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THE THREE STOOGES (2012)
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
Release Date: April 13, 2012
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Screenwriter: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Mike Cerrone
Starring: Chris Diamantopoulos, Will Sasso, Sean Hayes
Genre: Comedy
MPAA Rating: PG

****

ABOUT THE PRODUCTION

CASTING

Given the Stooges' iconic stature, casting the three principals was a formidable task. A unique chemistry was required because, says co-writer/director Bobby Farrelly, "They're always beating the crap out of each other."

Moe,saysPeterFarrelly, "is the leader. He comes up with the ideas. Curly is the big funny guy that makes the other two laugh. Larry is a blend between Moe and Curly. Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, and Chris Diamantopoulos synched right up with the original Stooge characters."

"If one of these three guys can't dance with the other two, you've got a big problem," adds Bobby Farrelly. "The physical aspect of the comedy, the hitting and moving, was a tricky balance. After watching Sean, Will and Chris for 52 days, you got the feeling that they had been working with each other for twenty years."

"Chris Diamantopoulos had the mannerisms, the voice, the look, every little detail, things that we had never thought of. And, Sean Hayes just totally channeled Larry Fine. Will Sasso, was born to play Curly. He looks the part, he gets the part. So, we know we have the three best guys for the roles."

Diamantopoulos, a longtime fan of The Stooges, pulled out all the stops to land the part of Moe. "I fought for this role like I've never fought for anything in my life," Diamantopoulos admits. Standing 5'10" with a middleweight boxer's build, the actor is much leaner and taller than the character he embodies in the film. For his first audition, Diamantopoulos even put together a makeshift padded suit to replicate Moe's doughy physique. "Then I borrowed an oversized suit," Diamantopoulos recalls."And, I went to a wig store and cut a wig and drew in some eyebrows and drew in some undereye bags and drove to the audition looking like that. I was the only guy auditioning in costume."

With an additional week before his next (and final) audition, Diamantopoulos hired a makeup artist to applyprosthetic undereye bags that were more convincing than the actors' earlier hand drawn versions. At his own expense, he got a professional wig made and called in a favor from a wardrobe friend at another studio, where he rented a vintage 1940s suit, and where he found an upgrade to his fat pad that, he says, "changed everything for me."

The physical transformation was impressive, but Diamantopoulos came to understand there was much more to Moe than duplicating his physique and outfits. "So much of how Moe sounds comes from his expressions," he notes. "I was trying to get the voice without making my face like Moe's and it wasn't quite there. It got closer when I started shifting my face."

The part of Larry, whom some called "the middle Stooge" and who served as the trio's straight man, was in some ways the most difficult to cast because unlike his two cohorts, Larry lacked a distinctive voice. "It's also hard to define exactly what made Larry so funny," says Sean Hayes, who like Diamantopoulos, attended several auditions to land the coveted role. "He certainly was a great reactor."

Will Sasso, who made an impression as MADtv's resident impressionist, where he brought to life the likes of Elton John, Kenny Rogers, Bill Clinton and Elvis Presley, worked hard to capture the unique rhythm and cadence of Curly's voice. Sasso states that "The first step in playing Curly was making sure I could do his voice. And it got better and better and better as production progressed. When the movie was done shooting, my Curly voice was so good I felt we should probably go back and do the movie all over again."

The task of physically transforming the three actors into the Stooges fell to costume designer Denise Wingate, who created a vintage-looking wardrobe, providing a comedic contrast to the modern-day story attitudes; makeup artist Kim Greene; and hairstylist Kelly Muldoon.

To help turn the handsome Sean Hayes into sour-pussed Larry, veteran Hollywood wig maker Renate (who has created hairpieces for such characters as Spider-Man, the X-Men, and "Pirates of the Caribbean" anti-hero Jack Sparrow) styled a replica of the original Larry's unique hairstyle.

It was a time-consuming routine to do the Larry "'do." Each day of shooting, Hayes had his head shaved, cleaned and prepped. Then, the hair team would draw an outline on his pate, apply glue, and affix the wig to Hayes' head using spirit gum and tape.

For Moe's coif, Diamantopoulos donned an expensive wig groomed by veteran movie wigmaker Victoria Wood, working under Muldoon's supervision.

From custom wigs to custom threads, Wingate complemented the recreation of the Stooges' original look with her handmade wardrobe. "Because the original look of The Stooges is stamped in our DNA, I didn't want it to be exactly the same as the old films," Wingate offers. "My task was to both tip our hat to the era of the original Stooges, and still make it contemporary.This was the most challenging project I've undertaken, as far as getting the look and feel for the characters right."

In any era, the Stooges were not exactly fashion plates. "Curly' pants were never long enough," says Peter Farrelly. "They were always up to his ankles, and if he had a hat on, it was too small. Larry's sleeves were always too long. Moe looked like he had no neck due to the way he dressed. We've kept all that iconic clothing, but updated it."

The filmmakers surround the Stooges with an impressive ensemble, including Jane Lynch, Sofía Vergara,Jennifer Hudson, Craig Bierko – and Larry David…as a nun…named Sister Mary-Mengele.

"Sister Mary-Mengele. That name is what really attracted me to the role," offers David. "For years I said to myself, ‘if only I could play a character whose last name was Mengele. Or Goebbels.Or Goering.'"

"I'm a really authentic actor," David continues about his approach to playing outside his gender for the first time in his career. "I really researched it and I spoke with some nuns, and they told me that I couldn't really reveal what's on underneath the habit. They took me into their confidence."

Like David, veteran actress Jane Lynch endured the hot Atlanta heat-and-humidity, in a nun's clothing, for her role as the orphanage's Mother Superior, a "habit" she'd soon rather not repeat (at least not in a southern summer).

"We were in Atlanta in the summer, it was a hundred degrees in the sun, and I'm wearing a black habit," Lynch recalls incredulously. "And, I wore the wimple along with the veil. All made of polyester. We had a cooling tent where they shot this cold air at us and, between takes, I would actually pick up my skirt and put it over the vents to get the whole body cooled down!"

Emmy-nominated actress Sofía Vergara ("Modern Family") plays the film's femme fatale, Lydia, who tries to lure the Stooges into offing her innocent husband.Vergara, who relished playing the sultry villain, explains that the Stooges' appeal is universal, citing her own encounters with the phenomenon. "I think everybody at some point in their life watched The Three Stooges. In Columbia, where I grew up, we called them ‘Los TresChiflados'. At that time, there wasn't any native Columbian TV shows, so the big hits in the United States would go all over the world."

Lydia's partner in crime is Mac, "who gets the stuffing beat out of him for about 90 minutes," says Craig Bierko. "My function in the film was to be on the business end of a fist, a twist, a poke, a lion, a steamroller, a pogo stick and, occasionally, Sofía Vergara. Which is how they lured me here. Sofia Vergara!" the actor states with a sly grin.

The starring cast also includes Oscar®-and-Grammy® winning actress-singer Jennifer Hudson as the orphanage's resident singing nun."What I remember most about The Three Stooges growing up was hearing my mom speak of this classic show," Hudson says. "That was her favorite thing back in the day. She used to always tell me about it. That was one of the things that drew me to the part."


ABOUT THE PRODUCTION

Oneadditional element was critical to bringing the Stooges to life -- the familiar sound effects ("Boink!") that take the trio's hijinksto new heights of hilarity.To recapture that aural magic, the filmmakers recreated the classic sound effects from the old two-reelers.The Farrellys, along with their longtime film editor Sam Seig, worked closely with John Larsen, a veteran sound editor whose 90 film and TV credits include "Back to the Future" and "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World," to recreate the classic sounds that amplify the film's slapstick moments.

Principal photography on THE THREE STOOGES began in May 2011, on location in the greater Atlanta area. The company concluded filming on July 22 at the popular marine life park, Miami Seaquarium, in Florida – on "porpoise" -- to capture a scene in the facility's dolphin tank.

During the ten-week shoot, the production bounced all over the metro Atlanta area, with two key locations chosen for the shoot -- the Ryals-Davis Home, a 300-acre spread in the northwest suburb of Cartersville, which dates back to 1850 (it was a hospital for wounded soldiers during the Civil War) and served as the orphanage in the film's story; and a 30,000 square foot Buckhead mansion (on the market during filming for $20 million) dubbed "Big Poppa's House," which hosted cast-and-crew for two weeks for a big, action-packed party sequence.

At the end of the day, the filmmakers have brought The Three Stooges' unique brand of humor to modern-day moviegoers. "We're giving audiences something they'll have a great time with," says Chris Diamantopoulos. "The movie is old-fresh," adds Hayes about the film's comedy. "You don't have to be a fan of The Stooges to relate to our modern version." Adds Will Sasso: "The characters are based on the original Three Stooges, but, this is a movie for everybody because it has emotion and heart."

"We knew it was going to be funny," Peter Farrellystates about the project, which was very dear to his and his brotherBobbyFarrelly's hearts. "And, when we shot it, and put in the sound effects with the great performances we got from our cast, it just totally came to life. We honestly feel in our hearts that Moe, Larry, and Curly will be looking down on us and behappy we did this film."

To which the latter would have added: "Soitenly!"


A SHORT HISTORY OF THE [ORIGINAL] THREE STOOGES

The Three Stooges debuted on the big screen in the 1930 black-and-white feature, "Soup to Nuts," in which they appeared opposite veteran vaudevillian Ted Healy (1896-1937). It was Healy who accidentally discovered the Howard brothers (Moses and Samuel Horwitz, nicknamed, respectively, Moe and Shemp) during a 1922 stage performance in Brooklyn (the third member, Larry Fine, whose birthname was Louis Feinberg, came into the fold in 1925). Initially billed as "Ted Healy and His Stooges," the concept had the trio (Moe, Larry and Shemp) act as foils, or "stooges" to Healy's jokes. It may have been Healy telling the jokes, but The Stooges were getting all the laughs.

Constant contention between The Stooges and Healy forced Shemp (1895-1955) to leave the troupe and seek out a solo acting career, in which he succeeded, appearing on his own in dozens of features and shorts between 1934 and 1946. In his search for a replacement, Moe (1897-1975) suggested his younger brother Jerry (1903-1952), a comedic orchestra conductor on the vaudeville circuit. Once cast, Jerry reluctantly shed his thick red hairstyle in favor of a shaved noggin, earning the nickname "Curly" when Moe misinterpreted a comment about his brother's new coif from vaudevillian Healy.

After a series of shorts for MGM in 1933 and 1934, the trio's popularity captured the attention of Columbia Pictures boss Harry Cohn, who signed the three comic actors, sans Healy, to a bonafide Hollywood contract in 1934.

Now christened The Three Stooges, Moe, Larry (1902-75) and Curly debuted for their new studio in the 1934 comedy short "Woman Haters," the first of the 190 two-reelers they would make for Cohn over the next 25 years. (Their contract called for eight films per year). Their third title, 1934's "Men in Black" ("...calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard" being its famous catch phrase) earned producer Jules White an Oscar® nomination for Best Short Subject, the only such accolade ever bestowed upon their films.

In 1946, Curly, now firmly recognized as the trio's comic star, suffered a debilitating stroke on the set of the film "Half-Wits Holiday," which ended his acting career. He would make one last cameo appearance a year later in "Hold That Lion." (His role in 1949's "Malice in the Palace" was deleted). That 1947 title marked the comics' 100th short for Columbia, and was the only film that featured all four Stooges (Shemp relinquished his successful solo career in 1946 and reunited with Moe and Larry following Curly's illness). Curly succumbed to his afflictions at age 48, in 1952, at which time the trio had been reborn as "Moe, Larry and Shemp."

Upon Shemp's fatal heart attack in 1955 at age 60, Moe and Larry recruited veteran funnyman Joe Besser (1907-1988) to step into the act. Curiously, Besser's contract dictated he could never actually be slapped by Moe in the 16 shorts in which he appeared, the last being 1959's "Sappy Bull Fighters." Following the termination of The Stooges' contract with Columbia, Besser left the trio, after which the final member of the Three Stooges was drafted -- veteran vaudevillian and comic actor Joe DeRita (nicknamed "Curly Joe," 1909-1993), who stayed with the act from 1959 until its demise in 1970.

During his tenure with The Stooges, DeRita starred with Moe and Larry in a half-dozen feature films (but, ironically, no short films), which include "Have Rocket, Will Travel" (1959), "Snow White and the Three Stooges" (1961), "The Three Stooges Meet Hercules" (1962), "The Three Stooges in Orbit" (1962), "The Three Stooges Go Around the World in A Daze" (1963) and "The Outlaws Is Coming" (1965). The threesome also made uncredited appearances in Stanley Kramer's epic 1963 comedy, "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" and the 1965 comedy-western, "4 for Texas" with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

Once their big screen career waned, the trio turned to television, where their original two-reelers had found a new home (and audience) in reruns when the Columbia subsidiary, Screen Gems, syndicated a package of 78 original short films in 1958. In 1965, The Three Stooges debuted on the small screen in a new animated TV series entitled "The New Three Stooges," for which the troika voiced their movie characters.

Another TV pilot (a travelogue featuring The Stooges called "Kook's Tour") was filmed in 1970, during which Larry suffered a paralyzing stroke, ending his career and the anticipated TV series. Moe proposed longtime comedian Emile Sitka as Larry's replacement, an idea that never materialized. As plans developed for another Stooges feature, "Blazing Stewardesses," Moe was felled by lung cancer and succumbed to the disease in May 1975. (The Ritz Brothers, another popular comedy team of the 1930s and 1940s, replaced the Stooges in the 1975 film.)

DeRitaattempted to redefine the Three Stooges in the early ‘70s, recruiting burlesque and vaudeville veterans Mousie Garner and Frank Mitchell to replace Moe and Larry for nightclub engagements. The act failed and DeRita retired.

With the renewed popularity of the comedy trio in syndicated television, it made sense to revive the franchise in a brand new motion picture.

"It's been quite a journey, there's no question about that," states Earl M. Benjamin, President and CEO of C3 Entertainment, the official licensing and merchandising company for The Three Stooges brand. Benjamin is one of the new film's executive producers and happens to be DeRita's stepson.

"The movie project dates back at least fifteen years," Benjamin continues. "We wanted to reinvigorate the franchise. The Three Stooges are the greatest comedy trio of all time. Sadly, we can't make any more films with the original guys. But we wanted to bring the great comedy routines of The Three Stooges to a new and younger generation. The best way to do that was to make a whole new film with Moe, Larry and Curly – as a great tribute to the original guys."

"The Stooges always wanted to make feature films," Benjamin states in reference to their long tenure at Columbia Pictures, where studio boss Cohn relegated their comedy formula to the two-reel format. "Feature films were always their passion. It wasn't until the 1960s that they finally got to make feature films. Unfortunately, Curly and Shemp had passed away."

Studio photos, notes and videos © 2012 20th Century Fox