Ahead of its fourth showing at the Super Bowl, website hosting company Squarespace has released a "director’s cut" teaser spot featuring an expletive-spewing John Malkovich. The 77-second short film, created with JohnXHannes, shows Malkovich becoming increasingly agitated as he discovers that JohnMalkovich.com is already being used by someone who shares his name. When he sees the other Malkovich catches fish for a living, an apoplectic email tirade ensues.
Working with an actor of Malkovich’s caliber and range, particularly on a comedic spot, meant relinquishing some control of the process, according to David Lee, Squarespace’s chief creative officer. "He can obviously play any role, but the most compelling thing about this campaign was that he had the opportunity to play himself. While we certainly had a script for John, it was incredible to watch him take that blueprint and make it his own," he said. "By the time we were finished filming, we were all on the floor crying with laughter. When you’re working with someone like John, you have to be ready and willing to roll with the punches and realize that he’s a true master of his craft."
Squarespace’s actual 30-second Super Bowl commercial will be completely different, not a shorter version of this ad, so "director’s cut" is a misnomer. Instead, it will be a companion ad, part of the series begun by the company’s film "Journey," a somber biopic piece released earlier this month that details the actor’s struggle to begin his own fashion line.
The departure in tone is intentional. "When JohnXHannes and I were looking at Super Bowl ideas, there was one concept that felt particularly sharp and simple," Lee said. "And while it didn’t really fit with the overarching narrative of ‘Journey’ as a whole, something about it just clicked—it was an idea we didn’t need, but we wanted to keep. Once we saw John’s performance through the monitor, we knew we’d struck gold."
Several f-bombs get bleeped in this Super Bowl teaser. Malkovich is known for playing characters with potty mouths, in films like the eponymous "Being John Malkovich" and "Burn After Reading." He also remains unbleeped in a 2015 ad for the video game "Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare."
In 2014, Squarespace made its Super Bowl debut with a spot featuring a horde of freakish, real-life internet memes. It drew enough attention that rival site hoster Wix began its own series of Super Bowl ads the following year.
In 2015, Squarespace began a pattern of enlisting celebrities for its Big Game spots. Jeff Bridges lulled a couple to sleep with a Buddhist prayer bowl in a simple spot that also served to promote the actor’s own website, created by Squarespace.
Super Bowl 50 in 2016 saw the brand partner with comedians Key & Peele, who also livestreamed video commentary of the entire Super Bowl.