Steven Sims has knocked up Sarah Marshall and feels super bad about it on DVD June 8th
The 41 Year Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It is a new spoof comedy that sends up the Judd Apatow universe in loving tribute. A gross-out laugh fest with a bit of heart thrown in for good measure, this strange trip follows perpetual nerd Andy, a mid-life virgin who accidentally knocks up his first conquest and then has to deal with the repercussions. This 80 minute joke-a-thon runs through such memorable classics as The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Superbad, giving each iconic moment from those particular hits a good swift kick in the nether regions. Directed by Craig Moss, The 41-Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It [WS] [Unrated] arrives on DVD June 8th.
Steven Sims plays a Jonah Hill doppelganger aptly named Jonah throughout the course of the film. And the DVD even contains a special look at the actor's struggles with his strong, nearly mirror-image resemblance to the popular comedic actor. In the short film Destroying Jonah Hill, Sims, a struggling actor and writer in his own right, sets out to tarnish Hill's image in the hopes of getting some of the roles Jonah has recently been nabbing for himself. We recently caught up with Sims to find out more about his film The 41 Year Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It and his day-to-day battle with being a celebrity look-a-like. Here is our conversation:
Take me through a typical day in the life of Steven Sims. How difficult is it in this life to be a dead ringer for Jonah Hill?
Steven Sims: (Laughs) I'm not going to lie. It has been pretty interesting and exciting. It is difficult. When I got to Los Angeles, I was doing more writing and directing. But I've worked my way into acting again. I acted as a kid. Literally, when I first got here, these billboards for Superbad started going up. My friends started noticing them. We all said it, "I look just like Jonah Hill!" At the time, I was really blown away. I thought, "What if my number one concentration in life was acting?" Which my career has evolved into at this point. And I thank Jonah Hill for that. But it's scary in a way. Especially coming from a comedy background. He is amazing on film. His movies are great. I felt like I got burned. I tried to take my best approach to it. I created a fictitious version of my life, and how I was dealing with this. Unfortunatly, I wanted to make a feature called Destroying Jonah Hill, but I wasn't able to. We made that short instead. And that led to the film you're going to see on Tuesday.
How strange does life get for you on a weekend like this, when Jonah is starring in a new movie and his face is once again plastered all over town? Does it get weird for you? Do you find yourself immersed in groupies? Do you take advantage of the situation?
Steven Sims: I lived through the summer of 2007. The summer of Superbad. That was a big summer. More people started to know who Jonah Hill was. Right now, we still look alike. Because Get Him to the Greek has all of these ads, where he has short hair. But in 2007, we looked even more alike. Everywhere I went. At a gas station, at the movies, people thought I was him. I went to see Superbad, and afterwards, people were coming up and shaking my hand. I've never taken advantage of it to the point where I got myself a lady friend. There is something wrong about that. It doesn't happen as much anymore. Not since our short film came out. And we have 41-Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It. People will still look at me funny. But I think they know there is a doppelganger out there. Either that, or they know him so well, they know not to come up to me. It used to happened all the time. But it switched over about a year ago. People now know me as "the guy that looks like Jonah Hill". I don't know if that's a good thing.
It's funny, because in the short you mention that your only recourse is to get a haircut. But then he goes and gets his hair cut. Is that the curse? That you can't get away from this?
Steven Sims: At this point, its not aggravating. It's flattering. Literally a month ago, I went and got my hair cut for another movie I am doing. I was driving up Highland. In Hollywood. There is this Get Him to the Greek billboard. And we were spot on. We were both not clean-shaven. We both had short hair. Everyone was staring at me. Neither one of us can catch a break. I feel bad for him. Because I keep looking more and more like him. It's been fun. It's been interesting. Anytime I do a job, people are just blown away. I recently worked with a DP who saw me walking down the street. He had to do a triple take, because he swore up and down that it was Jonah Hill. I still find it very flattering. Especially with this movie coming out on Tuesday, and his movie coming out this weekend. Its fun to have that falling in place together.
Have you met Jonah? Do you know what his thoughts on Steven Sims are?
Steven Sims: I've met him a couple of times. We met in 2007. We filmed Destroying Jonah Hill the weekend before and the weekend that Superbad came out. In Los Angeles. I then met him a week or two after that outside of the Comedy Cock. Then I met him a year later when I worked as his stand-in on Funny People. As far as I know, there is no bad blood between us. I don't know how he feels about me. My stint as his stand-in was much shorter than it was supposed to be. I took that as, "Maybe Jonah's not such a huge fan." Me, personally? I love his work. I love his movies. And I owe him a thank you for all of this.
Why did you think it was important to send up the works of Judd Apatow? Or was this simply the only comedy you could get having such a striking resemblance to the guy you are playing?
Steven Sims: I knew about this script last spring. I was asked to audition a couple of times. At first, I didn't want to. Because I am a huge fan of Judd Apatow. I was over playing Jonah Hill, and I was involved in more stage stuff. I was working at the iO West in Hollywood. It was hard to get away from looking like someone that has become so popular. But then I met with the director Craig Moss. And I read the script. I was worried about it just being a straight parody film. I love and adore Judd Apatow's films and the actors who star in them. They are people I look up to as an artist. But once I read the script, it reminded me of Airplane! or Hot Shots!. Something that I watched as a kid. Once I met the director and some of the actors, and started working with them, I knew that it would be a good project. It was easy to go back to looking just like Jonah. It was fun to go back and watch Superbad a week before filming. I wasn't an actor playing someone, and being angry about it. I had fun. I didn't want to make fun of him. I wanted to imitate him. And look the part. I learned how he walked, and talked. The cadence when he spoke as that character. I got to really study him. And pay tribute. It wasn't about making fun of him. Or being angry with him. Which I certainly am not.
The Apatow universe has quite a few iconic moments, and many laughs throughout its entire run of films. How hard is it to take some of that material and put a fresh spin on it, knowing what was originally there was funny in its own right?
Steven Sims: That was my biggest fear going into this. We wanted to make material that was already quite funny...Even funnier. People love this stuff. We improved a lot. Austin Michael Scott plays the McAnallovin' Character. We have a scene in front of the liquor store that is really funny. We were given a chance to be real loose with some aspects of the script. The character I play, and the entire movie itself, are both so outrageous. It's like a live action cartoon. You can take these funny comedies that everyone loves and make them even more extreme. And more elaborate. That's what we tried to do. I come from a big improv background. It was fun when they let me go off and do my own stuff. But we had to stay on track, because it was a parody. And we needed to get through some of these situations.
Do you get to have any original bits in the film? Do we get a sense of you as an actor, removed from the whole Jonah Hill stigmata?
Steven Sims: I hope so. I do come from a strong improv background, so I would tweak a lot of the lines myself. I didn't do any rewrites on any of the scenes, but I would talk with the director and some of the actors to see if we could shoot it differently than it was written on the page. They were all very cool with it. This was my first feature film, so there was this fear. I didn't want to mess up someone else's lines or blow their take as it was originally written. We had a lot of fun with it. My goal wasn't to be goofy, or make fun of Jonah Hill, or even the movies we are parodying. My goal was to play him as best I could. I already had the look down. Now it was up to my performance in being like him. I watched him, and the way he talked, and tried to resemble him as best as I could.
What is your favorite bit in the film? Was this fun for you to make? And what is your own view on spoofs in general?
Steven Sims: I think the whole film is absolutely great. My favorite scene is the Dateline: To Catch a Predator scene we shot. I'd never seen that show before. I had to do some research before we shot that scene. But it's a parody of how that show plays off. Exactly. Fans of that show absolutely love what we did with it. I was nervous. It was my first big scene. My character needed to be nervous, because he is getting arrested in this strange house. You can see on camera that I was generally nervous. It played off well in the film. I ran out of the house and got tackled by a giant police officer. Which was my first scene. I thought that guy was going to cream me. Then they'd have an excuse to send me packing. But it was fun. I enjoyed it. I really look forward to seeing that particular moment in the film.
You'd never seen To Catch a Predator before?
Steven Sims: No. I knew what it was. I'd heard of it. I had some friends that watched it. I'd seen some clips of it on the web. And I know MTV did a parody of it a couple years ago. But I really had to watch it. I wanted to make sure that when my character walks into that room, that he is naive. He goes in and realizes that he is in a shit situation. He needs to get out of there. I am watching this show, and I see all these young guys that are getting busted for trying to get with 13 year old girls. I thought, "I can do that." It really works in the film. It pays off. It's really funny. It's a stand-alone scene, but it fits well into the context of the movie.
Were you as fascinated by that show as I am?
Steven Sims: I can't say that I was fascinated with the show. Maybe because shooting that scene seriously traumatized me. I was scared. I haven't seen the show since. Maybe if the movie comes out, and the scene is a hit with audiences, I will start to watch the show on a more regular basis.
Destroying Jonah Hill. That is on the upcoming DVD, right?
Steven Sims: I don't think the whole fifteen minute short is on the DVD, just due to legal rights. I don't really know about that kind of stuff. I do know that there is a special feature called "Being Jonah Hill." I believe it is four or five minutes long. They sat me down for an interview on set, and there are scenes from Destroying Jonah Hill cut into that footage. It was great. They were so interested in me because of that film. And that's how I got involved with this movie. It was nice for them to sit down with me and talk about it. I got to share my memories of actually meeting Jonah. Working with him, and then not working with him anymore. This all came from this short I did three years ago.
Not only did you arrive in Hollywood looking like Jonah Hill, but you and your buddy were also in the midst of writing a film that was very similar to what Hill and the Apatow gang were also working on. How devastating was that from a writer's viewpoint?
Steven Sims: I should make something clear. Destroying Jonah Hill is fictitious. I never wrote a high school comedy called Wine Cooler. We wanted to. It was a burn. My friend and I moved to Los Angeles about four months before Superbad billboards started going up in June of 07. At that time we were fans of Judd Apatow. We loved his TV work. We loved The 40 Year Old Virgin. Then these billboards went up, and suddenly, there was this guy that looked like me. Not only that, he was performing as part of a group of adult comedy writers that I wanted to be a part of. When we made the short, we wanted it to reflect our lives at that time. I was actually working at a sign shop, which is the place we shot it in. It was similar to my real life, but I wanted it to be angrier. I wanted it to seem like I'd shown up with this script that was similar to Superbad, and not only that, I had a face that looked identical to that film's star. That was the approach. We ended up writing a full feature. But we couldn't get it made. We made the short instead. We got that on-line. It explains my frustrations. But it's also a comedic look at what it feels like to look just like someone who gets there first in your line of work. We wanted to make it fun. We certainly didn't want to make it hurtful to Jonah Hill. If it was or not? I don't know that.
There is nothing in the short that is at all hurtful. It's actually flattering. But Hill is a sensitive artist. Maybe it bugged him on some level.
Steven Sims: I think just being in a movie called Destroying Jonah Hill made him not like me. I hate that it might have rubbed him the wrong way. I appreciate all of his work. And I am thankful for the opportunities that he has afforded me. He has given me work for the past three years, and because of him, I was able to make a short film that a lot of people seem to like.
Where are you going next with your career?
Steven Sims: I have a company called Phalco Films, and we are working on some feature film projects. We are putting those together. I've been working more as an actor this year than I ever have before. I am starring in an independent film right now called Guns Don't Kill People. I am getting ready to do a lot more stage writing. And I am going to direct a web series with some of the comedians from iO West. I am also producing. I am looking forward to doing more writing, and getting to act in it as well. I don't think you will see me playing Jonah in any of it. But I wouldn't rule that out. Not as long as he is out there. And I am out there. This has been a lot of fun for me. I just hope its fun for him.
41-Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It [WS] [Unrated] arrives on DVD June 8th.