As our own Ken Tucker pointed out, Jimmy Kimmel’s post-Oscar show has become just as exciting as watching red carpet and gold statues. In this year’s installment, Kimmel introduced an underground society called the Handsome Men’s Club, an ego-riffic gathering of Hollywood’s most beautiful men, ruled by President Kimmel. Just how did this gut-busting sketch come to be? We talked to Jimmy Kimmel Live!’s co head-writer Molly McNearney and HMC club member Lenny Kravitz to find out the behind-the-scenes scoop:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Who came up with the idea?
MOLLY MCNEARNEY: This is Jimmy’s idea. He really liked the idea of the best looking guys in Hollywood telling him he’s ugly and fat. That’s the kind of guy Jimmy is. He came up with it several months ago. He said, “I’d love to pretend there’s this underground society in Hollywood of all handsome men but I’m the president of it and everyone wants me out of the club because I’m not not handsome enough.” He started working on a script and a few of us here helped, too, and then once our booking department started getting people attached, it escalated into this really great bit. It was nice to go out with a really funny script, and we became more and more excited. Once more people became attached, then there was no stopping us. We had a pretty good feeling about it.
How did you decide who would the members would be?
Truthfully, we opened up People’s Sexiest Man Alive issue. We went through some names in there. It was funny; we’d have these meetings about who was handsome. Being one of the few females in the writing department, I felt like I had a stronger opinion about some of these things. We used a lot of people that have been on the show before that Jimmy really likes and would love to work with. I don’t think there’s a lack of handsome men in this town to pick from. That made it pretty easy for the booking department.
They were so game!
So overly game for it. Some of them would show up and hesitate in insulting Jimmy but were completely up for being insulted by him. Most of that room is a very self-deprecating bunch, and we wanted them to be the opposite. We wanted them to have these egos and be handsome and cocky, but they wanted to be made fun of, which made for a nice playing field for us. It was great. A lot of them are uncomfortable with their handsomeness, like “Oh, I’m not handsome,” and we’d be like, “A. you are handsome and B. we’re going to help you make fun of Jimmy for not being ‘handsome.’”
Who was the most game?
Matthew McConaughey came very prepared and had some good ideas. He was a really good sport. John Krasinski improvised a lot. And Lenny Kravitz was a nice surprise. As soon as he started singing those absurd lyrics, we all felt very confident in the bit.
How much ad-libbing was involved?
There was a little bit. Like, Lenny Kravitz ad-libbed the word “supple” for “breasts of a 14-year old-girl.” Jimmy was expecting him to just echo exactly what he said. Lenny added that, and Jimmy was just dying laughing and the whole room broke down. Matthew ad-libbed “F—in’ Spanx!” That was a great line. He was really angry at those Spanx. It was an insult to the entire society! He really played that off.
How was the video shot? Were the guys all there at once?
It was shot over the course of eight different shoots. We rarely had everyone in the same room. Matthew, Sting, Lenny, Rob Lowe, Patrick Dempsey, Ethan Hawke — they all shot individually. So did Matt Damon. Jen and Ben shot separately. Josh Hartnett and Gilles Marini were on the set the same day. Taye Diggs, Tony Romo, and John Krasinski all came at the same time. It was a challenge for our director, Andy Fisher, to make it appear that they were all together, but in fact, they were not. We lied to everyone!
When did you shoot?
Two weeks ago. Sting was our first and Matt Damon was our last. We shot Matt on Saturday and we were very happy that he was game because he was a perfect button on the skit. That laugh was maniacal! He had to present the next day at the Oscars, so I was really hoping he had a voice for that.
Where was it shot?
We shot it here in one of our studios. We built the set and it stood there for two weeks. That was a bit of sacrifice for us because we use that studio for shoots for the show. But it remained untouched because if we had a guest on the show or someone who could do it, we wanted to make it as easy as possible for them to come and shoot their parts. It worked out great. It helped us be flexible when dealing with so many celebrities.
Will this be a recurring sketch?
I don’t know. We talked about possibly doing one for women, which I think would be great, but we’ve just been talking. We haven’t made any decisions yet. It’s something that I think could be funny. A lot of people have asked about it coming back or doing a sequel, but we haven’t really discussed that yet. We’re playing it out right now and seeing how it goes, but we’re definitely committed to continuing to do viral comedy here and giving celebrities the opportunity to do something unique. And we just love doing this stuff. It’s so fun.
Ben Affleck and Jimmy have such chemistry. What’s the secret?
They both love Lost, and they watch it together every week. I think they might be a little gay for each other. That “F—ing Ben Affleck” video was great for both of them, but I think they left that video in love with each other. They really do love each other. They were a little too comfortable being in bed in matching pajamas. I feel like this isn’t the first time they’ve spooned.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you react when you got the call about the skit?
LENNY KRAVITZ: I was surprised that they reached out to me. I was into it. I love his humor. I was a big fan of “I’m F—ing Ben Affleck,” so I was glad to be called.
Did Jimmy give you any pointers or set-ups?
It was quite open. He had his speech that he was saying and he just said, “I want you to back me up. When you hear a line that you like, just sing it, back me up.” Like a call and response thing. So that’s what I did. We had some laughs. It was funny.
Where did you come up with the idea to add “supple” to Jimmy’s line about having the breasts of a 14 year old?
When I’m singing, I don’t think, so when he said “the breasts of a 14-year-old girl,” somehow “supple” came out of my mouth. And it was pretty funny because he fell out [of character], and said, “I want to keep that, but I don’t know if we can.” My answer to him was, “There’s nothing wrong with ‘supple.’ You’re the sick guy that said 14 year old, so don’t get on my case!” It was a funny moment. I was flattered that I made him laugh.
Did you shoot with any of the other guys?
Just Jimmy. The editing was done really well.
How long did the shoot take?
About 15 minutes because they did a bunch of takes from behind him then me wheeling the piano off and then the ending. We shot it two days before the Oscars.
If Jimmy brought back the HMC, would you be in it again?
No question. I love comedy, and I think he’s really talented.
Does this mean we might see you on Saturday Night Live or their digital shorts?
I would love that. With what I’ve been doing for the last 20 years, music and the way I’m viewed, people don’t really know that I’m funny. It’s fun to be able to do it. Tell Jimmy to call me again.
Photo: Mitchell Haddad/ABC