‘Wax Paul Now’ follows Val Bodurtha, Sophie Mann, and Rebecca Shaw in their humorous attempt to get Paul Giamatti his own wax figure at Madame Tussauds in Times Square.
Bodurtha, Mann, and Shaw wrote, directed, and star in the mockumentary short film that gives an inside perspective of the viral “Wax Paul Now” movement. From appearances in Vulture, Forbes, The New York Times, and Buzzfeed to being discussed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the “Wax Paul Now” movement appeared to be admired by many, except by those at Madame Tussauds.
As the film shows, Madame Tussauds ignores the team’s initial emails requesting a wax figure of Giamatti, but this does not stop the movement. Bodurtha, Mann, and Shaw do not give up hope and continue to support “Wax Paul Now” in creative and humorous ways, from amateur wax work, to sneaking into Madame Tussauds, and more.
The Knockturnal had the pleasure of speaking with the filmmakers of Wax Paul Now — Val Bodurtha, Sophie Mann, and Rebecca Shaw — and hearing all about their short film and the “Wax Paul Now” movement.
The Knockturnal: At what point in the “Wax Paul Now” movement did you realize that the story would make a great short film? Where did the inspiration to make the film a mockumentary come from?
Val Bodurtha: We thought a mockumentary was an effective way to spread the message of our movement. Especially after going door-to-door with our statue of Paul resulted in a few people calling the police. As avid fans of Nathan Fielder and Sacha Baron Cohen, we thought that medium would be the perfect way to showcase our story — though, as viewers of the movie know, we did actually do everything we set out to in the film. We did try to sneak our statue into Madame Tussauds, we did open up a pop-up wax museum to rival theirs, and the “Wax Paul Now” movement is a very real one.
The Knockturnal: When you sent the initial email to Madame Tussauds after your tour, did you ever imagine that all of this (going viral, Stephen Colbert, the short film, etc.) would happen? At what point did it switch from a joke and turn into something serious?
Rebecca Shaw: We never could have imagined how far the “Wax Paul Now” movement has gone — namely, because we thought we’d have a statue by now. We’ve been explicit from the beginning that the movement ends the second Paul is rightfully enwaxified, but not a second sooner. That’s just to say, it all escalated organically! The more the powers-that-be at Madame Tussauds ignored us, the more support we gathered. The more support we gathered, the closer we came to “hey, let’s build our own statue of Paul Giamatti and sneak it into the wax museum.” It’s a tale as old as time.
The Knockturnal: Did you run into any unexpected challenges while filming? What was it like to film at Madame Tussauds?
Sophie Mann: Due to ongoing discussions with our legal team, we have been advised to say only that it was a joy and a pleasure working with and at Madame Tussauds and we would welcome them to please let us back on the premises at any time.
The Knockturnal: How did Paul Giamatti get involved in the film? What was it like to meet him / have him appear in Wax Paul Now?
Bodurtha, Mann, and Shaw: Again, magically – organically! Val actually ran into Paul on her college campus, (in her #WaxPaulNow beanie) he embraced her with a hug, and he offered his services moving forward with our project. Paul has been shockingly supportive and not-creeped-out of a movement that he really had no obligation to assist with, and, in fact, could probably easily have shut down at its outset, if that’s what he’d wanted; luckily, he’s great and didn’t do that. Sincerely, we have only wonderful things to say about Paul as a person. And, of course, having him on set was a real-life master class in watching an actor hold a room captive with just a few words.
The Knockturnal: What are your future goals for the “Wax Paul Now” movement?
Bodurtha, Mann, and Shaw: …. It’s like you’re not even listening.
The Knockturnal: What was the most rewarding part of making Wax Paul Now? Do you have a favorite memory from the experience?
Rebecca Shaw: “Wax Paul Now” started out with such a simple idea: here’s a great guy who needs a wax statue. It was such a delight to watch this story take on a life of its own, and so much of that was thanks to our incredible cast and crew. From Richard Brevard and Trevor Van Uden’s deeply funny improvisations while they were, genuinely, staring down Madame Tussauds’ guards, or our cinematographer Wolfgang Held’s careful eye as he framed shots from inside a moving van labeled “WAX STATUE DELIVERY COMPANY: WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BE HERE,” we’re better filmmakers and comedians for being around all of them. And that alone deserves a wax statue, amiright guys?
Sophie Mann: It’s been a surreal experience learning the ins-and-outs of a handful of different industries as we went along with this project – first and foremost the intensely bureaucratic, and clearly not always meritocratic world of wax-statue creation. Getting to see the movie premiere in late 2019 with AFI at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in LA – just across the street from Hollywood’s own Madame Tussauds was a real highlight for me, definitely not something I was anticipating as the outcome of the movement we started.
Val Bodurtha: My own proudest moment came when we were walking the Paul statue down the street to Madame Tussauds. Though the statue was wrongfully and shamefully removed from the premises (and also us), the pedestrians in Times Square were enrapt and in awe. When it came down to it, he was indeed what the people wanted, or at least, the tourists.
Wax Paul Now will be out on July 13.
Photo Credit: Submersive Media on behalf of WAX PAUL NOW