Back in 2001, journalist Ken Baker published a memoir recounting how he experienced all the ups and downs of puberty for the first time — at age 27. Now, Baker’s story is set to hit the big screen in Kevin Pollak’s upcoming comedy The Late Bloomer, and EW has an exclusive first look.
Based loosely on Baker’s memoir, The Late Bloomer stars Johnny Simmons (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) as a sex therapist who learns that a benign pituitary tumor has affected his hormone levels for much of his life. Once the tumor is removed, he goes through puberty in just a few weeks. Brittany Snow stars as the girl next door, and the star-studded supporting cast includes Jane Lynch as his boss and J.K. Simmons and Maria Bello as his parents. Beck Bennett and Kumail Nanjiani star as his best friends, and Paul Wesley plays Snow’s character’s on-again, off-again boyfriend.
Pollak is best known for his roles in films like A Few Good Men and as the host of his long-running chat show, and his agent originally submitted him for the dad role, but after he made his directorial debut with the Sundance doc Misery Loves Comedy, producers asked if he would come on board in a behind-the-camera capacity instead. The role of the father went to J.K. Simmons, who made “a much better choice than me,” Pollak says, laughing. “He just has all these awards now, so it seemed like a smarter choice.”
Pollak’s feature debut, which was produced by Ineffable Pictures and Eclectic Pictures, was filled with “a daily dose of miracles and disasters” — like moving the production to Bulgaria after a week of shooting in Los Angeles. “Bulgaria was fantastic if you loved the year 1994, because it seems a little frozen in time,” Pollak says. “The people were extraordinarily friendly. We just had a difficult time understanding each other.”
That language barrier led to plenty of “disasters” that needed to be remedied. “An Italian production designer flies in and says, ‘We’ll make it beautiful, don’t worry!’ and then you show up and the refrigerator is something you would only see in Italy, not in America,” Pollak says. “The movie takes place in Los Angeles, so can you get us an American-looking refrigerator here in Bulgaria before tomorrow?”
Miscommunications aside, it made for an interesting directorial debut. “My first attempt at just being funny and honest and authentic as a storyteller, and now I’m this guy, an international filmmaker,” Pollak says. “It makes no sense to anyone.”