Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz are hot for each other again … at least in the new movie they’re starring in together. Columbia Pictures’ comedy, Bad Teacher, has reunited the pair after having been in a high-profile relationship between 2003 and 2006.
“I signed on first. They had to cast the bad teacher first, before they got the substitute,” said Diaz. “We were trying to cast the [substitute teacher] part, Jake Kasden and I. We read a bunch of guys, and there were really great options, and the guys were wonderful, but, all of a sudden, we looked at each other and he said, ‘You know what would be really amazing for this movie for Scott?’ and I says, ‘Justin Timberlake.’ He goes, ‘Yes!’ So, I called Justin up and was like, ‘Yo, you have to come do this. Just read the script.’ So, he made us beg a little, but, eventually, we got him. He’s just so talented. He’s so funny, and we knew he’d be great for the part.”
“[I signed on] partly because of Cameron,” said Timberlake. “I read the script, and it was laugh-out-loud funny. The only thing that made me apprehensive to do the movie was knowing that Cameron and I have a past, and we didn’t want anyone to misconstrue it and turn it into something it wasn’t, but we love and support each other, so we knew that we’d have fun making the movie, and I was just really stoked to get a job.”
In Bad Teacher, directed by Jake Kasden, Diaz stars as Elizabeth Halsey, an irreverent and unapologetically gold-digging teacher with her sights set on receiving a boob job to increase her “hotness” factor. Timberlake stars alongside her as nerdy substitute teacher, Scott Delacorte, who happens to be loaded because he’s heir to a prestigious timepiece empire. Halsey zeros in on Delacorte’s wealth after being dumped by her rich husband when he and his overbearing mother realize her gold-digging ways.
“It doesn’t come everyday, an opportunity to play somebody who just doesn’t give a care,” Diaz explained as her primary reason for accepting the role. “She doesn’t care about what she says or how it affects other people.
“Whether or not she’s making a good moral decision and, in general, she’s just a terrible person … We all sort of live our lives mostly to be careful and thoughtful to other people, to try to make better decisions and to move on in life and grow … you know, that’s kind of exhausting. So, it’s kind of nice to relax a bit, let it all go and have fun.”
Jason Segal (Knocked Up, Get Him to the Greek) also stars in the film as the underpaid, but “real,” underdog gym teacher who won’t take no for an answer in attempting to date Halsey.
“Not since the days of Rome has there been a triumvirate so powerful,” Segal joked about the three working together. “The script is amazing and hilarious, and I’ve worked with Jake for almost 15 years now … and the cast is just a slaughter and to work with Cameron and Justin, it was just an honor.”
Bad Teacher isn’t quite the docile-leaning There’s Something About Mary, the cross-culturally appealing classic that catapulted Diaz to mass recognition. It’s quite the opposite, in that it’s a very crass spin on the Latina actress’ magnetic charm. But Diaz switches gears easily to “bad teacher” by infusing great comedic timing and tons of naughty sex appeal, with the support of her very capable costars.
“I’m more of the straight man for funny people, which I really enjoy, because funny people can’t be funny without a straight man,” said Diaz.
Cameron’s roles in movies like Mary and Charlie’s Angels have earned the leggy beauty plenty of street cred, and Teacher will sweeten the pot. There’s just something about Diaz, and she brings that x factor to this role.
“I think it’s because I grew up in the ghetto … I have a lot of world experience, and I can’t be pinned down to one thing … growing up being a blond-haired, blue-eyed Latina that doesn’t speak Spanish makes you have to fit into a lot of places,” she said.
Timberlake has had his ups and downs with the black community, delivering great R&B music (“Gone,” “Girlfriend,” etc.) and cool movies to boot, but allegedly throwing Janet Jackson under the bus in the Superbowl XXXVIII nipplegate scandal almost set him back. But after the passing of time, he survived the breach with his black card still intact.
“It’s because we come from the streets … and choosing interesting projects like this really helps with the street cred,” said Timberlake. “I just said this earlier. My favorite thing in the world was to make people sing [my]songs, until I found out that I can make people laugh and on a high level…” [Segal interrupts] “We both put our bodies on the line for film, for camera and for comedy. Staying 10 pounds out of shape for comedy, I have to eat a couple of extra reubens a week,” he joked.
Bad Teacher will be in theaters June 24. –gerald a. radford