

Steve Carell and Tina Fey star in “Date Night,” the new romantic comedy directed by Shawn Levy. The film, which also stars Mark Ruffalo, Kristin Wiig, and Ray Liotta, is released April 9 by Fox.

Two Familiar Characters

Fey describes Claire as “a working mom of two kids, who, like almost everyone I know, is just a little worn out by the day-to-day life of raising your kids, getting them out the door, getting them to school, having a job, keeping a house clean. She’s a good person who is just kind of worn into the ground a little bit. I certainly identify with how just physically tiring it is to be a parent and have a job – sometimes it feels like a real effort to just be present for your spouse.”

So which would be scarier – being in a boring marriage or being chased by the mob (both of which the Fosters experience in the film)? “I would say that being married to a person in the mob would be the scariest,” Fey jokes.

Carell says his own date nights, like Phil Foster’s (and Levy’s and Klausner’s), leave much to be desired. “Sometimes the worst part of date night is actually leaving for the date – when you see your babysitter sitting down, getting all cozy, turning on the TV. That sometimes seems much better than the night that lies ahead.”

A star studded supporting cast

“I read the script,” says Fey,” and I thought, ‘Oh, these are really good parts for somebody.’ I never thought we would get this lucky to have that caliber of people in all these different parts.” Having what otherwise would have appeared to be small roles portrayed by big name actors only helps bring them alive, Carell notes. 

“When you see them acted out, they’re even better than they were on the page.”

The casting of acclaimed actor Ray Liotta as Miletto delighted Carell and Fey. “We were shooting a scene with Ray one night,” recalls Carell, “and Tina looked over and said, ‘I feel like I am in a 3D version of ‘Goodfellas. Ray Liotta is actually walking up and talking to me.’ It was like a ride at a theme park.”

Working with Shawn Levy

Fey and Carell appreciated Levy’s ability to balance action and comedy, which in turn allowed his actors the freedom to come up with their own gags. “That’s the only way you can afford to have time to play around or to improvise and do extra takes,” notes Fey. “That only happens if everyone – especially your director – really knows what they’re doing.”

Last words

“They’re comfortable enough again with each other to be able to say ‘Knock it off’ and ‘I love you’ within the same five minutes,” says Steve Carell.

Tina Fey has just one last piece of relationship advice: “Go on a date night and see DATE NIGHT.”