Scott Foley’s directorial debut is twisted, dark and slightly grotesque. By design. Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife — currently on VOD and in limited theatrical release — is a dark comedy about a group of friends who conspire to kill and dispose of their friend’s wife after all, so descriptors like twisted and disturbed are apropos and par for the course.
Playboy recently spoke with the Scandal star and primetime TV crush of many, male and female alike, about where this story came from and how he managed to successfully wrangle a cast of friends, wives and relatives to play along, including Amy Acker, Donald Faison, Greg Grunberg, Patrick Wilson, James Carpinello, Dagmara Dominczyk, and Marika Dominczyk.
Read on for Foley’s slightly sordid tales of Indie moviemaking magic, like getting to strangle and smash dessert in his sister-in-law’s face – for work. Also, the actor takes a walk through our Lucky 7 which includes a heartwarming tale of sharing his first Playboy experience with his mother and what it’s like to live across the street from Kim Kardashian.
When someone told me you had written and directed a film, I couldn’t imagine what kind of film it’d be. But now that I have seen it, I have so many questions for you.
I hope I don’t have to apologize for anything.
Oh, absolutely not. It is such a twisted surprise, I’m just intrigued to find out more about it. Where did this idea hatch?
Oh lord, I have so many answers for that question but I guess I’ll give you the honest one. I wrote this probably about three years now and it was at the time where a lot of my friends — I was married and had been for a couple years — a lot of my friends were getting married and the friendships I had for a bunch of years between this group of guys was starting to fracture and I couldn’t put my finger on why. Then I realized when anytime you bring someone else into a group, sort of a permanent fixture, be it a husband or wife, you can sort of lose that friend. I heard someone say, “I lost a good friend recently. He got a ring caught on his finger.” I wanted to write a movie about that time in your life when relationships change and the reasons why and it ended up being this really dark thing. It wasn’t specifically about one friend or one wife, thank goodness; it just took on this life of its own while I was writing it.
Most of your cast are, I assume friends, and also friends and lovers and spouses, etc. (The cast includes three married couples: Foley is married to Marika Dominczyk, Patrick Wilson to Dominczyk’s sister Dagmara, and Amy Acker and James Carpinello). What were their reactions when they read it?
I gave it to a couple friends right off the bat, they really liked it and thought it was twisted and funny and wanted to be involved. We had a reading on my roof deck, got some candles and some wine and all got together and read it, it was funny. It needed a bit of work of course, but they all saw it similarly to how I did. It’s basically all family, with the exception of Donald Faison and Greg Grunberg who are old friends I worked with on Felicity and Scrubs. My wife is in this film, her sister is in it, my brother-in-law is in it actually, both of my wife’s sisters are in it. I don’t know that I necessarily recommend working with family [laughs], especially when you’re having them say your words and you are the pilot of this ship, but it was a really great experience. To be where I am right now talking to you after you’ve seen this film is a huge accomplishment, one I’m very proud of.
How did you decide how far out to go and where/when to draw the line with gore? So many things are so deadpan, it’s intriguing. In several places, I thought “Wait a minute, are they winking at me here?”
[Laughs] The tone was a really tricky thing with this film and if we didn’t get it right, which I think we did, but there are some places I’m not sure. If we didn’t get it right it would seem offensive and crude and not funny and the idea was to make this a funny film talking about a semi-serious subject where, through the horrific act of killing a friend’s wife, everybody’s life gets better. The tone idea really took shape when I imagined all of them standing over her dead body for the first time. Up until then there are some comic moments but you don’t really understand the tone of the film until you see all of them react in very much the same way to this woman dying.
And Ward’s wife [played by Foley’s sister-in-law, Dagmara] does a fantastic job of being impossible to like.
Well that was the thing too, there had to be zero redeeming qualities about this character and you had to root for the others to want her gone, you had to be in on the joke with them.
I wouldn’t imagine it’s fun to strangle someone in a scene, but were you able to laugh about it?
It was so bizarre we had a great time. To be able to smash your sister-in-law’s face into a cake, first of all, and have her happy about it is a pretty amazing thing. The strangulation scene was also something we had to get right because it had to be honest and heavy but still — I hope I can say this without offending anybody, like I should be worried about it at this point — but still enjoyable. You had to root for Tom to do this to her and we had fun with it and she was such a trooper, literally she had cake on her face for 12 hours that day, she was so great.
The way you and Patrick Wilson in particular are so cavalier about the whole murder thing is hilarious. Because I’ve never seen — well I guess you’ve done some dark things on Scandal, but to see you sort of, “Yeah, well, we’re just going to chop her up like this” is interesting.
It was so much fun. Patrick and I, we’ve been dating and/or married to sisters for over a decade now, so we spend holidays together and vacations in Europe together so we are very close and both have a similar sense of humor; sort of ironic, dry, and sick. And we’ve tuned to each other for the past ten years, so I knew going in that there would be parity between in he and I.
The movie is pleasantly surprising, which is weird to say “pleasant” because it’s about murder but…
I get it. We knew going into this, you can please some people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but not everybody is going to love this film. Some people will think it’s misogynistic, there’s the domestic violence issues going on now and I’ve Tweeted with people who think it’s a horrible idea, but to try to explain it in 140 characters that it’s not domestic violence but retaliation for domestic violence is hard to explain but I think the people who enjoy it will really enjoy it.
What was your first encounter with Playboy?
Oh my goodness. I’d just moved back to the states from being overseas. I lived in Northern California and there was this island, which sounds so strange, but we lived right off the coast of San Francisco and there was this island we took a raft out to. Someone had dug a huge hole in the middle of this barren island, and there had to be a 1,000 Playboy magazines. I was 11 years old, it was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen. I stole about 50, 60, 70 of these magazines, put them on the raft, took them back home and, get this, my mother and I looked through them for half an hour on the kitchen table. She passed away 20 years ago, but I remember her saying was, “Yeah, my breasts used to look like that before I had kids.” Amazing, just amazing.
What movie scared you most as a kid?
Something Wicked This Way Comes. It was a Disney film, scared — still scares — the crap out of me.
What’s your pop-culture blind spot?
This is going to sound horrible, but [sigh] the Kardashians?
That is not horrible. Many people have issues with them that are much more severe than categorizing them a blind spot.
They live across the street from me. And I don’t mean, in the next neighborhood, I’m looking out my window now and Kim and Kanye bought that house two months ago.
Bless your heart, I hope the paparazzi have not invaded your neighborhood.
No, thank God we are in a gated neighborhood. And I’ve seen them walking a couple times, I’m sure they’re very sweet but the reality show of it all — I’ve tried to watch it, but I don’t get it.
Let’s pretend you’re on death row: What’s your last meal?
It would be a bowl of cereal. Frosted Mini-Wheats, granola and LIFE cereal with vanilla almond milk.
What was your first car?
My first car was a 1980 Ford Renata. It was two-toned blue, a two-door and I put a CB radio in it with a PA system. It had Corinthian leather, which is vinyl for you and me. I loved that damn car.
What was the first song you knew all the words to?
The first song I knew all the words to… Oh my God, I’m such an actor, “On Broadway.”
What’s your favorite mistake?
Oh God, I can’t say without getting into trouble. Hmm… you know, when my wife and I started dating I was newly divorced and not in any way looking for a long-term commitment. She was 23, I was 31, and I think the happy accident is that somehow I found someone amazing and here we are 12 years later with three kids. I think the favorite mistake is [laughs, sheepishly] thinking with the wrong head.