Hollywood Movies

Aziz Ansari Talks Delayed Film ‘Good Fortune’ at CinemaCon

April 10, 20247 Mins Read

Aziz Ansari cast Keanu Reeves as an angel named Gabriel in his new Lionsgate film Good Fortune, but God apparently wasn’t looking out for Reeves when he tripped on a rug in his trailer.

“About 15 days into shooting with me, I said, ‘Go chill in your trailer,’” Ansari recalled during an appearance at CinemaCon on Wednesday. “He tripped on a rug … Poor guy, he was such a trooper, and he fractured his kneecap and continued to do all the scenes.”

Ansari, appearing opposite Lionsgate’s motion picture group chair Adam Fogelson during the studio’s presentation in front of theater owners, suggested that the accident was even more striking considering that through all his physically demanding work in action pics like the John Wick franchise and Speed, “he never had to go to the hospital or anything.”

After an image surfaced earlier this year from the set showing Reeves on crutches with his knee wrapped in bandages and an ice pack, Ansari noted that #GetWellSoonKeanu was trending. He, for one, was not surprised. “He actually is an angel,” he said. “He’s been pretending to be human for all these other roles.”

Wednesday was a big moment for Ansari, who has been trying to get his feature directorial debut off the ground for some time, and he nailed it. Not only did he bring his sharp stand-up skills and have the Colosseum crowd in stitches, the footage he debuted of Good Fortune couldn’t have landed any better than it did. Prior to today, not much was known about the film aside from the fact that it finds Ansari starring opposite Reeves, Sandra Oh, Seth Rogen and Keke Palmer.

Before he took the stage, Fogelson praised Ansari as a talented and intelligent multihyphenate. “This movie is entirely unique,” Fogelson said, adding that audiences would undoubtedly see elements of other iconic body-swapping comedies.

The footage, shown only to CinemaCon attendees, opened with a shot of Reeves standing on a dome overlooking a sprawling city. His angel wings are visible on his back and a voiceover finds the star explaining his role as a guide who wants to help people in their lives. The next shot is of Ansari’s character asleep in a Denny’s diner booth as he’s reprimanded by a male staff member.

It’s revealed that Ansari plays a man who is down on his luck and struggling to make ends meet. He takes on gig work as a task rabbit of sorts, which eventually leads him to the home of a wealthy man named Jeff, played by Seth Rogen, who lives large in a modern mansion with all the trappings of success, like cars, a pool, a disco club in the basement and plenty of wild L.A.-style parties. Ansari helps him out with a series of tasks — from fixing his pool to finding him a shaman for an ayahuasca journey — only to fall further into tough times when his car gets towed from the Denny’s parking lot.

At that point, Reeves appears standing on the restaurant’s oversized sign and comes to help. “My name is Gabriel and I’m here to save you,” he says. “Normally I’m in charge of saving people from choking or texting while driving. … I need to show you that your life is precious.” Thus begins a hilarious montage that shows how the angel helps by swapping Ansari’s character with Jeff so that he can see how the other half lives. “Maybe I can show you that Jeff’s life is not all that it’s cracked up to be.” However, all doesn’t go according to plan when Ansari’s character actually loves the life. “Don’t you see how superficial a life of wealth and success is?” the angel asks, to which Ansari’s character gives a quick, “No.”

Because the angel’s experiment didn’t work out, a fellow angel, played by Oh, turns up to take Gabriel’s wings from him, sending him down to Earth to live among regular people. Hijinks ensue as Gabriel’s work starts to unravel around them.

“I have been doing some work that was more dramatic recently. I wanted to do a comedy and I wanted it to be in theaters,” Ansari explained of his inspiration for writing, producing, directing and starring in Good Fortune. “I don’t buy into this theory that theatrical comedies are not a thing.” He cited Barbie’s billion-dollar success as an example. “I’m really happy that we are able to partner on this. I think if we all work together, we can show people it can work. I think we can do it.”

To further prove his point, Ansari quipped, “We have fucking Keanu, man.” Of landing Rogen, Ansari said the two have been friends for a long time and have always been looking for something to partner up on. After writing it, “He was immediately in my head,” he explained. “I can’t imagine a better cast to get as a director.”

Ansari also opened up on his creative process by saying that he did lots of research and even interviewed gig workers to find out what that life is like. Ansari directed from his own script. Anthony Katagas (Armageddon Time, Amsterdam), Alan Yang (Loot, Master of None) and Ansari are producing with Brady Fujikawa and Jon Humphrey overseeing for the studio.

“Movies allow us to live life in someone else’s shoes. If you can write about things that everyone is dealing with that no one is talking about, you’re in a good area,” he said. “This movie is about what a lot of people are doing, struggling.”

Not everyone. “Me and Seth are both douchebags,” he joked, adding that when he once called Rogen, the latter was making use of a sauna and cold plunge. So Ansari put that in the script.

The bit got plenty of laughs, but there was a definite roar in the Colosseum when Ansari came out to start the presentation. “I know what you’re thinking, it’s Henry Cavill in brownface. It’s me, Aziz,” he joked, turning his attention to Fogelson. “Adam’s nickname for me is little brown Cavill.” At that point, Fogelson sat down on the stage in response to the ribbing, which also saw the comedian poke fun at the number of films Cavill and Guy Ritchie are doing for Lionsgate. Ansari saved some jokes for the crowd, too. “I have to thank all the exhibition executives that left the strip club to come to the presentation. That must’ve been a dark moment.”

In other Ansari news, he’s also preparing to hit the stand-up stage soon as part of the Netflix Is a Joke comedy festival. He’s got a May 1 date on the calendar for Aziz Ansari & Friends at L.A.’s Orpheum Theatre.

CinemaCon is being held at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas from April 8-11. The event hosts north of 6,000 motion picture professionals from all corners of the industry including exhibition, distribution, marketing, promotion, equipment and concession areas. The International Cinema Technology Association (ICTA) and the National Association of Concessionaires (NAC) are on board as trade show partners, with Coca-Cola serving as the official presenting sponsor.

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