Confess, Fletch is a new film from writer/director Greg Mottola and starring Jon Hamm, which continues the iconic novel-turned-movie franchise launched in the '80s with Chevy Chase in the titular role. The movie follows ex-investigative reporter Irwin "Fletch" Fletcher as he attempts to clear his name in a murder case, while also tracking down an art thief. Ahead of the film's release, PopCulture.com had a chance to sit down with Mottola and Hamm to talk about their approach to the character — who comes across in many ways like the legendary Peter Faulk character Columbo — as well as how actress Annie Mumolo's "bats— crazy" character nearly burned down the set.
The first thing that many fans of the Fletch films and novel series — written by Gregory Mcdonald — may be wondering is, how does this film connect to the original? "I think in my mind the events of the original film happened to this Fletch in their own way," Mottola explained. "The time period is different and everything, but interestingly in the second book, Gregory Mcdonald made Fletch already having retired from investigative reporting, which worked for our purposes, that he's out of it and he kind of gets pulled back into it, or form of it. So yes, I think all those events took place. We did have an Alan Stanwyk (portrayed in the original film by Tim Matheson) reference that we ended up not using. Yes, but someday he'll show up, Karaoke Fletch. Or he won't show up. He's dead, but maybe his wife will."
Speaking about their thought process going into the project, Hamm explained, "What we knew going in was that Chevy's iteration of this was a very specific version of it. That also kind of was so redolent of the'80s that it's kind of hard to update that, or at least it's hard to bring that into the 2020s." Referencing the second film, Fletch Lives (1989), Hamm added, "They made a sequel to the original one in the later '80s, and it's its own thing. And that kind of proves how hard it is to capture that original lightning even if you talk about Chevy reprising his own character. So we knew that we had to come up with some new jazz as it were."
Noting how Faulk's quirky and inquisitive detective is not all that dissimilar from Hamm's version of Fletch, the actor said, "Columbo's a very good kind of a template to look at. He is a little bit of a shaggy dog and he is kind of thinking obliquely about things and 'Oh, one more thing.' And there's always something else going on in his head and Peter Falk's sneaky funny and a really good actor as well. So I think that there's a lot of exciting ground to till that we really leaned into the creative aspect of, OK, well let's recreate this from the ground up and where do we start? We start at the novel. Let's look at the novel and see how Gregory Mcdonald envisioned this guy and go from there."
Finally, Hamm reflected on filming the movie and all the hilarious actors he had a chance to work with, singling out Mumolo, who plays the good-hearted and erratic Eve. "For me, just the chaos of the scene in the kitchen with Annie Mumolo who I had worked with, not on-screen, but off-screen on Bridesmaids with. So I had known her and I know how funny she is and just her completely bats— crazy take on that thing was something that I did not expect and really made me laugh. Mottola, laughing, added, "Annie came as that character and we had to have a fire marshal there, and I'm glad. She might have burned down that set." Confess, Fletch is now playing in select theaters and is available to rent or buy on VOD from Apple, Amazon, and more.