This generation's Animal House talks about making such a hilarious film
When the name Justin Long pops up, you don't immediately think 'superstar.' That's because he's never become that in any of his films.
But that's all going to change after Accepted - not that he'll become an overnight superstar, but people are going to start to recognize Justin as lead potential. In the film, he plays an average senior in high school, Bartleby (B) Gaines; he's applied to numerous colleges and gotten rejected to all of them.
When he realizes the only way he's going to get his parents respect is to make it to college, he decides to make up his own school - the South Harmon Institute of Technology. He gets his best friend, Sherman (Jonah Hill), to make up a website for the school; with the help of another friend, Roxy (Maria Thayer), he finds a location for the school which happens to be an old abandoned mental hospital; and finally, he finds a dean of the school in Lewis Black.
Once he's got everything in place, B and his friends are able to kick back, have fun, and play video games all day long. That is, until hundreds of kids show up one day because they got 'accepted' through a glitch in the website. Instead of turning them away, B has the idea to start his own school.
Because Justin was the lead, he had to take on more than just that 'supporting role' feel on set. "There are more cons I would say because obviously there is a lot more work; I got not a lot of sleep and I was there the whole time. I never had an experience where I was always on set and no days off or anything; it was sort of a burden to have to get out that kind of information and pushing the story along as opposed to coming in for a couple of scenes and doing the funny and then running away. You know, I think it was just a lot more work and for me it wasn't as much fun as it was doing The Break Up or one of those things where you just come in for a couple of days."
But Lewis was truly the 'star' of Accepted; after 30 years in comedy, he finally landed a movie role he could latch on to. "Well I worked for years as a comic without laughs; I'd get up in front of people and there'd be nothing, which is actually very close to the truth. I acted before so I came out of a theatre background and I'd done films; I'll tell you what gets you used to it is you do radio, which is really worse because you're there at 7 in the morning and they're going, 'So what kind of pets do you have?' You're trying to make it funny, it's another required skill; part of it is you've got to trust the guys you're working with."
Director Steve Pink actually went to Lewis to get him the part. "When Steve approached me he said, 'This is what we're going to do with it.' Then he went through what he planned to do and I went 'Oh ok, I get it.' (Tom) Shadyac, I trusted him just from the work he's done; I thought if they want me, this is easy. Basically you start to realize once you do a scene and people can get off and thin you're funny then that's when you just trust it, and then also you guys have it, that sixth sense of like 'that sucked.' This is the first film I had with a lot of stuff in it and even just doing others this year I'm comfortable without it. It's funny because you think this for me is the biggest role I've had and you think I want a lot of lines, and then after two days after a lot of lines you go, 'What the f*ck! Have the other f*ckers sit there and talk and you go 'yeah.'"
And the whole Accepted cast agreed - having Lewis on set was one of the best thing that could have happened. Jonah Hill was just excited he wasn't the star. "I will say this, I've always done really small parts in movies before this and thank G-d they were really brilliant. I will say this thank G-d Justin was the star because playing one of the leads in a movie is crazy after only doing little parts and someone who has done a bunch of movies was there to help out. For example, I wouldn't memorize my lines, I would just come in and improvise the whole thing and then Steve one day said, 'Just say the lines.' Usually they love the improvisation and he had a time thing so I had to just say the lines. I was like, 'Dude why he is saying that?' Then I'd go to Justin complaining after work and I'm like, 'What's Steve's problem? I just do my thing, let me do my thing; he's saying I'm not unprofessional for not memorizing my lines.' He's like, 'Dude, you should memorize your lines the night before;' I never knew that. I've never had to memorize my lines the night before. I'm use to going in and improvising."
The supporting cast makes Accepted up to par with some of the college comedies of the past, newcomer Adam Herschman and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants star Blake Lively talked about being part of this generation's Animal House. Even during our interview, they just kept joking around with each other. We asked Adam if this movie had opened up any doors for him, and he responded with, "I don't know, things are happening; maybe I'll do something like Thelma and Louise 2." Blake jumped in and said, "I want to be the Brad Pitt character." Adam popped back with, "I want to be the Brad Pitt character." When Blake said she wanted to do it, he then said "Well, then I don't want to do it."
For Jonah and Justin, they became such good friends after doing Accepted, they became roommates. Jonah was telling us he knew Justin a little bit, but it was after this movie that really started hanging out more. "It's cool to have a really good friend around to hang out together. Because on a movie set, you're thrown into this and you're forced to become friends; it makes it much easier when you actually get along with the person already."
The story is about a pseudo outcast in school, who never really was the 'popular one' but knew the popular kids. It's only fitting that most of the cast went through that same thing. Lewis went back to middle school for his best childhood moment. "A good friend of mine when in the 7th grade - I was always raising my hand in class answering any f*cking question and always had my f*cking hands up in the air; I was just a f*cking douche bag. He came up to me and at one point said, 'You gotta calm down;' he said, 'first off, you've got to stop raising your hand.' Then he said, 'Second of all you don't button your top button asshole.' I would walk around with the top button buttoned and I was choking to death; it really did change my life. All of a sudden, blood went to my head, all of a sudden it was like, 'Oh really. I'm supposed to do that.' But my mother was still putting me in jeans that would be described now as gangster pants. The crotch was so low and to do that in the earlier 60's it looked like you were sh*tting yourself."
It is that kind of comic timing and talent that make Accepted such a great film. Even producer Tom Shadeak knew he had to tell this story; it's very personal to him. "I'm such a fan of this movie because of the work Steve did; But we carry that same idea that Lewis carries in this film; this system is very broken; it puts pressures on kids, it boxes kids in. And everybody is a genius in their own way if you go to what they love; we're all about the individual, what makes people happy. But no one is like Lewis Black, Lewis Black is his own scientific experiment."
Being on set was an absolute trip, and most of it was between the younger actors. "I had the best time on set," Blake said. "Everyone would just make us laugh; Columbus (Short) would have us in stitches talking about K-Fed and Britney."
For Adam, this is his first film role - and just looking at him, you would think you could come up with a rated-R joke; however, Accepted is rated PG-13. Apparently, while they were shooting, there were some jokes that did slip by that may be on the DVD. "I haven't heard anything, but I have a feeling - just having Lewis Black in the movie. He would cut himself off if he didn't think he got it right. But I've been a huge fan of Lewis for a long time; working with him was a dream for me. He's a smart guy to be around; he knows the scene. I was talking to him one day on set, and he asked me how long I'd be doing this. I said, 'Well, a couple years.' And he was like, 'F*ck you, I've been doing this for 45 years and this is my first movie."
Blake was also in awe of Lewis. "He's so talented, and I was so terrified of him at first, But he's so sweet and he gives great advice, but I can't remember what he said right now; you'd have to bleep out the advice if I were to tell you."
After Accepted, you'll be seeing all these guys in some pretty big upcoming films. Justin is possibly going to star in Die Hard 4; no announcement has been officially made yet, but he's had meetings about that film. But, he's also in the upcoming Mike Judge movie, Idiocracy. Justin also does the best impressions of many celebrities, including Mike's most famous characters Beavis and Butthead. Justin is such a huge fan of Mike, he had him record his answering machine message. "I got all nerdy with him and so we all went out for drinks one night and I kept trying to think 'How am I going to get him to do this?' My last one was Steve Root doing Milton; he did something like, 'Hello, you've reached Justin Long, and I'm looking for my stapler, and I can't find it.' It was one of those and I had it for a year, and then it got old. So we were out and I just asked him, 'So Mike, do people ever ask you to do their outgoing messages as Beavis and Butthead?' I was like, 'Yeah, cause that must be annoying, right?' And he said, 'Yeah, sometimes they do; why, do you want me to do yours?' 'Yeah, if you want to.' And he actually messed up the first time, and I actually wished I would have kept it. He was like (as Butthead) 'Uh, yeah, like you've reached Justin's machine' - (as Beavis) 'Yeah, hehehe, leave a message;' (cough, cough) - and I should have kept that one, but then he just did a generic message like, (as Butthead) 'Uh, you've reached Justin's machine, please leave a message.' And that got old really quick."
But I truly feel Justin is going to be a huge star - he has the potential to become the next Vince Vaughn! He's talented, funny, and knows how and when to act. And that's what you get to see of him in this film.
Accepted is in theaters August 18th; it's rated PG-13.