Skylar Astin Talks Pitch Perfect, on Blu-ray and DVD now!
Do collegiate Acapella competitions turn you on? Are you a fan of musicals? Do you watch Workaholics religiously? Finding it impossible to fall off the Rebel Wilson bandwagon? Then Pitch Perfect is the perfect holiday release for you!
Arriving shortly after its hot and heavy make out session with the box office, where it accumulated a huge fan base, Pitch Perfect is now available on Blu-ray and DVD. The film has become a true cult sensation, and to celebrate its release, we caught up with the movie's leading man Skylar Astin, who is currently on a skyrocket course through Hollywood, making a huge impression here that will be followed up with 21 & Over early in the new year.
A really fun interview, Skylar Astin let is in on all the behind-the-scenes info about this hit comedy, hinted at a sequel, and offered up a sneak preview of 21 & Over.
What was it like to be a part of the sensation that is Pitch Perfect? Here is our conversation.
Skylar Astin: Let me first tell you, I go on your website every single day.
Good! So you know we've been promoting Pitch Perfect since it was announced...
Skylar Astin: Yes I do! And I know you guys have been promoting 21 & Over, and Wreck-It Ralph. I check you guys out all the time. My brother said, even before Pitch Perfect had a trailer out, "Dude, I just can't wait to go on Movieweb like I do every day, and see your face there. When they are releasing your thing!" It was so thrilling when he got to see that for the first time.
That's awesome to hear! Thank you. Now, the phenomenon that this movie has become is kind of amazing in itself. What has this experience been like for you? Some fans have gone to see this movie 19 times in a theater.
Skylar Astin: It's addictive. And it's infectious. I love the energy that surrounds the movie. I love the fans of this movie. I haven't been the victim of any negative things, really. I always separate myself from reviews, but Tweets and Instagram comments, they go directly to my phone. It's hard to keep up. But skimming through, the response has been wonderful.
I don't think I've seen a negative review of this movie. Maybe I saw one that was kind of iffy, in Entertainment Weekly, but the majority of the reviews have been extremely positive.
Skylar Astin: Yeah! Listen, I have never read a review for anything I have ever done, be it for theater or movies, just because. I am really good about that. And Youtube comments. People will hide behind that. I said this in an interview a while ago, and I hope it's taken in the right way. I think, if you don't like this movie, you are kind of a bully. If you are going into this movie with your arms crossed, then you're not going to like this movie. There is no way. Listen, it has things you can totally make fun of, and blame on a genre. But if you come into this with an open mind and an open heart, you are going to have the best time. You are going to laugh, and it's going to breath life. How can you not laugh at Rebel Wilson, unless you don't like her for some stupid reason? I think that's why it got such a great response. It came out at the right time, and people are ready for something to make them laugh.
The chemistry amongst the cast is amazing to watch. Did they have you guys all living in dorm rooms together?
Skylar Astin: (Laughs) Not far from it. We were put up in a Hilton Hotel. Some of us were all on the same floor. I used to go over to Hana Mae Lee's room with just socks on. I didn't even bother putting shoes on because she was literally two doors down. I would ask her for water, or if I could borrow some food, because she always had a lot of groceries. We would all get together. I have never done more group messaging in my life. Every day was like, "Hey, guys, I'm going to see Footloose across the street at 7 pm. Meet me in the lobby at 6:30. Let's all hang out." The vibe on set was like an all-star theater camp.
Why was Hana Mae Lee the one with all the groceries?
Skylar Astin: Oh, I wish I could give you some delicious dirt on her. She just happens to be a really responsible person. And she has a specific diet. I know, I was always eating out, or I was stealing stuff from the set to eat. She had the delicious salads, and things like that. But I was just using that as an example. There were nights when me, Anna Camp, and Ben Platt would have a family dinner, and we would make pasta in our little kitchen. We used to go out on dinners and for lunch breaks. We were always together. It was crazy.
Its so obvious when a cast is having fun. That seeps off the screen, and is infectious for the audience. It makes it special in a certain kind of way...
Skylar Astin: Yeah, absolutely, When your sole purpose is to make an audience laugh, and that's what your job is to do, how much of a bummer would it be if all of us were taking this too seriously, and being pretentious about the whole thing? I think that would transplant poorly on camera. You can't control anyone else, but you can control yourself on set. I know I brought that positive attitude. I can't say that anyone else didn't. everyone had a solid attitude, and we all knew what we signed up for. A lot of people were fulfilling their dreams of doing a musical. But also of doing a movie. Some people had Acapella groups in college, and other people were just up for the challenge. What's great about the DVD is that there are a bunch of behind-the-scenes featurettes that look at us in rehearsals, and us goofing around on set. Adam DeVine giving an interview, and me and Ben Platt come up behind him and photo bombing his entire interview. It just shows you that, "Oh, my gosh! This is exactly what I thought it would be." (Laughs) I wish I could tell you otherwise, but it's exactly how you thought it would be on set.
Was there any on-set rivalry between the girls and the guys?
Skylar Astin: I don't know. I have been asked this question a lot. I say that there was no rivalry. But I was paired with Anna Camp for a lot of my interviews. She said, "What are you talking about? Of course there was!" Maybe between different people there was rivalry. But there was always just for the sake of saying that there was. It wasn't like we weren't talking to each other at lunch. We all understand at the end of the day, especially the guys, that for this movie to work, the girls needed to win at the end. We all wanted their finale to be incredible when we were filming it. We wanted that to be believable. The guys weren't secretly in the corner going, "Man, I hope the audience thinks we should win." If the audience thinks that the Trebles should win, then the movie didn't succeed. Of course you should root for the girls. But in the meantime, while watching the movie, you should definitely enjoy what the guys have to offer. I think there were certain envious moments when the girls where singing "I Saw The Sign" for the fiftieth time, in the movie, and we're getting to grab our crotch and do raps, and all of these other crazy things. When we had more variety, that's when the competition happened. They were like, "I wish we could do that type of stuff." But the girls have to save it for the end. I think there was more pressure on them, in the end, to be amazing. Because they are supposed to be better than us, and we are, just...The best!
You bring up the ending of the movie, that the girls should win. But there is always that Rocky doubt. And the movie shares a lot of the same fans as Glee. Have you seen that show? They lose 96% of the time. So this particular audience might have been more conditioned to the girls losing. It actually brings some much-needed tension back to the competition genre...
Skylar Astin: The thing about Glee is that they have to keep that show going for several seasons. If they win in season 2, what is season 3 going to look like? We have the luxury of giving the audience what they want when they want it. We don't have to worry about keeping storylines going. We got to wrap it up. Of course, there is going to be the Glee comparison. I knew that when we were filming this. I have several friends that are on the show. I think that show is great. I think the thing that separates us from Glee is that we made the conscious decision to never have our characters sing in character. There is never a moment when Anna Kendrick's character slams a door in my face, and I turn to the camera and start singing a Chris Brown song. Not that there is anything wrong with that. There is a complete place for that. Its just that, we used the collegiate Acapella and the singing as a backdrop for the story. We didn't transition and blend those lines, of when singing is acceptable and when it is not.
In terms of the songs, was it constantly changing on set, or did you have all of these musical numbers mapped out before the camera started rolling?
Skylar Astin: By the time we were on set, everything was pretty locked. But there was a four-week pre-production rehearsal period where things were constantly being changed and work shopped. The girls had it way harder than us. We took a couple of detours, but generally we were always on task. I think the girls had that pressure and expectation of having this unbelievable show-stopping climax for the movie. There were times when that melody changed slightly, or it had a different structure and format. Even though times were stressful in those four weeks, it was all the more worth it, because I wouldn't change a thing about the final product. And, when we were on set filming it, we had the experience, and excitement, and the confidence to go out there and do it all ready. It was like, lets get out there and do this, and make it last forever, because we don't want to have it keep changing.
In terms of Glee, were you guys ever worried that you might copy a song that they'd already done?
Skylar Astin: I think that is a question for the people above my pay grade. I do what I'm told. I only had so much input into what we sang. But I'm sure that was a concern. I think there were a couple of things in the movie...Like, in the riff-off, Anna Kendrick sang Hit Me With Your Best Shot. I think that had been done before. I was having dinner with Lea Michele a month ago, and we were discussing a couple of things that were in the movie as well as Glee, but I think we would have been in a serious tough place if we'd started singing Don't Stop Believing, or something like that. You know that automatically, because Glee made that song almost more famous than Journey did. If we had of done the popular hits of Glee, that would have been a serious misstep on our part. I know that was to be avoided. But if on episode 34, they did a little rendition of Hit Me with Your Best Shot, and we have that also...I don't think there is going to be a huge beef between their fans and our fans. Not to mention, all of our fans are kind of the same. I think its all a big love fest. Glee, I know from my friends that are on the show, they are so happy that this movie exists. I think they feel responsible, in a way, for this movie to even happen. We are forever gracious to them, because they paved the way for it to happen. We're just taking it and putting it on the big screen in a way that has never been done before. I think it's a lovely relationship that we have with that show.
In terms of a movie we haven't seen before, amongst all the remakes and reboots, and sequels, this is one of the few new films that has picked up such a strong, personal audience. It's a cult movie in that way. Its resonating with young people, and I think its going to be remembered twenty or thirty years from now, the way The Breakfast Club is remembered in this movie...
Skylar Astin: I'm very flattered by that. That is what I have always thought. I thought this movie, even when I read it on paper...That it had a unique voice. It feels nostalgic, like those John Hughes movies. It also feels kick ass, like Bring It On, Mean Girls, and Clueless. But, we were also bringing it to another level. There has never been another movie that has featured collegiate Acapella for that long. It has had little cameos in other movies. The Break-Up. John Michael Higgins has a really funny bit where he is talking about Acapella. It has never been done before. It was done in such a sharp, clever way to not make it tired or boring seeming. I think we really grabbed the attention of our audience. I think it was a risk. But I don't want to do easy, safe movies. I want to do something that has style. This certainly has that. It was written by a writer from 30 Rock, and Elizabeth Banks was set to produce it, and she has been in such great cult movies like Wet Hot American Summer, and then there is her more commercial work, obviously. I just loved where this movie was heading. I was desperate to be a part of it. When I found out I got this role, I was so thrilled, and I felt such a responsibility to hop on board and not mess it up. Its great that it worked out like it did. That everyone got along like they did, and that it was received the way it was. I think it's a real testament, in how soon it is coming out after it was released in theaters, to make it home in time for the holidays. I think that this should be in every stocking, of every teenager in the country.
Its kind of amazing how quick the turn around was. It was still in the top 10 just a week or two ago.
Skylar Astin: Exactly. I don't think having this DVD come out this soon is going to hurt its theatrical run. I think it ran its course. And by the time its in stores, it will have run its course even more. There is the advantage of those diehards, who want to see it for the 18th time on the big screen. They'll still be able to do that in some of the smaller theaters. There is an advantage to seeing it on the big screen, of course. But now you get to see it in your living room. Now you get to see more content with Rebel Wilson and Adam DeVine, and the deleted scenes, and you get to see what those commentators were doing when they let them go. And the things we didn't have time for in the movie. There is plenty of time on the DVD for all that stuff. I'm excited to see it. And I know certain things that went down on set, and I know they are going to make it onto this release.
Is there a gag reel?
Skylar Astin: You'll get a gag reel, you'll get a blooper reel (*note, there is no gag or blooper reel on the release). You will get deleted scenes, and extended scenes, and behind-the-scenes featurettes, and a making-of, the Acapella and the Acapella boot camp...You'll get to see a lot of that. I think this is a movie where people will walk out and say, "I know that Rebel Wilson didn't just say the lines that only made it into the movie. I know that there are probably four different versions of every scene." And its true. There are. They couldn't make the DVD 12 hours long, but I know that they made it concise enough, and long enough for you guys to get a lot of bonus materials.
That's pretty exciting. Now, I have heard Elizabeth Banks say that there will probably be a Pitch Perfect 2. What do you know about that?
Skylar Astin: Did she really? That is news to me. I do have a meeting with a Universal representative next week. And I know that Rebel Wilson had hers last weekend. It's definitely a talking point. I will fill you in.
Do you have a particular song you'd like to do in the sequel? Or is that for someone else to figure out?
Skylar Astin: Someone that gets paid more than me? I think that I am willing to do anything. I like to collaborate. If my voice will be heard, than I will do some research and think about it. There are definitely times where I am listening to the radio, and I think, "That would be awesome. I would love to sing that." It's this weird karaoke fantasy that I might someday get to live out on the big screen. Then again, I know there are so many politics in that decision-making. Also relevance. If we first film this next year, and it doesn't come out for another year and a half, will that song still be popular? Will it be over played? I think they did such a perfect job. The music landed so perfectly when it came out the first time, I can't imagine, if the same people are involved, that lightening won't strike twice. I will sing whatever they want me to sing.
21 & Over comes out soon. This has the potential to be another big hit. I've seen the trailer. Give me the timeline of this story. Does it take place over the course of just one night?
Skylar Astin: It all takes place over one crazy night. Basically, what happens is, Justin Chon's character Jeff Chang, is turning 21. So, his two best friends, myself and Miles Teller's character, drive up to his college to give him a crazy twenty-first birthday. When we get there, he can't go out. He has a huge med school interview the following morning. We make a deal, "Okay, man, we'll take you out for one drink." One drink turns into the most epic, crazy, mayhem filled night. Its written by the writers of The Hangover, so you can only imagine what ensues. What I love about the movie is that it stays grounded in its nature. The performances are solid. We played the situations out as if, "What would happen if three guys who were twenty-one were reacting to this crazy situation?" That's what The Hangover does so well. When they wake up on the floor, and there is a tiger in the room. Its like, "How would you react?" There are not going to be any broad, over the top performances from the actors, you know? It is really reactive. We drag you through the mud of the entire night. All of those big laughs, and those big stunts, and those crazy scenes are totally earned. That's what I love about comedies like that. I have seen the final cut, and it's phenomenal.
You've seen the trailer, right?
Skylar Astin: Yes!
There are a lot of daylight scenes in that trailer. That's what confused me.
Skylar Astin: Well, we're saving a lot of the nighttime stuff for the movie itself. Maybe some of it will show up in the next trailer, or it will be held for the red band trailer. There's a lot of great stuff to see in that movie. I think we gave you some quick cuts. We didn't give away too much, but we gave you enough imagery to keep you guessing. I like that you have those questions, because everything gets answered in the movie. Maybe not in the trailer. But they get answered in the movie.
I like what you're telling me. I hate when trailers give away all of the best moments. The first scene in that trailer made me laugh so hard. I don't usually laugh too often when I am watching something. I'm talking about the part where they drop Jeff Chang out the window...
Skylar Astin: I don't want to hype up the movie too much, but I almost want to say...If you think that is funny, you have no idea what you're in for. But, that's what's so great about the trailer. It has great moments. It has funny moments, it gives away a lot...But not too much. It's going to keep you wanting more. I think this movie is going to deliver big time. Whether or not people see it, I can't control. But I know that we set out to make a really funny movie about a kid that turns twenty-one, and his crazy friends being along for the ride. We did that, for sure.
I think its going to get seen. We've never had a movie about someone's 21st birthday party. It's those simple ideas that are such a big hit. And its crazy that no one has ever done this before...
Skylar Astin: Exactly. Well, Pitch Perfect and 21 & Over share something. And that's the fact that they both aren't reinventing the wheel. But they are both definitely doing something that is along the lines of a genre, but they have a little something else. A little something extra that will make you want to see it. Pitch Perfect has the Acapella nature. You've seen musicals. But you've never seen Acapella. In 21 & Over, you've seen college movies, you've seen party movies, you've seen road trip movies, you've seen high school movies...But you've never seen a movie about what it is specifically like to turn 21 and what happens that night. Everyone who has turned twenty-one, or is looking forward to turning twenty-one, has an idea about the crazy stuff you get into on your twenty-first birthday. There's stuff that you remember, and stuff that you don't remember. So, I think, 21 & Over is the prefect placement in that genre. And it's going to be great.
Well, I can't wait to see it!