Renee Zellweger only has 4 1/2 MINUTES with a Jackass in her directorial debut

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Actress Renee Zellweger will showing off her ability to don many hats (as opposed to her permanent and uncanny lemon sucking impersonation), when she makes her directorial debut while also producing and starring in 4 1/2 Minutes.

Contrary to popular belief, the film will not be a documentary about Darryn’s sex life, but rather a comedy set in the world of stand-up comedy.

The comedy will be written by Anthony Tambakis who last flexed some totally different writing muscles when he produced the script for the rather dramatic and amazing MMA drama Warrior with Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy and Nick Nolte.

This screenplay, which is based on the real-life experiences of stand-up comedian Dov Davidoff, will find Zellweger starring opposite “Jackass” star Johnny Knoxville who will assume the role of “Jimmy Bennett, a commitment-phobic, train-wreck comedian whose life is falling apart when he takes a job looking after the genius son of single mom P.J. Andersen (Zellweger).”

Zellweger spoke to THR about what drew her to Tambakis’ script as her first directing gig:

“Anthony sent the script to me last year, asking thoughts and whether I’d partner with him to produce it. I’m such a fan of his writing…from Warrior to Sunny and 68, to his novel and work onCinnamon Girl, he has an ability to capture worlds with remarkable compassion, humor and intimacy and the truth of his characters’ humanity is felt in every line.  I’m a sucker for stories about unexpected complicated human dynamics told simply and truthfully in unique environments. In the tradition of great storytellers, Anthony’s characters resonate, and what they experience can be felt. For an actor, it’s the highest fruit on the tree. I asked him if he’d consider my producing and playing PJ. By the new year, the effort to get the film financed had fizzled. I couldn’t get the script out of my head, but we didn’t have a director and weren’t making any headway. During a work session forCinnamon Girl in early 2012, I brought up 4 1/2 Minutes again, Anthony suggested I direct, and it all started rolling from there.”

‘The story is set in the epicenter of the NYC comedy scene, and is one of the most authentic representations of that world that I’ve experienced, but it’s a story about family dynamics, and emotionally stunted people who finally have to assume responsibility for their circumstances and make the difficult choices necessary to become fully realized as adults. It’s about the long road back to who you were supposed to be before life, bad decisions, etc. intervened. There’s something emotionally resonant about the prospect of finding a proper life path long after your contemporaries have moved on.”

She also revealed that she has a personal reason to get involved:

“Dov’s a pal and one of my favorite people. He’s wildly intelligent, and an original. I guess you’d assume that, knowing his adolescence inspired 4 1/2. Some folks say he’s the current best in the game. I’ve done a lot of Saturday night research at the Laugh Factory and am inclined to agree. Have you seen him live? Don’t bring a pretty date.”

Davidoff is known for his darker comedy, and this script will probably reflect that, so how can Zellweger maintain a “light touch” as a director:

“The characters are in transition and face personal crisis, but the script is funny. The players are naturally funny. I’m just going to do my best to stay out of the way, and try to capture the magic of what they do.”

Zellweger spoke about her excitement with working with Johnny Knoxville, a man more well know for letting his “friends” hit/kick/put fire to his testicles than his acting acumen.

“It’s the most I’ve looked forward to a summer since high school. We gave a lot of thought to this character, and the idea of Johnny in the role seemed undeniably ideal. The part asks more of him as an actor than any previous undertaking, and he’s surely up to the challenge. Johnny’s going to surprise a lot of people. He’s got a reputation as a generous co-star, on and off camera, and he’s so excited to get started with the heavy prep work and is ready for the journey. He fits right in with this band-of-thieves effort. It might just be a little fun. Might just be.”

4 1/2 Minutes begins shooting in New York City in February 2013.

Last Updated: November 1, 2012

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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