Jon Favreau Talks 'Chef', Roy Choi, Film-making, and More
In order to promote his new film, Chef, Jon Favreau recently took to Reddit to answer questions about the movie, his career, his time on Friends, and incidentally, Robert Downey, Jr. We’ve compiled the best Chef-related responses from Favreau. You can read the full AMA on Reddit.
Hello! I'm very excited about Chef! My biggest question is, what do you find is the biggest difference between a studio picture and an Indie that most people would never consider? Something besides the obvious (less money, more freedom, etc.).
The biggest difference is the budget. The lower the budget, the greater the freedom. I enjoy working on the big budget movies, but the appeal has to be more global. For a film like Chef, the smaller budget allowed me to have complete freedom when it came to the script, where I filmed it, who I cast, and the final cut of the film. I really wanted to depict the culinary world in an accurate way, which required dicey language at times. And I wanted to make sure that the casting reflected what a real kitchen was like. It was really fun to return to the scale of an independent film after starting out in that world at the beginning of my career.
How did you come up with that incredibly awkward answering machine scene in Swingers? Did that come from a similar experience you had in real life?
I never had that kind of an experience with an answering machine. I just thought it was a really funny, awful thing that could happen when leaving a message for a girl you just got the number from. I have to admit, though, that after that movie came out I got much more nervous leaving messages on people's phones, knowing they would play it to everybody before I screwed up.
In my new movie Chef, I try to use Twitter and social media in the same way I used the answering machine in Swingers. It seems that technology, whether it's an answering machine or YouTube or Twitter, has the potential to make embarrassing moments exponentially worse. It's a great dramatic tool and could lead to some really fun comedy.
How was your time working on the show Friends?
I started off as a guest star, and ended up doing six episodes. I think it's kind of funny that Monica was a chef, and one of my episodes was about me installing a killer kitchen for her. Everything seems to have come full circle with me playing a chef now. The cast was great, I remember playing Super Mario Kart with David Schwimmer in his dressing room during our downtime. It had a real family feel and I'm still amazed at how many people recognize me from that show, even kids who weren't even born or old enough to see it at the time who are only aware of it through syndication.
What was your favorite part of making Chef?
I loved so many aspects of this project. It's the first time I've written a script in a matter of weeks since Swingers, so that was exciting. I really loved working with Roy Choi and training to play the chef. It's a set of skills I'm going to continue to refine, even after the film is done. I loved filming it, I haven't shot a film in a month since my independent days, so it was nice to see i still had the chops to get it done. And I've really enjoyed putting the soundtrack together, it's fantastic, you should give it a listen.
I also loved taking the film on the festival circuit, including SXSW and Tribeca, where we won the audience award. And finally, it's been great to promote this film because I believe in it so fully and am so excited for people to see it.
Hi Mr. Favreau, I had the pleasure of meeting you on Saturday at the Q&A in Century City. I know you had a connection with Paul Qui during SXSW. My question is: was the meal that Carl cooked in his apartment after quitting his job inspired by dishes served at Qui? I ask because the meat Carl cooked looked very similar to Paul's Cote de Boeuf.
Unfortunately I didn't meet Chef Qui until SXSW. He had been friends with Roy Choi who was my mentor, and they draw inspiration from the same culinary traditions. Those two chefs have a tremendous amount of mutual respect and I wouldn't be surprised if they were both influenced by each other. All of the food that appears in Chef was created by chef Roy Choi. He also oversaw my training, and I worked on the hot line in his kitchens.
Read Favreau's full AMA, which covers a lot more non-Chef topics like Iron Man, The Sopranos, his love of Paul Rudd, and more! Watch the trailer for Chef below (warning: contains some strong language that may be suitable for adults only):
Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.