Around the time of his 2003 nuptials, life was chaotic: there was the wedding planning, the thought of kids on the horizon, and all of his guy friends and their girlfriends were in a frenzy.
"Anytime somebody is getting married, someone else is pressuring someone else with, 'When are you going to pop the question?' And other people who are married are questioning their vows," Burns said in an interview with TheShowBuzz.com at the Tribeca Film Festival in April. "So, all of those kinds of things were in the air."
In turn, Burns decided to do what he does best: write about it. The heart-warming story he penned is the foundation for his new comedy, "The Groomsmen." The low-budget film, which also stars Britney Murphy, Jay Mohr, John Leguizamo and Donal Logue, debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival and will be in theatres in New York and Los Angeles on July 14.
TheShowBuzz.com chatted with Burns about the movie and his favorite filming location, New York City.
Tell me about your character in "The Groomsmen."
My character, Paulie, has gotten his long-term girlfriend (played by Britney Murphy) pregnant and they've decided to have a hurry-up wedding. Paulie is wrestling with the fact that, not only is he about to get married, but he's also going to have a baby three months after that.
He's brought together his four childhood best friends to serve as his groomsman. That serves as the catalyst for each one of them to look inward and examine where they are in their lives.
How did you come up with the idea? I read that your wife, Christy Turlington, had something to do with it.
She had something to do with part of it. I'd written a version of this script after my movie "Sidewalks of New York" came out in theatres and was completely ignored. So I was like, "Alright, I need a hit." So I sat down and tried to write something big and funny and broad, like in the "Meet the Parents" vein. And that just isn't my skill or my sensibility. The script wasn't any good, so I just put it on the shelf.
Three years later (in 2003) when I was getting married, things were just coming to a head. Some things between us, some things between my friends and their girlfriends. Anytime somebody is getting married, someone else is pressuring someone else with, "When are you going to pop the question?" And other people who are married are questioning their vows. So, all of those kinds of things were in the air.
We were talking one night about how this wedding is causing all of this commotion. Christy goes, "You should go back to that script you have and write that version of it. The honest version of what really goes on when someone gets married." And that's what I did. I dug this script out and reexamined it and wrote what I think is still funny, but a more honest representation of men in their mid-30s and the lack of ability to mature.
Did you have cold feet before you got married?
I didn't have cold feet before getting married but before my daughter was born (in 2003) I definitely wrestled with, "God, I still feel like such a kid." I still hang out with the same guys I hung out with; we still play our dopey Saturday afternoon softball game. We all still feel like 22-year-olds. Do I know how to be a good dad? You discover you do because you have no choice. You kind of figure it out and do it.
I'm absolutely in love with it. I'm just so thankful that I had kids at this age. I didn't want to be the 42-year-old guy who … you should be coaching little league at 42.
Why do you think guys in their 30s get cold feet before getting married or having kids?
For people getting married in their mid-20s, you're really just out of high school and college. You don't really have time to think and reflect, you were kind of thrown into this adult situation. Once you have kids, it's, like, "I need to get that job, I need benefits, the house, I need the whole nine."
When people put (marriage or kids) off, there's more time to reflect. You've grown used to this adult life, your habits. You really mourn the loss of that freedom and you're in a different place financially. Then you recognize kids will change that.
You wrote, directed and star in this film. Can you explain why you like to be involved in all aspects of filming?
Originally, I wanted to be a writer. Then, after I wrote my first screenplay, I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker. I always aspired to have something like Woody Allen's career; you get to stay in New York, you make your tiny little talky movies, you get to do one a year. You have the freedom that comes along with that kind of career.
What I discovered was that I got to maintain a little more control over the overall vision so I guess that's the reason. Then, just generally, I'm probably a control freak.
How did you choose your cast?
Donal Logue I had worked with before and I always said he just felt like somebody that should be in one of my movies about my New York Irish guys. A friend of mine read the script said, "There's only one person you should cast as cousin Mike, it should be Jay Mohr." That's how that came to me.
Matt Lillard had read the script and his agent called me and said "Lillard loves this script, is there a part available?" I sat down with Matt and it was like a no-brainer. He was Dez.
John Leguizamo's part (the groomsman who reveals a dark secret) was the toughest one to cast. We kind of went back and forth between who exactly is the right guy for this? But then when John's name came up it was like, "Oh, perfect." Then it was just a matter of begging John to do it.
You've been involved in the Tribeca Film Festival over the past several years. Why do you like being a part of it?
Two things: I live in the neighborhood and I lived here pre-9/11 and pre the festival. When the festival started, it was really just about injecting Tribeca with some excitement and enthusiasm. Trying to get people to come back down and spend money and help keep the restaurant and shops open. So, for that reason, I was just thankful that the festival existed.
But now as its grown the festival has not only helped the neighborhood but to watch it evolve into this very important festival ... everyone is aware that there's something happening here that you need to be apart of.
Why do you film all of your films in New York?
I'm from New York, born and raised. I love this city more than anything. I've said before that New York is the greatest costar you could ever have. There isn't a bad corner to shoot on. You've got the full socioeconomic spectrum; you can draw from the greatest wealth of actors. You know this is where it's all happening, so this is where the stories should take place.
By Amy Bonawitz