Bad Trip star, Michaela Conlin, had to pull a prank in lieu of a traditional audition for the role of Mia Li in Eric André’s hidden-camera comedy.
Bad Trip brings that to the big screen as André and costar, Lil Rel Howery, perform in character on a Borat-style road trip. Best friends Chris Carey (André) and Bud Malone (Howery) drive from Florida to New York City so Carey can profess his love for his longtime crush Mia Li (Conlin), all while the two are pursued by Bud’s sister, Trina (Tiffany Haddish), who wants her car back from them. André and longtime collaborator, Kitao Sakurai, worked together to develop their television work into a feature, and some of that process included bringing new faces into the operation.
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Speaking in an interview with Collider, Conlin revealed the details of her nontraditional audition. Rather than run lines or slate a shot, Conlin was asked to meet director Sakurai at the Glendale Galleria and pretend that he was her cheating boyfriend so that they could “fake prank…an employee that worked at the Men’s Express.” Conlin had a real trial by fire being thrown into the thick of it, where she found an unlikely ally in a well-intentioned employee – a trend she says repeated throughout filming. Check out her full account below:
[T]here was no boot camp but the screen test was pretty unusual. They just told me to show up at the Glendale Galleria in Los Angeles and we had a five-minute discussion about a…fake prank that we were pulling on an employee that worked at the Men’s Express store on the lower level. It was literally just like being thrown into the fire, which I think is the best way to do it with this sort of stuff and they had a couple different versions of what they wanted to do but they had someone filming it and it was the director and I and I think that was a really smart thing to do because that was the tone of the whole shoot. It was like “Are you ready? Let’s go!” It was a very quick sort of just jump in so you don’t really have time to mess it up thinking about it.
The director was pretending to be my long-term boyfriend who I had caught cheating on me and I found him shopping either for himself or his girlfriend at the Express and sort of confronted him in an all-out “you cheated on me, what the hell?” sort of situation. But what happened is that one of the women working at the store I guess had had a similar situation so she ended up, bless her heart, she ended up coming up and hugging me and comforting me even though it was a completely false situation, but that was really nice. That’s the whole thing about the movie is that people really are so kind, I really found in shooting the movie on the streets of Atlanta, people were so willing to just jump in and help because they thought these situations were real so it was sort of heartwarming in that way.
Credit where credit’s due, Bad Trip is a leap from Conlin’s previous work. She is best known for playing forensic artist Angela Montenegro on the Fox procedural comedy-drama, Bones, and discussed a possible revival for the series in the same interview. Berating her fake boyfriend in a Men’s Express is a walk from scripted television, though positive reception of the film says Conlin did just fine. A trial by fire probably did prepare Conlin better than any screen test would have, even though she (thankfully) never had a knife pulled on her.
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