Director Timothy Kendall is no stranger to the one-two punch of comedy and action. So when Vayner Media tapped him and production company Redacted Content to help bring a crazy concept to life for Planter’s first foray into Super Bowl advertising in over a decade, it was hardly a leap.

The spot’s unlikely costars are retired baseball star Alex Rodriguez and the century-old brand mascot Mr. Peanut, both of whom are making their first-ever Super Bowl commercial appearance. The ad also features a cameo by actor and Hollywood royalty Charlie Sheen.

The Directors Network (TDN), the country’s premier agency for freelance directors, directors of photography, and director/DPs, sat down with Timothy to get the scoop on the spectacular spot—including how the crew went from saying “Wouldn’t it be funny if Charlie Sheen said this line?” to greeting the star on set in a matter of hours!

Watch the extended cut below!

See full credits list below | Source: YouTube.

TDN: First off, congratulations! How does it feel to have a spot in the Super Bowl?
Pinch me. It’s a lifelong fantasy come true. It’s seriously such a cool thing. I usually try not to pay attention to hype or accolades but for some reason there’s a childish excitement I have thinking about how many people might see some crazy thing that and a bunch of friends and I put together. It’s kind of mind blowing. I suppose there’s the hope that people like it too. I’m not worried about my peers, but more the viewing audience at home watching the game and sticking around for the commercials for the fun and spectacle. I hope they watch it and think it’s nuts.

TDN: What is it like handling such a large-scale shoot?
There were a lot of talented people involved in bringing this to life with a lot of moving parts. The script, talent, locations, were constantly evolving and ever-changing all the way up until the last “cut” was called. With every new idea that came in, we had to pivot and adjust. Maneuvering through it was nothing less than ...exciting. Yet with everything that was buzzing around I found focus with the theme of the story—which is what originally attracted me to it—to what extent will Mr. Peanut go in order to thwart a nut-emergency? It’s so silly yet so in line with any superhero story.

TDN: What was it like working with celebrities like Charlie Sheen and Alex Rodriguez?
Absolute pleasure. You hear this and that before they show up but the moment they shake your hand, all of that melts away and you realize that they’re regular people. Charlie was a last minute add the day we were shooting his scene. We had it cast already when our stunt coordinator (Eddy Braun, who looks just like Charlie) said in passing, “Wouldn’t it be funny if Charlie Sheen said that line?” We all laughed… but next thing we knew Charlie Sheen was on the phone and we negotiated his deal while he was at Trader Joe’s in Santa Monica. He was so cool he drove himself and showed up and ate lunch with us. It felt surreal to chat with him about all of his movies I loved growing up with. 

TDN: What did you do to prepare for the challenging technical aspects of this shoot?
While I consider myself a positive person, a lot of the time my team and I prepare for the worst-case scenario so that if that’s solved we know we’re making room for the best of something.

Also, hiring people that are smarter than me. I enjoy working with people who are confident enough to challenge creative if they think there’s a better idea. Sometimes there’s the potential of plussing the idea or simply solidifying the validity of the original concept. I have a nice system of checks and balances with my team and we trust each other. We’re all trying to make something special. There were many layers of technical aspects here and getting the best people for each job and taking each step in front of the next is how we approached it.

TDN: How did you (and/or the agency) decide to shoot the epic bus Nutmobile jump?
The jump was always in the script. But it took many forms and evolutions along the way to where it ultimately landed. The original script asked for a drawbridge, but there is no drawbridge in Los Angeles. Ideas for what the Nutmobile could jump were lobbed back and forth, yet for me the most important point of this scene was to create a hyperbolic event that made Mr. Peanut a cheeky badass, and also to feed the next joke for our celebrity talent (Charlie Sheen) on the street. The more we pushed it, the funnier the line became. 

TDN: What was it like directing a spot featuring such a long-standing brand mascot as the Mr. Peanut character?
The best part about Mr. Peanut is that throughout the years he has changed physically, but his personality hasn’t. He’s an “old-timey” guy with good manners and a cheeky disposition. He’s just enough [of a] badass to hold a door open for a stranger while never needing credit for it. This is why putting him in an action scene was so exciting for me. What happens when that guy has to deal with an emergency? How does he handle under pressure? All of the answers to these questions informed how the story was told. The funny thing about digital characters is that he’s not there (besides an awesome cardboard cut-out stand-in version of him) but you can always feel his presence. I hope that Mr. Peanut continues to live through me in future life experiences. We can all stand to learn something from that awesome guy.

TDN: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced on the shoot? How did you overcome these challenges?
Everything was a challenge but evil was overcome by a forceful will of positivity and can-do. Become the “Good Mood Dude” and no matter the scenario, you will find a way.

Don’t forget to tune into the big game to catch the spot, which will air during the second quarter! 

To book Timothy Kendall to direct your next campaign, reach out to The Directors Network at contact information below.

Screenwork Credits
Title: Planters | Mr. Peanut is Always There in Crunch Time | 2019 Big Game Commercial (Extended)

Client: Kraft Heinz
Eduardo Luz, Global Brand Officer, Chief Marketing Officer US; Adam Butler, President, Beverages, Snacks and Desserts; Vikramjeet Singh, Head of Brand Build Marketing, Beverages, Snacks and Desserts; Luke Cole, Marketing Director, Snacks and Desserts; Samantha Hess, Brand Manager, Planters; Maya McDonald, Social Media Manager; Molle Klein, Experiential Marketing Manager; Lynne Galia, Director of Corporate Affairs

Agency: VaynerMedia
Steve Babcock, Chief Creative Officer; Nick Miaritis, Senior Vice President; Aaron Kovan, Chief Production Officer; Mike Pierantozzi, Group Creative Director; Mimia Johnson, Creative Director; Mike Danko, Associate Creative Director; Laura Manrique, Copywriter; Kai Kazuto, Art Director; Paul Rubin, Producer; Jaymie Lipman, Director, Rights and Talent; David Cortes, Vice President, Integrated Strategy;
David Argov , Account Supervisor; Rachel Arther, Senior Account Executive

Production Company: Redacted Content
Timothy Kendall, Director; Directors Agent, The Directors Network
Dave Bernstein, Producer; Yvonne Ortiz, Production Supervisor

Post Production: VaynerProductions
Laura Sorrentino, Executive Post Producer; Dan Veet, Post Producer; Kevin Zimmerman, Lead Editor; Dave Conte, Editor; Haley Insley, Assistant Editor

Alexander Smith , VFX Supervisor; Alex Decaneas, VFX Producer; Sydney Daugherty , CG Supervisor; Paulo Dias, Lead Compositor

VFX: Method Studios
Stuart Robinson, Managing Director; Jesse Kurnit, Executive Producer; Alexa Mauro, Producer; Bennett Lieber, Producer; Kyle Fader, Coordinator; Billy McMillen, Coordinator; Myung Lee, CG Supervisor; Alex Cheparev, CG Supervisor; Ryan Leonard, Comp Supervisor; Tomas Slancik, FX Supervisor; Toma Bowen, Comp Supervisor

Final Mix:  Sonic Union
Steve Rosen

Sound Design: HenryBoy
Bill Chesley & Kate Gibson

Song: Mötley Crüe​ Kick Start My Heart

Music Production: JSM