Although Fist Fight is undeniably a comedy, Keen and Day made it a priority to make the film feel grounded and high-stakes. “If Will Ferrell’s the school’s principal, then you don’t feel the stakes of getting fired in the same way you feel them when it’s Dean Norris,” Day said. The serious players allowed the comedic ones to stand out more. As director, Keen kept this same principle in mind when working behind the camera. “The cinematographer I hired was a dramatic cinematographer… But then we also had fun, where we’d do things like snap zooms and, you know, weird pullbacks,” Keen explained, “We wanted to keep it grounded so we allowed ourselves, when we wanted to go for it, the opportunity to go a little crazy.”
Having already worked together several times, Keen and Day’s working dynamic was a huge asset to the film. “When you have a partner like Charlie tell you something’s good, you go forward,” Keen said of working with Day. Keen consulted Day on things from script edits to music choices. The two were able to closely collaborate on most aspects of the production. “For me, it was great to work with Richie because I got to make this movie a lot more closely to the way I make It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” Day commented, “And just the amount of input that we shared, before we even started rolling the cameras, helped me feel as though we really got every scene, every sequence, every piece of casting to a place where I felt comfortable to then just step back and watch Richie take over and really become the great director that he became over the course of this movie.”
Fist Fight flaunts a cast of diversely talented actors, ranging from stars of Mad Men and Breaking Bad to regulars on Workaholics and Silicon Valley. A comic actor himself, Day recognized how to play off his fellow comedians, as well as the more dramatically experienced actors. “Even Jillian [Bell], Tracy [Morgan], and Kumail [Nanjiani] all have very different styles of comedy. So with each person, you kind of dealt with their style,” Day mentioned, “You react differently to what each person brings.” Keen went on to say that casting actors with such a wide variety of styles was important to the final product. “My goal as the director was to find the funniest people on the planet and put them next to the people you didn’t know were the funniest people on the planet, to have this very surprising mix of people,” he explained. Keen clearly reached his goal, with the film’s cast boasting stars like Day, Ice Cube, Tracy Morgan, Christina Hendricks, Dean Norris, Jillian Bell, and Kumail Nanjiani. This unexpected combination of actors works together to make comedy magic in Fist Fight, so catch it in theatres now.