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Emmys 2017
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Article

How I Got Google

The co-writer, producer, and star of the comedy ”The Internship” (out June 7 and costarring Owen Wilson) talks about choosing the Internet company as the setting for his film?and what it was like to shoot there.

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When you’re in the business of telling stories, it’s nice when you can find something that’s of the moment. When I was writing the original draft of The Internship, the economy was terrible and had been for a while, and a lot of people I knew had lost their jobs. There was this feeling in our generation that the path that was laid out was not as guaranteed as we’d thought, that the skill sets that were being rewarded were not the same as they used to be.

I remembered seeing a 60 Minutes segment on Google around 2005 and thinking, ”Wait a minute?they’ve got intramural sports? And food that doesn’t cost you anything? And Ping-Pong and swimming pools and nap pods if you want to take a nap?” It looked almost like summer camp or Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. So I thought that to take these two characters that Owen [Wilson] and I play in the movie, these guys whose jobs have gone away and who are being told their skills didn’t apply anymore, and give them the chance to try to work at a place like Google?that felt relatable and rootable. It’s like in Rocky, where he gets thrown out of the gym but then he gets to fight the champ.

One of the producers on the movie, Sandra J. Smith, used to work in the tech industry. She knew some people at Google and reached out to them. Owen and I went up [to Mountain View, Calif.], and they gave us a tour of the campus, and the people were fantastic. They had a sense of humor about themselves, they liked Wedding Crashers, and thought this concept was funny. They were really open to doing whatever. We weren’t going in saying, ”Hey, we’re really going to make this place rock and further your product.” There was no mandate to say that everyone who works at Google is a perfect person. They weren’t really managing that. They were just very accommodating and helpful with questions we had, like ”What’s some programming code language we would use?” or ”What are some challenges we’d be sending the interns on?”

We shot most of the movie in Atlanta; we basically built the Google campus at Georgia Tech. But for exteriors we filmed at Google itself. There’s definitely this sense that you’re going into the Emerald City. The place has a lot of energy, and we got to see some of the cool stuff they’re doing, some of which is in the movie: the driverless car, the glasses that are like a video recorder plus computer. [Google cofounder] Sergey Brin came to the set. Everyone was very nice and gracious. I don’t know what I would have done if Google said no. I was all-in. But that’s what Google does: You search for something and you find it.