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Careening ‘Downhill’ with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell at Sundance

The new comedy “Downhill” is based on the 2014 Swedish movie “Force Majeure.” Directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who are credited along with “Succession’s” Jesse Armstrong for the screenplay, “Downhill” is about an American couple (Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell) on an Austrian ski vacation with their children who find the cracks in the marriage splitting into major fractures after a harrowing experience with a controlled avalanche.

On Monday at the Chase Sapphire on Main lounge, the L.A. Times Live series hosted a panel for the film featuring Louis-Dreyfus, Ferrell, Faxon, Rash and costars Zoë Chao and Zach Woods.

Louis-Dreyfus, also a producer on the film, spoke about the inspiration for remaking the movie.

“What appealed to me about it,” she said, “was the fundamental part of the story, which is, you’re looking at reality one way, and then a lens is taken off and your reality looks completely different. And I think that’s sort of the essence of this story.”

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Zoë Chao, Will Ferrell, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Zach Woods, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash.
“Downhill’s” Zoë Chao, left, Will Ferrell, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Zach Woods, and directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash at the L.A. Times Studio at Sundance.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Faxon and Rash complimented the Swedish original as they explained why they were involved in the U.S. version, and Ferrell elicited laughs from the audience when he said, “Well, I’m in the minority. I hated the original. I saw this as a real opportunity to finally fix the wrongs, to right this ship, finally. And when I heard that Julia was going to work with these guys, I was like, good luck. But it somehow worked out.”

Searchlight will open the movie in theaters on Feb. 14. Louis-Dreyfus ended the panel by noting that, for all the comedic moments in “Downhill,” there was something deeper and distinctly contemporary about it.

“People make bad decisions. Good people — good, wonderful people — make terrible decisions all the time,” Louis-Dreyfus said. “All of us do. And somehow, how does one recover? How does one own these bad decisions? How does one tell the truth? And this is a movie about telling truth and owning truth, which is I think an interesting theme, today in particular.”


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