'Three Stooges' exclusive: Director Peter Farrelly slaps down casting rumors, spills plot details

Three-Stooges-FarrelyImage Credit: Everett Collection; Inset: Glenn Harris/PR PhotosRemember how Curly from The Three Stooges would get really frustrated, scrunch up his face, and start barking? That’s kind of how the Farrelly brothers feel after all the erroneous reporting about their long-gestating film based on the three classic knuckleheads.

The latest rumor — that they’ve cast Jackass star Johnny Knoxville as Moe and Saturday Night Live’s Andy Samberg as Larry — is untrue. And annoying. “You don’t want people to think ‘they already cast that thing,’ because we haven’t,” Peter Farrelly tells EW exclusively. “It’s wide open to everybody.” 

Peter and his brother Bobby have been developing the project for nearly a decade, and for a while Sean Penn was interested in a role, along with Benicio Del Toro and Jim Carrey. “That was real. Sean Penn wanted to do it and when Sean wanted to do it, everyone wanted to do it. But he is extremely involved in Haiti right now,” Farrelly said. “We heard that if we waited a couple years, we could probably get him, but we’ve already waited a few years.”

Now the Fox project is aiming toward a mid-April start in Atlanta. Once Penn was out, Farrelly says, Carrey — who worked with the brothers on Dumb & Dumber and Me, Myself & Irene – also left the film. Farrelly says he likes Knoxville and Samberg, but they haven’t auditioned, and the Internet rumors that they’ve already landed the roles are false. “Right now, I don’t know. There is no leader in the clubhouse,” he says.

The Three Stooges movie they envision would be a fictional comedy — not a bio-pic of the original actors (if anyone still thought that). Instead, they intend to take the Moe, Larry and Curly personas and place them in a new story. “It’s The Three Stooges just like the [old shorts],” Farrelly says. “They’re going to look the same, dress the same, sound the same, act the same, with the same sound effects.”

The film will be structured in three acts, each a stand-alone story like the original episodes, but loosely connected. Most of it will be set in the present day, except for the first act, which begins 40 years ago. “A car whips by an orphanage, throws a duffel bag out its window and keeps going,” Farrelly says. “A nun sees the duffel and opens it up, and a little baby hand comes out and — Boink! — hits her in the eye. So that first episode is them growing up in the orphanage.”

The second act picks up with them as adults, in their early 40s, leaving the orphanage and heading out on the road together. After various misadventures, the trio splits up and the third act starts with them alone — and finding that all the slapping, eye-gouging, and head-bonking isn’t a useful way of dealing with the outside world.

“Suddenly, when Moe hits somebody he doesn’t know, that’s assault and battery,” Farrelly says, laughing.

Despite the brother-on-brother-on-brother violence, the Farrellys will aim for a PG rating by keeping the smacks and pokes “cartoony.” As for casting, they want actors who are willing to give themselves over to impressions of the numbskull characters created by Moe Howard, Curly Howard and Larry Fine.

“I don’t want ‘somebody’s version of Moe,’” Farrelly says. “It’s not like Batman where you can have your own take on Batman.”

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  • Buffy Freak

    This just sounds like an amazingly awful idea…

    • Trey

      Right? I was JUST thinking that!

    • mary q contrary

      Most definitely. I was torn, but after reading his synopsis, I wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot-pole. Sounds like Problem Child meets Alvin and the Chipmunks, with a side of disgusting, chauvinistic humor thrown in (requisite in any Farrelly movie)

      • Chris

        What? The new Chipmunk movies are authentic, reverent, and every bit at good as the originals.

    • hf

      I was interested until I found out it’s not a bio-pic. I read a big article about them awhile back, and their story is really interesting and tragic. That would have made a great movie. But a new story? Nah, I can just watch the originals.

    • Jon

      Yeah, you’re completely right. What’s the point of re-creating a Stooges short? It’ll be as pointless as that shot-for-shot remake of “Psycho” Van Sant made.

    • JaySin420

      Yea some things simply CANNOT be remade and the 3 Stooges are right on top of that list.

    • Jim

      Where’s the Hollywood creativity? Lousy remakes and bad writing. You’ve already screwed up the Pink Panther. Leave the Stooges alone! They’re icons. Try something new.

      • ang

        The list of bad remakes is endless..The Shining. Abre Tus Ojos. Manhunter.
        This article says what happened to every actor that was considered except Benicio del Toro. Does anyone know?

  • COENS???

    This is no different than doing True Grit with the BIG LEWBOWSKI…Now someone please offer me a free ROOT BEER!

    • Voice of Reason

      It is different when the source material is actually a book…

  • mickey

    There better be a pie fight!!!!

  • maxwell19596

    I grew up watching the three stooges, and think that the Farrelly brothers will be quite capable of bringing us a neat, fresh, and modern take on the Three Stooges. If you watch the old originals one thing you notice is how much it was a part of the time. Setting it in modern times is the correct thing to do. This won’t be ground breaking, or mind bending, but it might just be fun. So futz to you nay sayers, and Woot to the positive thinkers. I think this will be a “Hey Moe”, and not a “Oh No” …lol

  • Shane K.

    There is every reason to believe this will be as good as the original if not better. I don’t know what they will do about Shemp, you can’t just leave him out. That would BE A HUGE mistake. My cousin’s wife is married to a guy who is an HUGE SHEMP FAN.

    • Whaaa???

      Your Cousin needs to have a talk with his wife i think.

    • Matt1

      “My cousin’s wife is married to a guy who is a HUGE SHEMP FAN”…
      That’s funny! My mother had a son on my birthday who looks and acts just like me!!

      • Matt1

        … And my wife is married to a guy who thinks that comment was hilarious!

    • RR

      You don’t make things like this ‘better than the original’.

  • Jed

    I hope they bring respect to the comedy team and not try to do something entirely different with this concept is all I ask. These remakes have been short of awful.

  • robert palmer

    I’ve got four words for this attempt: the ‘Little Rascals’ remake.

  • googie

    I don’t want a “neat, fresh and modern” take on it! Leave this jewel alone!

  • V

    Gotta have some Shemp. That man got more mileage out of his hair cut than most comedians get with their whole physicality.

  • MJ

    Cut it out! Enough with the “remakes” already. The Stooges are icons and you can’t replace or copy an icon. It’s utterly ridiculous. Geez, try coming up with an original idea for a change. For the tons of money thrown at these guys, they should at least be able to think of something new.

  • Chris

    I like those guys, but those plots sound absolutely terrible.

  • Carrie

    Maybe they should just leave this one alone. I don’t think anyone else could compare to the original stooges. Bad idea.

  • KC

    They should really try for those bigger names to play the roles. The 3 newer-rumored ones are pretty lackluster if they want to make any box office $.

    • KC

      …oh and please. No Jack Black.

  • Andrew Kaplan

    I will be submitting to work on this film for a dayplayer or background role…The Farrelly Brothers definitely know how to do slapstick and they have had success filming in Atlanta this past year.

  • Andrew Kaplan

    Success only comes from those who are willing to take the risk of failing. Thank you Farrelly Bros for your unique comedies.

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