Bad Trip star Michaela Conlin had to make a joke instead of a traditional audition for the role of Mia Li in Eric André’s hidden camera comedy.
Bad trip brings that to the big screen when André and his co-star, Lil Rel Howery, act as character in a Borat-road trip style. Best friends Chris Carey (André) and Bud Malone (Howery) drive from Florida to New York City so Carey can profess his love for her longtime crush, Mia Li (Conlin), as the two are chased by Bud’s sister, Trina (Tiffany Haddish), who wants their car back. André and his longtime collaborator Kitao Sakurai worked together to turn their television work into a feature film, and part of that process included bringing new faces to the operation.
Speaking in an interview with Collider, Conlin revealed the details of her non-traditional audition. Instead of making lines or aiming a shot, Conlin was asked to meet with Principal Sakurai at the Glendale Galleria and pretend he was her cheating boyfriend so they could “fake joke … an employee who worked at Men’s Express. “Conlin had a true litmus test being thrown in the center of it, where she found an unlikely ally in a well-intentioned employee, a trend she says was repeated during filming. See her full account below:
[T]there was no training ground here, but the screen test was quite unusual. They just told me to show up at the Glendale Galleria in Los Angeles and we had a five minute discussion about a … fake joke we were playing on an employee who worked at the Men’s Express store on the lower level. It was literally like being thrown into a fire, which I think is the best way to do it with this kind of thing and they had a couple different versions of what they wanted to do, but they had someone filming and it was the director. and I and I think it was a very smart thing to do because that was the tone of the whole shoot. It was like “Are you ready? Let’s go!” It was kind of a very fast jump, so you really don’t have time to spoil it by thinking about it.
The manager was pretending to be my lifelong boyfriend who I had caught cheating on me and I found him shopping for him or his girlfriend on the Express and confronted him in a kind of “you cheated on me, what the hell”. Hell? “Kind of situation. But what happened is that one of the women who worked at the store I guess she had had a similar situation so she ended up, my gosh, she ended up reaching out and hugging and comforting me even though it was a situation completely untrue, but that was really cute. That’s all about the movie, it’s that people are really very nice, I really found out that when shooting the movie on the streets of Atlanta, people were so willing to jump in and help because they thought that these situations were real, so it was kind of comforting that way.
Credit to whom the credit corresponds, Bad trip it’s a jump from Conlin’s previous work. She is best known for playing forensic artist Angela Montenegro in Fox’s procedural comedy drama, Bones, and discussed a possible revival of the series in the same interview. Scolding her fake boyfriend in a Men’s Express is a scripted ride from television, though positive reception for the film says Conlin got it right. A litmus test probably prepared Conlin better than any screen test, even though (thankfully) she was never pointed with a knife.
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