A film that carries its weight

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Writer-producer-director Rob Margolies on his comedy chronicling a young man’s weight loss


  • Rob Margolies with “Weight” co-star Randy Quaid, co-producers Nick Young and Carly Sadolf, and Zackery Byrd, who is making his film debut. Photo: Evi Quaid

  • Filmmaker Rob Margolies. Photo: Brandon McClover

It was Rob Margolies’ 60-pound weight loss that inspired his new film, “Weight,” which is centered around that very struggle. “I guess what made me want to tell the story is just the uniqueness of the situation. There’s never really been a movie about some guy who is struggling to lose weight,” the Upper West Side resident explained.

When looking for the perfect protagonist, Margolies consulted another Upper West Sider, casting director Judy Henderson, whom he always looks to when he has complex, or difficult, roles to fill. “In this case, finding a guy who is 300 pounds is definitely a challenge. There weren’t many people who submitted for the role. But she ended up getting me a bunch of excellent actors.”

The one who stood out was Zackery Byrd, who makes his film debut in this role. Part of his contract includes an obligatory weight loss, and with the help of a company sponsor called Sun Basket, who is supplying him with a year’s worth of food, and exercising with a trainer multiple times a week, he is approaching that goal.

Ten percent of the project’s proceeds will go to diabetes research, one of the factors that Margolies says attracted his cast, Jason Mewes, Randy Quaid, Ashley Johnson, Kathy Najimy and Peter Scolari, who all took pay cuts to star in the film.

How did you get your start in the industry?

I basically had a love for it since I was 6 years old. Just growing up, my mom used movies and TV as like a pacifier for me. At about 12 years old, I was in sixth grade, I realized that you can actually have a living working on movies. So I started writing screenplays when I was that age. From there, I nurtured my creativity. My junior year of high school, I was 17 years old, I ended up making my first feature film with a bunch of my friends in high school. I would never show anybody, obviously. It was pretty bad. Then that summer, I spent at the New York Film Academy and then when I graduated high school, I went to Chapman University to study film.

How did you lose weight and what made you want to tell this story?

Just eating right and exercising. The old-fashioned way is how I lost the weight. I like to call the film a modern-day John Candy movie had he decided to get healthy and lose weight. The tone and the style of the movie is like that. There was a friend of mine who’s obese and was diagnosed with diabetes about a year ago. I guess his struggle and own mental capacities are what made me put two and two together and start writing the script. .

What was the atmosphere like on set?

I handpicked the entire cast and crew, so there were no fights. Everyone got along. It was really smooth. But I think a lot of the crew members weren’t used to my style of work. The way that I work, there really are no breaks. I just go go go go. It’s sort of my mentality. I’m shooting this movie, 95 pages in 17 days is a feat in itself. Plus there are 22 locations on top of that. So there are a lot of company moves. I wouldn’t call it stressful, per se. But it was like nonstop, a lot of work. When this movie wrapped, I literally slept for 16 hours straight and was still exhausted.

What are some of the locations in the film?

Some of the signature locations are a bowling alley, a doctor’s office, a lot of Central Park. We had a diner in Brooklyn. A dog pound. Another sponsor of ours, Tribeca. A mansion out in Jersey for one of the scenes. Of course, the main location was the main character’s apartment which was actually in Jersey City, but it can definitely pass for a Brooklyn apartment.

What were the challenges to filming in New York City?

Parking is obviously a hard one. You can pay for a parking lot, but getting the equipment up to each location was sort of the one thing my team was struggling with. The other thing is, of course, the size of certain locations. Obviously in New York City, a doctor’s office and apartments and all that kind of stuff are way smaller than they are elsewhere. And then of course, a lot of outdoor-type stuff, like weather conditions. Forty percent of the film is outside.

Who are some filmmakers you look up to?

The people I look up to aren’t necessarily the kind of people that this film is sort of in the vein of. Some of my favorite filmmakers are pretty clichéd answers, Quentin Tarantino, Stanley Kubrick, Paul Thomas Anderson. David Fincher is probably my favorite director right now. So they’re all very different than my personal style, but comedy is my wheelhouse and I just embrace that.

This is your sixth film. Who are some actors you’ve kept in touch with?

Oh, so many of them. Charlie Sheen, Hilary Duff, are some of the bigger ones. And then Jane Adams, Joe Morton, Alexa Vega. Spencer Grammer is a really good friend of mine; we have children around the same age. Pretty much all of them except for maybe one or two, who I’ll leave nameless.



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