Justin Long Interview

The actor talks about his day job at ShenaniganZ Restaurant in Waiting

Waiting...follows a frustrated group of waiters as they try to make it through a single day at ShenaniganZ Restaurant in New Orleans. MovieWeb recently sent me down to interview approximately half the cast of this very funny film. Third in our five part series is Justin Long, whom many people may remember from his stint on the television program ED. Long is an effortlessly funny guy, and held little back during his discussion with us. In the movie he plays Dean, a career waiter who suddenly begins to question his dead-end job...

Are you cold?

Justin Long: I don't know where I astound temperature wise.

Over the last year, your career has really heated up. What has it been like for you?

Justin Long: Just more than I could have ever hoped for. Just to be working is the best in this business. My mother was an actress. I grew up with that. My idea of acting was that it was a crapshoot. That it was an awful kind of life. I had no delusions of grandeur. I saw her struggling, and the constant rejection. And I saw her running around New York. Just to be working is great. The most recent phenomena I've encountered is turning things down. My mother can't understand it. She's like, "Why wouldn't you do Big Mama's House 2"? I was like, "Well, Mom..." And she's like, "No, no, no! I don't care about whatever. Why would you turn it down?" She doesn't understand.

Did she like the first movie?

Justin Long: No. She has no idea what she's talking about. It's just a job. Actually, she did love the movie. Big Mama's House is most loved by Middle Aged moms in Connecticut. They ate that up. "Mama know she got game!" That's all I remember from that one. It's kind of awesome. I wish I would have done it now. Yeah. It's been a great year. And pretty soon, I'll be Waiting tables again.

So, you say that you're a terrible waiter?

Justin Long: Oh, yeah. I was a horrible waiter. I ended up getting fired for something weird. The worst was that I couldn't remember anything. You have to have a really sharp memory. I would write every single thing down. People would ask for ice water, and I'd write it down. It got really absurd. I worked in this really fancy Italian restaurant, and there was this cook that would always call me Strunz. "Hey, Strunz, your order's up." And I thought it was an endearing term. I thought I was his buddy. That this was an affectionate term. I asked my dad, who speaks Italian, what it meant. And he says, "I think it means Penis Face." "Oh, great." And the cooks are the ones you want to win over. Those are the guys whose respect you need. A) Because they don't give a fuck. They'll just say anything, because they don't have to interface with the customers. That's why Dane is so great in the movie. He's perfect. He's just a vane and callous person. You just don't have to have any people skills. But they're also the guys that give you the free food. I got to know some of them, so they would screw up orders so I could get some food. "Oh, you said mashed potatoes. I thought you said Lobster, because they both sound the same." Then I'd eat the lobster. Yeah, I was a pretty bad waiter.

Did you ever dump anything on anybody?

Justin Long: I did a couple of things. A lot of these customers were so pretentious that they would get upset with little things. Like, I didn't pour the wine properly. Or, I would just go up to a table and take a hit off somebody's glass, or just start eating their food. I would do weird things. I would talk to people in a weird way. Like stare at people if they didn't acknowledge me. That's the thing, you just feel so little. It's a strange dynamic. I think it reveals a lot about the true character of somebody. Some people just go over the top with their kindness. And then the entitled, snobby people were just the opposite. It's this strange, archaic thing, because you're just serving somebody. If I didn't get a response, I would just stand by the table. I would just wait there, and I would stare at them when I put the food down, "Do you like it? Do you?" I just didn't give a shit. And they'd shoo me away from the table. I needed something, I was very passive-aggressive. It was over the top.

Do you think you guys are going to do a Dodge Ball sequel?

Justin Long: I don't know. Someone on the Internet had written that I said to them...I was shooting a movie in Mexico, and I remember talking to this guy, and I said something really off the cuff. I'd said that I heard from somebody, looking back, I don't remember who, maybe the director, but they were like, casually, they had mentioned doing a sequel. It was so vague and not grounded in reality. But then this guy wrote it on the Internet, and it became an Internet rumor. And I got all paranoid, hoping that people wouldn't think that I was spreading this shit. I know I haven't heard anything concretely. Of course, after a movie does well, you always hear that a sequel is coming. But I don't know. I haven't heard anything. It would be hard to get the whole thing back together. I don't know why they would do another one, to be honest with you. It sucked so bad the first time.

I know while you were making Herbie, one of the pranks you'd pull would be to jump on Lindsey's trailer. Were there any similar pranks on this set?

Justin Long: This set had the best prank I've ever seen pulled. I wasn't a part of it. It was pulled on me by Luiz Guzman. The whole cast was in this bathroom, waiting to do a scene. It was kind of late at night. And Luiz had been shooting for a couple of days. We didn't have a good beat on him. We didn't really know what he was about. He was this respected actor. We were all kind of nervous to be around him. He'd been weird with the director all day. There was this weird drama in the air. Then, all of a sudden, he goes, "No, I'm going to say the line the way I want to do it." And the director was like, "Can we just say my line, and then we can do another take, and you can say what you're going to say?" He's like, "If we do that, then I know you're not going to let me do my thing, so fuck no. I'm going to say my fucking line and that's the way it's going to fucking be." The director goes, "Please..." And Luiz goes, "Bitch, get your fucking hand off me. I will fucking slap you upside the head." And we were all frozen. They have it all on tape. No one knew. Luiz was going off. He was like, "I'll fight you, bitch. I work with Paul Thomas Anderson." He started naming people, "I worked with the best. Who are you, you first time piece of shit? I will bitch slap you upside your head." Rob, the director, was shaking. I thought he shit in his pants. Luiz stormed out of the bathroom. There was just that tension in the air. We thought there was going to be a fight. But then he comes back in about a minute later and goes, "April Fools day, bitches!" It was the greatest. He got everybody. And the director was in on it.

Do you get more kids coming up to you, now that you've done Herbie?

Justin Long: No. More pedophiles. A lot more pedophiles seem to enjoy that movie...What?

Oh, nothing. You said that, and I thought about that other movie you were in.

Justin Long: Oh, Jesus. Uh, what movie? Dodge Ball? Um...Yeah...I tend to stay away from kids. Kids, oddly enough, love Jeepers Creepers. They're like, "You're the guy that lost his eyes in that movie." I'm like, "You're four years old. What are you doing watching that?" I guess my parents were more conservative. I couldn't watch those movies when I was a kid. It was more of a monster movie. But Herbie? Its almost as if it never came out. I haven't really heard much feedback. Yeah. Yeah.

-The End-