– Opening Night with the cast of Veronica Mars, The New Movie
By Judy Shields
Hollywood, California (The Hollywood Times) 3/30/14 – “I never believed we would raise so much money, so fast with Kickstarter. I should have known better when it comes to the fans of Veronica Mars,” said Rob Thomas, creator and executive producer of the television show that premiered on September 22, 2004 and ended three series later on May 22, 2007. Thomas told an audience of the high-wire act of turning Veronica Mars into the movie that is now in theaters. Among his observations to an audience before showing a prequel to the movie:
“First of all I want to thank the people of Warner Brothers. Next I want to thank the cast of Veronica Mars, they have been so great. I came to them with this really winning proposal, I said ‘How would you like to work for scale, and be signing posters in the aftermath?’ They all jumped on board, and in particular I want to thank Kristen Bell. It has been seven years since we were cancelled and in that seven years I’ve had some moments where I thought we are going to get this movie made and I was very excited about the idea of breathing life into Veronica Mars again and then there were times where I was laid so low where I thought there was not a chance, where I had given up hope, and in and all of that, Kristen Bell was the constant, she was always optimistic, and if Kristen had ever given up hope there would not have been any more Veronica Mars, so I am so appreciative of her never losing faith in it.
“Finally and really most importantly, I want to thank the fans of Veronica Mars for making this happen again. You have been put to the test, we asked you to finance this movie, so that we could bring Veronica Mars back to life and we are so grateful for that.” What we are going to show you tonight, I think is a love letter to the fans. This is the documentary that we made about the making of the Veronica Mars movie. There are moments in this movie that choked me up and the movie was made by a high school student of mine, of course he is no longer my student, he is a 40 year old man…”
After a panel session I was able to speak to Thomas, asking if the love-letter movie would be part of the DVD release of Veronica Mars. “You betcha,” he said, “it is going to be a surprise once the movie is released on DVD, years from now.” Great answer from a great creator.
Following cancellation of the series, Thomas wrote a feature-film script to continue the story. Warner Bros. opted not to fund the project at the time. On March 13, 2013, Bell and Thomas launched a fundraising campaign to produce the film through Kickstarter, and attained the $2 million goal in less than ten hours. They accumulated over $5.7 million via Kickstarter. Production began on June 17, 2013. The film was released on March 14, 2014. (Wikipedia)
Rob Thomas, Kristen Bell (Veronica, duh!), Chris Lowell (“Piz”), Percy Daggs (Wallace), Jason Dohring (Logan), Ryan Hansen (Dick), Enrico Colantoni (Keith), Francis Capra (Weevil), and Tina Majorino (Mac) all hit the Dolby Theatre stage a day before that Kickstarter-backed film officially hit theaters, so we guess they all got parts after all. “I just called to make sure I didn’t have to be the $10,000 donor to be in the film,” Chris Lowell said of his surprise over Piz ending up in the movie during Thursday night’s PaleyFest panel with the cast. Percy Daggs III, had a secret weapon if his character Wallace didn’t come back: “I had the NAACP on speed dial!” he joked, getting the biggest laugh of the night.
Rob Thomas told the fans in the audience how Kristen Bell became Veronica. It turns out Kristen was always the No. 1 option, because she was literally the first person who auditioned. “I saw 100 actresses for the role of Veronica; Kristen was the very first actress I saw,” Thomas said. “We spent three weeks, four weeks of casting, and I kept thinking, ‘Was that first girl as brilliant as I thought she was?’” Yes she was, Rob! And she proved herself very quickly, shooting a heart-wrenching scene for the pilot in which Veronica discovers she’s been raped. “I’m watching her from the monitor, and tears start streaming down her face, and I’m just like, ‘Holy sh–! We have a star! She is so unbelievable!’” Thomas said. “There’s this joke of really top-notch actors, like, ‘How many tears do you want and out of which eye?’ Kristen can deliver that.”
Kristen Bell’s chemistry with Jason Dohring, has never been in question, and on Thursday night she helped him get the right answer about their onscreen relationship. “I think it’s interesting that, despite all his privilege and all that, I think that a lot of people hurt him in his life, and she understood that part of him, when she saw me and what I was going through, and I could see that she had a bad relationship with her mother,” Dohring said of why the couple’s chemistry works. “I just look at her and I just feel it, man. I try to make it this deep, philosophical thing, and she just smiles at me and it’s game over.” Kristen jumped in: “You’re on to something, though. There’s something, an intangible, that we’re lucky enough to have when we work together. But it’s also like wounded birds recognize other wounded birds.”
No one is more surprised than Chris Lowell that Piz is in the movie. “Honestly, I got this email from Rob, I knew about the Kickstarter video, and I legitimately had come to a place where I was ready to accept that I would not be in the film. I was getting everyone in the cast’s address so I knew where to send the anthrax,” Lowell joked. “But then Rob sent me this email saying, ‘Hey, by the way, I think we’re gonna make this film. There’s actually a role for Piz.’ I’m thinking, ‘He is killed. He’s the victim.’ He’s like, ‘No, it’s actually a substantial part.’ Honestly, to have the opportunity to work with these guys is the greatest thing in the world, so I jumped immediately, like everybody else on this stage.”
Rob Thomas almost made the movie about Veronica as an FBI agent. Thomas still thought of his girl as a fed. “The six months before Kickstarter, I was thinking of a plotline that revolved around Veronica as a young FBI agent, but when it became a fan-financed movie, I couldn’t figure out a way that an FBI case could roll in Wallace and Mac [and everyone else]. So I sort of abandoned that FBI idea and tried to find a plot to get back to all the characters we know and love. Because if the fans are going to pay for a movie, I want them to see the characters they love.”
The TV series’ first big question, of who killed Veronica’s best friend Lilly Kane, was such a mystery that the cast didn’t even know. So before the real killer was revealed, a few actors were sweating that it would be them. “I thought any day, Rob was just gonna come up and sit down and be like, ‘So, for this episode, we’re gonna see Eli snap. And we’re gonna see Eli’s real dark side,’” Francis Capra recalled of his character, Eli “Weevil” Navarro. “Man, I thought it was me many, many times.” Percy Daggs III (Wallace) meanwhile just wanted some answers. “For me, it was hard because you have family asking you who did it, and you really don’t know. So that automatically made me try to figure it out. And I spent a lot of time with Kristen, and the hardest part about that is when you were trying to figure it out, she wouldn’t tell you if she knew who did it, but she would definitely shoot down what you think.”
Veronica Mars is in theaters now.