It’s been more than a year since Brooklyn Nine-Nine ended and Melissa Fumero has kept busy with the likes of Netflix’s Blockbuster and break-up comedy Bar Fight! which is out now on digital platforms in the UK. The movie sees Fumero play Nina who is having an amicable break-up with Allen (Luka Jones) until the duo find themselves at their favourite bar and choose to battle it out in a series of games to decide who gets to keep coming to the bar. If Brooklyn Nine-Nine fans get a bit of déjà vu from that set-up they might be thinking of season-six episode ‘A Tale of Two Bandits’ which saw Amy (Fumero) and the squad in a drink-off to keep Shaw’s bar from the FDNY. But it wasn’t something that originally stood out for the star. That is so funny that literally did not occur to me until you just said it now. Yeah you’re right there is a little bit of a parallel there she told Digital Spy. Here’s the thing when you’ve done 153 episodes… I feel like all those Brooklyn stories just sort of swirl in my head so maybe subconsciously I was like ‘Oh this feels familiar like I could do this’. I didn’t make that immediate connection. To mark the release of Bar Fight! in the UK Digital Spy sat down with Melissa Fumero to talk about how Brooklyn Nine-Nine helped her with the new movie her best bar game in real life and whether representation is improving in the industry.
Were you particularly looking for movie roles once Brooklyn Nine-Nine had wrapped or did Bar Fight! just come along at the right time
A little bit of both. I had just wrapped Brooklyn’s last season and this project came to me. I thought the script was really fun and funny and then I had a Zoom with director-writer Jim Mahoney who wrote the brilliant animated movie Klaus and I just really liked Jim a lot We just really got along well and I was like ‘Oh we’re gonna have fun together I really want to work with this person’. I’m finding that I’m very much like a vibe type of person. If I like someone I just want to be around them and work together. Had you seen Klaus beforehand Because it’s easily one of the best Christmas movies of recent years. I had seen it. I’ve seen it with my kids and I love it it’s brilliant. I went into the meeting already impressed with him. Rachel Bloom creator of the brilliant Crazy Ex-Girlfriend plays your closest friend in this did you get the chance to improv a lot on set or was it a case of sticking to the script
Well Rachel is in addition to being a brilliant actor and a hilarious person she’s also a brilliant writer. She definitely riffed a lot and I just tried to keep up. There’s quite a bit of that I think in the movie. There’s a scene before we walk into the bar where she’s just like going off and that was a mix of script and just Rachel riffing because like I said she’s a brilliant joke writer. It was really really fun. I had been a fan of hers for a long time and so when she came on board I was just really excited and we had a great time working together. Was there a bit more freedom as well On network TV you can’t really swear whereas on this it felt like you could just say whatever you like. There certainly was more freedom. It was an indie so we didn’t have the luxury of time like some bigger movies have. Everything was a bit of a crunch. We shot this movie in like 13 days. It was such a short fast shoot and everybody was super on their A-game and came in ready on every take.
I imagine had it been maybe like a bigger project with more time we would have been able to do more of that. That’s the only reason some of that didn’t happen more was just because of time. That’s the reality of the beast. Before you were on Brooklyn Nine-Nine you had some comedy experience but hadn’t done loads of comedy work so did any lessons you learned on Brooklyn help here I joke that my time on Brooklyn was like going to a very elite comedy school because I learnt so much while I was there not just from the cast but also from the incredible guest stars we had. To jump on something like this where the pace was really quick and we didn’t have a lot of time to do things it’s definitely very reassuring to know that you know how to deliver the jokes and attack the comedy beats and be able to keep up with the other comedic actors. Luka Jones and Julian Gant are also really strong improvisers.
melissa fumero luka jones bar fight
I think the thing that’s so scary [about] comedy for people – and for me when I first started Brooklyn – when you haven’t done it a lot so much of it is just instinctual so much of it is just being in the moment and feeling the timing of things. It’s not something that you can really teach and that’s what I think makes it so intimidating. I feel just very lucky that I can just hear it or feel it in a way that I recognise doesn’t come as easily for everyone. On top of that obviously there are technique things that you can apply and then just being honest and hopefully being a good actor also I think elevates it so it’s all those things coming together.
Of the supporting cast Dot-Marie Jones Glee Bros steals the show as the intimidating and near-wordless cook Ellen. Her deadpan reactions are so great which must have made it difficult not to corpse on set Dot in real life is like loud and boisterous and just full of energy and utter sunshine. It was really fun to get to spend time with her get to know her and then she killed in every scene. I mean her timing is impeccable her choices were so funny. She has a few lines in the movie and she destroys every scene. It’s so fun to watch and it was really fun to watch in real life.
The other main part of Bar Fight! is the game scenes such as the human bowling. Were you bowling down towards the barrels
I believe it was someone else in the actual bowling ball for insurance purposes. I was in it for part of it but not for the actual rolling they had stunt doubles for that but the tricycle work is all me though everyone should know. No stunt people on the tricycle part. I am pretty competitive. I used to say that I wasn’t but I’ve come to accept that I indeed am. I am I have to say pretty good at chugging a beer. I do it in Blockbuster actually. So during that scene I had to play someone that like wasn’t that good at it. I think I would crush at that in real life and I’ve got to say I got pretty good on that tricycle so that scene was really fun to shoot. We were also just messing with those bikes in between takes and I got pretty good at it so I feel like I would win that in real life
Remind us never to take you on in a tricycle race… Without going into spoilers Bar Fight! appears to be going down a traditional rom-com route before a finale that’s more bittersweet and realistic. Was that part of the appeal Yeah 100%. When I read it I loved the ending. It felt as you said much more real and much more relatable in that way right This movie I think personifies a lot of the feelings we have after a break-up but in kooky situations. There’s a lot of metaphors in there. I thought the ending felt right and it didn’t feel like something forced. It felt like ‘Oh this is probably actually what would really happen between these two people’.
julian gant luka jones melissa fumero and rachel bloom in bar fight
Signature Entertainment Finally you’ve spoken before about how when you started out into the industry you were faced with typecast roles before something like Brooklyn Nine-Nine came along. Do you feel the industry getting better when it comes to representation I think it is better in terms of representation and the kind of roles that we see Latinos playing. It’s starting to move away from a lot of the stereotypes or just the stories that were over-represented.
We still have a long way to go because we’re still really not featured in most of television or movies. I think there’s this weird disconnect where sometimes Hollywood thinks that if they’re gonna have Latinos in their movies or TV shows that it needs to be about them being Latino instead of just having us there. I think there’s still a lot of work to be done. There was a report that came out recently that Latino actors have six percent of television roles. We’re almost 20% of the population in this country so I would like to just see a lot more Latinos in movies and television regardless if the role is about their identity and culture.