The actors, along with co-directors (and brothers) Kevin and Michael Goetz, hit the red carpet at the Chinese on Aug. 20 for the film’s Los Angeles premiere. But the scene-stealer of the night was Duhamel’s very pregnant wife, Fergie, and her lovely lady lump.
When the chaos surrounding Fergie’s entrance subsided, Duhamel reminisced about a road trip that resulted in roadkill.
“On my way to Detroit Lakes in the first couple of years of college — it was the Fourth of July — we ran into a deer,” Duhamel said. “I was in the backseat (of my mom’s minivan) sleeping. All of a sudden, thunk! And I got up, I was like ‘What the hell? What happened?’ And I threw up all over the side of the highway.”
Fogler had a less traumatizing, but equally terrifying, memory to share.
“I’ve spent some time in a Jaguar XJS — with my dad driving at a thousand miles an hour, with my brother cramped in the back seat — when I was a kid,” Fogler said. “The destination was wonderful; we went to Disney World. They don’t make good cars, the Jaguar people. At least they didn’t do it back then. And it was a very tremendously treacherous ride.”
Appropriately enough, the Goetz brothers took a road trip before shooting the film. They drove 2,000 miles to scout a location, ultimately zeroing in on a deserted road in Death Valley. They got lost and almost ran out of gas along the way, but, unlike Duhamel’s and Fogler’s characters, didn’t fight to the near death.
The Goetzes chose “Scenic Route” for their feature film directorial debut because writer Kyle Killen’s screenplay was character-driven and rich in dialogue.
“We wanted to do our first feature on a movie that was based on the performances, that really lived or died by the performances,” Kevin said. “This screenplay really offered that because it was just a thing that took place in the desert with two characters talking the whole time. There were no car chases or explosions to hang our hat on directorially so we felt it was a really good showpiece for us.”
They also said Duhamel’s “infectious” passion and commitment to the movie, which earned him his first exec producer title, set the tone for the shoot. Duhamel underwent the physical transformation of getting a Travis Bickle-esque mohawk for the mentally and emotionally taxing role.
“(Duhamel) literally rolled up his sleeves the first meeting and said, ‘Let’s go out to the desert. I don’t need a hotel, I don’t need trailer. I want to live and breathe in this desert,’” Michael said. “His enthusiasm and (Fogler’s) enthusiasm, the whole crew rallied around it. We had a 17-minute take the very first take, off book. They didn’t miss a beat, didn’t miss a line. And the whole crew applauded. And from that day on, everybody worked a little extra harder.”
The cast and crew had to endure scorching hot days, unbearably cold nights, and 80 mph winds in Death Valley for 12 days. They also shot for three days in L.A. It’s a wonder they didn’t go mad.
But the same can’t be said for the after party at Beacher’s Madhouse in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, where the oldest (and hairiest) male dominatrix, the tallest woman, and a bearded lady mingled with Barney, Elmo, and Dr. Seuss’ the Lorax, among other costumed characters. Event-goers also enjoyed performances by the Mini Black Eyed Peas — the venue’s little person cover band — who performed “I Gotta Feeling” in Fergie’s honor, mini Psy, who brought Duhamel to his feet to dance “Gangnam Style,” and a knife thrower. It’s safe to say that somewhere along the way, the route turned from scenic to strange.