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The Wild Stories Bruce Dern Told On The Set Of The Gateway - Exclusive

Sometimes a good movie finds its best moments when a legendary performer lends their decades of experience to the proceedings. The latest Olivia Munn and Shea Whigham movie, "The Gateway," spends its runtime dealing with a lot of heavy stuff: addiction, poverty, abuse, and growing up inside an unfeeling system after being orphaned by the people who are supposed to love you most.

At the root of "The Gateway" is this story of Parker (Whigham), a man traumatized by his experiences growing up in the foster system, who turns around and becomes a social worker. It's a tale as old as time — a child who suffers immeasurable pain and loss and, as a direct result, bakes into their adult life the desire to prevent other children from suffering in the same way.

Parker tries to help Dahlia (Olivia Munn) properly care for her daughter while the father is in prison, but when he gets out of jail, the work to build a healthy, safe living situation falls apart. As Dahlia's struggles peak, Parker's substance abuse tears him back down — and that's where legendary actor Bruce Dern comes in. Without giving the story away, Dern plays a pivotal role in "The Gateway," despite only appearing in a few scenes.

During an exclusive interview with Looper, Shea Whigham and Olivia Munn talked about the absolutely wild stories Dern told while he was on set.

27 Vicodin and a banana-and-mayonnaise sandwich

Picture a quiet set dressed to look like an older man's home. Shea Whigham and Olivia Munn have been working on "The Gateway," and Bruce Dern has turned up to do his bit (a deep, complex conversation about the regrets of long life) — and it quickly turns into story time from his real life.

"Bruce Dern has lived a thousand lives and he remembers every single one of them," said Olivia Munn. "And then, it was really fun to be able to see Shea, who is such a lover of our business and the history of it and knows so many things. Shea would just, in between takes, he'd be like, 'Hey, can you tell me about this movie or this person or this act.' And then different things. And he would just be like, 'You want to know the only person who's ever killed John Wayne?' Then there was something that you said, Shea, earlier. He was like, 'Do you know what it's like to take 27 Vicodin in one day?'"

"Yeah," continues Whigham. "He would have banana and mayonnaise sandwiches every day, because 'that's the key to longevity.' Just an interesting guy."

"The Gateway" is in theaters and on VOD now.