The geeks continue their mission to reach the summit of acceptance with Project X, a rambunctious found footage movie produced by Todd Phillips (The Hangover) and Joel Silver (Lethal Weapon, among many other films). The adventurous geeks, who eventually turn a birthday night into a life-changing event, are played by unknowns Oliver Cooper, and Jonathan D. Brown, along with Thomas Mann from It's Kind of a Funny Story.
I sat down with the three party gods in a roundtable interview to discuss the making of the film, the dead person they'd take as their party "+1," and how they feel about the people on "Jersey Shore" who make partying a profession.
Project X is now playing in theaters nationwide.
Which behavior or stunt that any of you did in the film was totally opposite to who you really are, as in “I couldn’t imagine doing that in a million years”?
Oliver Cooper: I guess humping everything, I did a lot of humping in this movie. That is totally against my normal protocol. [laughs]
Thomas Mann: I wish I was the type of a guy who would flip off a news helicopter. But I’ve haven’t had the opportunity.
Jonathan Daniel Brown: I don’t think I did enough in this movie. [laughs]
Mann: We all played versions of ourselves.
Cooper: Jonathan and I are twisted versions of each other in this film.
Brown: Not really, don’t bring me down.
Cooper: Yes, god forbid that you would be associated with my most evil character in party movie history. [laughs] People might want to party with Costa, but nobody wants to invite him over.
Mann: It was harder for me to play the darker side of things, like when my parents call, because the environment on the set was so much fun.
Cooper: Thomas had the hardest job on the movie, just because he had to be the glue in the midst of all the craziness. If you guys could invite someone as your ‘plus-one’ who is deceased, who would it be?
Cooper: Do you mean dragging them from the grave? [laughs] Whitney Houston.
Brown: I would bring Winston Churchill. The man certainly could drink. Add Franklin and Teddy Roosevelt, and we’d have a historical party. [laughs]
Mann: I would add in Thomas Jefferson, because he was a ladies man.
Brown: I was thinking if I brought Marilyn Monroe, there would be a slight chance I could hook up with her. Nah, she would go off with someone else. Probably JFK. Oliver, you have one of the more harsher characters in the film. What do think Costa has in his personality that still makes him likable?
Cooper: He’s likable because he’s a heightened version of people you know, that ‘guy’ in high school. It works as a movie character, because you can tolerate him, and just hopefully it’s funny. Sometimes it’s hard to watch myself because I’m so mean, but he has his moments, especially when he admits he can’t fix it at some point.
What was the line between performing and actually participating in the party?
Mann: It was blurred, because you can’t fake fun. DJ Jessie Marco would play between takes, and everybody was just dancing. The extras were great, they were the real party.
Brown: The director, Nima Nourizadeh, hand-picked all 300 of the extras in the movie, he was just looking for interesting people that would surprise him.
Cooper: His genius is attention to detail, and all the party stuff is so detailed and specific, which is why it comes to life. Everyone there is alive.
Did making a party film ever lead to true on-set chaos?
Brown: Well, we weren’t drunk. They gave us a choice between apple juice or O’Doul’s. There were extras that were fired for bringing in real booze or getting stoned. They would just come back the next day. [laughs]
One of the best scenes in the film is the exchange with the Dad at the end. What piece of advice or conversation sticks out for each of you in regards to your parents and being a teen?
Mann: I love that scene because of course the Dad is mad, but there is something else there.
Brown: I’m very close to my Mom and Dad, and I’m very bad at hiding secrets, so I’ll just say it. Like I’ll just go into their room in the middle of the night and say things like, ‘I totally did drugs.’ [laughs] It got to the point where they said, ‘You really don’t have to tell us that.’
Cooper: What I learned from Jonathan, is just to speak your mind.
Considering that the filmmakers consisted of older men, who was providing the youthful zeitgeist on the set?
Brown: The director Nima is in his early thirties, and he had a cool vibe. Todd Phillips has a keen eye for comedy and Joel Silver is great with action. In a way, we had it all covered, and it blended it into a soup of a delicious, awesome movie.
Cooper: Nima knows what’s hip, and happening, and has it nailed. What stuck out for me was how he related to what is going on now.
Mann: There were some great moments that I think only Nima could come up with, like the girl peeing in the driveway, which was real. That’s the kind of stuff that happens at parties.
What was it like working with [former Youtube star] Dax Flame?
Cooper: He's a little weird, but he's also one of the nicest people I know.
What has the response been to this movie on the internet?
Brown: Everyone has been really nice ... except on blog comments.
Cooper: People want to judge a movie. But it's like ... it's just a movie. And people might say, 'This is so stupid, it's over the top.' But really, it's not shticky. It's very grounded in reality. And we had a lot of freedom. Todd Phillips has the power to say, 'Back off, and let us make this movie.'
Has being in a consistent party environment helped you appreciate the livers of professional partiers like those on "Jersey Shore"?
Brown: If anything, I respect them much less. If you’re doing this all the time, you are an a**hole. [laughs] They're not likable people at all.
Mann: We’re the losers, underdogs, we’re just doing this for one epic night. It’s not the "Jersey Shore."
Those guys get paid a lot of money just to appear at clubs, though.
Brown: I know, but are you kidding? I'd much rather be playing "Skyrim" in my underwear.