It’s a film about two people antagonising each other relentlessly. What that what it was like on set?
Yes! They were bastards, the lot of them! Can’t wait to see the back of them! [laughs] No, they’re good. Unfortunately, they really were very pleasant to work with. They were great. At the beginning of the process, I went round to Ashton’s house and met him and Cameron Diaz. And we found out if we had chemistry together. We needed to share a sense of humour. We all hung out at the weekends during filming, so it was great.
Sounds like you got on too well! Did you have to help them antagonise each other on set?
Well, no, because the characters are more competitive with each other. And if you see the two of them in a room together, they’re just trying to top each other all the time, to beat the other one to the joke. That natural element was always there – it wasn’t super-pally-friendly, there was always a good edge to it. They’re sparring with each other, they’d start riffing off each other in the script meetings – and I’d be like, ‘Right, let’s film that. Because it was very spontaneous, very natural and really got to the heart of the movie.
We couldn’t help noticing in the final scene that Diaz is a good deal taller than Kutcher...
Well, she’s tall. She is tall. That’s something you always think of too late when you’re casting movies. You’re like, ‘Oh no, he’s really short... Oh, this is gonna be such hard work...’ And you have to resort to all sorts of tricks, like, ‘Uuuh, maybe you should be seated?’ [laughs]. But no, they both had a lot of physical similarities. And when they were suggested to the roles, I was like, ‘Have they not done movies together before? That’s obvious! They haven’t? Great – let’s get them.’ They’re a great match for each other and you see that in the film.
Were there any scenes that you had to cut from the movie?
Well, we had to play safe to keep the rating down. But we couldn’t believe they let us get away with saying, ‘sweaty ball-sack’. That was Cameron. She just said something like, ‘I don’t mind my boyfriend’s sweaty ball-sack, but when it’s someone else’s...’ And I we were like, ‘That has to go into the movie!’
No Vegas scenes when Ashton accidentally kills a stripper or anything then?
No, no... That’ll be on the DVD. [laughs]
Did you always want to go to Hollywood after making Starter For 10?
I have gone to Hollywood, when I was 12, with my video camera! I mean, let’s face it. And it’s not so much going to Hollywood – I went to Hollywood when I was a student at Bristol and I spent three months working in LA for a TV producer. But I don’t mind where I make the movies, it’s all about the scripts and the projects. The obvious advantage is that there are a lot more options over there. And they generally give you a big budget and it’s plugged into a huge distribution network so it should get properly promoted. But there’s still no point doing something you don’t believe in, because you’ve got to talk about it like this for ages afterwards and you’re going to hate yourself!
They must have liked Starter For 10, though?
It’s a talent hungry business. Oh, and I’m very cheap! Let’s not forget that. ‘We’ll get one of those cheap British guys who’s been trained by the BBC...’