Friends with Benefits Director 'Feels Bad' About Scientology Joke

FriendsWithBenefits director Will Glick interview

Movies are a common place for jabs at religion, and FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS director Will Glick loves doing so with Scientology, but his latest joke regarding the celebrity religion got him in hot water with one of his stars.   

First, Tom Cruise was the butt of a hilarious joke in Easy A when Emma Stone referred to the Mission Impossible star as the higher power.  In Glick's new romantic comedy FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS, Justin Timberlake's character refers to the Hollywood sign and the Scientology building as two most popular tourist attractions in Los Angeles.  

The harmless joke won't cause a stir, but he forgot to warn FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS' Jenna Elfman, a Scientologist, before she saw the film. Glick said he "felt bad" for not mentioning it in advance and apologized to Jenna afterwards, he told CineMovie at a recent press day in Santa Monica.  The FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS director explained to the "Dharma & Greg" star that he take jabs at various religions in all his films especially in Easy A against Christianity.

"I take swats at organized religion, never at the specific belief system."

Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis in FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS

The Scientology joke was improvised on set when Will, Justin and Mila were trying various jokes on different takes while shooting a scene at the Hollywood sign. Glick often rewrites scripts' dialogue to suit the actors as he did with Mila and Justin on this film.  For FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS, Glick estimated sixty-percent of the changes were written into the screenplay, while the other forty-percent was improvised on set.  The Scientology joke came out of the forty-percent, he told CineMovie.  At the time of production, he didn't think the light jab would make it into the final print, but audiences in test screenings in Los Angeles, New York and in Europe loved it.  According to Glick, the joke "killed" and that determined the fate of the joke.  Regarding his penchant for Scientology swats, Glick joked, "I'm not a very clever writer. I have one joke in me."

jenna-elfman-friends-with-benefitsJenna Elfman, who plays Justin Timberlake's older sister in FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS, was not aware of the joke during production when she came in towards the end of shooting.  She recently found out at the screening when the actress was caught off guard.  She handled it well and said the joke had some truth to it regarding it being a nice place to visit. Besides that, Scientology is part of "popular culture" and its not the first time the new religion has been made fun of, said Elfman, a twenty-year Scientology member.  She understands "there are tons of misconceptions" and "not understood broadly" so its easy to take jabs at what people don't know.

Will Glick may have cleared the air with Jenna Elfman, but did he catch a lot more flack for his Tom Cruise joke?    

"A little bit. A little bit of flack. I'll take it."

And he can expect more flack from more celebrities like Katherine Heigl and John Mayer who are funny targets in FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS. No one is safe.

FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS is in theaters July 22, 2011.

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