Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer star in the new Netflix film Thunder Force as two childhood best friends who reunite as an unlikely crime-fighting superhero duo. The film marks McCarthy’s fifth collaboration with husband Ben Falcone, who wrote and directed the film, and her first with longtime friend Spencer. Ahead of the superhero flick’s April 9 premiere, Falcone shared five secrets from behind the scenes.
Spencer and McCarthy have been real-life friends for over 20 years, adding to their easy onscreen chemistry. Falcone says he did draw some elements from real life for their characters. “We’ve got a group of friends from way back and I think if you asked, ‘Who’s the smartest one?,’ every single one of us would say Octavia. So if something’s wrong, who would you want to fix it? Octavia.” And as for his wife, Falcone says, “Melissa is very detailed and disciplined, but she really does work off her instinct. So I just felt like that was a really good dynamic: Octavia being so meticulous and saying ‘This is the way I’m going to do it,’ and Melissa saying, ‘I’m so meticulous, but I might not do it how we planned at all.’” So those are qualities that made their way into each character in a fortuitous way because they’re able to play something that’s in their wheelhouse.”
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Falcone and McCarthy’s daughter Vivian plays McCarthy’s character, Lydia, at age 12. “We needed a dead ringer for Melissa, and Vivian is, and she’s also a good actor,” says Falcone. “Because as much as we’re not trying to steer her in that direction, I was sort of like, ‘Well, jeez, I need a kid who can kind of get us off on the right foot, and Viv and Bria D. Singleton, who plays young Emily, really got us off on the right foot.”
GET READY TO ROCK
Thunder Force composer Fil Eisler was “heavily” inspired by the hard rock and metal band t-shirts Lydia wears throughout the film. “He loved the direction of going metal and he knows those people,” notes Falcone. “He was like, ‘She’s wearing an Anthrax shirt. Should I call the guitar player from Anthrax? And what about the drummer from Slayer?’” The result is a who’s who of rock luminaries on the film’s soundtrack including Scott Ian of Anthrax, Dave Lombardo of Slayer, and Corey Taylor from Slipknot, who together perform the closing credits theme song. “We actually had just a male vocal for the ending song, and I said, ‘I love it. But can we make it a duet?’ And Fil said, ‘Oh, I have just the woman.’” Eisler put out the call to Halestorm frontwoman Lzzy Hale. Says Falcone, “That was when the song really jelled.”
The film also features two pieces of music by late Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey, included with the blessing of his estate. Says Falcone, “They knew that we were doing it out of love, so they were into it.”
SPIRITED SUPER SUITS
A running gag in the film is that Emily and Lydia’s superhero get-ups are a little ripe since they only have one and can’t wash them. In reality, says Falcone, “They each had two and then there were some stunt suits as well. And they did not smell.” True story: In order to sterilize them and neutralize odors, “The costume department would spray vodka on them at the end of the day.”
TASTES LIKE CHICKEN
In order to maintain her super strength, McCarthy’s Lydia must eat raw chicken, which was reproduced by the props department with striking accuracy. “The raw chicken is actually really thinly sliced pears treated with citric acid and food coloring,” says Falcone. “It was so believable that we all got completely grossed out every time we saw it as did everybody who had to eat it. Melissa was like, ‘I know it’s a pear, but it’s just hard not to imagine it as raw chicken.’ So that was difficult for her to get through.”
Thunder Force premiered April 9 on Netflix in South Africa.
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