“Jerry and Marge Go Large” is based on an endearing fairy tale of a true story. A small-town retired couple (played by Bryan Cranston and Annette Bening) made millions of dollars when the husband figured out a math loophole in the state lottery that tipped the odds in favor of a purchaser of a lot of tickets. He invited his friends and family to share in the winnings, including his accountant, played by Larry Wilmore, and a clerk at the convenience store where they bought the lottery tickets, played by Rainn Wilson. In an interview, Wilmore and Wilson talked about their own history with lottery tickets and why this story is just right for our time.
Rainn, what do we learn about your character from the way he dresses?
RAINN WILSON: He had a lot of great old rock T-shirts from bands from the ’70s. So, that really tells you a lot about him. He was a little more footloose and fancy-free, going to hear bands, rocking out in the ’70s and ’80s, and wants to still think of himself that way. Plus, he had an open Hawaiian shirt vibe. Sandals. And I like that he repeats a lot of his wardrobes. You see some of the same pieces throughout. It always bothers me in movies when you see people wearing something new in every scene. Let’s face it, I recycle most of what I’m wearing all the time. I think I probably slept in this T-shirt. I wore it yesterday. I like to recycle clothing. So, it becomes part of the character.
Larry, as a writer, tell me what role your character plays in the story. What does the audience learn from him?
LARRY WILMORE: It’s very interesting because this is based on a true story, and of course, there are things that are put in there to help a movie go forward. I think I’m an emotional checkpoint, [and] represent the person watching this going, “Mmm I don’t know about that.” So, I’m a conduit for the viewer. Those characters are always fun characters, the characters where the audience says, “Oh I would have said that, too.”
Rainn, your character’s life really changes over the course of the film.
RW: He’s in the dumps at the beginning, and he’s open to an adventure. And the door opens and he jumps in and joins Jerry and Marge in their investment and then he’s able to make a little money and get out of his circumstances, get his divorce and find a little freedom. He’s been reborn. I hate to say it’s by lottery tickets. But he’s a different guy at the end of the movie. I think it’s because of his kind of optimism and saying yes to life.
Larry, your character and Bryan Cranston’s have been friends for decades, and we see the comfortable rhythms of that relationship in their first scene together. How do you create that chemistry of a long-term friendship?
LW: Well, it’s great because I already knew Bryan Cranston. When I was doing “The Bernie Mac Show” and he was doing “Malcolm in the Middle,” and they were in a studio and we were in a basement. I used to see him all the time and we became friendly. But he is such a great actor, that relationship just happens. I didn’t know Annette Bening. But here’s somebody who is so fantastic, she creates a relationship like that. You’re the putty in her capable little hands. And you just go, “I feel like I already know these people as characters.” You don’t really have to do that much work when you’re working with such talented cast.