Directed by Jeff Tomsic, and with an all-star ensemble cast including Jon Hamm, Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Rashida Jones, Leslie Bibb, Isla Fisher, Hannibal Buress, and Jeremy Renner, Tag tells the story of five highly competitive friends who come together every year in a no-holds-barred game of the popular kids’ game. This time round, their battle comes at the same time as the wedding of their only undefeated player, and whilst that would probably make anybody else an easy target, he’s more ready than ever before.
Ahead of the film’s release in the UK, we’ve got our hands on a brilliant exclusive chat with the amazing Jon Hamm. Here, he talks about the film, his character, working with his co-stars and more…
What drew you to Tag and the character of Bob Callahan?
I love playing a congenial doofus, which has been made abundantly clear in my comedy career [laughs]. But what I really like about Tag is that it’s based on a true story about a group of friends who genuinely love being in each other’s life. I have a very close set of friends that I feel the same way about, which inspires me. By playing this silly children’s game, the film’s characters stay in touch with one another. I really connected with that idea.
How do you stay connected with old friends?
I have many good friends, mostly from high school. Some of them live in New York, and others still live in my hometown of St. Louis [Missouri, USA], and I make sure to look them up on a regular basis. One of my best friends lives in Australia; we were just texting the other night because his mom had sent me a fun picture of us when we were kids. It was just so evocative of that time in our lives. We look each other up whenever we’re in the same town. It’s just the best feeling.
You’re describing the film’s heart and emotional core, but Tag also has some big action sequences. What was it like to film those?
Tag is an action-comedy that combines those two genres very effectively. It’s a beautifully tailored comedy with action elements that enhance the humour. It’s wildly cool.
Does that combination of action and comedy add a degree of difficulty to each element?
The way [director] Jeff Tomsic pays homage to scenes from some incredible action movies certainly adds a degree of difficulty to the film’s action-comedy scenes. At the same time, it makes it more fun for audiences – and this movie is a lot of fun. It’s appealing across the board. It’s got something for older audiences who identify with the characters, and something else for younger people, who might get inspired and come up with some tradition of staying connected with friends that fits in their lives. That’s a unique and cool aspect of Tag.
Did you bond immediately with your co-stars or did it take some time to come together?
I had worked with most of the cast before. I had just done a film with Isla [Fisher], had known Ed [Helms] for years through the comedy scene and mutual friends, worked with Jeremy [Renner] on The Town, knew Hannibal [Buress] from my appearances on Saturday Night Live, and knew Jake [Johnson] through various and sundry channels. The only person I really didn’t know was Annabelle Wallis, and we got along incredibly well as soon as we met. It was a fun group of people having a great time together. We would often meet off-set to go to dinner and do fun things around [the film’s location in] Atlanta. So, it was not hard to replicate that feeling of the characters being long-time friends.
During a visit to the set, Hannibal Buress told us that on a day off from filming Tag he went to see Baby Driver. He told us that your performance as the murderous thief Buddy blew his mind, especially given that he was currently working opposite you in a comedy. Did he ever tell you that story?
No, I didn’t know that. That’s cool. I met Hannibal when he was a writer on Saturday Night Live, and I’ve been a fan of his for a long time. He’s such a unique talent. Hannibal’s jokes in this movie are so perfectly suited for him. I was glad that the screenwriters captured his sense of humour, sometimes on quick notice because we did a lot of improvising.
Talk about working with Jeff Tomsic, who makes his feature directing debut with Tag…
The film has such a crazy ensemble and so many moving parts, that I’m sure bringing it all together was a tall order for Jeff. But, he really pulled it off. Jeff was incredibly laid back but somehow kept all the plates spinning and came up with a movie that’s wildly funny and that really delivers on its emotional message.
When the movie opens, what do you hope audiences take away from it?
I hope Tag inspires people to connect or reconnect with other people in their lives. So many are connecting via social media, which is fine but isn’t a substitute for actual physical connections, and that’s what inspired the real-life guys to keep playing tag. They genuinely wanted to stay in each other’s lives. They came up with this sweet nonsense to keep those friendships intact.
Tag hits cinemas across the UK on Friday, June 29, 2018.
Tagged in Jon Hamm