The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Release date: December 25, 2013
Directed by: Ben Stiller
Written by: Steve Conrad
Produced by: Stuart Cornfeld, Ben Stiller, Samuel Goldwyn Jr., John Goldwyn
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Running time: 1h 54min

Kristen Wiig as: Cheryl Melhoff
Other cast: Ben Stiller, Adam Scott, Sean Penn, Shirley MacLaine, Kathryn Hahn

Walter Mitty is a dutiful son, a loyal friend, and a man who takes pride in his work as the photo editor of Life Magazine. He is also a compulsive fantasist who gets lost in heroic scenarios in which he saves the life of the co-worker he adores but who he can barely manage to speak to in reality. When the publication is bought out and a team of corporate hacks elects to go all digital, a legendary photographer entrusts Walter with the negative of an image he considers to be perfect for the final cover… that he loses. Walter embarks on a worldwide search for the photographer, which becomes a journey of self-discovery and a recovery of his buried dreams.

Production Notes

“It was very inspiring for me to watch Ben directing and acting in this movie because I do hope to someday, maybe direct something and so I feel like that was kind of a free class for me, to get to watch how it’s actually done,” says Kristen Wiig. “I don’t know how he wore so many hats on this thing and also it was a challenging movie to do with all the special effects, CGI, and then he’s acting, age makeup, it was a lot of stuff. And to watch him work and see how you do it while also being cool and nurturing and generous. I feel lucky to have watched that.” She then continues “I had worked with Ben just a little bit when he hosted SNL and we got along really well and I’ve been a fan of his for a long time. Seeing him be the director and you know, he’s in his costume and then two seconds later he’s behind the camera and totally and completely Walter and there for you as an actor. Again, I know I’m repeating myself, but just watching him do all of those different jobs so well and so calmly and so patiently was, you know as an actor you never wanna see the director freaking out about anything (laughs). So, you felt very safe and taken care of. And also, he’s very organized and knows exactly what he wants which is so great as an actor. We would rehearse and he just, like you were saying, this has been a passion project, that term’s gonna get thrown out there a lot, for years, and it’s so exciting to be a part of a movie with someone who’s had this movie in his brain and his heart for years and years and years. To be a part of that, you feel really lucky that he’s brought you into to his little club.”

“Playing Cheryl was kind of like the best of both worlds because of the different fantasies that Walter goes into.” Kristen Wiig continues “He imagines different versions of me because I’m his love interest in the movie and yeah, it was kind of like a good meeting of those two worlds. In movies you’re obviously the same character, same wardrobe, same everything for months, where SNL is different every four minutes or something.” Ben Stiller then says “I just think Kristen is, I wouldn’t say an underrated actress, because I feel like people haven’t had the chance to see you in roles like this, where she’s just so realistic and so funny. That’s a really not an easy thing to do and to be and I think what’s exciting for me in this movie is people seeing you in that and yet she also gets to be really Kristen funny too. But, I think that’s why she’s so successful as an actress and a comedic actress is that, people can feel she’s a real person too and that’s just a crazy combination of things that not many people have.”

They then talk about the singing Kristen Wiig was required to do in the film. “I am a big David Bowie fan. That was a little bit intimidating to know that I had to sing that song (laughs) but Ben described that scene to me. Very early on he kind of had that imagined a while ago, and I was so excited. I took guitar lessons and recorded the song in New York. It was kind of a dream. I got to pretend I was a recording artist for a couple days.” Stiller continues “Yeah. That was exciting to hear her record it in the studio, because she’s a really good singer, and, what was it like, Electric Lady Studios? So it was like, a pretty famous studio.”