Art imitating life?
Thirty Minutes or Less is a film about a pizza deliveryman forced to rob a bank while wearing a bomb on his chest; a real-life incident, which led to the death of pizza deliveryman Brian Wells, occurred in 2003. Wells' family is outraged about the film, but the movie's stars Aziz Ansari, Jesse Eisenberg and Nick Swardson say there's no connection to the real-life tragedy.
"I think if you watch the movie, you know it's not based on [Wells]," Ansari, 28, told Us Weekly at 30 Minutes of Less' premiere Monday in Hollywood. "It's about normal guys who were forced to rob a bank, and I don't think we are poking fun at any kind of tragedy."
In August 2003, Wells, 46, attempted to rob a bank with a metal bomb fastened to his neck. He claimed criminals attached the bomb to him and provided him with a gun to carry out their bank robbing heist. Police made no initial attempts to remove the bomb from his neck, which then detonated and killed him. His family believes he was an innocent victim, but conflicting police reports suggest he was a willing participant in the crime until he realized the bomb was real.
A Sony Pictures Columbia Motion Pictures Group spokesman said in a statement that "neither the filmmakers nor the stars of 30 Minutes or Less were aware of the crime prior to their involvement in the film." The writers were "vaguely familiar" with what happened but "wrote an original screenplay that does not mirror the real-life tragedy."
Swardson, 34, said he "would never make something disrespectful to [that] guy or his family" but finds the controversy surrounding the film "bizarre" and "blown out of proportion."
Eisenberg, 27, reiterated his costars' sentiments. "When [we got] this script, we saw it as these fictional characters put into this insane situation," he said.
But the real-life pizza bomber's sister, Jean Heid, is outraged about the dark comedy. "It's hard for me to grasp how other human beings can take delight and pride in making such a movie and consider it a comedy," she told the Associated Press.