When Screen Gems releases “The Wedding Ringer” on Jan. 16, the Kevin Hart comedy marks not only screenwriter Garelick’s directorial debut, but also the end of a very long and winding road for the project.
“I wrote it over 13 years ago with Jay Lavender, when it was called ‘The Golden Tux,’ ” he says. (The team also co-wrote 2006’s unusually realistic relationship comedy “The Break-Up” for Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn.) “I was shooting second unit in Dublin on Joel Schumacher’s ‘Veronica Guerin’ at the time, and Jay was in L.A. We sent stuff back and forth, and we sold it in 2002 to Todd Phillips.” Since then, the project may have languished, but Garelick — a Yale graduate who started at CAA before getting his big break as Schumacher’s assistant — has worked hard to learn everything he could about becoming a director.
“I was on the set of ‘Tigerland,’ ‘Phone Booth’ and ‘Bad Company,’ and it was like a super-intense film school,” says Garelick, who also studied “The Break-Up” director Peyton Reed and shadowed Phillips from start to finish on “The Hangover” (making some uncredited improvements to the script along the way).
Garelick was all set to make “The Insane Laws” his debut through Universal, but just as that fell apart, Screen Gems called with an offer to direct “The Golden Tux.” “I almost didn’t believe it, as several other potential directing projects had fallen apart, too, so when I finally got on the set the first day, I was so happy,” he says.
Next up, the 39-year-old may direct “Sick Day” with Johnny Knoxville for Universal, with Imagine producing, and there’s already talk of a sequel for the high-testing “Ringer.” “And there’s also a chance I’ll do ‘The Insane Laws’ after all, which is wild.”