Q&A With Going In Style Director Zack Braff

Going in Style, starring oscar winners Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby), Michael Caine (The Cider House Rules, Hannah and Her Sisters) and Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine) team up as lifelong buddies Willie, Joe and Albert, who decide to buck retirement and step off the straight-and-narrow for the first time in their lives when their pension fund becomes a corporate casualty.

Desperate to pay the bills and come through for their loved ones, the three risk it all by embarking on a daring bid to knock off the very bank that absconded with their money, in director Zach Braff’s comedy “Going in Style.”

Also starring are two-time Oscar nominee Ann-Margret (Tommy, Carnal Knowledge), Joey King (The Conjuring, Wish I Was Here), John Ortiz (“Kong: Skull Island”), Peter Serafinowicz (“Guardians of the Galaxy”), and Kenan Thompson (“Saturday Night Live”), with Oscar nominee Matt Dillon (“Crash”) and Christopher Lloyd (“Back to the Future” trilogy).

Zach Braff (“Garden State,” “Wish I Was Here”) directed from a screenplay by Oscar nominee Theodore Melfi (“Hidden Figures,” “St. Vincent”).

Going in Style is a remake of the 1979 film of the same name, directed then by Martin Brest, and starring George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg.

ZACH BRAFF (Director) Q&A

What attracted you to Going in Style?

There were many things. If it had been just a big, fun movie, I would have been intrigued, and then if you told me Ted Melfi wrote it, I would have been more intrigued. And Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin are probably my favorite actors. So I just couldn’t believe that New Line was interested in me directing the film.

What I’m really drawn to is a mix of comedy and heart, and that’s what we all wanted for Going in Style. We were all on the same page. I was thrilled when they asked me to direct it.

Working with these three iconic actors must have provided many unforgettable moments for you on set. But was there a particular scene that was especially memorable for you?

There are so many. I think one of the funniest scenes to shoot was in the aftermath of the guys attempting to rob a convenience store, and Michael and Morgan are attempting to escape the scene of the crime in an electric shopping cart. It was a pretty elaborate stunt with Morgan in a basket in the cart and Michael driving it. We shot it in the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn, which has a lot of traffic, through which the cart had to be driven. We had planned to use stunt doubles for Morgan and Michael for most of the scene, but they kept saying, “No, we can do that. We can do that.” They ended up doing almost every stunt in the sequence.

I was laughing almost the entire time we shot that scene. We had rigged the basket to accommodate Morgan and make sure he was comfortable. We did such a good job he didn’t want to get out of the basket. So Morgan spent the whole day just lounging in the basket like it was a comfortable chair.

You mentioned shooting in Williamsburg. Why was important to shoot on location in New York?

First of all, I love the crews here, and I wanted to avoid shooting on stages, where you can lose some realism. Also, we wanted to pay homage to the original [1979] Going in Style, directed by Martin Brest. We shot in many of the same neighborhoods took place in the same neighborhoods that were used in that film.

The film has a fun and relatable theme about these three guys joining forces to buck the system and get what’s rightfully theirs.

Audiences are having a lot of fun with that idea—of people getting what’s rightfully theirs. These guys have a firm morality; they don’t want a dime more than what’s owed them. In fact, they’re robbing the very bank that has their money.

Why was it important to add the love story between Alan Arkin’s character, Albert, and Ann-Margret’s Annie?

We wanted to show that people can find love at any age. That’s something you don’t see very often in today’s movies.

Albert is kind of a grumpy guy. He thinks he’s done with women—until Annie charms him back into dating. It’s interesting to me that Annie is the aggressor in that relationship. She is still interested in sex and in falling in love. They remind us that being a senior doesn’t mean you’ve lost that need for love and closeness.

Early in the film, there’s a big action scene in which Michael Caine’s character, Joe, witnesses a bank heist. Do you like shooting action?

It’s a lot of fun to shoot action scenes. I felt like a kid who had been given all the toys in the toy store. Before Going in Style, I had directed some action sequences, for Scrubs. But I had never before directed action on the scale of that bank robbery.

What do you hope audiences experience when they watch Going in Style?

This is the perfect film for family members to experience together. Going in Style has something for everybody. Ten year olds will have fun with it, as will their parents and grandparents. It’s my favorite kind of comedy, with an amazing cast, lots of laughs, as well as a big heart and even some social commentary.

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By Andrew Germishuys

Founder of SAMDB, Andrew has worked full time in the film industry since the early 2000's. He has trained as an actor, completing his LAMDA Gold Medal, and attending many courses in Cape Town acting studios, with masterclasses with some of the international industries top directors, producers and filmmakers. Working as an actor and armourer in the film and television industry have given Andrew a great balance of skills across the board when it comes to the entertainment industry. Catch him on Twitter: twitter.com/andrewgerm_za And IMDb: www.imdb.com/name/nm5390453/