Once you leave grade school, you’ve probably never thought about competing in a spelling bee again in your life. Not so for 40-year-old Guy Trilby. The angry-at-the-world character is portrayed by Jason Bateman in the star’s directorial debut Bad Words, now playing in select theaters. In the film, he finds a loophole in the National Quill Spelling Bee contest rules and contends for the number one spot, competing against a group of fun and obnoxious little squirts, including one who he befriends, Chaitanya Chopra (Rohan Chand, who you may remember as Abu Nazir’s lost child from Homeland season one). Kathryn Hahn plays the fiery reporter trailing the case. “I’ve worshipped Jason since forever,” Hahn told InStyle when we sat down with the cast at the Toronto International Film Festival. “The fact that he took a chance on me to be his unromantic leading lady was very exciting.” The following is an excerpt from our conversation.
What was your proudest moment on set?
Jason Bateman: Probably the last day, just finishing. It was a huge amount of responsibility directing. I felt very, very lucky to be given all that responsibility. To be able to finish it and on time, felt great.
Kathryn Hahn: Oh, probably getting through those sex scenes without laughing.
What is going to surprise viewers about this film when they watch it?
JB: That it’s a little bit darker and moodier than you would think a comedy would be. That’s the kind of films I really like and I was really happy that we managed to accomplish that.
KH: The fact that I have the most vile mouth on the planet. And I wear glasses! My character has a very specific aesthetic. She likes tweed and Dr. Scholl’s shoes. She feels like Ali McGraw, but with nerdy glasses. I love her whole look.
Were there any embarrassing moments on set or funny anecdotes that you remember?
KH: The sex scene in the closet, pretty fantastic.
Bad Words, rated R, is in select theaters starting March 14.
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