On Set: “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”

Posted on August 28, 2013

We love these pics.


Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Kerris Dorsey and Ed Oxenbould filming a scene on the set of “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” in Pasadena, California.

Could there be a more perfect illustration that performing requires that you act like an utter ass in front of other people, over and over and over again? You’ve really gotta hand it to them. It takes balls.

We applaud Jen’s child-handling methods. Limbs always make the best handles for toddlers, we say.  If he mouths off, just toss him in the bushes for a while.




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  • Latin Buddy

    hahaha that HAS to be a doll. Right?

    • barbarienne

      Could be. She’s wearing shoes in the “active” scenes where the child is obviously real, but flip-flops in the shot with the upside-down kid. Definite time-gap.

      Also, real-child’s pants are cuffed; the doll (we hope) pants are not.

      Yes, I’m one of those annoying people who spots bad continuity errors in set dressing in movies.

      • Qitkat

        They might have tried it with the child’s cooperation to see if it worked, but he’s pretty young. Parents might do this for fun, but one-handed?, I’m not so sure. The one with Jenn in flip-flops waiting is way too casual except for using a lighter-weight doll. Good spotting the pants. I missed that. It will probably look real in the movie though.

      • decormaven

        Another one spotted! It’s one of my favorite pasttimes as well.

      • ConnieBV

        Also helps that the palms of the doll are shining with that plasticky sheen.

    • 3boysful

      Like do some people want their offspring in a movie so badly that they’ll let an actress hold him by one leg upside down over concrete?! Hope not!

      • luckymom22

        Look carefully…it’s a doll.

        • NYCGlamourpuss

          Yeah – my mother used to make dolls like that, and they’re unbelievably life-like. She’d sell them at craft shows, and sometimes I’d come into town to help her out. You wouldn’t believe the number of times I’d get yelled at by someone for the way I was holding “that baby”!

    • kim bunchalastnames

      i actually lol’d when i saw that pic. and i can remember holding my son and/or daughter (usually my daughter, who was MUCH SQUIRMIER) like that on more than one occasion, as it was the only way i could hold on to him or her at all at the time. although i don’t think i ever pulled it off (if you’ll pardon the expression) with the kind of casual aplomb jennifer manages here.

    • MK03

      I think so. It looks kind of plasticky in that pic.

    • curtains

      Maybe it was a doll for blocking and rehearsal? With the limitations on child actor labor (and on the child’s attention span/non-napping hours), they probably don’t want the kid(s) on the clock the entire time.

    • HomeOfficeGirl

      TLO makes you into a crazy person who only looks at what they are wearing because I did not EVEN see the child/doll on the first run through. What the hell is wrong with me? What have I become!?!

  • fiddlecub

    I really, really, really want to know what’s going on here. Jennifer’s got major gaping skills.

    • kimmeister

      Her facial expression in pic #4 is priceless. Long live Sydney Bristow!

      • Qitkat

        I’m up to S4E9 in my summer marathon rewatch/missed the first time. It has made up for nothing new in August evening tv.

        • kimmeister

          Ah, you’re almost to the ep that JG directed herself, “In Dreams.” That one makes me cry.

          • Qitkat

            I’m really enjoying this much more watching a couple every night without commercials than the first time. I find I can concentrate better on my computer alone with headphones. Plays havoc with bedtime and the frequent cliffhangers.

          • fursa_saida

            Ha, I love me a good back-to-back rewatch/catch-up. I did it with Dark Angel this past summer and it was very rewarding.

    • H2olovngrl

      I smell an Oscar!

  • Contralto

    I believe that is an actual toddler.

    • Beardslee

      I think I held toddlers like that in my time. Lovingly, of course!

      • Call me Bee

        Yeah me too. Sometimes you just have to…

        • Contralto


    • MilaXX

      My vote is doll. We used to lecture parents all the time how easily kids limbs can be dislocated. No way a movie set takes that chance.

      • Qitkat

        Excellent point. I’ve never done it, but feel like I knew this once and ought to have known better.

  • eowyn_of_rohan

    Ahhhhh! One of my favorite books ever! Don’tscrewitup don’tscrewitup don’tscrewitup don’tscrewitup don’tscrewitup……

    • SignLadyB

      My thoughts exactly! I loved reading this to my own “Alexander” (Andrew) and his li’l sis. Then later I had to interpret it into American Sign Language! JG’s gasp of shock had nothing on mine as I tried to come up with several different ways to interpret basically one word (terrible, horrible, no good, very bad).

      • Qitkat

        Do facial expressions play a part in ASL?

        • Molly

          HUGE part. Watch a good interpreter. They’re awesome. Their faces convey as much as their hands.

  • Karen Belgrad

    Here’s the book synopsis from Amazon. I am not the target demo for this!

    “I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”
    So begin the trials and tribulations of the irascible Alexander, who has been earning the sympathy of readers since 1972. People of all ages have terrible, horrible days, and Alexander offers us the cranky commiseration we crave as well as a reminder that things may not be all that bad. As Alexander’s day progresses, he faces a barrage of bummers worthy of a country- western song: getting smushed in the middle seat of the car, a dessertless lunch sack, a cavity at the dentist’s office, stripeless sneakers, witnessing kissing on television, and being forced to sleep in railroad-train pajamas. He resolves several times to move to Australia.

    • Lizzy

      Oh my goodness…. are you not familiar with this book?

      • Karen Belgrad

        Nope, not at all… see reply below. If it makes it worse/better, I also never knew “The Story Of Ferdinand” or “Where the Wild Things Are”… But I totally know that Curious George went to the hospital for eating a puzzle piece.

        • MilaXX

          If you give a mouse a cookie?
          I wrote a Reach Out & Read grant & trained the interns on how to use them. Kid’s books were my life for a while.

    • filmcricket

      How did you miss out on this book in childhood?
      I have the cover of it on my desktop.

      Edit: sorry, that sounded vaguely accusatory. I am surprised that this is an unfamiliar title, and even more surprised that they’re trying to make a film out of it.

      • formerlyAnon

        Ditto the surprise about making it a film. It has a deadpan charm as a book that comes from its simplicity and relentless focus on the boy’s POV. I can’t help but think that the film will have to be VERY different to avoid falling flat.

      • Karen Belgrad

        I don’t remember this book at all (and it came out when I was -2, so I suppose I should)… My childhood was Golden Books, Curious George, Shel Silverstein… when I could read for myself it was Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, and Sweet Valley High (with the occasional foray into my dad’s collection of biographies, like Mommy Dearest).

        • JDreesen

          *Mommie Dearest

          • Karen Belgrad

            ((hangs head in knowing shame)) My favorite memory is when my fifth grade teacher told my mother, that while she appreciated my fervor for reading, she didn’t feel it was an appropriate book for my age and would I please not bring it back to class.

          • JDreesen

            BAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAH. when i first read your post, my brain went straight to a memory from when i was about 7 or 8 years old and had borrowed Judy Blume’s “Forever…” from my [almost a decade older] cousin. when i got about a third of the way through, i took the book to my mother and said, “um, Mom? i…don’t think i am old enough to be reading this book.”

            my mom, having NO idea what “Forever…” entailed, just replied, “okay, honey, you don’t have to read it if it makes you uncomfortable.”

            so of course i finished it.

          • Karen Belgrad

            When I was nine-ish, and L.A. Law was all the rage, I asked my Dad and his friend what the “Venus Butterfly” was… My nickname was Venus for years!

          • NOLA_gal

            Hahahahaaa! My fifth grade teacher took my copy of Every Night Josephine by Jacqueline Susann book away from me and immediately notified my mother I was reading inappropriate material. It was in fact a biography of Ms Susanne’s beloved poodle, Josephine, which my mother had loaned to me knowing how much I loved animals. I only heard my mother’s half of the conversation, but I don’t think it went well for my teacher. Of course this was the same public school teacher who made us use bible verses for our handwriting practice, so…

      • barbarienne

        I don’t know the book at all, either, and I was certainly the right age for it some years after it came out. I don’t remember any of my friends having it.

      • I don’t know this book either and my children were exactly the right age to have it read to them. We were big on Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, James Herriott, Berenstain Bears and anything Sesame Street.

      • Spicytomato1

        It was not a part of my childhood (I was born in the late 60s) but I discovered it for my own kids. It was in a box of Cheerios sometime around 2000, believe it or not, when they were giving away books as prizes. It was a hands down favorite and my now teens are apprehensive that Hollywood will ruin it.

      • Jacqueline Wessel

        I’ve never heard of it either, probably because I’m 60 and never had children. But the title sounds fun, I’ll have to check it out.

  • formerlyAnon

    I will be SO sad if this movie is terrible-horrible-no-good and very-bad.

  • Lizzy

    Yes.. please don’t screw it up. Please let “I’m Moving To Australia” be the tag line……

  • leahpapa

    Every time I see Steve Carell, I have more respect for the miracle-worker who did his plugs.

  • frannyprof

    Is that the girl who played Sally’s Julliard-bound friend in this past season of Mad Men?

    • Karen Belgrad

      Yes. I also recognize her as Paige from Brothers & Sisters

      • Colleen Byrne

        She also plays Liev Schreiber’s daughter in Ray Donovan on Showtime.

  • Emily Giovanni

    Jennifer Garner’s face. It’s a beautiful thing, especially when making crazy expressions.

  • hughman

    That heel in a color would have really made her outfit pop. Oh wait, what are we talking about again??

    • StellaZafella

      Mommy/Toddler Pilates.

      • formerlyAnon

        We can go home now. You’ve won the Internet for today.

        (And if I recall rightly, you’re a returning champ, aren’t you? There may be a lifetime trophy in it yet.)

        • decormaven

          Heck, Hughman owns the Internet. Hughman just allows us to play in it.

          • formerlyAnon

            Can’t argue that. Hughman has had so many instances of Internet ownership lately that it’s as if the Hughman has ascended in glory into some kind of digital Grand Championship.

  • Qitkat

    They must be reacting to something to be CGI’d in, because what is that object?
    The casual, one-handed, upsidedown toddler is hilarious, we moms have all been so tempted.

    • formerlyAnon

      Right? If only a real toddler that size could be wrangled with one negligent hand!

      • Qitkat

        I know, my 21 month old grandson weighs close to 30 pounds. I can barely carry him up the stairs.

        • formerlyAnon

          My kids were world champion squirmers. Even at a one-handed weight, there’s no way one could keep a grip without exerting enough force to justify a call to Child Protective Services.

          • StellaZafella

            I’m betting the kid had a hand in this moment and is giggling his ass off.

    • tereliz

      Looks like a car door on the ground in front of them?

  • Neva Reese

    Jennifer Garner looks amazing paired with Steve Carrell.

  • MilaXX

    I hope this is good, because it’s one of my favorite children’s book ever.

  • aahlife

    What is happening to Jennifer’s pants legs in the last two photos?

    • kimmeister

      She’s a G4LIFE. Oh, wait . . .

      • JDreesen

        a G4LIFE brought to you by the Staples Center!

        • aahlife

          Oh, I do not know what G4LIFE is. Would love to be informed…

    • Cindy Claussen

      She’s in heels the first few pictures and they’re (halfway) pinned up so they don’t drag on the ground when she’s in flip flops.

  • crash1212

    Steve Carell in the second picture is everything.

  • Carrieanno

    These pictures are priceless. Thanks for the fun today!

  • Shawn EH

    Kerris Dorsey from Brothers and Sisters? Growing up fast!

  • Zaftiguana

    Overalls are also good. Plus the fashion humiliation factor keeps them in line and reminds them who’s boss.

  • Jacquelyn

    Jen does the whole suburban mom look well; she’s always been rather “Girl Next Door.”

  • marlie

    This looks like a movie that I will be taking my nephews to see (that’s my “job” as the cool aunt).

  • Barbara Thomas

    It’s a doll. That photo is clearly from downtime on the set – note Jennifer’s pants pinned up, as others have mentioned. And she and the other actress are watching some kind of set up.

    The amount of time a baby can spend “working” on set is highly regulated. They can only be on set for twenty minutes a DAY.

    There is no way a production would waste a second of baby on set time not filming. And they use dolls for rehearsing, setting lights, long shots, etc.

    • Qitkat

      Aww, you spoiled all our fun! Actually though, thanks for setting the record straight.

  • They’re making a movie out of THAT book? Really? REALLY? SHEESH.

    • cowper

      I know! Coming up: a movie based on “Pat the bunny.”

  • NYCGlamourpuss

    Very cute! Jen looks great! Did she lose weight, or is she just wearing less-frumpy clothes than she does in her downtime?

  • HM3

    Wait–is that a BINDER CLIP on Jen’s right pant leg in the last two shots? What the heck is going on in this movie??