Nick Stoller talks about this outrageous Rock 'n Roll comedy starring Russell Brand and Jonah Hill
Get Him to the Greek, the outrageous new Rock 'n Roll comedy from Forgetting Sarah Marshall director Nick Stoller, is set to make its DVD and Blu-ray debut next week, arriving in a two-disc unrated edition on September 28th. Reuniting Forgetting Sarah Marshall's Russell Brand and Jonah Hill, the insane plot of this wacky road trip adventure finds lowly record company intern Aaron Green forced to retrieve suicidal and eternally blitzed rock god Aldus Snow from London and bring him back to the Greek theater in Los Angeles for a comeback concert. With only 72 hours to get the task done, luck definitely is not on Mr. Green's side.
We recently caught up with Nick Stoller to chat about the film, and what we can expect from this impending home video release. Here is our conversation:
There is a scene in this movie where Jonah Hill butt-dials his girlfriend. With the Iphone and the Blackberry, I didn't even think that was possible to do any more. But I just now heard a story in the other room that a co-worker caught her husband cheating because of a butt dial. Did this joke find its way into the script from personal experience?
Nick Stoller: (Laughs) That is something that has certainly happened to a lot of us. We needed a way to somehow check in with Elizabeth Moss's character. That was actually something that was pitched by our producer. We were all like, "Oh, yeah! That is hilarious." That is something I'd never seen in a movie before, even though that is something that everyone has done at some point. So we put it in the movie.
I just didn't think it was possible to do that anymore, but I assure you, it certainly is!
Nick Stoller: I have an Iphone. And I have accidentally called people on it. Yes.
Tell me more about the extended cut of this movie. In the case of Superbad, I thought the extended cut was unnecessary and annoying. But then, I watched the extended cut of Pineapple Express last night, and found that it actually made the film better. In your opinion, where does Get Him to the Greek fall?
Nick Stoller: I tend to like, with both Get Him to the Greek and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the theatrical cut. That is what we fine-tune. The pacing is correct. What the extended cut does is offer fans more comedy. We only added things back in that were hilarious, that I initially wanted to fit in there. We just couldn't for pacing reasons. The one thing we added, that is really amazing, is a coke fueled jogging sequence in Central Park. Its hilarious, and it would score really well when we screened the movie. But we couldn't keep it. It slowed the pace of the movie down, and we had to drop it. We also, obviously, have a lot of deleted scenes and music videos on the DVD.
Did you guys include a gag reel on the DVD?
Nick Stoller: Yes, there is a gag reel. I am very involved in putting the DVD together. As is Judd Apatow. We have a great guy, who does all of Judd Apatow's DVDs. He is really good at collecting all of these scenes. When we are editing the film, we are always fine tuning it. If we find scenes that we don't necessarily want to include in the movie, we're still fine-tuning those scenes just to put them on the DVD. A lot of the extra stuff we shoot, I know its not going to end up in the finished movie. But its fun, extra stuff to have on that DVD.
Whenever any of you guys are interviewed in terms of a Judd Apatow produced movie, the subject of improvisation always comes up. We know how great the actors are at improvising. What I've never heard addressed is those actors who may run out of juice in the middle of a scene, or those actors who are not able to keep up. Do you ever have an actor shut down during a scene, just because they can't keep up with the improvisation on set?
Nick Stoller: That hasn't happened to me. I try to make the set a place that is a loose, fun place. I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable. This was a big thing for me while we were shooting, and I would constantly tell all of the actors, and the extras, that I don't want them to try and be funny. I want them to try and be real. For example, with Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Mila Kunis was great at improvising. But she wouldn't improvise jokes. She would improvise real dramatic moments. And it made that part of the movie work. Because it felt more emotionally real. As long as an actor is trying...Don't get me wrong, she would also improvise jokes, but improvising drama is where her strengths were. To me, it's more about improvising real moments. It's about keeping it loose. I think it also give an actor ownership of the scene. It makes it more fun for them. It becomes more interesting.
That's the interesting thing about Get Him to the Greek. The trailers make it seem like a really fun, energetic party movie. But when you sit and watch the film, huge chunks of it actually play to the heart and real-life drama that is going on with these characters. It's never goofy, but always based in reality. There is an undercurrent of seriousness. Was that your intent here? To pull a real human story out of the madness?
Nick Stoller: Yeah. Its kind of part and parcel. I believe that every good comedy has a dramatic structure. Without that drama, a comedy becomes less funny. That is the core. If you don't have that heart, and you don't have that serious story at the center of it, you feel bored as an audience member. You know there are no huge stakes. You stop identifying with the characters. That was important to me, and Judd, and everyone involved. We wanted this to be a real, tender story. Underneath it all is this sad, lonely guy played by Russell Brand. Then we have this innocent kid who is trying to navigate this new, emotional terrain. Then we put a bunch of vomit jokes on top of all that.
I don't know if you read reviews, but one scene a lot of people had a hard time with, was the scene where Russell Brand goes down on Elizabeth Moss in front of Jonah Hill's character. Why do you think that struck such an off-chord with viewers?
Nick Stoller: We shot a lot of options for the threesome. I knew that Elizabeth Moss had to exact her revenge on Jonah Hill's character. As a character, I think that's what would happen. She would push it as far as she could. Not to mention that Aldos Snow is a good-looking rock star. There's that element to it too. We shot moments that went farther than that. But when we screened it, or looked at it internally, we realized that it was too far. That she wouldn't do that. That seemed the exact line. You have to go right up to that line, and that seemed appropriate for this character. That's what we ended up including. People get squeamish with sex stuff. I tend to read all of the reviews. I love the movie, so I don't care what people thought about it. But that particular kind of criticism? I disagree with it, but I am finding that people feel that way. To me? I love creating a really awkward and weird situation, and seeing how far we can push it. Especially if the story requires it, and I felt the story required that at that moment.
This particular criticism sticks out to me, because it seems like a double standard. These same reviewers don't site Jonah Hill for some of the lewd things he does with other women. Its as though audiences are more forgiving of male characters, and they let them get away with more than they are willing to let the female characters get away with.
Nick Stoller: I totally agree with that statement. Jonah Hill has sex with a random female in a public bathroom, and no one seems to care. No one says anything about that. But when Elizabeth Moss has some fun with Russell, everyone gets really mad. It's a real double standard. There was something else to it, too. I think the other objection wasn't so much about sexual squeamishness. But it suddenly became too real. I think some people like their comedy to be comedy, and other people like their drama to be drama. When we're not making that choice, and we say that this is both funny, and sad, and hard to watch...I think it can confuse people, and turn them of. I like having both, and I think the best comedies are both. But I think its something that does confuse people.
You guys have almost created a new genre with these films. And you sum it up perfectly. It is funny and very sad. Its not that often we see movies that are really funny, but also are very sad.
Nick Stoller: (Laughs) Yeah. I love it. I love a funny-sad movie. For me, I just feel a bit more engaged than when a movie is straight comedy. It's hard to pull off a straight comedy without any dramatic underpinning. If you are a genius like Adam McKay with The Other Guys or Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, you can do it. But it's hard. I certainly couldn't do it. I think having that emotional underpinning helps tell a fully satisfying story.
When the movie was coming out, Jonah Hill had mentioned in a couple of interviews that when he was shooting a scene with Sean Combs, he would intentionally try to make Sean irritated, upset, and mad. It seemed to me that not enough of that was in the final film. Are we going to see a lot more of the interaction between Sean Combs and Jonah on the DVD?
Nick Stoller: Yes. There are definitely a bunch more of those scenes between Jonah Hill and Sean Combs on the DVD. There is quite a bit of that in the movie as well, but it doesn't quite read like anger. It reads more like confusion. And it would happened in the opposite direction. Sometimes, Sean would say something that would take Jonah off his game. We have the 'N' word scene at the record company early on. Sean said that to Jonah. We were shooting both of their reactions at the same time. And that was the first time Sean had said that. Jonah was legitimately freaked out, and he didn't know what to say back. We caught it all on film, and it was perfect. It's in the movie. But, yeah. They both had great chemistry. And that does actually come across.
Sean Combs certainly steals the show in Get Him to the Greek. Do you think we'll see him return with Aldos Snow in a third film? And if so, is Jonah Hill going to play a completely different character yet again?
Nick Stoller: We haven't talked about it yet. But never say never. And I think you are right. If we did do another Aldos Snow film, we would definitely have to have a third character for Jonah Hill to play.