2 TIMERS: Two Actors Take On A Sleazy “Stalker For Hire” In The Ultimate Double-Cross
Fans of classic “shoot ’em up” films like High Noon, Gunfight at the OK Corral, Unforgiven and director Sergio Leone’s legendary “Dollars” trilogy starring Clint Eastwood (The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More) love the epic showdowns between lawman and lawbreaker that have long been one of the Western genre’s most identifiable tropes.
Compared to the tense battles of bravado captured in those iconic Wild West-era epics, though, the climactic conflict seen in the new short film 2 Timers is but one part of the film’s memorable mixture of comedy, action and relevant commentary on Hollywood’s gender gap — all in the signature “spaghetti Western” aesthetic perfected on camera by Leone and in sound via the unforgettably haunting music of Oscar-winning composer Ennio Morricone.
Written by Todd Waring and directed by Shane Cibella and Tim Aslin (producers of the biker gang spoof web series Devil’s Couriers), 2 Timers trades the vast prairies and unending perils of 1800’s America for the high pressure/high profile world of 21st Century showbiz where the big battle is between two actors on opposite ends of their careers and a hot-headed hotshot whose otherwise criminal business operates out of an RV on the rough and tumble outskirts of La La Land.
This battle involves struggling upstart Lily (Amber Stevens West — Starz’s Run The World, 22 Jump Street) and the demanding veteran known as “the Diva” (Jane Kaczmarek, Malcolm In The Middle) — who face off when Lily discovers that her deadbeat “stalker-for-hire” Howard (played by Steven Weber — Wings, iZombie, Chicago Med, Mom, NCIS: New Orleans, 13 Reasons Why) has supposedly been having an affair with another starlet. However, as Lily learns, this alleged act of betrayal is not what it seems.
When Howard’s other client/obsession, the Harley-riding Diva, accuses him of “two-timing” her with the young thespian, he tries to negotiate his way back into Diva’s arms and wallet. Unbeknownst to him, though, the Diva and Lily have come up with an ingenious plan for revenge that could turn the tables on the arrogant “professional stalker”.
Co-executive produced by a powerhouse trio of Hollywood heavyweights in actors Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween Kills, Knives Out, among many), Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Feud: Bette and Joan) and Tony Shalhoub (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Monk), 2 Timers was recently shown at the Pasadena International Film Festival and the North Hollywood Cinefest.
The film’s next screening takes place at Sunscreen West in Hermosa Beach, California on November 5th, with an as-yet-unscheduled showing at the Studio City International Film Festival in Los Angeles later that month.
2 Timers’ incredible cast, production team and hilarious plot aside, the movie also explores some of the biggest issues that continue to affect the entertainment industry: the dangers and demands of fame in a world where the amount of social media followers celebrities have are often more important than box office numbers or TV ratings, and the ongoing battle for equality and respect waged by women in male-dominated Hollywood.
Chris Hadley: Todd, how did you come up with the idea for this film, and what inspired you to create it?
Todd Waring (screenwriter, 2 Timers): I was driving up the 405 to a story meeting with a friend, who was looking for some material. This was about 7 years ago. I told myself, “I’m going to come up with something before I hit the 101”. I remembered that sometime earlier there had been reports that some Hollywood star had been stalked and terrorized, but they’d prosecuted the guy and he was now in jail. It was all over the press, and it had been pretty awful for the actor.
That’s when I thought, “I’ll bet there’s some desperate actor in this town asking their manager, where’s my stalker?” That led to the idea of a secret network (of) stalkers-for-hire, and how desperate they might be. My friend didn’t want that idea, but years later I brought a draft of a short based on it to Tim and Shane, and they helped me flesh it out considerably.
CH: 2 Timers portrays the ongoing power struggle between men and women in Hollywood like a classic showdown in ‘60s-era spaghetti westerns (such as Sergio Leone’s legendary Dollars trilogy, among others). Shane and Tim, what motivated you to take that approach to the film’s story and characters, and how does framing the male/female dynamic in that genre-specific style help heighten the tension we see in this film while adding comedic levity on the side?
Tim Aslin & Shane Cibella (co-directors, 2 Timers): When we first read the script it felt like a standoff to us, so we began to explore ways we could push what was originally a story in the city, to the outskirts of Hollywood. It really helped us play with the misdirects, with an emphasis on the western cinematography and music that we initially envisioned when discussing a western.
CH: Describe how the typical old-time western movie tropes (gunfights, desolate scenery, suspenseful music in the vein of Ennio Morricone) come into play in 2 Timers, and how you and your production team adapted them for the modern setting of this film’s story.
Aslin & Cibella: Largely, our goal was to take visual cues from the great westerns of the past such as The Searchers (and) Once Upon a Time in the West as well as the Dollars trilogy you mentioned before, to emphasize the shifting power dynamics of our modern day characters. We wanted to extend the metaphor of traditional Hollywood pushing up against a new generation of hero. The (story) vehicles used were specific to what we envisioned for the characters, and immediately gave us a modern feeling (of) a traditional western ranch.
CH: In what ways (if any) did your own experiences in the entertainment industry influence both the idea of your film and the narrative elements that are part of it?
Aslin & Cibella: We are living through this shifting time of self-promotion through social media that is, excuse the pun, its own kind of wild west. We utilized our own experiences in the industry and how necessary promotion can be, while also recognizing at times how truly idiotic it can feel.
CH: The cast of 2 Timers is also remarkable, with it being led by veteran actors Amber Stevens West, Steven Weber and Jane Kaczmarek. How were you able to bring them on board your film, what was it like working with them and what did they bring to the table as far as their performances were concerned?
Aslin & Cibella: There was a bit of a domino effect with our process of casting starting with Steven Weber. All three actors were our first choice(s). The creative trust was already built in with talent of this caliber, and at times just sitting back to watch these two actors we’ve admired since we were kids, along with such an amazing young powerhouse in Amber, and have them all bring to life our vision, it was quite inspiring and gratifying.
CH: Equally impressive is the fact that 2 Timers is co-executive produced by Hollywood legends Jamie Lee Curtis (Knives Out, Halloween Kills), Tony Shalhoub (Monk, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Wings) and Alfred Molina (Feud: Bette and Joan, Spider-Man 2, Raiders Of The Lost Ark). What drew them to back your film, what did they see in the project as far as its creative potential and overarching narrative themes were concerned, and what are your memories of working with them on this project?
Aslin & Cibella: We were thrilled to have such iconic talent sign on as executive producers and help us make this a reality. It was a combination of pitching and patience as they are all incredibly busy. We couldn’t have done it at this level without them.
CH: What was the production process like for 2 Timers, and how did the COVID pandemic ultimately end up affecting it (if at all)?
Aslin & Cibella: Our shoot was before the pandemic and we had just picture locked when the stay-at-home order happened. This posed a few issues in the logistics of all remaining post-production and caused quite a severe delay as all typically in-person post work suddenly became remote, which is not particularly conducive to a creative workflow when you’re sending constant back and forth uploads for things that formerly could be solved in minutes when done in person.
CH: What audiences are you aiming to appeal to with this film?
Aslin & Cibella: Audiences that see the humor in life, and hopefully they can draw a line to their own industry and experiences.
CH: Talk about the impact that making 2 Timers has had on you not just as a filmmaker, but as someone who works in a Hollywood system that’s still heavily stacked in favor of men despite continuous efforts to achieve equal representation for women and other minorities in the entertainment industry.
Aslin & Cibella: Knowing that representation is and has always been an issue in our industry, but not being able to change the fact that we are two white males, puts the responsibility of what we can control on us. We made every effort to cast, hire crew, and tell a story that reflects our attitude toward equal representation.
CH: Overall, what do you want people to take away from seeing 2 Timers?
Aslin & Cibella: As with any film, you want people to enjoy the ride while also evoking some deeper thought about the themes we tried to emphasize: how far is too far for self promotion? How much do we change to fit the world or will a changing world fit us?
Find out more about 2 Timers and directors Aslin & Cibella at their web site: