Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is an unassuming, deskbound CIA analyst, and the unsung hero behind the Agency’s most dangerous missions. But when her partner (Jude Law) falls off the grid and another top agent (Jason Statham) is compromised, she volunteers to go deep undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer, and prevent a global disaster.
Teaming with Melissa McCarthy for the third time, following their smash hits Bridesmaids and The Heat, writer-director Paul Feig this time adds a planeload of action to their trademark comedy and sets the story in gorgeous European locales.
In developing a palette for the film, Feig, along with director of photography Robert Yeoman and production designer Jefferson Sage, was inspired by James Bond movies. They set out to make a comedy in the visual style of those iconic films, with sweeping shots, striking backdrops and convincing action sequences.
The film’s ensemble includes several performers who have become part of Feig’s regular acting and writing troupe, including Jamie Denbo, Jessica Chaffin and Katie Dippold, as well as ‘first-time Feigers’ such as Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, American-born Bollywood star Nargis Fakhri and “The West Wing” alum Allison Janney.
Says Feig: “I’m a big fan of spy movies, and I wanted to create a broad action comedy in that genre. The comedy comes from the characters. It’s not a spoof or satire. The danger and action are genuine.”
Part Rambo, part Clousseau, Agent Rick Ford embodies the words intrepid, fearless and clueless. Ford’s confidence is far removed from competence. Jason Statham describes the role as “different from anything I’ve done, and it’s been great fun.”
SPY shot primarily in Budapest, Hungary, which also doubles for Rome and Paris. The city’s striking and varied architecture allowed Sage to utilize interesting landmarks and unique neighborhood characteristics to distinguish between the three capitals. SPY is the first movie allowed to film inside the Budapest’s Four Season’s Gresham Palace, widely regarded as one of Europe’s most elegant hotels.
At the end of May, the production moves to the exterior square of an eye-catching shopping mall in Budapest known as ‘The Whale,” so named because of its glass-covered shape and riverside location. With more than 300 extras on hand, the show-stopping drag artist Verka Serduchka and her band play their international hit tune “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” on a large stage at the north end of the square. In June, the company returns to soundstages for the final two weeks of filming, including a scene taking place inside a hotel room where Susan Cooper first arrives to begin her field mission.
Cheered by the throng, Jackson performs his new song, “Twisted,” which he describes as “a toast, a celebration about moving forward in your life.” 50 Cent was impressed by the opulent production value of Club Nomad, acknowledging it as a great venue to shoot a music video.