Jonah Hill, Michael Cera and Christopher Mintz-Plasse don’t know where they had dinner last night. Really, the last few weeks are a blur. For the stars of the movie “Superbad,” the high school comedy about friends, parties and foul language, it’s been a wild ride. They’ve appeared on Letterman, traveled across the country and, in September, they’ll be in Europe promoting the film.
Hill, of “Knocked Up” fame, is the oldest at 23 and definitely seems to be the leader of the three. Mintz-Plasse, who steals the show in “Superbad” as McLovin, is a first-time actor. And Cera is best known as George Michael from “Arrested Development.”
I sat down with the three on a rooftop in Wrigleyville. Three other reporters joined and we talked about everything from Comic-Con to Seth Rogen, and of course McLovin.
Question: (After Chicago, the guys were heading to Comic-Con, which was in San Diego in early August) Comic-Con, are you excited? Cera: Very excited. I’ve never been. Hill: I went last year, and I’m way more excited this year because I’ve never loved a movie so much that I have done. Those are the fans for us. Cera: Totally, Comic-Con. It’s probably going to be the best screening so far, hopefully. Hill: It will be the best. Those are the people that write nice things about us on the Internet.
Question: Are you excited about anything besides your own movie? Mintz-Plasse: “Hulk” is going to be there. “Iron Man” is there. Cera: It’s just so cool to walk around. Hill: It’s going to be awesome man, I mean come on, it’s going to be fun.
Bayer: I heard Seth Rogen (screenwriter) based the character of Seth a little bit on himself. Hill: He was going to play it, but it’s not like it’s his “Walk the Line.” It’s not based on his life. Bayer: So there are never moments of him telling you, “I wouldn’t do it that way?” Hill: No. He’s one of my best friends and we worked together a few times, and we write together a lot. When I came on to the movie we did a lot of writing to make sure it tailored to my strong suits, and was a chance to showcase what I do and make it distinctively different than what he does. In no way was I playing Seth. It was the best experience ever.
Question: It’s being promoted as a raunchy comedy. … (But) it seems to be more than that, like “American Graffiti” and “Dazed and Confused.” Hill: It’s almost impossible to market this movie for what it is. What we attempted to do was make it more conversational and make it feel realistic. Because we felt like movies about teenagers, we couldn’t relate to (any of them). It is about the relationship with your best friend when you are young, everybody has had that.
Question: The reason it works is the friendship between the two of you. How did you develop that? Did you know each other beforehand? Cera: We were just acquaintances, once through a friend and once at a table reading. Hill: I found out we were doing the movie first, and then Judd (Apatow, a producer), who’s my mentor basically, was like, you need to make sure when Michael is in town you guys are hanging out. And this is while we were shooting “Knocked Up.” You know, make sure the friendship feels real. And luckily we didn’t despise each other. That would have been a terrible process. We literally hung out all day.
Bayer: What was hanging out? What did you do? Hill: Playing video games; (messing) around, I mean nothing … Bayer: Bicycles built for two? Hill: Yeah, a lot of tandem bicycles. … We owned and operated and ice cream truck and just drove around. Cera: We’d just drive around and talk about how excited we were about the movie.
Question: What do you think of McLovin and how did you create that character? Mintz-Plasse: The name came from Seth ’cause he wrote it. I guess I just put my own spin on it. I thought he would look like a nerdy looking guy but had an attitude. I don’t think he would be scared or afraid. Cera: Almost like an alter ego half way through the movie. Hill: I will say this to his credit, for someone who had never been in an audition or anything, he walked it, and we had auditions so many kids for his part, he walked in and does exactly what he did in the movie. He came in and did it like that, and we were like whoa! He knocked it out of the park.
Question (to Mintz-Plasse): How did you come to be in this film? Mintz-Plasse: There was an open casting call, my two friends had heard about it in an e-mail or something. And they told me about it, and they said you should come audition with us. And I said OK, I thought it’d be fun. And I got called back twice and then I read with these guys, and that was that. Hill: One thing that no one else got was it’s not fun for us to be mean to somebody and then (have the audience) feel bad for them. Bayer: So did you stay in character and decide to hate him throughout the filming of the movie. Hill: Yeah … and during the promotion also. He’s like the nicest kid on the planet.
Bayer: Michael, with “Superbad” and “Arrested Development” you play awkward insanely well. Where does that come from? Cera: I don’t know. Maybe kids I grew up with or guys I knew. And also the characters are really clearly written. Especially with “Arrested Development.” The pilot script was very clear on what kind of person he was, and I felt like it was part of me and people I knew growing up. With this, the character was written this way, less timid I would say, less of awkward personified. I guess it’s just something I can relate to.
Bayer: When you had to do the singing scene is there any part of you that gets nervous or feels embarrassed to do that? Cera: Yeah, at first, with the singing especially. The crew and lots of people around, but after you do it a couple times you kind of get over that. You’ve just got to. And once people are laughing … Hill: I mean it was just automatically the funniest … Cera: There was one version where I was just dancing in the scene, and had a lot of fun doing that.
Question: There is a lot of talk about the ad-libbing in this film. Is there anything you are particularly proud of? Hill: That thing with the Home Ec teacher, it was written as me kind of just saying, “Why can’t I be with Evan?” But it became more about me cursing, because I used to curse in front of my teachers by accident, and quietly apologize. And also, my last week in school, I couldn’t believe my teachers were still trying to discipline us. Like it mattered to the students, I just couldn’t wait to get out of here. My favorite line in the movie is, “There’s a week left in school; give me an (effing) break.” Mintz-Plasse: I just graduated, and my last year I was totally like that, I didn’t want to do any work. I just copied of all my friends and stuff.
Bayer: So is acting a hopeful future for you? Mintz-Plasse: I hope so, yeah. We’ll wait and see after “Superbad” comes out. I got an agent now, and they’re sending me out on auditions. Hill: I have a feeling people are really going to respond to Chris (McLovin). Cera: They already have at every screening. People are wearing shirts with his face on it. Hill: The name is so iconic, like Fonzie or something. Bayer (to Mintz-Plasse): Do you own the I.D.? Mintz-Plasse: No I don’t, people keep asking me that. I asked if I could have it when the movie was done and they said yeah. And now that the movie is done, I haven’t seen it.
Question: What is next for you guys? Hill: I’m just writing now. I’m getting paid to write two movies, which is all I’ve ever wanted to do my whole life. I’m taking my time, now that I had a chance to be a lead in a movie that I really like, that I love actually. Cera: “Love, Actually.” Hill: “Love, Actually 2” … “Love, Possibly,” but I am in no rush to act in a movie, because I want to make sure it’s right. I want to make sure it’s as good or better than “Superbad.” Michael is in a new movie with Jack Black and Harold Ramis, which is the coolest thing ever. Chris is going to explode hopefully.
Question: Any hope for an “Arrested Development” movie? Cera: I don’t know. I doubt it. It’d be great, I’d love to. I don’t want to get my hopes up. One of the writers, Jim Vallely, who wrote the show with Mitchell Hurwitz, said … and there was a time we might have been going to Showtime, and he said the first thing he wanted to do, which would have been the fourth season, the opening shot would have been Gob having sex with a girl from behind.