The cast discusses the making of their Instant Classic.
It's sometimes hard to pinpoint what makes a movie so special. It's the timing, it's the cast, it's the director's ability to sell a perfect joke on screen. Still, with all the right elements in place, some movies just don't have that certain spark. A film also needs to be forged from the cosmos. All of its planets have to be aligned. It needs to be formed from something greater than the humans that created it. Superbad is just that movie. It is as good as its water cooler buzz. It is so funny that whole sentences of dialogue get swallowed by the audience. It is an instant classic. And it sits in that special realm of untouchable cinema.
Last week, a bunch of us got to sit down with the film's creators and stars for a little press conference. In attendance were Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Emma Stone, writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, director Greg Mottola, and producer Judd Apatow. The weird thing was, not a whole lot of people asked questions. And those that did ask questions asked some pretty lame ones. Except for me and the guys from Collider.com and Joblo.com. I have extracted my favorite questions from all of the interviews and put together this informative and entertaining Q & A.
Here is our Q&A with the cast of this masterpiece of comedy:
Jonah Hill and Emma Stone
Jonah Hill: How you guys doin'? You guys can start if you want.
You are a young looking man.
Jonah Hill: Thanks. I have aged very well.
Did you think you could pull this movie off? Were you up for it? Or did you have to be talked into it?
Jonah Hill: I always wanted to do it ever since I read it. I read it a while ago, and really wanted to do it. But I was told that I was too old. I knew Judd, and Evan, and Seth so well. Seth and Evan are like a year apart. They looked at my as if I were the same age as them. So why would I play a high school student? Especially since I'd just played one of Seth's friends in Knocked Up. So, essentially, I really wanted to play it. It was the funniest script I had ever read. But I was just considered too old to play it. Then they had such a hard time finding their lead, that Seth looked at me one day and said, "How young could you look?" It was like I was hiding in plain sight while we were shooting Knocked Up. And Judd and Evan wanted to know how young I could look. I thought I could pull off eighteen or even seventeen. Like I said I could have, awhile back. I went and shaved, then made a tape in Seth's trailer. I just improvised and stuff. Later that day, I was in the movie.
Were they trying to take their aggressions out on you? You get hurt in this movie more than anyone else.
Jonah Hill: No. Seth had written the part for himself. But then he aged so terribly. He wasn't able to play it. I don't think it was a specific attack against me. I hope not. Maybe they added more violence when I came long to make my life worse. I don't know. For every time the character says something vulgar or curde, because you need to be sympathetic towards him, right as you are about to dislike me, its nice to see me get hit by a car. You sort of feel bad for me. It kind of allows for ten more vulgar outbursts to happen. Just like when someone bullies or spits on me. You can see where this anger comes from.
The ultimate message of the movie is to be yourself. Does that really work?
Jonah Hill: I think it does. It works to be yourself.
Emma Stone: It kind of has to.
Jonah Hill: If it doesn't work, I'm not going to try anything else. I am myself, and if you like that you can be friends with me. If not, then you don't have to be. I don't know if the message is "be yourself". I think there should always be some element of that. I think there are a lot of themes in the movie. I have definitely realized that I am not going to try and be someone else. I think the character is the same way. He is a very take it or leave it kind of guy. He is very unapologetic for who he is. It's like that in real life. I don't think you should have to change anything about yourself to make anyone like you more. Then they are not liking you. They are liking what you are pretending to be.
(Jonah points at me specifically)
Jonah Hill: You are making a face like you are completely dissatisfied.
Everybody always says that at these things. I'm not. I'm just sitting here. That's just my face.
Jonah Hill: Oh, really? I just keep looking at you, and you're like, "Fuck you."
No, I love the movie. I love you guys. I think its awesome.
Jonah Hill: (Laughs) Great. Thank you. I'm just messing with you. I know I probably sound like an idiot anyways.
How many Seth characters have you had to fight off in your lifetime?
Emma Stone: I haven't had to fight off any Seth characters. And I'm not fighting him off. It's a situation where I really do like him. I just don't want our first kiss to happen in that situation. But, no, I've never really had that experience. Of someone coming on to me being out of their mind drunk. I'm the lucky one, maybe.
Did Seth (Rogen) ever take you aside and say, "Hey, I wouldn't do it like that"?
Jonah Hill: No, I'm not really playing Seth. I'm not doing an impression of him. This isn't like his Walk the Line or anything like that. He wrote the character in his voice, because he was originally going to play him. Then I came along. He is one of my best friends. We've worked together a ton. And he was all about making this towards my strong suits as apposed to his. I felt like we'd shot Knocked Up right before. And that was his chance to show what his voice was about. This was my opportunity to show what I could do. It was never, like, I was playing him. Early on, we were hanging out at his house. And we were playing video games, or something. And he goes, "You're not going to do me, right?" I just told him, "No." That was the only time we ever discussed it. We are both unique in different ways. It was important to show that.
Did you have any input into your wardrobe on this film?
Jonah Hill: The big thing we thought about was, we had the image on the T-shirt that I wear in the school. We all thought that should be an iconic image. Whatever it was. There were a lot of different things. The Richard Pryor one, I couldn't have been happier with that. That shirt had to kind of describe who this guy is. He's kind of funny, he likes cool things. He is interested in old school stuff. We had a lot of different versions of that shirt, and that is the one we landed on. There were a lot of discussions about it. It was really important to make that outfit kind of cool seeming. It looks ridiculous, but in a way it ends up being kind of cool by the end of the movie.
Where did you get that picture of Richard Pryor?
Jonah Hill: I'm not sure. Someone from the art department probably found it. We were basically like, "Should it be Red Foxx? Should it be Richard Pryor?" People we found cool on a shirt. We would come up with a list of images or people they thought were great. I think they found that image, which couldn't have been cooler, I thought. I had never seen that picture of Richard Pryor before. The western shirt, they tried a ton. It was a really funny joke in the script. That I think worked really well. I'm talking about when I get off the bus, and you see me in Evan's dad's clothes.
Michael Cera and Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Did you know "These Eyes" before you had to perform it in the film?
Michael Cera: Yeah. I'd heard it. I had heard it a couple of times.
We heard that you shot different takes of that scene for the film?
Michael Cera: Yeah. We did one take were I sang "The Thing Song". And then another were I'm just dancing around.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: The thing song one is hilarious. I wish it was that one.
Do you think we'll see those alternative takes on the DVD?
Michael Cera: Yeah, possibly.
Michael, did you and Jonah get a chance to hang out before actually going into this film? Were you guys friends before hand?
Michael Cera: Yeah. We drove around together a lot. We talked about the movie; talked about other movies; and ate food; played video games. We all rehearsed together. We went to CPK. It was lovely. I got the barbecue chicken chop salad.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: I got the cheese pizza.
Michael Cera: Then we did a shot of wheat grass at Jamba Juice. That's the first time either us had ever tried it. It didn't make me feel any better.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Every time I burped, I tasted grass.
Michael Cera: Yeah. Also, we rehearsed in Greg's office a lot. That was it. Yeah. We're pretty comfortable with each other, by the time it came to film on tape.
Chris, we hear you showed up Jonah at the casting session.
Michael Cera: That'll be in the DVD hopefully.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: I didn't know until maybe two weeks ago that after my audition Jonah was like, "No, fuck that guy. I don't want him in the movie."
Michael Cera: Literally, right when you left the room.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Yeah, it's so funny. I didn't find out until three weeks later.
Michael Cera: Everyone was laughing at Jonah's reaction, and Jonah was like, "No. Seriously. I don't like that guy." We had to tell him, "That's why it's funny." Actually that day, we went and watched the tape. After we had auditioned, we went to Seth's house and we all sat around and watched the tape. Jonah already saw it. He saw that you were funny.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: That's good.
Michael Cera: He was hardly amused though.
Chris, are you ready for the women who are going to want some McLovin?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Bring it. Bring it on.
Michael Cera: He's not unprepared.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: I'm not the only person that's going to get the lady action, too. I have seen some ladies going after our man, here...
Michael Cera: That's sweet. That is so sweet of you.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: That Comic Con girl.
Michael Cera: It was one girl. But people were coming up to me, and they made it seem like it was happening all the time.
There were two girls.
Michael Cera: Yeah, but it was at Comic Con. That's the only place it would happen.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: I saw one cute girl. And she was with her boyfriend. She was wearing a pass, but she wasn't wearing any weird outfit. That was the only cute girl I saw at Comic Con.
Michael, you've just completed a web series called Clark and Michael. What has the reaction to that been?
Michael Cera: I'm not sure. I don't know what people's reactions to it are. I don't know how many people are watching it. Or what people think of it. The only thing I can go by are their comments on the actual page, which are kind of tampered with. I don't think we're going to do anymore.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Clark seems to have Hollywooded out. I talked to him just a week ago.
Michael Cera: Clark's doing his own TV show right now, too. He's doing a series called Greek that he's in contract with. They probably wouldn't let him make anymore if he wanted to.
Clark is in this movie, isn't he?
Michael Cera: Yeah. Clark had a cameo in Superbad.
Did you get him in the movie?
Michael Cera: No, it wasn't me.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: It wasn't a cameo. He kind of hung out on set every day because he's good friends with Mike. We just put him in the movie.
Michael Cera: He auditioned a bunch of times for Fogell, actually. They knew him, and they knew that they wanted him in the party scene.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Really? I had no idea.
Michael, can you talk about the dance scene that appears over the opening credits?
Michael Cera: Yeah. We recorded me dancing for an hour straight. It was Evan's idea. For the DVD menu, he wanted the DVD menu to be-...I think they can do that. If it's like a Blue Ray disk, they can have menus that long. It would be an hour of me dancing without looping. So that people would be like, 'Oh, how long does this go on for?' They would wait for it to loop and it never would. It's actually a great idea. So I danced for an entire tape, which is like 53 minutes. And it's just a menu in front of a green screen. Then someone made...I think it was an Editor's Assistant...Made that intro of me dancing with like a silhouette. It was the intro of the movie. It was exactly like that. They hadn't changed it at all. Then they recorded Jonah dancing because they liked it and decided to use it at the beginning of the movie, which I love. I think it's really good. So they recorded Jonah dancing and then put it in. It was only done for the DVD menu. It was like at midnight, one night. Evan felt really bad about making the cameraman stay just to watch me dance. I felt like an idiot too.
Michael, you spent a lot of time with your character's real life counterpart Evan Goldberg. Did you try to emulate him on screen?
Michael Cera: Yeah. Maybe just from me hanging around those guys and accidentally becoming like them. It wasn't based on him. It didn't matter. Nobody would care. Because nobody knows those guys in real life, knows what they like. Most people who are watching the movie don't. It was more about seeming real instead of seeming like a bad impression of, seeming like just a person that actually exists. I don't think that was ever their intention was to have the characters sound like them or be like them. If anything, I think the dynamic between the two, the way they talk to each other. That's probably the closest thing to real life like them. Otherwise it was more. They were more concerned with how it actually looks. How would you say this in real life.
Did you guys ever do any method acting with the alcohol?
Michael Cera: No. I think it was all apple juice or water.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Or non-alcoholic beer. That stuff was gross.
Michael, are you headed more towards writing and producing in the future?
Michael Cera: I'd like to, yeah. Clark and Michael was a really easy show to direct. We both knew it really well and we were playing ourselves. We had written it, so nobody could tell us that we weren't doing the characters properly. Also, we did it like a fake reality show, so to direct it was really easy. Because we could see booms and stuff and we could look in the camera. Yeah. I like to do that. I just want to make sure I'm competent in doing it before I ever actually do it, so it's not awful.
What is your take on McLovin?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: He's kind of a nerdy character. He thinks he's a lot cooler than he is. He has a confidence about himself that you see in the movie. Later on, when he gets taken away by the cops, he thinks he's more badass. Its like McLovin unleashed, and he becomes cooler as the movie goes on.
Superbad opens August 17th, 2007.