Star Melissa McCarthy has said that the film is the most physically taxing she has ever done. McCarthy has said of the mis-haps and accidents that befell her during the making of the movie: "Running, jumping, falling. I've cracked my head, I have cuts and bruises. At the end of the day I look like I fell down an elevator shaft. But I wear those wounds and thrown discs with a bit of pride". Stunt Co-ordinator J.J. Perry has also said: "We have a great stunt double (Luci Romberg) for Melissa, but once we saw how good Melissa was we were able to ask even more of her." Perry has also praised McCarthy's s impressive ability to learn and retain choreography, saying, "She was in there with some heavy-hitting action stars, which can be intimidating, but she more than held her own. Her work ethic is outstanding".
During Jason Statham's rant about his duties as a spy, he mentions flying a car off of a building while on fire. This is a reference to his antagonist character from Furious 7 who closely suffered the same fate. His second rant about jumping out of a plane and getting hit by a second plane in midair was a reference to his other action film Crank.
Stunt co-ordinator J.J. Perry has said of the kitchen fight sequence: "The kitchen fight took two days to complete and demonstrated Paul Feig's commitment to ramping up the action. He's an enthusiast of 1980s Jackie Chan movies, as am I, so I had a good idea what he wanted: low, wide-angle impact shots coming into the lens. It's funny, kinetic and violent".
For the flight sequence on-board Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne)'s private jet where a nosedive forces a zero gravity effect of weightlessness, Special Effects Supervisor Yves De Bono had the plane mounted on a 20-degree gimbal, allowing it to tilt and swivel in any direction. Movement was hydraulically controlled from the ground, and both cast and stunt team were harnessed to cables to simulate floating. Byrne spent time in a swimming pool practicing controlling her physical motions to prepare for the sequence, which required a week to complete. Both Byrne and Melissa McCarthy had the giggles at various points in the scene, with Melissa quipping, "It must be the altitude". As the plane dips up and down on the gimbal, she joked to director Paul Feig, "If the plane is rockin', don't come a knockin!".
The film's production designer Jefferson Sage has said of filming in the capital city of Hungary: "Budapest usually only cheats for other places, but when Paul Feig scouted the city he was so impressed he changed most of the story to take place here - much in the way he decided to let Boston play itself instead of doubling for New York in The Heat (2013). Budapest has grandeur and a nice mix of architectural styles, along with an Eastern European exoticism that lends a wonderful mystique to the story".
Star Melissa McCarthy has said of her Susan Cooper central character: "Susan's always had ability, and is great technically and tactically, but she lacked confidence. Now her field experiences and loyalty to Jude Law's character, Bradley Fine, begin to bring out her full potential. She discovers talents she didn't know she had". Moreover, the film's writer-director Paul Feig has said: "I read that women make better spies than men because they're generally better at reading physical cues, gaining trust and using intuition. This is Susan Cooper. She doesn't rely on brawn - she has to figure things out as she goes along. I enjoy working with and empowering women, and was intrigued by the idea of creating a female trio of protagonist, sidekick and adversary".
At the film's premiere in March 2015, the picture was not completed, with director Paul Feig stating that the film's music and color timing were still being tweaked. The movie also launched without any end closing credits as well.
This film's writer-director Paul Feig has said of this movie: "I'm a big fan of spy movies, and I wanted to create a broad action comedy in that genre. The comedy comes from the characters. It's not a spoof or satire. The danger and action are genuine. We wanted it to have the tone of a spy film, but still be as funny as we could make it. I also wanted to create a relatable story in which we could all wonder, 'If I was recruited as a spy and sent on a mission, how might I react? Melissa McCarthy is perfect for the role because, despite being extraordinarily talented, she can still play the 'every person' and elicit a profound sense of empathy and support".
The fight sequence in a Hungarian restaurant kitchen in Budapest, where Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) and an assassin played by Nargis Fakhri engage in a fight to the finish, included fruits, turkey legs, vegetables, and cooking utensils, and resulted in food, pots and pans going flying about everywhere. The pre-production of the sequence took weeks of rehearsing, choreographing and pre-visioning the fight on computer.
The production filmed in the lavish interiors of the Four Season's Gresham Palace in Budapest, Hungary. The venue is widely regarded as one of Europe's most elegant hotels. Situated on the east bank of the Danube River, overlooking the Chain Bridge and Castle Hill on the Buda side, the Gresham Palace was built in 1906, and remains one of the finest examples of Art Nouveau/Secessionist buildings. The palace was damaged in 1944 when retreating Nazis blew up the Chain Bridge, and it stood in disrepair for decades. The Four Seasons took painstaking effort to restore the building, including the beautiful mosaics, using materials from Venice that comprised the originals. It opened as flagship luxury hotel in 2004. Reportedly, the film has been the first movie allowed to film inside, and the production took full advantage, showcasing the crystal ice chandelier and exquisite high-ceilinged lobby where Raina Boyanov (Rose Byrne) makes a grand entrance with Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) and a bodyguard in tow. The palace's sidewalks were also used for filming, including a scene where Susan jumps on a moped and gives chase to a would-be assassin through the streets of Budapest.
The labyrinth of limestone caves seen in the film stretch some twenty-three miles underneath a brewery in Buda, Hungary. They were originally excavated as quarries in the 1700s, and later re-purposed for beer storage. At various times they have been used as emergency shelters and even hidden hangars for Nazi aircraft. When the film was being shot, while the temperature above ground was mild, at the subterranean depth of the caves, breath condenses in the air, and crew-members donned winter hats and jackets for this reason.
The visually striking 1930s power plant control room location features rows of panels and an elliptical stained-glass ceiling thus appearing both equally period and futuristic at the same time. The structure has been likened by production designer Jefferson Sage as a "fantastical Flash Gordon (1980) spaceship bridge". Sage has said: "We knew if we used this location it would heighten the tone and style of the movie, and affect a number of decisions about other sets and locations. Did we want to push it that far?". Director Paul Feig replied: "Yes, I want this to play big visually".
The Bradley Fine character played by Jude Law is considered to be a James Bond persona type whilst the Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) character is likened to be a female James Bond type. The Rick Ford character portrayed by Jason Statham is described in the film's press kit as a cross between John Rambo and Inspector Clouseau.
Filming featured shooting at the picturesque Lake Balaton, the largest inland lake in Europe, located an hour-and-a-half drive from Budapest, Hungary. Two lakeside villas served as unique practical locations in the film. The first, located on the northern shore of the lake, is "story set" on the Black Sea in Bulgaria, where suave agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law) flees from gunmen after a botched assignment and makes his way to an escape speedboat. The second villa, even more luxuriant, plays itself, so to speak, and is situated forty minutes away, near the popular tourist village of Balatonfured. The filmmakers did an aerial reconnaissance around the entire lake to discover this property, which sits majestically atop a multi-acre beautiful lawn that slopes to the shoreline. This 19th century villa was at one time a hotel before becoming private property. The front doors open to a grand staircase, fit for royalty. Or, in this case, De Luca (Bobby Cannavale), who resides here when not frequenting Italian casinos. Actor Cannavale has said: "The house helps me get into character. I think, 'I own this'. It's as if De Luca found this elaborate staircase and made them build a house around it. He's never content. He doesn't share his toys and always wants more". The large estate accommodated a planned helicopter landing and take-off for one of the film's climactic scenes.
Reportedly, the film was inspired by the re-boot of the official James Bond movie series, with Casino Royale (2006) starring Daniel Craig, which writer-director-producer Paul Feig said to show-business trade paper 'Variety' ranks as one of his favorite ever movies.
The scene with the bats in the roof and someone bagging Susan's head is a large reference to The Office (2005), one of Paul Feig's other works where Dwight Schrute discovers bats are in the roof and traps one over Meredith's head with a bag.
When Michael McDonald is showing the unpleasant gadgets to Melissa McCarthy, she asks him if she has done something to him that upset him. This could be a slight wink to the fact that the two co-starred in Paul Feig's The Heat (2013) together where McCarthy threatened to shoot off McDonald's penis in an interrogation room.
The exterior square of the eye-catching shopping mall seen in the film is situated in Budapest, Hungary and is known as "The Whale". It is so named because of its glass-covered shape and riverside location. The sequence in the movie where Andrey Danilko and her band play their international hit tune "Dancing Lasha Tumbai" on a large stage at the north end of the square, featured more than three hundred extras and background artists.
One of the main movie posters for the film has actress Melissa McCarthy holding a gun James Bond spy-style with the poster completely tinted in gold evoking the early James Bond film Goldfinger (1964) and the gold covered Bond Girl portrayed by actress Shirley Eaton.
Web publicity on Tumblr for the film publicizes James Bondish character Agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law) as having such chattels as a 9mm gauge pistol weapon, Prada snakeskin loafer slip-on shoes, a concealed switchblade in his trouser plimsoll, and as having the beautiful face of an angel.
Most of the movie was filmed around the world famous Lake Balaton which is situated in the Transdanubian District of Hungary in Eastern Europe the latter being a traditional cold war espionage story element. Reportedly, Lake Balaton is the largest lake in Central Europe.
This James Bond style comedy actually features an Aston Martin car, Aston Martin being a vehicle manufacturing company synonymous with the Bond franchise. The make and model of Aston Martin seen here is a blue Aston Martin DB9 coupé.
Defying the usual commercial Hollywood studio movie convention of pictures being first widely released or simultaneously launched in the USA, the film is having major debut releases in a number of non-US territories in late May 2015, which is anything up to around a fortnight prior to the movie's wide release stateside in early June 2015.
When 'The man in the purple tie' is killed by drinking the spiked cocktail, Susan Cooper faints. At that time, Susan's undercover identity was Penny Morgan and when she faints a penny drop can be heard
When Susan (Melissa McCarthy) is on the plane with Rayna (Rose Byrne) and after Susan wakes up from Rayna drugging her, Frederick comes out of the cockpit and declares to Rayna he has new plans...Rayna keeps calling him by the wrong name of "Colin." This is similar to the way Kristen Wiig calls him "Stove" instead of "Steve" on the plane when he played a flight attendant in Bridesmaids, a Paul Feig comedy which Rose Byrne and Melissa McCarthy also both starred in.
The picture was previously entitled with the working title of "Susan Cooper" which is the name of the central comic spy character portrayed by Melissa McCarthy. Reportedly, on 28th March 2014, the film's title was changed from "Susan Cooper" to "Spy".
The picture features two soundtracks, both stereophonic, one the "Spy Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" featuring songs by various artists, totaling to fourteen song tracks, and the other, the "Spy Original Motion Picture Score", with the film's music score composed by music composer Theodore Shapiro, and totaling to twenty-two pieces of music. Artist and illustrator Paul Rogers who is based in Pasadena in Los Angeles County in California, USA, designed the original retro cover artwork for both of the "Spy" soundtrack albums.
The production notes for the picture state that the movie "was inspired by [the] James Bond movies" franchise. "They set out to make a comedy in the visual style of those iconic films, with sweeping shots, striking backdrops and convincing action sequences".
The picture premiered at SXSW (the South by Southwest Film Festival) on 15th March 2015 which was the same place as director Paul Feig and star Melissa McCarthy's earlier Bridesmaids (2011) had debuted.
Melissa McCarthy's character in Mike & Molly (2010) was a school teacher, before she quit to become a writer. Similar to "Spy", her character was a school teacher before she quit to join the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency).
The final two weeks of production filming were shot on sound-stages. Of this period, the final ten days of principal photography were shot on the sound-stage featuring the gigantic CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) Communications Room.
The name of the Italian casino in Rome, Italy was the "Casino Di Roma". This picture was inspired by the earlier James Bond film Casino Royale (2006) which had been made and released just under about a decade earlier. The upcoming James Bond movie Spectre (2015) utilizes Rome in Lazio, Italy as a filming location.
"The film's scenic international locations and spy-thriller orientation have called forth a much higher level of technical polish than usual for a studio comedy" according to show-business trade paper 'Variety'.
The second 20th Century Fox feature film to shoot in the city of Budapest, Hungary in recent years with the previous one being the fifth Bruce Willis "Die Hard" franchise movie A Good Day to Die Hard (2013).
Suave debonair secret agent spy characters like James Bond and Bradley Fine (Jude Law) are suitably known for being well-attired. "Spy" director Paul Feig was named one of Esquire's "Best Dressed Men of 2012" - the same year that the Bond film Skyfall (2012) debuted - and as "The Best Dressed Man in Hollywood" in Esquire's "Winter 2012 Black Book Edition".
References to Finland: Finnish airline Blue1 - flown using Boeing 717 - is shown landing in Paris, France implicating that a connecting flight from Helsinki, Finland. Also, in Budapest, Hungary, when Susan Cooper is preparing a flare: one can see Tikkurila's Feelings Extra Durable Paint interior paint bucket on the table. Tikkurila is a Finnish manufacturer of paints and lacquers. Tikkurila sells paints only in Nordic countries and Russia, Hungary is not an active market for Tikkurila.
The high majority of regions that debuted the film in major wide theatrical release early around 20-22 May 2015 prior to its North American distribution were in the southern hemisphere in the Asia-Pacific region.
The partner agent concept is very similar to TV show Fortune Hunter (1994) which has the weekly adventures of former British agent Carlton Dial, who now works for a private corporation called Intercept, which is in the business of recovering stolen property. Dial uses the latest in technological gadgetry to complete his missions, and relies on his nerdy partner Harry Flask for help from headquarters.
This James Bond style comedy picture features a fight action sequence in a restaurant kitchen. Bond pictures that have featured kitchen fights include the official Bond movie The Living Daylights (1987) and the unofficial Bond film Never Say Never Again (1983).
In Jason Statham's tirades where he tells Susan Cooper about the dangers he's met in the field he frequently refers to other movies he's been in. Such as saying "I've used defibrillators..on myself!" Which he did in Crank: High Voltage (2009).
The band that Susan Cooper interrupts by jumping on stage, warning Rick Ford of an impending bomb explosion, was the Ukrainian entry at the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest. The entry came in second place that year behind Serbia. The singer is called Andrey Danilko aka Verka Serduchka and the song is called Dancing Lasha Tumbai.
Rick Ford says that he heard Will Yun Lee's character talk about a face off machine, where an agent is given a new face and identity. Lee played Col. Moon in Die Another Day (2002); a Bond villain who changes his appearance and identity in the film.
In the final action sequence when Nancy shows up in the other helicopter, the colors of the helicopters are an allusion to Top Gun's Maverick and Iceman, who were wingmen in Top Gun's climactic action sequence. Susan's helicopter is black and red, the colors of Maverick's helmet. Nancy's helicopter is silver and blue, the colors of Iceman's helmet.
During a scene between Melissa McCarthy and Swedish comedian Björn Gustafsson, she berates him to the point that he starts crying, to which he rejects the notion (though he obviously is). Moments later, he is killed. Whether as a reference or by coincidence, a very similar set-up happened in the short film Kung Fury (2015), in which his character in that film is berated to the point of crying moments before his death.
Desk agent Susan eventually proves herself in the field, while Rick Ford seems to be a bumbling fool. However, he does keep turning up where the action is without any backup intel from Langley, so he'd be much better as a desk agent.