On Tuesday night, Paramount’s latest release “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” took over the AMC Lincoln Loews Lincoln Square theater. The film, starring Tina Fey — who also produced with longtime “Saturday Night Live” collaborator Lorne Michaels — brought out several familiar faces from the “SNL” world and Fey’s other project, “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (including Alec Baldwin, Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane and Colin Jost).
Leonardo DiCaprio’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” co-star Margot Robbie, who co-stars in the film about a reporter who takes on an assignment in the war zone, wasn’t the only former onscreen flame of DiCaprio’s who was thrilled to see him win his first Oscar. “I’m so happy for him. Honestly, that whole room went bezerk when his name got called out,” Robbie recalled of Sunday night’s events. She noted how DiCaprio is always very cool, calm and collected, even on the big night, during which she told him, “Let your hair down. You just won an Oscar!”
While Fey wasn’t dropped into a war zone like her character, Kim Barker — the film is based on Barker’s book “The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan” — she would have been interested in visiting either country.
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“I think I would’ve been scared to go, but I would’ve been interested to go,” she said. Fey also mentioned that leaving her family for 11 weeks to film in New Mexico is the “craziest” thing she’s done in recent memory. “You miss, like, smelling them and squeezing them, because you can’t get that from Skype,” she said.
“New Mexico’s really beautiful and doubles really well for Afghanistan, because it felt like we were so remote,” added actress Sheila Vand.
Former journalist-turned-actor Scott Takeda, who also stars in the film, has actually been in similarly perilous situations with “bullets whizzing by,” and is happy to see the focus being put on journalists lately in Hollywood. He said, “Obviously with ‘Spotlight’ having won the Academy Award [for best picture] really put a nice spotlight, if you will, on the work of journalists and how important the stories that they tell are. [I hope] that this film does the same for war correspondents. He added, “I’m very excited to have a chance to meet the real Kim. I read her book — she’s fabulous.”
Barker is acclimating to all the attention. “It’s really weird,” the author said. “I’m usually the one asking the questions and have to do interview after interview. Having people care about what I have to say is very strange because usually, I’m on the other side of things. I’m writing things and I’m observing things. It’s kind of surreal,” she confessed.
Both Barker and screenwriter Robert Carlock, who calls Barker an “invaluable collaborator,” have personal favorite moments from the memoir that didn’t make it into the script.
“There was a section of the book where Kim goes to do a story on, I think it was called ‘Afghan Idol,’ which is their version of ‘American Idol’ or ‘Pop Idol,’ that was done in Herat in Western Afghanistan,” Carlock said. “So much of the movie is about how the cultures bounce off each other, and I loved how there was this overlap. Barker recalled the “iPhone scene.”
“Read the book,” she teased. “(The scene) has to do with the prime minister of Pakistan buying me an iPhone, and it’s hilarious. I’m just waiting for the line he tried to use on me to become a bar pickup line in New York: ‘I know I’m not as tall as you want. I know I’m not as fit as you want. I’m fat and I’m old, but I’d still like to be your friend.’”
Post-screening, everyone migrated to the legendary Tavern on the Green in Central Park for the after-party. There, the majority of cast and crew hung out in the back room, gabbing and eating, while Colin Jost and Steve Higgins chatted for a long while near the bar, and Fey’s former “30 Rock” co-star Judah Friedlander made an appearance later in the night.