Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with the first SXSW interview I've gotten transcribed! Pat my back! I'm doing work!
This is a chat I did with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, power duo and super funny and nice dudes. We talked about the premiere of their latest flick, Neighbors, about 30-something couple who do battle with a fraternity that moves in next door. What's great about the movie is that the frat dudes are actually nice guys and Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are completely likable, too. There's not full on bad guys in the movie, just a bunch of funny people doing increasingly awful shit to each other.
We get to talk a bit about that dynamic, about a really crazy sounding fucked up scene featuring Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman that got cut from the final film and I couldn't help myself from digging into the proposed Preacher TV show Seth and Evan are spearheading at AMC.
Oh, and we touch upon the very possible fact that Evan and I could be related. Lots of stuff, so I'll shut up and let the interview begin. Enjoy!
Seth Rogen: Ain't It Cool is centered here (in Austin), right?
Seth Rogen: Are you from here?
Quint: I was born in the Bay Area, but I've been in Austin since I was 12, so I'm pretty much a local now.
Evan Goldberg: Two good areas to live.
Quint: Yeah. Pretty soon Austin's going to be like the Bay Area. Nobody's going to be able to afford to live here anymore.
Seth Rogen: I know! Like, they're knocking down the frat house where we had our party (a house on Rainey St, downtown Austin) and building condos, like, next week.
Evan Goldberg: That's the coolest block I've ever been on!
Seth Rogen: I know! It's so cool!
Quint: The Funny or Die house was put up in a cool little neighborhood. Did you guys see the Indian food place over there?
Seth Rogen: No.
Quint: It's called G'Raj Mahal and it's literally a Mom & Pop joint that started in someone's garage.
Seth Rogen: That's awesome.
Quint: I wanted to start by apologizing to you, Evan. I've never met you in person, but I interviewed Edward Norton a while back and he got up to leave, paused at the door, looked at me and said “Are you related to Evan Goldberg?”
Seth Rogen: (Long laugh here... you know the one)
Quint: So I'm sorry my face got compared to yours...
Evan Goldberg: We both have oval faces... my facial hair sometimes looks like yours does.
Seth Rogen: I could buy it, honestly.
Evan Goldberg: I bet if I put your glasses on I'd look shockingly like you.
Seth Rogen: You do look like a lot of Evan's cousins. (laughs) I'm not gonna lie.
Quint: Well, if we are distant cousins, can I crash on your couch when I'm in LA?
Evan Goldberg: Yes, it's open policy for all cousins.
Quint: Congratulations on the movie, guys. It was awesome. I love that it's not a typical comedy with a stereotypical evil fraternity doing mean things to good people. One of the smartest things you guys and Nick Stoller did was show there was a very easy way for both parties to get along early in the movie.
Evan Goldberg: When we were making The Green Hornet, Christoph Waltz said something great. Someone asked what it was like playing the villain. He's like, “I'm not the villain, I just have the darkest story.” He was like, “Who wants to see just a villain? That's one side, that's so simple, so boring You need layers.”
Seth Rogen: That being said, he was just a villain.
Evan Goldberg: In that movie. In that movie! That was him bitching about the movie!
Seth Rogen: That was him criticizing our writing.
Evan Goldberg: In this movie, Zac (Efron) was the closest thing we had to a villain. It was fun to give him some layers and have this emotional tug-o-war inside of him that the audience can feel happening.
Seth Rogen: I think it was important to us that people could sympathize with either guy. Our initial instinct was to just make something that critical of fraternity life.
Quint: You wanted to make your Revenge of the Nerds.
Seth Rogen: Exactly! Zac was like “Frat guys need to love this movie.” We were like, “You're right.” It was so simple a note, but it was something that honestly we hadn't explicitly said to one another and once he said that I think it really add a lot of stuff about the brotherhood and the friendship. As a result the movie is actually really sweet. They do all this fucked up shit and they fight and they hate each other, but there's this fraternal undercurrent to all of it that is somewhat homo-erotic, but still very sweet in the end.
It's always a balance you're trying to find. How much emotion does a movie need in order to sustain itself? This movie honestly needs less than a lot of our movies! (laughs) It kind of lives and dies on its jokes, almost, in a moment to moment basis. There's not a lot of emotional conflict in the movie, like me and my wife don't have a lot of problems.
Quint: I like that about it because then it doesn't become about “and now it's time for that scene. I guess I'll wait for that beat to be over and the movie to get fun again...”
Seth Rogen: Exactly! That's what we were trying to avoid so much. Like, it becomes about her not being fun...
Evan Goldberg: When we do the closest thing to that scene it's like a metaphysical comment on those kinds of scenes.
Seth Rogen: Yeah, it's a joke about it. It was a joke about how we didn't even want to be having that conversation because it's lame and we're not those people.
Evan Goldberg: In this situation it's always the dumb guy and the smart girl and the idea to just make Rose (Byrne) as dumb as Seth was so exciting to all of us. It gave her more than what the girl usually gets do in a movie like this.
Seth Rogen: A big moment was when we were re-writing the movie and there's the scene where the frat moves in next door and it's the first night and they're being loud and we want to go tell them to keep it down. For a long time in the script only I went over and told them to keep it down and I partied with them all night and I snuck back into bed and lied to her about it.
We were like, “This scene is the problem with movies today” basically. The implication is that my wife wouldn't want to come, that she'd be mad at me if I did do it. My wife would be mad if I didn't invite her! She would want to come and hang out and meet them! If she had a kid she'd probably even be wanting to get out of the house more!
Evan Goldberg: I couldn't imagine what my wife would do if I went to the party alone.
Seth Rogen: Exactly! Then we were like “she should go to the party with him, they should be a team.” That one shift made all the difference in the world.
Quint: You keep it consistent throughout the movie. From the first time they go over there to the bitter end. It really pays off spectacularly when Rose takes the reins. She's like a fucking Terminator, scanning the party, breaking down what they need to do and in what order to really fracture the fraternity from within. She's got a little Beautiful Mind thing going on in that scene.
Evan Goldberg: We should have done graphics on the screen!
Seth Rogen: It was so nice to have me and her be a team. It's not like I'm doing all the funny shit and then when you cut to her it's just to move the plot forward or the emotion forward. When you cut to her she's even funnier than I am.
Evan Goldberg: One of my favorite things she did is when they go over the first time and she does this (mimes sparking a bowl) and goes “Legalize it.”
Seth Rogen: That makes me laugh so hard. “Legal-Ize it, man.” Fuckin' goofiest, stupidest thing.
Evan Goldberg: You just rarely see a beautiful looking human being so dumb.
Quint: Yeah, if they're acting dumb in movies it's always the vapid valley girl bimbo way.
Seth Rogen: She's dumb in a fun way, like in the way guys are dumb often in these movies where it's lovable and fun.
Evan Goldberg: Yeah, you can still have a good conversation with her and want to hang out with them. Usually the dumb girl in a movie you don't want to hang out with.
Seth Rogen: Her you want to hang out with, she just makes bad decisions that lead to hilarious things happening.
Quint: I heard that you somehow made the impossible choice to cut Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally out of your film.
Seth Rogen: We did.
Evan Goldberg: It was the worst.
Quint: I've heard rumors of this scene...
Seth Rogen: The scene was fucked up.
Evan Goldberg: We're going to try to get it on the DVD.
Seth Rogen: We shot the movie really fast and it was a relatively low budget movie, so we didn't always have time to visually make everything as elaborate as perhaps it could have been, but there was a scene where Ike (Barinholtz) comes home... the frat is fucking with us and Ike comes home and has a video and it's like “Watch Me.” It's a video of Chris Mintz-Plasse fucking his wife, basically.
Then he gets a message on his phone and it's a YouTube link that says “Play Me” and it plays a hidden camera video of him watching the video of this guy fucking his wife. And then he breaks the camera and there's another camera. The joke is that there's, like, 30 cameras all around his house.
We had a button where at the end of the movie where Ike has sex with Chris Mintz-Plasse's parents and sends him a video of that happening.
Evan Goldberg: He fucks both of them.
Seth Rogen: It's a threesome with Ike and Chris' parents.
Evan Goldberg: The coda was Chris watching it, screaming, and he sits down and an airbag goes off. You'd think it'd be perfect, it was just a lot of layers.
Seth Rogen: It was disgusting.
Evan Goldberg: If you can believe it, we made his Dad's dick bigger.
Seth Rogen: It was horrific.
Evan Goldberg: Yeah, we went too far there. We have to get it on the DVD somehow.
Quint: Yeah, the world has to see that.
Evan Goldberg: We'll try our damndest.
Quint: Before they pull me out of the room, I have to say I am both super excited and terrified of Preacher being made.
Seth Rogen: Nice. As you should be! (laughs)
Quint: Not that it's you guys specifically doing it. I was terrified of every iteration that has been hinted at over the last few years. Christopher Nolan could be doing it and I'd still be nervous.
Seth Rogen: What are you scared of? What's your fear?
Evan Goldberg: You can still impact us!
Seth Rogen: Exactly! This fear could have a direct bearing on the television show!
Quint: My biggest fear is the weirdness isn't going to make it through the system.
Evan Goldberg: Wrong. The weirdness is in.
Quint: Also, you guys might be going in with a little more power, but I've heard pretty direct and damning accounts of how AMC butt-fucked Frank Darabont.
Evan Goldberg: We went into AMC last week with Garth Ennis and I've never felt like a studio or network was more on the same page with us. We pitched them and they said, “Perfect! That's exactly what we wanted to hear. No notes.”
Seth Rogen: Last week was the first meeting we had with me, Evan and Garth Ennis and (Breaking Bad's) Sam Catlin, who is our showrunner, and AMC. I obviously was a little nervous. It seems like the language is going to be the most restrictive thing, but that I'm not worried about.
Quint: Bad words aren't important. It's being able to stick with the crazy religious shit and translate that story properly I'm worried about.
Seth Rogen: That, the religious stuff, they're totally cool with. The violence, they're totally cool with. The nudity is hard, but we can find ways around that. Overall, it was one of the best meetings I've ever had, honestly.
Evan Goldberg: It was the best meeting we've ever had.
Seth Rogen: Garth was there. You know, inevitably we'll have to change some things to make it a TV show that functions properly, so it was very nerve-wracking pitching some of those ideas in front of Garth. He couldn't have been more receptive and couldn't have been more vocal about the fact that he knows there's a core thing that needs to be maintained, but other than that there's a lot of stuff that you can lose.
Evan Goldberg: He sent us a document and it essentially explained “You can fuck around with anything, just not the three main characters and their dynamic. That's the story. It's a character story.” in the meeting, at the end they were like “Garth?” Everybody looked at him and he just (Evan nods in approval).
Seth Rogen: He was really happy.
Quint: I guess AMC is at a point now where they're seeing how The Walking Dead is growing exponentially... the viewership seems to double at every premiere and finale. I'm hoping that they see that success and nurture you guys to make something great.
Evan Goldberg: They've implied they want us to go on a Walking Dead-type path. That seems to be their strategy.
Seth Rogen: It's really exciting. I can't believe we get to do it. Honestly, I think we're such big fans of it that it'd be hard for us to completely destroy it. (laughs)
Evan Goldberg: The beautiful thing is that Sam Catlin, who was one of the geniuses behind Breaking Bad, wasn't a fan of it until we got into this and then sped through it all and fell in love with it. But he's the one who's the voice of reason whenever we nerd out about it too much. He's the one, “Naw, guys.”
Seth Rogen: Yeah, because he hasn't loved it for years. He's only loved it for months.
Evan Goldberg: He understands that... like, in Breaking Bad some characters weren't supposed to live long and they kept them. He explained to us “You don't realize what you'll experience.”
Seth Rogen: He's like, “Who knows? It's silly right now to decide exactly what's going to happen.”
Quint: As long as Arseface is a practical makeup, then you and me will be fine.
Seth Rogen: Oh yeah. I never even thought about doing it as a digital effect.
Evan Goldberg: I don't want no Two-Face!
Seth Rogen: I don't think we could afford a digital one.
Quint: Honestly, don't get brought down by any negativity out there. People are just worried that it's such a tonally tricky adaptation to pull off, much like Stephen King's Dark Tower series.
Seth Rogen: I think our tone is honestly directly influenced by the Preacher graphic novels.
Evan Goldberg: We read Garth Ennis shit before we got to make movies and then we read it ramping into our careers. He's one of our greatest influences and now we're teamed up with him, which is a dream come true.
Quint: I wish you guys all the best. All I want is a good show!
Seth Rogen: That's all we want...And money! No. (laughs)
That's it. I did get to talk video games a little bit with Evan afterwards and both he and Seth were beyond excited that one of the classes in the brand new South Park video game was “Jew.” Like in Skyrim you can pick mage, warrior, etc... but also Jew. This tickled them something fierce, as it should. By the way, the South Park video game is really damn awesome. If I didn't have a film festival I'd be lost in it... well, that or Titanfall. But I am a man of responsibility! I watch movies and supply you good folks with these profanity-laden interviews! You're welcome!