ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
Director Jake Kasdan notes that the edgy material lent itself to a collaborative environment on the set. "It's very unusual to find an edgy, R-rated comedy centered around a woman," he says. "The R rating gives you enormous freedom to be as completely insane as you want to be in any moment - and we were with a group of people who embraced that completely," says the director.
"Gene and I like the idea of adults being mean to kids as a warped source of comedy," laughs Eisenberg.
"Before we started filming, we made sure that all the kids - and all the parents - knew what the project was going to be like," says Cameron Diaz. "I said, 'There's going to be swearing here and completely irreverent and inappropriate behavior. If you have any issue with that, we respect that, but this isn't the place for you.' And then we got started…"
Early on, the filmmakers decided to film in real schools whenever feasible. That said, it was important to everyone involved not to interrupt classes, the students, and normal operation of the school day. This was all made possible by the way local school districts plan their spring breaks: Los Angeles Unified School District takes a certain week, Pasadena another, Burbank a third, and so on. In this way, by filming during the various breaks and on weekends, the production was able to find different schools that - through the magic of production design and set dressing - could all be made to seem as if they were part of the same school.
"The film is set in the Chicago area, so even though we were shooting in L.A., we didn't want a typical L.A. look," says production designer Jefferson Sage. They found a school with the exterior they were looking for in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. "It was a beautiful campus; the building had an original, older feeling that we liked."
Elizabeth is not invested at all in being a teacher, and her bare classroom reflects that. However, the expression of nothingness that is Elizabeth's classroom required a designer's touch. "We had a big discussion of what Cameron's room was - you can't just throw an empty classroom in there," Sage continues. "We scouted for a long time to find the right room, and then we played around with the color a lot. Lucy's character, on the other hand, is very much into everything, so we really wanted to dress up her room in an exuberant way," says Sage. "There would be color and projects and she just loved everything the kids brought her."
When it came to the costumes, Cameron Diaz had a few strong opinions about how Elizabeth should dress, which resulted in fruitful conversations with the director and costume designer. "Cameron has a way of making magic with anything that she puts on," says the film's costume designer, Debra McGuire. "She has a great sense of style and of her body. At the first fitting - which lasted six hours, and Jake was there - she would just take something and make it extraordinary.'"
"On Elizabeth's first day back in the fall, she's wearing a T-shirt and jeans, but still has her five-inch heels. It's not exactly how you'd think a teacher would dress," McGuire continues. "It really expresses how she's not invested and gives her an attitude."
"I wanted her to be the sort of girl who cares about the way she looks more than anything. She used to have a rich boyfriend, and even now, she spends her money on all the wrong things. You don't show up for school as a teacher wearing Christian Louboutin heels!" Diaz explains. "But for Elizabeth, it's all about the heels. She wants to be seen - she believes she's above her job and everyone there, and with the heels, she's literally above everyone else."