Interview: Lake Bell on bantering with Jon Hamm in ‘Million Dollar Arm’

Lake Bell plays Jon Hamm's tenant/love interest in "Million Dollar Arm." Credit: Getty Images
Lake Bell plays Jon Hamm’s tenant/love interest in “Million Dollar Arm.”
Credit: Getty Images

“Million Dollar Arm” producer Joe Roth likens his casting of Lake Bell — known for more comic acting and for directing last year’s “In a World…” — as Jon Hamm’s love interest in the true baseball tale to when he cast an unknown Sandra Bullock in “While You Were Sleeping” nearly 20 years ago. “She’s got a great career in front of her,” Roth says. So, no pressure, right Lake?

I was going to open with a jokey question…

Do you want to? Do you want to try it? Go for it.

Clearly when you think sports movie or Disney movie, the first name that comes to your mind is Lake Bell.

Thank you. By the way, correct. You are right. I am, like, the go-to. [Laughs] That’s me.

I was actually wondering, after Joe Roth made the Sandra Bullock comparison at today’s press conference, if you’re feeling any extra career pressure already.

I was like, “Damn, Joe.” We’ll see how that plays out. [Laughs] No, I was hugely flattered just because obviously I love Sandra Bullock and she’s fantastic. I love her both personally and her work. But no, I don’t feel any pressure. I think he might feel pressure now. I’m like, “So, what are we doing? What’s the next deal? Let’s get some ‘Speed’ money.” [Laughs] But no, it was hugely complimentary. And it legitimately made me blush.

You have such a great, easy time riffing with Jon Hamm.

Jon and I are lucky because we’ve been pals for such a long time, though this is the first time that we got to do a movie together. We do “Children’s Hospital,” but he just rolls in when he wants to for an episode here or there while we’re doing the show. This was fun because we were on equal ground in scenes and got to sink our teeth into something. But yeah, I think that kind of banter is something that we both enjoy.

Lake Bell hits the field in "Million Dollar Arm." Credit: John Johnson
Lake Bell hits the field in “Million Dollar Arm.”
Credit: John Johnson

How do you scout out acting work around your own projects, now that you’re directing as well?

The good news for me is that it takes a while to procure a project that you’re going to direct, and obviously the writing process is a long process, and I’m not in a rush. Definitely after “In a World…” first came out, there was a barrage of opportunity, and that’s a beautiful, profound thing — especially coming out of something that you bore yourself. It’s moving to think, “Oh my God, this really changed my life, and I did it for myself.”

But that said, I think because I’m in my 30s I’m not so wooed by opportunity that I can’t respect that the process takes a while to make something that you are really proud of and you are excited to take on, because making a movie does take years, you know? Maybe some people are more prolific in their being able to churn out a movie a year. At this particular juncture, I don’t have that yet. And also, with my second movie I do want to take great care. I have three projects that I’m nurturing right now, and I don’t know which one is going to be the next one.

You don’t feel any sort of deadline pressure from other people on your team?

I put my own deadlines to myself. I have the luxury of being an actor first and foremost, so it makes writing still fun for me because the deadlines are a little looser. I prefer to take my time and make it awesome than rush into it because somebody’s going to forget my name as a director. It’s not worth it.

Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter @nedrick


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