"Burt Wonderstone" writers tap rivalries of Vegas magicians

Fri Mar 15, 2013 8:18pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The screenwriting duo behind raunchy workplace comedy "Horrible Bosses" have tapped the competitive world of Las Vegas magicians to bring the absurd antics of "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," to the screen.

"Burt Wonderstone," out in U.S. movie theaters on Friday, is the creation of screenwriters John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who made their writing debut with 2011's "Horrible Bosses."

The duo found inspiration in the cutthroat industry of Las Vegas magicians for their latest film, which stars Steve Carell and Jim Carrey.

"It's a fascinating world, it's one that you don't really have to heighten or exaggerate all that much to get to comedy because it's already a crazy world of Vegas magicians," Goldstein said.

The rivalry among Burt Wonderstone (Carell), Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) and Steve Gray (Carrey) was drawn from the real world of Las Vegas illusionists, after Daley and Goldstein talked to magicians such as Lance Burton, Penn Jillette and David Copperfield, who makes a cameo in the film.

"Like rock stars or movie stars, these guys are very competitive with one another, and there's not a lot of love lost between them," Goldstein said.

Carrey channeled his outrageous comedic roots that rocketed him to fame in films such as 1994's "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" and "The Mask," bringing an unpredictable edge to street illusionist Gray's absurd stunts, such as slicing his face open for a trick.

"(Jim's) role in this is a throwback to the stuff he did in the '90s, where it's very big and physical, and that is my favorite kind of Jim Carrey character," Daley said.   Continued...

Cast members Jim Carrey (L), Olivia Wilde and Steve Carell pose at the premiere of "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" in Hollywood, California March 11, 2013. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni