‘Irresistible’ Star Rose Byrne Mixed Kellyanne Conway and Mary Matalin to Create a True ‘Political Animal’

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Rose Byrne’s character in Jon Stewart’s political satire “Irresistible” is a mix of Mary Matalin and Kellyanne Conway, a potent blend of old school Republican strategist with a new age Trumpian media wrangler.

It’s on the opposite end of the spectrum from her other recent portrayal of Gloria Steinem in “Mrs. America,” but Byrne said of “Irresistible” that she had fun playing her character Faith Brewster, and she was encouraged by Stewart to always keep her performance “playful.”

“Someone like Faith is a true political animal. She lives with some blood on her hands, she loves the fight, she loves the game, so that’s her kind of drug I think, a true political beast,” Byrne told TheWrap. “Jon was always telling me to just make her playful in her position. She loves the element of the game of it.”

Stewart’s “Irresistible” is about a political strategist played by Steve Carell who comes into a small town in Wisconsin to run a campaign for a blue-collar war veteran (Chris Cooper) as a Democrat against a Republican mayor. Once Faith realizes her rival’s game, she brings the whole of the GOP’s resources to help keep this town of just over 5,000 people red.

What we come to realize however is that Faith and Carell’s character have a combative yet hot and heavy romance, not unlike Matalin and Democratic strategist James Carville. The two figure prominently in D.A. Pennebaker’s documentary “The War Room” about the 1992 Bill Clinton campaign, and Byrne said that film was an early inspiration for Stewart.

Byrne even has a hilarious scene with Carell where she makes a bet saying that whichever candidate wins the race, the losing campaign manager has to go down on the winner. And sure enough on the very first day of filming and meeting Carell, Byrne says she had to lick his face as part of a scene.

But she also immersed herself in watching clips of Conway, as well as Fox News, MSNBC and CNN. She nails one moment when she plays the media by saying on a live news broadcast that she was born in the small town of Deerlaken, Wisconsin, even if she doesn’t know how to pronounce it correctly. Carell responds succinctly in disbelief, “She said it and now it’s true.”

As an Australian though, she says she’s always amazed by how “glamorous” the American political machine is compared to politics in the rest of the world.

“I went to the Democratic Convention in 2014, and it was like going to the Academy Awards. I was like, this is crazy. It is so produced. It’s very sleek, George Clooney did the voice over, all these celebrities were speaking before Barack Obama. It was amazing, the music, the lights, it was so highly produced compared to the politics you see in Australia or the UK. It’s so culturally specific to this country,” Byrne said. “I did my due diligence, I took my deeper dive, and it was sobering for sure.”

She also naturally had help from Stewart, who she described as “disarmingly down to Earth,” a bit “shy” and “genuinely funny,” but also collaborative.

“If there’s a scene that’s overwritten, he’s the first person to be critical of his own work,” Byrne said of Stewart. “And so effortless, so much politico speak, and a lot of stuff I thought I knew. Like I know how the system works, and then I realized I don’t know anything.”

One of the strengths of “Irresistible” is that it focuses on the toxicity in our election cycle by drilling down on its effects on a small town. It begins just before the 2016 election and illustrates the feeling of knowing Donald Trump won the election by showing a shirtless man get hit in the gut with a cannonball. But much of the story is set in this rural community, which Byrne says can be destroyed when massive political parties come to town.

“They’re ingested with money, and everyone just leaves, and it’s left in its wake of this campaign,” Byrne said, adding that highlighting this issue was a priority for Stewart. “It means a lot to him, I think it’s a way to try and get people to vote, to consider dismantling the system that’s in place. It’s so fundamental, and if we can fix it, maybe a lot of other things can be fixed as well.”

“Irresistible” opens on premium video on demand for rental on Friday.

All the Hollywood Films Arriving on Demand Early Because of the Coronavirus

  • Films Arriving on VOD Early

    Since most U.S. movie theaters have shuttered in response to the coronavirus pandemic, studios are rushing out VOD home releases of movies that were only just in theaters.

    Disney/Warner Bros./Universal

  • “Trolls World Tour”

    The sequel to the 2017 animated hit announced it would be available for digital download on April 10 — the same day it was supposed to land in theaters. Now it’s a VOD exclusive.

    Universal Pictures

  • “Birds of Prey”

    The Margot Robbie spinoff of 2017’s “Suicide Squad” debuted on demand on March 24. The film grossed $84 million since opening on Feb. 4.

    Warner Bros.

  • “The Hunt”

    The Universal/Blumhouse horror film was first delayed from release last fall due to controversy over its violent content — and then sidelined after its March 13 opening by the coronavirus. It’s available to stream now.

    Universal Pictures

  • “The Invisible Man”

    The Universal horror film starring Elisabeth Moss grossed nearly $65 million since its Feb. 26 release in theaters. It’s available to stream now.

    Universal Pictures

  • “Emma.”

    Focus Features’ adaptation of the Jane Austen novel opened in limited release Feb. 21 — and picked up $10 million in ticket sales until the pandemic shut down theaters. It’s available to stream now.

    Focus Features

  • “Bloodshot”

    The Vin Diesel comic-book movie opened March 6 and grossed $10 million before theaters shut down. It’s available on VOD now.

    Sony Pictures

  • “I Still Believe”

    Lionsgate’s biopic starring K.J. Apa as Christian music star Jeremy Camp hit VOD on March 27 — just two weeks after it opened in theaters.


  • “The Way Back”

    Warner Bros. released the Ben Affleck drama “The Way Back” — which grossed $13 million in theaters since its March 6 opening — on VOD less than three weeks later, on March 24.

    Warner Bros.

  • “Onward”

    Disney and Pixar’s animated feature was made available for purchase on Friday, March 20, and the film hit Disney+ on April 3.


  • “Sonic the Hedgehog”

    Paramount Pictures’ “Sonic the Hedgehog” set a new record for video game adaptations with a $58 million domestic opening weekend on Feb. 14 and has grossed $306 million worldwide theatrically. It’s available on demand now.

    Paramount Pictures

  • “The Call of the Wild”

    20th Century Studios’ feel-good film starring Harrison Ford and a giant CGI dog is available on demand now.

    20th Century

  • “Downhill”

    Barely escaping an avalanche during a family ski vacation, a married couple (Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell) is thrown into disarray as they are forced to reevaluate their lives and how they feel about each other. It’s available on demand now.

    Fox Searchlight

  • “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”

    “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” is the story of two teenage cousins from rural Pennsylvania who journey to New York City to seek an abortion. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and walked away with a Special Jury award. It’s available for VOD now.

    Focus Features

  • “Endings, Beginnings”

    “Endings, Beginnings,” a romantic drama from Drake Doremus starring Shailene Woodley, Sebastian Stan and Jamie Dornan, opened early on digital on April 17 and on demand on May 1. It was meant to open theatrically on May 1.

    Samuel Goldwyn Films

  • “To the Stars”

    “To the Stars,” a period drama set in 1960s Oklahoma that stars Kara Hayward, Liana Liberato, Jordana Spiro, Shea Whigham, Malin Akerman and Tony Hale, was bumped up to a digital release on April 24 and an on demand release on June 1. Martha Stephens directed the film that premiered at Sundance in 2019 and was meant to be released theatrically by Samuel Goldwyn Films.

    Samuel Goldwyn Films

  • “Impractical Jokers: The Movie”

    truTV’s first-ever feature-length film arrived early on digital on April 1. Follow James “Murr” Murray, Brian “Q” Quinn, Joe Gatto, and Sal Vulvano, aka The Tenderloins, playing themselves in a fictional story of a humiliating high school mishap from the early ’90s.


  • “Artemis Fowl”

    Disney’s adaptation of the Eoin Colfer fantasy novel “Artemis Fowl” was meant to debut in theaters on May 29 but premiered exclusively on Disney+. The film is directed by Kenneth Branagh and stars Colin Farrell and Judi Dench.


  • “The Infiltrators”

    The theatrical release of Oscilloscope’s docu-thriller “The Infiltrators” has been postponed, and the film was released on both Cable On Demand and Digital Platforms starting June 2.


  • “Working Man”

    The March 27 theatrical release of “Working Man” has been canceled due to the theater closures, and the film premiered on May 5 via Video On Demand.

    Brainstorm Media

  • “Jump Shot: The Kenny Sailors Story”

    “Jump Shot: The Kenny Sailors Story,” a sports documentary executive produced by NBA star Steph Curry, was made available for streaming on the new service Altavod between April 16-18 for $7.99 and is available for pre-order beginning April 9. 10% of all the proceeds will be donated to COVID-19 relief efforts. The documentary tells the story of the player, Kenny Sailors, who pioneered the jump shot, and it features interviews with Curry, Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki, Clark Kellogg, Bobby Knight and more.

    Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

  • “Scoob!”

    Warner Bros. announced on April 11 that it would release the family animated film “Scoob!” for digital ownership and premium video on-demand on May 15, making it the second film (after Universal’s “Trolls World Tour”) to cancel a planned theatrical release and head straight to home release pandemic.

    Warner Bros.

  • “The King of Staten Island”

    “The King of Staten Island,” the comedy starring and co-written by “SNL” star Pete Davidson and directed by Judd Apatow, skipped its theatrical release date of June 19 and opened one week early on VOD everywhere on June 12.

    Universal Pictures

  • “The High Note”

    “The High Note,” the latest film from “Late Night” director Nisha Ganatra that stars Tracee Ellis Ross and Dakota Johnson, made its premiere on VOD on May 29. It was meant to open on May 8 theatrically.

    Focus Features

  • “Waiting for the Barbarians”

    Ciro Guerra’s film starring Mark Rylance, Johnny Depp and Robert Pattinson was originally slated for a theatrical release but was picked up by Samuel Goldwyn Films to instead be released via cable on demand and on digital in August

    Samuel Goldwyn Films

  • “Irresistible”

    Jon Stewart’s latest film, a political comedy called “Irresistible,” will skip theaters and make its premiere online for on demand digital rental on June 26. The film from Focus Features stars Steve Carell and Rose Byrne and was meant to open in theaters on May 29.

    Daniel McFadden / Focus Features

  • “My Spy”

    The Dave Bautista action comedy “My Spy” was originally meant for a theatrical release from STXfilms and was due to hit theaters in March. Amazon then acquired the film from STX and will now release it on streaming on June 26.

    Amazon Studios

  • “The One and Only Ivan”

    The animated Disney film based on Thea Sharrock’s best-selling children’s book “The One and Only Ivan” is the latest feature to skip theaters and move to Disney+. The movie features the voice talent of Angelina Jolie, Danny Devito, Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston and Helen Mirren. The film was previously slated for theatrical release on August 14 but will now debut on Disney+ one week later on Aug. 21.


  • “The Secret Garden”

    The re-imagining of the book “The Secret Garden” was meant to open in UK theaters in April but delayed its theatrical release until August. But STXfilms will now release the StudioCanal and Heyday Films movie on PVOD for $19.99 on August 7 in North America. “The Secret Garden” stars Colin Firth, Julie Walters and Dixie Egerickx.


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“Irresistible” joins a list of big films heading to digital home entertainment platforms early

Since most U.S. movie theaters have shuttered in response to the coronavirus pandemic, studios are rushing out VOD home releases of movies that were only just in theaters.

Story first appeared at TheWrap.com

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