In the film, as Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) brazens through an embarrasing sex scandal with his usual flair, the seasoned politico prepares to segue unopposed into his fifth term in office. But this time, to his astonishment, a challenger appears out of nowhere: local tour operator Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) — a dumpy, soft-spoken, cardigan-wrapped, fanny-pack-wearing oddball with zero political experience. As Election Day closes in, the two are locked in a dead heat, with insults quickly escalating to injury until all they care about is burying each other.
On Marty’s side is political operative Tim Wattley. “Political operatives and consultants are like samurai warriors,” director Jay Roach explains. “Tim Wattley is a dark, Rasputin-like character—like an assassin who just happens to be a political consultant. He’s one of those guys who work below the surface and get passed down from one administration to another for whoever needs them, left or right, and is willing to pay for their services. They’re essentially hired guns, but instead of people, they assassinate character. And Dylan is great in the film. He brings some odd chemistry to the mix, which is exactly what we wanted.”
As the laser-focused Machiavellian, McDermott developed an even more severe take on the character than was originally conceived. “Wattley arrives on the scene like a commando and assesses the situation, sees what needs to be fixed and fixes it,” the actor outlines. “He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty, which is good because he’s dealing with a guy who looks like a gnome. He gets Marty botox’d, gets his eyebrows trimmed, his teeth whitened, his hair styled and his entire wardrobe overhauled. He gets Marty to the gym, teaches him how to walk, how to talk, and what to say. He cleans out the house and puts the whole family on notice. He even replaces their dogs.”
Under Wattley’s tutelage, Marty also adopts a catch-phrase of his own, “It’s a Mess,” aimed at anything and everything his opponent has supposedly mishandled—without, of course, detailing any actual solutions.
“Wattley takes over Marty’s life and Marty trusts him because he believes that if he does as instructed, he can win this election and make his town a better place,” says Galifianakis.
At least that’s part of the plan. But what Marty doesn’t realize is that, for all his keen attention, Wattley doesn’t have the slightest interest in him or his potential constituents. McDermott acknowledges, “Wattley is maybe the craziest person in the movie, in his own way. His job is to get someone elected, period. He couldn’t care less about this candidate or the one on the other side, or the communities they serve or what they stand for, or any of that.”
Opening across the Philippines on Aug. 29, “The Campaign” is distributed in the Philippines by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.
Watch the trailer here: