Last September, Movieweb was invited to the Brooklyn, New York set of Sony's 'Untitled Xmas 2015' release. Almost a year later, we have a great title for what looks to be an absolutely hilarious film. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, and Anthony Mackie star in the holiday comedy - The Night Before. Directed by Jonathan Levine (50/50,Warm Bodies), who also co-wrote with Producer Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen. This article will have a fair amount of spoilers. I won't give too much away, but will give a heads up for anything too revealing. Also, since Movieweb is a family friendly website of wholesome entertainment, all the cursing and drug references will be starred out. You'll see below in the interview that Seth Rogen couldn't care less if we wrote about the plot. His thoughts were, "No one comes to see our movies for the surprises." That's as rare a statement as seeing a unicorn prancing through your living room. But the almighty Sony team made sure we were all under embargo until this very day. It's surreal to think that a few weeks later, the entire brouhaha surrounding the release of The Interview would become the biggest Hollywood story of 2014.

The Night Before is the tale of three best friends who have spent Christmas Eve together since childhood. The cast will fill in the details why. The tradition comes to an end as adult responsibilities take hold. Seth Rogen's Isaac is married and about to have his first child. His wife (Jillian Bell) gives him a gift bag of narcotics to get the partying out of his system before the youngster arrives. Along with Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Chris (Anthony Mackie ), now a superstar professional football player, the trio decide to make their last Christmas Eve together epic. And find the infamous 'Nutcracker Ball', the greatest Christmas party in the city.

We arrive to the sprawling Steiner Studios complex on the Brooklyn waterfront in the early afternoon. At this point, we were only given a vague summary of what the film was about. We had no idea what scenes we were going to see. Or what players would be filming. The cohort of journalists were shepherded to sound stage ten through a labyrinth of warehouses. The Sony unit publicist briefed us that this was day thirty-four of the thirty-five day shoot. So we were there to observe the second to last day of principal photography.

The scene we saw filmed was truly brilliant. The inside of sound stage ten was mocked up to look like the classic piano dancing scene from Big. There was a giant green screen in the background of the set. The publicist informed us that downtown New York City would be inserted during post production. She handed us call sheets that listed the scene set-up and actors filming.

*SPOILER ALERT*! Isaac, Ethan, and Chris are high on c**aine and m***rooms. They have wondered into a toy store. Stoned out of their minds. Jonathan Levine and Evan Goldberg are sitting behind a bank of monitors. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, and Anthony Mackie are all wearing these goofy holiday sweaters. Rogen is wearing a powder blue sweater with a huge Jewish Star of David on the front. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is wearing a red sweater, and Anthony Mackie a black one. There are lots of small children and older actors, extras, milling about on set. Suddenly quiet is called. Action! The extras move in the background to recreate the normal store traffic during the holidays. Rogen and JGL amble up to the piano on the floor. Much like Big, they tinker with the keys making random notes. And then the similarities come to an end.

Kanye West's "Runaway" blasts through speakers on set. The extras crowd the piano as Rogen and JGL start bouncing to the pulsating beat. Anthony Mackie grabs a toy megaphone, straddles a huge stuffed animal horse, then gallops around the stage, yelling the lyrics. I'm not sure how many takes they'd done before we came, but Mackie's gallivanting was short lived as he fell off the horse into a big toy house. Everyone was literally falling out of their chair laughing. I've seen some funny things on movie sets in my time, but this was side splitting funny. The cast, crew, and especially Evan Goldberg was in stitches. It took a while for all the markers to be reset, make-up touched up, lighting and music back on cue. We saw this scene shot several times from different camera angles over the next few hours. Honestly, it never stopped being knockdown funny. *END SPOILERS*!

We were moved to an adjoined room to meet with Annie Spitz, the production designer. Behold the unsung hero of filmmaking who never gets any credit for their important contribution. Annie spoke at length about the difficulties of recreating Christmas in the heat of September. She also told us that they would have additional exterior filming in January of 2015 of the city, Rockefeller Christmas tree, and other seasonal shots. We were giving tantalizing hints, but no real confirmations to the epic nature of the mythical Nutcracker Ball. I'll make an educated guess, from all the music we witnessed, that there may be a famous musician with a reality show wife.

Our next discussion was with Robert Cupp, the special effects foreman responsible for the snow. This guy was fantastic. While the visual effects department added a lot of the snow effects in post, much of what you see in the film was created by Robert and his team. The snow looked incredibly realistic. It was made out of cotton and Epsom salts. It obviously doesn't melt, but was extremely labor intensive to put down. And we're not taking cranes here. Robert and his team pretty much laid it all down with shovels. There's really an art and a science to make it look so flawless, which Robert has gleaned after decades in the business. All of the snow shoots were done at night. They used almost twenty-five thousand pounds of the fake snow mix during the shoot. Imagine spending weeks shoveling that much snow, in the middle of the night no less. Credit again to the crew that does the backbreaking labor of movie magic.

We had a riot of a time as the interviews progressed. The filmmakers were such funny, laid back guys. We were taken to a conference room where we spoke to producers Evan Goldberg and James Weaver. The Night Before was a highly collaborative process during filming. Goldberg, Weaver, and Seth Rogen have had tremendous success with their films. Evan Goldberg is in charge on set, but he took great pains to point out that this was Jonathan Levine's film. He's the director, making the shoot's decisions. But they all contribute to the script while filming. At their very core, these guys are genius comedy writers. Goldberg and Weaver discussed how they added notes to the scenes as they went along. They wanted an adult, somewhat black humored comedy. But it had to have heart, be a warm experience that reinforced the values of the holidays. They referenced all the classics, from Home Alone to It's a Wonderful Life, The Night Before has a soul as well as a funny bone.

It was this point in the evening that we had our long awaited interview with the cast. That's in full at the end of this article. We broke for lunch, or dinner to everyone else, at the Steiner commissary. You can always tell the budget of a film by the food. Sony spared no expenses here. The cast and crew were eating pretty good on this set. Everything from filet mignon to sushi. I'm not exaggerating when I write that Anthony Mackie had almost thirty clams for dinner that night.

During dinner, we had a really gracious visit from Jonathan Levine. You can only imagine how worn out he was by the end of this day. I'll say again, it's very rare for the filmmakers to be so forthcoming and spend time with journalists. Mostly it's a few minutes to suffice the publicists. Jonathan ate with us. Then we all took our plates to a separate room, where he had assembled a twenty-minute rough cut of movie clips.

*SPOILER ALERT*! The footage we saw was great. Jonathon showed us the scene where Jillian Bell, who plays Seth Rogen's wife, gives him the goody bag of drugs. We then saw a scene with the trio at a bar, where Seth Rogen, zonked out if his mind on c**aine, has a run in with Mindy Kaling; who plays a family friend. He's tweaking like a jitterbug, then breaks out into a massive nosebleed, as Mindy realizes he's on drugs. Meanwhile, Anthony Mackie, who's character is preoccupied with his fame as a football player, is smitten by a seemingly carefree, hipster woman. Hilariously played by Ilana Glazer. She doesn't have a cell phone, which blows his mind, and doesn't care about his wealth. I can't imagine that they would cut any of the clips Jonathan showed us. You will fall out of your seat laughing.

That was the end of our time on the set of The Night Before. Imagine making a hard-R, Christmas comedy, with your best friends. That's the most apt description of what we observed from the filmmakers and cast. Please see below our very funny, expletive-filled, and spoiler laced interview, in full, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, and Anthony Mackie.

Are you all sick of that song yet?

Seth Rogen: No! (laughs)

Anthony Mackie: How can you get sick of Kanye?

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Before Kim...

What brought you guys to this project?

Seth Rogen: Jonathan Levine started it. He came to me and Evan Goldberg as producers and said he had an idea for a Christmas movie. We thought that was weird, but then he explained his vision. He reminded us of all the Christmas movies we grew up with. And all the nostalgia you can play with. And the fact that there is kind of a void when it comes to Christmas movies aimed at our generation. And just that it would generally be the type of movie that people like us would want to go see. That's where it all started, with Levine's idea. And then we asked Joe if he would be in it. Did you fly to Vancouver when we were shooting The Interview? Is that when we all talked about it?

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Yes, there's a pattern here.

Seth Rogen: It always involves Joe flying to Vancouver. And we convince him to be in our movies.

Can you guys explain who the characters are? And what their arc is in the story?

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Sure, there are three buddies who have been friends since high school. They have this tradition to have a big night out on Christmas Eve. That's sort of rooted...wait, how much specifics are we supposed to give out?

Seth Rogen: Just answer the question. (Laughs) Don't worry.

[Publicist states that we are under embargo.]

Seth Rogen: Yeah, you can explain it. People don't go see our movies for surprises.

[Everyone laughs.]

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: I like the root of it though. It's not just three guys going out, simply for kicks. There's a cool origin story to them going out on Christmas s eve. My character, Ethan, has a family tragedy where he loses both of his parents near Christmas ten years prior. He's alone at Christmas, so his two best friend, come and say, hey, let's hang out. We don't want you to be alone on Christmas. And that inadvertently begins a yearly tradition of a big night out on Christmas. So now its ten years later and they've been doing this every year. But it's ending, because one is about to have a baby. And one has become successful in his career as a professional football player. And one doesn't want it to end.

Seth Rogen: Because he's got nothing else going on. (laughs)

Seth Rogen: It's rooted in real emotion and a lot of the stuff you find in these Christmas movies. That's honestly where these ideas came from. Are we going to fully embrace the idea of an orphan and all of this stuff? Yeah, it's a Christmas movie. Let's do it as well as we can. Let's also get away with all this ridiculous stuff, because there's a real, actual core to it.

Doing a Christmas movie, you want it to have an evergreen quality, so it can be seen year after year. Does that limit the pop culture references and you can throw in?

Seth Rogen: No. (laughs) We just do it. Generally, we try not to use references that have a miniscule shelf life. But a lot of our humor is acknowledging the world we live in, and commenting on it.

Anthony Mackie: Yeah, a lot of those timeless movies have topical references.

Seth Rogen: Yeah, like Woody Allen. Annie Hall has a lot of pop culture references for that time. I think if they're done well and they're funny. I remember I didn't even know who the author was he brought out as a kid. But you can just tell it's funny.

You guys are pretty f***ed up on a s**t ton of drugs throughout the film?

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Just him.

Seth Rogen: I'm the only one. (Laughs) I'm the only one on drugs.

in your previous films, you have these great hallucination scenes. Is there going to be any of that here? Do we see any weirdness?

Seth Rogen: It gets weird (laughs). There are some stylistically surreal moments. I would say here and there.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: I like that it's not just a comedy of people talking and saying funny things.

Seth Rogen: Yes.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: It's really visual, a feast for the eyes.

Seth Rogen: Really physical. A lot of music as well.

Is there a lot of physical comedy? Pratfalls?

Seth Rogen: I wouldn't say pratfalls per se, but yeah, there's fighting, there's chasing. There's everything you would hope to see.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: There are psychedelic sequences.

Seth Rogen: Lots of psychedelic sequences.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: There's magic, there's music, it's Christmas.

Seth Rogen: Anthony Mackie is a marvel star, you can't not use that. (laughs)

How does you physicality come into this?

Seth Rogen: You'll see in an hour. (laughs)

Anthony Mackie: Well, I'm more of a love machine than anything else. Basically, my character's been an athlete for almost fifteen years. So now that he's finally found fame. He's really into being famous. Which, if you go out in New York, you see a lot of these guy. So he's bottled up in the idea, I'm famous, so I'm going to use it for everything I can. So he's just a fame whore. He's the guy, that when you say, we're never going to get in there, he's like, stop, park the car. He's one of those guys.

Is his Christmas story arc learning what to value?

Anthony Mackie: Sort of...

Seth Rogen: Everyone's is. That's like the arc for every movie, what's good, what's bad. (laughs)

You guys have any personal Christmas traditions?

Seth Rogen: Chinese food is a big personal tradition. Which we do in this movie. Basically, we go to see movies. But that's not interesting to see characters in a movie do.

Hanukkah bush?

Seth Rogen: We don't do that. (laughs) C'mon, it's pandering. I'm judging your traditions. I want Santa Clause to come so bad.

{bold|We spoke to Evan Goldberg how you're the lone Jew in the movie. }

Seth Rogen: How did you know? (laughs sarcastically)

[He's wearing a big Star of David sweater.]

Does your character feel isolated or resentful to the holiday?

Seth Rogen: No, not really. I think like most Jews in their 30's, you're kind of like benign to it at this point. To most people it's no big deal...we just view it through the lens of our traditions with one another. My character is about to have a kid. And his wife is not Jewish in the movie. Jillian Bell plays my wife. That's kind of an element to it as well. We're going to start our own family traditions in the coming years. There's some friction, but it's not a giant element. In the beginning, there's a scene where I'm explaining to her Christian nieces what a Jew is. (laughs)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Defining inbreeding. (laughs)

Seth Rogen: Yeah, why we all look the same. (Laughs) Curly hair, inbreeding, all that stuff.

Anthony Mackie: I like curly hair. (laughs)

Can you guys talk about how much improv you do on set? Are you just riffing all the time?

Anthony Mackie: I think it's 50/50. It's one of those things where do it pretty close to the script. And then we kind of venture off and have different kinds of ideas. The more we explore on camera, the more we find, the more we play with each other.

Seth Rogen: Yup, meanwhile, Evan Goldberg and the guys are writing other jokes and stuff. They're constantly feeding us. It's not like we just have to keep coming up with new one liners. There's many comedy writers on set, providing for us.

How's been making a Christmas movie different than the other genres you've tackled?

Seth Rogen: When we were getting into the writing, you realize there's a lot of expectation in a Christmas movie. We'd give it to our friends to read, and they'd say, you didn't do this thing. It's a Christmas movie, where's this thing? It's kind of like the tropes. At first we were kind of shying away from them, and not embracing them. But it's a fucking Christmas movie. I think the more we embraced that and let ourselves become one with that, and embrace the fact that there's things that you do in a Christmas movie. No pun intended, but you're kind of giving permission to wrap things up in a package. I think the audience is a lot more receptive to it. It's the holidays. You want to leave them with a nice, warm emotional feeling, like generally our movies don't have a ton of. That's something we talked a lot about. How do you make this have all the humor that you expect from our movies, but something that checks the box of a Christmas movie? Something that you emotionally want to dive into, year after year.

Anthony Mackie: Yeah, we definitely went full Christmas.

So the piano works, I assume you have to actually practice it?

Seth Rogen: Yeah, a little bit, they put tape on the piano to show us what order to do it in. There's a few other musical performances. It's a big show. We really wanted it to be a fun experience all the way through.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: There's a lot of music...

Seth Rogen: It's a full on musical. (laughs)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: There's almost enough music where it could be a musical.

Seth Rogen: There's several musical performances and sequences throughout the movie.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: And people do get together and play music during the holidays. That's part of the holidays.

Are there any choreographed danced scenes?

Seth Rogen: There may be some choreographed dancing. (laughs)

Anthony Mackie: The Muppet's had choreographed dancing. It's Christmas.

Seth Rogen: Yeah, you have to get into it. It's a Christmas movie. There's got to be choreographed dancing in there somewhere.

How's it working with Jonathan in this movie? Obviously the humor is a lot bigger? Does it change his process at all?

Seth Rogen: Not really, honestly.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Yeah, that's the strength of this movie. It's rooted in a sincerity that you would also find in 50/50. Obviously this movie is very different, by just subject matter. One's about a dude surviving cancer, the other about three guys having fun on Christmas. It's different subject matter, but John always keeps an eye on things staying viable, staying sincere, and not letting things get too far into the realm of jokes for jokes sake. Always keeping that these feel like human beings. That, as an actor, makes it more fun for me. I think that's the same for the audience.

Seth Rogen: He does stuff that me and Evan Goldberg would never do. There was a scene we were shooting the other day. Evan Goldberg and I would never have put that scene in one of our movies. He's really willing to have an emotional earnestness that I think, as people that grew up in comedy, we tend to shy away from. He has made full on romantic movies, movies built on that type of thing. It's great to work with people that do that, because we don't do always do that.

{bold|You guys have a really incredible supporting cast in addition to Jillian Bell. Can you talk a little about them? }

Seth Rogen: They're all so funny. It's been awesome. We learned in Neighbors, what if you put every tiny role with the funniest person you could possibly find. This movie has a lot of really funny female roles. They're great. They really drive the comedy in those scenes. Lizzy Caplan was awesome.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Lizzy Caplan is so smart, and so good at your guys' style of comedy. She's so quick thinking on her feet. Coming up with things that surprised me while it was happening. That's kind of like the root of this comedy.

Seth Rogen: Yeah, we started together. I think the first scene that Lizzy Caplan had on camera was with me and Franco, on Freaks and Geeks, fifteen years ago, which is horrible. Mindy Kaling, again, I've known for years and years and years. She's hysterical in the movie. Ilana Glazer is someone we met more recently. Mackie has a lot of stuff with Alana.

Anthony Mackie: Ilana is mine. (laughs)

Seth Rogen: He gets proprietary over her.

Anthony Mackie: She's great. She has a ridiculousness about her that you just don't find. That makes it fun. She does it with such ease. She has the ability to make it seem like natural behavior. That's what make her so unique to me, anyone else, and I'd be like they're being stupid. Then, you're like, she really acts like that. It makes you want to go further as an actor.

Seth Rogen: Jillian too, she just destroys me. I wasted several good hours of a scene we were shooting a couple of weeks ago. I couldn't stop laughing.

You two have worked together before. But Anthony this is your first jaunt with them. You're all supposed to be longtime friends in the film. How do you establish that comradery?

Seth Rogen: We went to one dinner. (laughs)

Anthony Mackie: Yeah, we went to one dinner, in a rape cave...

Did you just say a rape cave?

Anthony Mackie: It was like a dungeon...

Seth Rogen: Yeah, it was an odd room. (laughs)

Anthony Mackie: But they picked it. (laughs) It was dope. It was interesting. I feel that everybody on this set is really easygoing. There's no egos or ridiculousness, which you don't find when you have stars on set. Usually people are like, my trailers bigger. Or like, my girlfriend is going to come today. Why's he getting that? You don't find that on this set. In the movie, the three of us are so vastly different. It kind of works well together. There hasn't been any stupidness or conflicts.

Seth Rogen: We seem like friends. I mean we are getting along, but when you watch us in the movie, that was something we were very aware of. Will we seem like guys who've been friends for twenty years? I remember the first day of filming. I was like, it really seems like we're old friends.

Anthony Mackie: I've met Joe once. But I've always liked him from afar. Like you see someone, and you're like, I like that guy. (laughs) When I auditioned with Seth and everyone, I've auditioned twice in like six years, and I love auditioning. But people are like, you don't audition anymore. I'm like, fuck, alright. It's like dating. I go in the room. I'm like, it's Seth, play it cool, be yourself. So I walk in, they're making noise, the office is in chaos. I'm like, what the fuck is going on? At that point, everything was all good, because I saw they weren't assholes.

Anthony, audiences are going to see your comedic side. Where do you draw your influences?

Anthony Mackie: I have a very comedic family. My family is ridiculous, in every aspect of the word. I've always liked to have fun. My friends and I joke around. I don't take stuff seriously. When people do, I make fun of them for taking stuff seriously. It's second nature. It's been fun.

We're at the second to last day of filming in a Christmas movie. How are you guys keeping the energy up?

Seth Rogen: You just do it.

Are those real drugs then?

[Everyone laughs.]

Seth Rogen: That's what acting it. You have to maintain, like every other physical activity I guess. It's not as strenuous as playing basketball. But you just got to keep doing it. Maintain the energy.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: We play of each other.

Seth Rogen: Yeah, they have a lot of energy. Mackie has tons of energy. And when it feels good, what you're doing. Then it's exciting. And it makes it way easier also. And we do it differently every time, so there's a spontaneity to it. It's not the same thing, over and over, from different angles. Something new could happen at any moment. That's what I do if I get bored. I come up with something new and something funny could happen. It'll be exciting instead of being boring.

Anthony Mackie: And there's no a**holes on this set. Honestly, it's really surprising.

Seth Rogen: It's true, nothing kills the vibe...

Anthony Mackie: Like an a**hole, it can be anyone, it can be a grip, it can be a driver, it can be an actor, there's always one a**hole. One guy, where you just want to beat the oomph out of them. Ironically, there's not one of them on this movie. It makes it easier.

Seth Rogen: That means it's you.

[Hysterical laughter.]

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