Mumford & Sons’ funny new video for “Hopeless Wanderer” has swept the Internet this week, but the folk band actually wanted to use a different track from their latest album, Babel. It’s one of a few interesting tidbits that director Sam Jones shared with the Los Angeles Times in a recent interview, including how he tapped actors Ed Helms, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Will Forte for the video.
Jones, who directed the Wilco documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, originally met Mumford & Sons at a Rolling Stone cover shoot earlier this year. When the band’s label began soliciting ideas for a new music video soon after, Jones submitted his concept for having well-known comedians acting as the band.
Both the label and Mumford & Sons liked his idea, though the band would have preferred to go with “Babel” instead of “Hopeless Wanderer.” “I said it just wouldn’t work,” said Jones, who lined up the comedians for the video by calling Sudeikis, whom he had met at an earlier photo shoot. Sudeikis in turn enlisted Bateman. Forte and Helms joined soon after. The band asked if they would have any input on the casting, but Jones told them it was too late. “They were very cool about it,” he said.
Jones shot the video in one day at the Golden Oak Ranch in Newhall, California, in late April. Helms, who plays the banjo, had hoped to portray Mumford musician Winston Marshall, but the actor looked more like pianist Ben Lovett. Bateman instead doubled as Marshall, with Marshall playing the banjo in close-ups. “That was another disappointment for Ed,” Jones said, noting that Helms hoped to play some banjo for the video.
The banjos were a problem toward the end of the shoot. When the band wrecked their instruments in the video, Forte smashed his bass with enough force to destroy nearby banjos, leaving the ensemble one banjo short for the foursome’s banjo dance until a member of the crew had to track down a replacement. Forte and Sudeikis also shared a bit of extra risk with their on-screen kiss, as Forte was fighting off an illness the day of the shoot.
When Jones showed Mumford & Sons the finished product, it was a hit. “The band loved it – they didn’t want to change a thing,” Jones said. “I’m obviously so excited that everybody is watching it. It was one of those rare experiences where the record company and the band really let me do what I wanted to do.”