Back to IndieWire

Lucy Punch Says Her Character In ‘Bad Teacher’ Was Inspired By Sarah Palin

Lucy Punch Says Her Character In 'Bad Teacher' Was Inspired By Sarah Palin

Dry Humping, Vomit, Boobs & More We Things Learned About From The Cast Of The Film

When you get a group of people together who are as funny as the motley crew in “Bad Teacher,” things not only get outrageous onscreen but offscreen as well. Such was the case a few days ago in Manhattan, when we joined the press to visit Lucy Punch, Thomas Lennon, Phyllis Smith and the radiant Cameron Diaz to talk about the film.

As you likely know by now, the story centers on Elizabeth Halsey (Diaz) a gold-digging middle school teacher who sets her sights on the new substitute Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake) to get her hands on his family fortune. In her way is Amy Squirrel, her perky, ‘Miss Perfect’ colleague, while on the other side is the affable gym teacher Russell Gettis (Segel) who has his eyes on Elizabeth. Things get turned up a notch when Elizabeth decides to start getting money together for a boob job to land her man, and when she finds out there’s a $5700 prize if her class tops the academic scores in her county, she’ll do anything to win. In chatting with the cast they revealed some of the scenes they wished could’ve stayed in, what it was like to work with an ex-lover and how there were boundaries for comedy on the shoot. Warning there are some slight spoilers in case you haven’t seen the film just yet.

1. Lucy Punch’s Character Was Partially Inspired By A Certain Alaskan Governor
Lucy Punch had some interesting things to say about the inspiration for her character, the neurotic and perpetually chipper teacher Ms. Squirrel. “It was pretty much that character on the page but when I read it, just because of the way she talks, because she’s rather twee and perky. The first person I thought of was like if Sarah Palin had a little cousin who’s an elementary school teacher. I mentioned it to Jake [Kasdan] and he said, ‘You know, I don’t think that was the intention.’ I don’t know if they’re in there but I threw in a few winks and “you betchas”. That’s just who I had in my head, that energy. Not to say that Sarah Palin is deranged or unhinged,” Punch said.

Thomas Lennon then clarified: “That’s almost exactly what you’re saying.” To which Punch shot back: “I’m talking about her perky energy!”

2. Thomas Lennon Wants To Start A Website Focused On Lucy Punch’s Boobs Getting Vomited On
“It was my worst thing to shoot and I was so annoyed, and maybe a little happy, that they didn’t use it,” Punch says, of a particularly grotesque scene in which Diaz vomits on her. “It was a scene where I’m trying to convince Cameron that she doesn’t need a boob job and I’m telling her about my ideal man, and it’s so nauseating. And Cameron is so hung over that she throws up all over me. And we did this multiple times. It was going down my shirt. She was holding some kind of creamy soup in her mouth – the smell was so unpleasant. Cameron was cool with it but it was making me gag. It was unpleasant. I started to get rather upset by it.”

Thomas Lennon seemed particularly outraged by this deletion: “So there’s a scene where she pukes on your boobs? And it’s not in the film? Because that is a website we should so start.”

3. Mission Accomplished: The Soon-To-Be-Infamous Dry Humping Scene Between Diaz & Timberlake Went For The Opposite Of Hot
Cameron Diaz puts it simply: “We wanted to create the least sexiest sex scene ever seen in film, ever. And I think that we succeeded. We did it all for the sake of comedy.”

Part of that was enabled by the fact that they have a history together. “When you have someone who you’ve always loved laughing with, and yes we went out, it really isn’t awkward. We’re friends. It’s been a long time. We had allowed our friendship and our love to morph and change to something totally appropriate to do this with each other. To know you can do that with someone that you can trust completely, it’s the perfect person to do that with. If it was someone else I wouldn’t have been able to do that, there wouldn’t have been the trust.” Awwww!

4. Cameron Wishes They Had Kept A Scene Where She Drops The C-word
While Diaz wasn’t longing for the vomit sequence, she did have a particular favorite that she wishes had been kept in. There’s a scene where Lucy Punch’s character is talking about going out on a romantic holiday with Justin Timberlake’s character (who Diaz is lusting for), and says to Diaz, “You don’t have a boyfriend, do you?” To which Diaz replied: “‘Oh no, I’ve got my eyes on somebody but he’s dating a total cunt.’ And they took it out! And they decided it was going to far with her! But I was like, ‘No! That’s the best line!'”

5. There Was Never A Flashback To What Happened In 2008
In the film there are several oblique references to Lucy Punch having some kind of incident/meltdown in 2008. The entire movie it seems like they’re building to some hilarious flashback when we get to see the incident (psychotic, maybe?) but that never happens, so you just assume that it’s one of the many subplots which are introduced but never fully developed (or deleted for time/pacing reasons). Punch says that it was always kept to the imagination. “No [it was never filmed] and it was never even really discussed about what has happened to her. I think she’s a very fragile creature and highly medicated and has had episodes periodically in her career. In my head, it involves her taking her clothes off at inappropriate moments.”

6. For The Cast, There Was No Such Thing As Pushing The Comedy “Too Far”
Lucy Punch, the British thespian who plays the high-strung Miss Squirrell, said that, “As long as it’s funny, there’s no such thing as too far.” Similarly, Cameron Diaz said: “There is no such thing as too far, which is great because if you can do anything you don’t have to apologize for anything. She does whatever she feels like and does whatever she feels like. Even though you think you should hate her, you kind of what to be her.”

7. Apparently Jake Kasdan Likes Phyllis Smith More Than The Other Cast Members
When “The Office” alum Phyllis Smith, who plays another teacher, let out the fact that she had seen two cuts of the movie, which were “really different,” both Thomas Lennon and Lucy Punch were shocked. Then Lennon followed it up with a characteristic zinger: “Were either of them funny?” Later, Phyllis admitted to seeing a blooper reel already. Thomas Lennon in mock outrage outrage exclaimed, “Where do you get to see two cuts of the movie and the blooper reel?”

8. Cameron Diaz Pushed A Neti Pot Agenda On The Cast And Crew
Apropos of nothing, Lucy Punch decided to share, “Do you know what she gave me? She gave one to Jake as well – one of these neti pots. I thought, ‘If Cameron does it, maybe this is the secret to being gorgeous and fabulous!’ If you have allergies, you put this warm water with salt in it in your nose and it’s supposed to come out the other side. And of course I had water that was too hot and scalded my nose or my head was at a wrong angle and I almost drowned. I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t do it so the next day I was like, ‘It was amazing! Thanks Cameron! I’m so clear!'”

Again, Thomas Lennon chimed in: “This is another website I’d like to see.”

9. Her Character’s Irredeemable Qualities Made Cameron Diaz Do The Movie
While reading the script, Cameron Diaz went from disbelief in the character to utter certainty that she had to do the movie. “Thirty pages in, I was like ‘I can’t do this, there’s no way to redeem her.’ But that was because you always have that mindset when you read a script, and especially when you’re reading a character that is like this, that you have to have people relate to the character and also like her. So I thought I was going to have to redeem her. And I got to the end of the script, and they do this miracle – they didn’t redeem her. There’s no apology. I thought that was amazing. And I said, ‘I have to do it!'”

10. Cameron Diaz Is Skeptical That Her Character Changed, Even A Little Bit, By The End Of The Movie
When another journalist posed the fact that Diaz’s character falls in love with the goofy, amiable gym teacher (played by Jason Segel) as proof of her character’s mini-redemption, Diaz got mock-belligerent: “Is she in love with him? If she’s with him it doesn’t mean she’s in love with him. This is by no means a happy ending.” Spoken like a true bad teacher!

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox