When you need help getting something accomplished in life, it’s only natural to turn to friends and family to make it happen, and filmmaking in Hollywood can be handled in just the same way. Hit & Run, written and co-directed by, and starring Dax Shepard (NBC’s “Parenthood”), quickly became a family affair when Shepard turned to fiancée Kristen Bell, friends Bradley Cooper and Tom Arnold, and “Parenthood” buddy Joy Bryant to co-star. Shepard and Bell’s actual family members also jumped on board helping behind-the-scenes, even playing small parts in the film.
“Everybody was just kind of offering things, like, ‘Oh, I can do that,” or, ‘You need extra picture cars? We can use ours cars,’” recalls Cooper, who offered up his own house for one scene. “It was incredible. When you don’t have the option and you don’t have the money, you just get it done.”
“This movie was like one big birthday party for me,” says Shepard. “It’s the woman I love the most as my co-star, I’m peeling out and doing donuts and jumping other cars, and it’s all my best friends gathered together for six weeks, which I never could have arranged otherwise. This was everything I love all in one concise little package.”
Shepard takes on the lead role of Charlie Bronson, a nice guy with a questionable past who steps out of witness protection to drive his fiancée (Bell) to Los Angeles to interview for the job of her dreams. Their road trip becomes complicated when Shepard’s old bank robbing pals, lead by Cooper, find out where he is and are looking to get revenge for Shepard taking a plea with the feds. Tom Arnold, playing the federal agent assigned to protect Charlie, also gets in on the chase, but creates some complications of his own with his clumsy ways.
“He is the last person you want to have a handgun,” Shepard says. “Plus, this is a car chase movie, and he’s a terrible driver. There’s just something very funny about a guy who can barely walk ten feet without screwing up. But he’s so loveable, you just want to root for him.”
“I knew I was going to have to spill something on myself and have a problem with it,” adds Arnold. ”And I knew we were filming somewhere where it was, like, 110 degrees. So anything less than a sloppy, messy guy wouldn’t have worked. Maybe that’s how Dax sees me, too, I don’t know. I knew I’d be running and shooting a gun, and it would be dusty. So instead of trying to hide those things, which is what I usually do, I thought I would just go for it and let it be just as pathetic as possible.”
Not to mention, there was really no time for Arnold, or any of the cast and crew, to really overthink anything regarding the film. Because of everyone’s busy schedules, a small amount of time opened up for the crew of friends to pull the trigger and make the film happen.
“I had a very small window between the second and third seasons of ‘Parenthood’,” notes Shepard. “So [producers Nate Tuck and Andrew Panay] and I just said, ‘Let’s just go for it.’”
“Everything just kind of lined up for us,” says Tuck. “We had a great script, we had Dax on hiatus from his television show, Kristen Bell was on hiatus from her Showtime show (‘House of Lies’). We knew that Tom Arnold was available in June, we knew Bradley Cooper was available for a week-and-a-half in June. It was now or never.”
Shepard, Bell, Arnold and Bryant talked to The Seven Sees about their fun shoot which translates to the movie, Shepard reveals his Hollywood inspirations for the story, and Arnold explains the joys of “ghostriding.”
Hit & Run is in theaters Friday, August 25th, is rated R and runs 100 minutes.