jennifer garner steve carell alexander and the terrible no good very bad dayIn "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day," Jennifer Garner and Steve Carell play the parents of a family who just happen to be having the worst day of their life -- all at the same time. They have to contend with their teenage son's disastrous driver's test, the long-unemployed dad bringing the baby along to a job interview, and Mom having a spectacularly bad typo in a children's book that's about to be read live by Dick Van Dyke.

The two stars talked to Moviefone about staying upbeat when things go wrong, running after an escaped kangaroo and how Garner got a scar from one stunt gone wrong.

Moviefone: How many days did you spend actually filming the one Very Bad Day?

Garner: About three weeks. [Steve's] pirate shirt was around for so long, that when he was back in a regular shirt, I felt, "You don't look right."

Carell: That became the default look for me. I spent a long time in it. We all spent a lot of time in our various looks.

Which was the worst outfit to wear for that long? The vintage blue tux Dylan Minnette has to wear?

Garner: Definitely the Peter Pan outfit. And the baby having to be painted green.

Have you ever had as disastrous a day, either as a parent or a kid?

Carell: Sure, everybody has. I think they happen weekly.

What was your most epic bad day?

Carell:
I should have prepared for this question. I didn't think ahead.

Garner: We're both pretty optimistic people. And I think [that attitude] just takes bad days and jettisons them.

Carell: Yeah, I think we're both people who don't live in the past. Learn from the mistakes and move on.

In the film, your characters are kind of relentlessly upbeat in the face of disaster. How do you cope with bad days?

Garner: I still have little, little kids, so for us, bad days are really just a consequence of a mood or being tired or being hungry. But if everyone is grumpy at the same time.... the other day, I am not kidding, I put on marching band music through the whole house as loud as I could and gave the stuff to bang and we marched. We marched everywhere, inside, outside. That kind of thing, where we just had to change the energy.

Carell: That's a really great idea!

You both have a fair amount of physical comedy in this: Steve, you chase down a kangaroo. How choreographed was that?

Carell: Oh, it was fairly choreographed. Any time you're actually working with a real animal, it has to be. There's always the chance that something is going to be different than you planned, but you try to plan it out as much as you can.

You don't actually get kicked by the kangaroo, do you?

Carell:
Oh, I'll never say. [Smiles]

And Jennifer, you have to fall off a bicycle.

Carell:
That was real!

Garner: That was not planned! It was actually very unplanned and I have the scar to prove it. [Shows the scar on her ankle.] They asked me on the last take to go faster about 20 percent, but they didn't tell the background [extras] that I was going to be going faster. So as I came around the corner, I saw this guy and my head slowed down and I went into stunt mode. I thought, "I'm either going to plow him down or I have to go down." So I just went down and then kept going. I thought they weren't going to be able to use it, because the camera operator was so shocked that the camera actually stops following me for a second and I leave frame. They were trying to decide, "Do I get up and help her?' Because that was not planned! But it was fine.

So your years of being on "Alias" helped out?

Garner: Really, it does. It actually does help to be able to just think... I wouldn't think of myself as someone with quick reflexes, but between "action" and "cut," you go into a different mode.

Was there anything else that didn't go as planned on this shoot?

Garner: Well, we were working with animals and children, and a baby.

Carell: So that was always changing.

Garner: But that wasn't ever an issue. Other than them trying to hog the screen and be more adorable.

Carell: The shock to me was how smooth it was. With a tiny little baby that the day after day, things just seemed to go so well. And you didn't want to jinx it either. You didn't want to say, "Wow, that worked out great."

Garner: Our babies were so good, they had to add crying in post.

Carell: They never cried, they're so good.

Garner: They were such good little girls.

Wait, baby Trevor was a girl?

Garner: Yep, Trevor was two girls.

Is that an acting superstitions, not saying how well things are going?

Carell: That's not an acting superstition. Whenever you say, "Wow, how could things be any better than this?" It's like "Shhhh." That's just a knock-wood moment, just being appreciative for what you have.

How often did you crack each other up on set?

Garner: One of the hardest things for me was when we're watching our daughter fly around on the stage, Steve would lean over to me and he'd say, "I'm just going to keep it really small." And I'd say, "Okay, yeah, me too." And then he would go [screams] and he would do this guttural sound and I just couldn't. They don't even show me in the whole scene because I just screwed the whole thing up because I was just laughing so much.

Carell: Every day was a struggle with this one. Both on and off the set, too. She has a very wry sense of humor. And, frankly, can be bawdy at times, which I appreciate.

So none of that bawdy humor made it into the family-friendly movie.

Garner:
Not this version.

Carell: A little bit, yeah.

"Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" opens everywhere Friday, October 10.

categories Interviews, Movies