Bad Teacher: Cameron Diaz Choice of Roles?

When the idea for the movie “Bad Teacher” came to the screenwriting team of Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, they knew they’d hit on something incredibly rare and special. 

“It seemed like there weren’t a lot of comedy roles for women,” says Eisenberg.  “We would see so many funny women on ‘Saturday Night Live’ and on talk shows, and they’d be hysterical and charming, and then we’d go to the movies and they’d be props to get two guys to become friends or whatever.  We really wanted to write a project for a comedienne.”


Not Many Good Roles for Women


The opportunity to play a character that is so over-the-top outrageous but at the same time fully drawn is what appealed to Diaz.  Diaz enjoys pushing the envelope – as evidenced in the worldwide hit “There’s Something About Mary” – but she says that this kind of role doesn’t come along all that often.   “You just don’t come across parts like this.  It just doesn’t happen.  And particularly for women.  The script is just so subversive and brilliant and so funny.  By the time I finished reading it for the first time, there was no question – I had to play her.”


Misguided Woman

And how misguided is Elizabeth?  “She’s driven to get money so that she can get a new pair of boobs,” Diaz explains.  “She’s looking for a guy who is rich enough to take her away so she never has to work again, and she’s convinced that if she gets those D-cups they’ll be her ticket out.”

“I thought it was one of the funniest scripts I had ever read,” says director Jake Kasdan. “Lee and Gene have a completely original, hilarious voice – I think that they’ve written one of the great female comedy parts, and we found the perfect person to play her.”

Eisenberg says that he and his partner were confident from the beginning that the project was in good hands.  “Of course, we’ve always been fans of Jake’s work – ‘Freaks and Geeks’ is, to me, one of the greatest shows of all time, and the fact that he directed the pilot sealed the deal,” says Eisenberg.  But, the writer continues, Kasdan also seemed to share an innate understanding of what set the material apart.  “Jake was very collaborative.  Of course, he had ideas about the development of the script – small changes that were key to Elizabeth’s growth.  When I see the movie now, I remember having those discussions in Jake’s kitchen – all of his instincts were so smart.”

“It’s important to me, when I’m directing someone else’s script, to have the writers really involved with the production,” says Kasdan.  “Particularly with comedies.  It’s a huge asset.  You can have different jokes available to you as you do it – try to make the movie funnier as you shoot it.”


Completely Fearless


Kasdan says it is Diaz’s willingness to completely give herself over to the role that sets her apart.  “Cameron has got this great thing: she is completely fearless,” says Kasdan.  “She enjoys being dirty and edgy and she’s completely open-minded about what might work.  She was the perfect person to be at the center of this and it was a real gift for the writers and me to be working with her.”


Describing Diaz’s character, Kasdan says, “Elizabeth isn’t a bad person – she just has terrible, terrible values.”


“She isn’t aggressively mean – she just thinks she’s above it all,” Diaz explains.  “She has no passion for teaching, no desire for the kids to learn anything.  Even when she finds out she can get a big payday if the kids do well on the state test, it doesn’t make her want to be a better teacher; she just wants the scores.  I love that she never changes.”


For Elizabeth, it’s all about Elizabeth.  Everything she does is about moving toward her goal of no longer having to be a teacher – even if it means stealing money from the seventh grade car wash.  “Elizabeth isn’t a hard worker, but she knows how to work it and she’s a piece of work,” says Diaz.  “She shows up for the car wash in a pair of short shorts and heels and a shirt tied up, washing cars for the parents.  It all seems pretty simple to her – she worms her way into being in charge of the car wash and then takes her cut of the earnings.”


Funny and Hot


Kasdan says, “Cameron is probably the only actress in the world who can pull that off, because she is the only person I can think of who can be that funny while looking that hot. She’s just completely hilarious in that scene.” 


After Elizabeth is dumped, she sets her sights on a rich, handsome substitute – the heir to a watch fortune – named Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake).  But when Scott starts to fall for Elizabeth’s colleague, the self-described perfect teacher, Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch), Elizabeth’s jealousy and vindictive nature go into overdrive.