Cobie Smulders and Guy Pearce on Becoming Fitness Trainers for Andrew Bujalski’s New Indie Rom-Com, ‘Results’

Photos courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

In filmmaker Andrew Bujalski’s new romantic comedy Results, Guy Pearce and Cobie Smulders are the platonic ideal of fit. Their tight and brightly-colored workout gear looks tailored to their sculpted physiques as they jog, weight lift, make out, and go about their lives as trainers in Austin, Texas. Yet when I met Pearce and Smulders at the Crosby Hotel yesterday, Pearce was enjoying a personal bowl of M&Ms and Smulders was reclining on the couch with her shoes half off. Although the stunning people in front of me were far removed from their characters in Bujalski’s film, what effortlessly remained is how their personalities bounced off each others like old friends. 

Having made a name for himself with mumblecore movies like Mutual Appreciation and Funny Ha Ha, Bujalski’s career picked up steam in 2012 with his analog ’80s gem  Computer Chess. Following his indie success with Results, Bujalski made his first foray into working with Hollywood actors—and as his largest film to date, it’s just broad enough to fall into the rom-com world but still delightfully strange enough to feel a part of his own. 

Centering around Danny, a depressed, newly-divorced, and recently wealthy man—played by Kevin Corrigan in one of his best roles—the film begins when he decides to reinvigorate his life and join a gym. Out of boredom and the desire to take a punch without falling down, he meets gym owner and fitness guru Trevor (Pearce) and starts training with the sharp-tongued and fiery Kat (Smulders). With Bujalski’s intelligent and subtly comic writing married with the sincere performances from its cast, we observe as their three lives entwine. Bujalski gives plenty of room for the characters to veer off into idiosyncratic and strange tangents, while offering an interesting look at the intersection of depression and self-fulfillment.

After its premiere at Sundance back in January, Results will begin its theatrical run this Friday at IFC Center. In honor of the occasion, I sat down with Pearce and Smulders to chat about their natural on-screen chemistry, the interesting variation of their careers, and the unpredictable pleasure of working with Kevin Corrigan.

Were you familiar with Bujalski’s work prior to being a part of this film?

Cobie Smulders: I read the script through the conventional way of Hollywood. One of my managers thought I would like it, so I read it and I did. Then I familiarized myself a little bit with Andrew. I met with him via Skype and we got along very well. He came to L.A. and we played around with some scenes and then that was it. So I watched Mutual Appreciation and Funny Ha Ha and Computer Chess, and I really loved his point of view. I was like, this is a guy who’s really thinking outside the box and I want to be part of whatever process this is going to be because it’s going to be interesting and challenging and educating. Then when I heard that this handsome devil was doing it, I was like, “Come on, let’s go.

Guy Pearce: Let’s go running.

CS: Let’s go training!

GP: I met Andrew a couple of years before for something that kind of kept appearing and reappearing but never actually happened. Meanwhile, he then started to write this and I liked the idea of it. Once I knew that he wanted to do it, we were on set pretty quickly. Usually that’s the way, I find. So when I met him all that time ago, I watched his films and really liked his take on stuff.

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Were you attracted to the idea of being in a movie where you could be both dramatic and comedic, as well as physical?

GP: I don’t know if I thought about the comedy side of it all that much.

CS: Yeah, I really didn’t think that it was going to be that funny. But when I saw it with a live audience, I was like, “Oh yeah, this is funny. There are funny moments in here.” 

GP:  Most of his stuff, it’s just life. So sometimes it’s funny and sometimes it’s dramatic. I never really think in terms of genre, and I don’t necessarily think of Andrew’s films in that way. The characters just felt well-written and well-realized and you just kind of go, “I want to do anything with you because you’re so insightful.”

Trevor has a recurring fantasy of a juice bar–something about that is inherent funny.

GP: I know guys like that, guys at the gym who go, [closes eyes] “Hold on, wait, so I’m imagining…” You’re like, “Seriously?”

CS: Visualization of the secret of it all. But whatever works. This is a movie that says, “Hey man, whatever works for you.” I feel like that’s so much of the dynamic of this relationship. They’re so different, but Kat is like, “Hey, if it works for you, and you can make people feel that way, and you feel good about that, that’s fantastic, go ahead. I do not subscribe to it at all, and that’s okay too.” That’s also an interesting dynamic. 

You two have a really natural chemistry together. Did you get to spend any time together prior to shooting the film?

GP: We only met a day or two before we flew down to Austin to start rehearsing. But as soon as you start chatting with somebody and find something to connect over that you find funny then that’s all you need.

CS: We have similar senses of humor.

GP: We had a good time.

CS: Yeah, we had a good time. 

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You’re both quite believable as trainers; you make it look easy! Did you spend some extra time hanging around the gym to prepare?

GP: I didn’t because I’ve done it for years in my whole life to some degree. I was like, “I know this world, I don’t need to talk to anybody.” 

CS: I was like, “I don’t know this world. I don’t like gyms.”

GP: “I’m just naturally this gorgeous.”

CS: Yeah, no. But I worked with some trainers in L.A. and then in Austin, and I’ve worked with trainers before for some other projects and stuff. In terms of character, I observed other characters and also took from life and took from experience.

GP: Funny enough, the thing I wasn’t particularly knowledgable about was the floor stuff. There was that physical trainer Andrew employed for the movie, and I needed to talk to him. I’m much better with weights and machines, I can do all that stuff standing on my head, but all the floor stuff, particularly, in this day and age—

CS: But that kind of worked for your character because you were classic.

GP: Absolutely—and well, let’s face it, I’m not a young man anymore.

CS: Kat was a little more, “Try this!”

GP: I don’t think Trevor actually wants to train anybody. He wants to run the business.

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Did you find there was anything different about making this film compared to the larger scale projects you both work on?

CS: Every project is different group of people, a different city, and a different dynamic. Austin really was a big part of my experience there. I’d never been to the state of Texas before, I’d never been that South, so I thought that was cool. Then it’s also just about the people you meet and the people you get to work with.

GP: If you do a small film, it’s also about the intimacy. When you do a big film, there are kind of layers of technical and studio levels, but when you do something like this, you’re like, “You’re the boss, and you’re going to be hanging out with everybody.” You get a much more transparent sense of what’s going on. I kind of like that – it’s like making films at home for me. They’re all independent films, they’re all low budgets, and I kind of like that. It’s like doing a class project or something, more than working for the man.

Variation is fun. I choose stuff because of what it is, not how big or small it is. You go, that’s a story that I like and a character I believe in and I feel like I can do something with it. If it happens to be this small or this big, then so be it. I did Iron Man 3 then went straight to New Orleans and did Hateship Loveship with Kristen Wiig and that was nearly as tiny as this movie. We all shared a trailer together. 

CS: Yeah, I was just thinking about scale, and I was like, “I don’t think I drove in a car for seven hours across the desert on Avengers.”

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How was working with Kevin Corrigan? I imagine he was a great scene partner.

CS: He’s very reactive. He’s very in the moment and he feels it; his character gets away with the biggest moments. It was very interesting for my character just to watch him because my character’s reaction would be similar to my own. I was like, okay, we’re just going to see where this goes and then I’ll bring us back over here.” So it was really fun, it was kind of like having a front row seat to a really good show.

GP: He’s really interesting and really unpredictable. You kind of don’t know what you’re going to get, particularly in the fitness world where there are rules. You need to warm up and stretch and cool down. There are rules, and Kevin as an actor, I think, that doesn’t play by the rules. That character he played clearly isn’t playing by any of the rules that these guys are aware of, so he really is kind of like an alien dropped into another universe.

Have you seen any films lately that you really loved?

CS: I saw a really good one, you [Pearce] might like it, it’s called What We Do in the Shadows. Have you seen it? It’s Jermaine Clement and a bunch of New Zealand guys. It’s basically a fake documentary on vampires in New Zealand. It’s really great, it’s so fucking funny. It cracked me up. 

GP: I watched a little bit of On Golden Pond the other night. [laughs]

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