In Masterminds (out Sept. 30), Zach Galifianakis plays a real-life security guard named David Ghantt who, in 1995, stole $17 million of the money he was being paid to protect from the vault of the Loomis, Fargo & Co. cash-handling company in Charlotte, North Carolina. Most films based on true events — particularly true criminal events — tend to treat their subjects very seriously. But director Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre) took a more comedic path with his movie, as evidenced by the cast, which also includes Kristen Wiig and Owen Wilson as Ghantt’s accomplices in the heist, as well as Jason Sudeikis, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones.
“I first learned about the heist when it actually happened,” Hess told EW earlier this week. “I was in high school. I remember there were multiple news reports about it. I was blown away that they’d stolen so much money, and totally pulled off the heist, but [then] there were so many mistakes, and unfortunate decision-making, that it was kind of a comedy of errors. There were a lot of people involved in the heist, but David Ghantt’s perspective of what happened just seemed the most interesting. He initially did it for love, and was betrayed along the way, and his side of things just seemed really interesting to me. We were really lucky to have him on set and be our consultant while we shot the film. When we first talked to him, as we began the project, he was like, ‘Yeah, we made some real bad some decisions along the way.’ He had a really good sense of humor in hindsight about everything that occurred.”
The finished film portrays Ghannt as a good-natured, but decidedly bumbling, character, who at one point accidentally causes his gun to go off in his own shorts. So, how did he react to Galifianakis’ portrayal?
“David saw the film for the first time at the premiere, which was two nights ago,” said Hess. “I was like, ‘David, what did you think?’ He was like, ‘Man, I loved it. [But] shooting myself in the butt, that didn’t really happen. That would be the one thing. I don’t want people to think I shot myself in the butt!’ [Laughs] But he loved the movie. We were trying to get the broad strokes of the story correct, and the details of the heist right, and all of those things. But he knew that we were taking some liberties to make a funny movie.”
You can see the trailer for Masterminds below and an exclusive clip, above.