Director Jake Kasdan notes, “It’s very unusual to find an edgy, R-rated comedy centered around a woman,” he says. “The R rating gives you enormous freedom to be as completely insane as you want to be in any moment – and we were with a group of people who embraced that completely.”
In the film, Elizabeth Halsey (Diaz) is a teacher who just doesn’t give an F. She’s foul-mouthed, ruthless, and wildly inappropriate. She drinks, she gets high, and she can’t wait to marry her meal ticket and walk away from her day job teaching middle school. When she’s dumped by her fiancé, she sets her plan in motion to win over a rich, handsome substitute (Timberlake) – competing for his affections with an overly energetic colleague, Amy (Lucy Punch) – but finds herself fighting off the advances of an irreverent gym teacher (Jason Segel). Elizabeth’s outrageous schemes and their wild consequences will shock her students, her coworkers, and even herself.
When the idea for “Bad Teacher” came to the screenwriting team of Gene Stupnitsky & Lee Eisenberg, they knew they’d hit on something incredibly rare and special. “It seemed like there weren’t a lot of comedy roles for women,” says Eisenberg. “We would see so many funny women on ‘Saturday Night Live’ and on talk shows, and they’d be hysterical and charming, and then we’d go to the movies and they’d be props to get two guys to become friends or whatever. We really wanted to write a project for a comedienne.”
“I thought it was one of the funniest scripts I had ever read,” says Kasdan. “Lee and Gene have a completely original, hilarious voice – I think that they’ve written one of the great female comedy parts, and we found the perfect person to play her in Cameron Diaz.”
Eisenberg says Kasdan also shared an innate understanding of what set the material apart. “Jake was very collaborative. Of course, he had ideas about the development of the script – small changes that were key to Elizabeth’s growth. When I see the movie now, I remember having those discussions in Jake’s kitchen – all of his instincts were so smart.”
“It’s important to me, when I’m directing someone else’s script, to have the writers really involved with the production,” says Kasdan. “Particularly with comedies. It’s a huge asset. You can have different jokes available to you as you do it – try to make the movie funnier as you shoot it.”
Kasdan says it is Diaz’s willingness to completely give herself over to the role that sets her apart. “Cameron has got this great thing: she is completely fearless,” says Kasdan. “She enjoys being dirty and edgy and she’s completely open-minded about what might work. She was the perfect person to be at the center of this and it was a real gift for the writers and me to be working with her.”
Opening across the Philippines in August, “Bad Teacher” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.