Director Nick Stoller talks about Diddy, Russell Brand and the new 'Get Him To The Greek' trailer
In April, I'll be publishing a series of reports from the set of the upcoming Universal comedy "Get Him To The Greek," including one of the only on-set interviews anyone got with Sean Combs. I was there for the stuff you'll see in the new trailer where Jonah Hill gets stabbed in the heart with an adrenaline needle.
What new trailer? Well, the first trailer landed online this weekend, and Universal asked me if I wanted to talk to director Nick Stoller about the trailer, the film, and what's going on. We had a short chat by phone, and as always, it was good to catch up with this young filmmaker:
Drew: Sir, very good to hear from you.
Nick: Yeah, good to hear from you.
Drew: So, the trailer hit yesterday, and I’ve got to say, man, I love the energy of the trailer. It’s bigger and rowdier than I even expected.
Nick: Oh good, good. That’s what we were going for.
Drew: So I’ve seen you mention on Twitter... I think you guys are pretty much locked at this point. Are you completely done?
Nick: Well, we’re locked in the reels. Yeah, we’re basically done. We’ve got one last reel to lock and some sound mix to fine-tune. Just stuff like that. We’re done.
Drew: And you’ve screened it for the ratings board already?
Nick: I don’t even know... but, look, we’re an R movie. There’s no denying that so I don’t even know if we’ve done it yet, but we’re definitely we’re a hard R. We’re not into any NC-17 territory, so I’m not worried about that.
Drew: The thing that the trailer gets across very quickly is that this is Russell off the leash.
Drew: As the first film was about Aldous Snow embracing that whole “oh, I’m in rehab and I’m reformed and now I'm doing yoga and the uber-healthy thing,” which is a certain kind of obnoxious celebrity thing, this is the other direction 100%. And really, I was amazed at how much they even let you get away with in the trailer.
Nick: Yeah. And that's just the green-band trailer, too.
Drew: Yeah, the line about "It’s not a hobby." I had to applaud that you got that past them.
Nick: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, anything could be in that balloon. It could literally be candy.
Drew: I think the thing that the trailer hints at that I’d seen on-set that is really exciting is Diddy’s really funny, isn’t he?
Nick: He’s crazy in the movie. We’ve been calling him our McLovin'. He’s like our secret weapon. Yeah, he’s awesome in it. I mean, it is really like everyone down the line kicked ass. I mean, obviously Russell and Jonah are just hilarious and great, but Diddy is just crazy funny and then there's Elizabeth Moss, and Rose Byrne is really funny and great, so I’m really excited about it. We have no weak links.
Drew: That’s so great, man.
Nick: That was good.
Drew: Now, I’m sad to see that we’re not going to see you guys in Austin for South By.
Nick: I know. I know. It’s sad, it’s sad. I loved bringing “Sarah Marshall” there, but I don’t think we’re going to... like, the movie won’t be ready in time, I think.
Drew: It just seems like such a great party atmosphere for that, but then again maybe you guys shouldn’t bring Russell anywhere near Austin. You may never get him back.
Nick: That’s a good point.
Drew: So, your release date is..
Nick: Our release date is June 4th.
Drew: And are you guys planning anything special at the Greek?
Nick: Our premiere will be at the Greek... I believe a week and a half before that, and it’s going to be an outdoor premiere, and I’m really excited about that. We'll put up a big screen there and really blast it, and I think the whole party and everything will be up there too.
Drew: It’s going to be a really strong and interesting year for Jonah. He’s talked about how proud he is of this film, and have you seen “Cyrus” now?
Nick: I haven’t seen it but I’ve heard it’s awesome.
Drew: It’s something else, man. And he is... I think people are going to embrace that side of Jonah that they didn’t realize existed, and then this is a Jonah Hill front-and-center comedy which we really haven’t had yet, where he’s been the thing that’s driven the whole film.
Nick: Yeah. What’s interesting about this is that unlike “Superbad” where he was kind of like the obnoxious cursing guy, for lack of a better word to describe it... like, I mean, he’s really sweet in “Superbad,” but he’s trying to hide his sweetness behind a lot of cursing and stuff, you know?
Nick: In this one, he really is playing a sweet innocent guy, you know, who, like, who just gets pummeled over the course of the movie, and it’s pretty hilarious.
Drew: The one question I have to ask based on the response that I saw from several people yesterday and I think we talked a little bit on-set, but I’d love to clarify for people... why is Jonah not the character from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” but Russell is?
Nick: Well, we decided that, you know, J. J. Abrams was able to completely redefine the "Star Trek" universe, and that's something that people have put in years of their lives, where there's 40 years of mythology, and he just decided that like Spock was, you know, that whole thing. Our universe isn’t quite as... it’s only a couple of years old. I think we can mess with it. I mean, we all decided that Jonah’s character was very much a charicature and was a fun, like, kind of side character in "Sarah Marshall," but it just seemed weird to really connect them whole hog to that other character because it was such a… you know, he was a very broad character, so…
Nick: And it didn’t seem right.
Drew: Well, it was funny, because when I was watching you shoot “Sarah Marshall,” so much of that was just based on which takes you picked. I saw him play several variations on how that character would respond to Russell, and you guys kind of went with the "I’m deeply in love with him and I’m going to make sure that he’s mine by the end of the film" version in editing.
Nick: Yeah, like you wouldn’t want to watch a whole movie of that.
Nick: As funny as it is for like a minute in the movie, it’s like, you know, I think a whole movie of that might get a little tired and so we decided to make it a different character.
Drew: Now the rock music in this film is obviously a component of Russell’s world and the world that Diddy works in, so do you guys have a lot of guest stars and people that are contributing music as well as appearances in this film?
Nick: Yeah, we have... let's see... Christina Agulara does a little thing, and Katy Perry, and Pink does a little thing. We’ve got Pharrel... we have a little cameo from Pharrel. We tried to get a variety of stars in it. And so yeah, there’s definitely some cameos. We also have some…the soundtrack or rather the music in it was written…we had, like, Jason Segal wrote some of the music, and we had some of the guys... like Dan Bern and Mike Viola who wrote the music for “Walk Hard.” We also had Jarvis Cocker from Pulp write some songs and…
Drew: Wow. Is that some of the Infant Sorrow stuff?
Nick: Yeah, that's for the Infant Sorrow stuff, Carl Barat from the Libertines wrote some songs, so we have like a ton of... I mean, the songs themselves are written by actual rock stars.
Drew: I was curious about how Infant Sorrow sounds in the movie, because, man, if you have Jarvis Cocker writing stuff for Russell Brand to swagger around with, that seems like the perfect marriage.
Nick: Yeah, yeah. We tried, you know, we tried. They’re not... like, you know, if you listen to the lyrics, they might be a little funny or whatever, but we tried not to write parody songs or funny songs. We tried to really create a real rock star, you know? So the songs that were supposed to be good in the movie, I humbly think are actually good rock songs, and we certainly got good... when we screen the movie, we certainly got positive mentions about the music in it and stuff.
Drew: Oh, that’s great, man.
Drew: And now it looks like there’s some real forward momentum on “The Greatest Muppet Movie Of All Time,” as well.
Nick: Oh yeah. We hired an awesome director, James Bobin, who does "Flight of the Conchords," and I’m really excited about that.
Drew: That’s so cool, man. It seems like Jim Henson has kind of popped back into the forefront of pop culture this year with "The Muppet Man" ending up on the Black List and with your movie moving forward. I really hope that these things all... it sounds like they all pay tribute to him in the best possible way, and like we’re going to see things that speak to those of us who grew up on the Muppets and remember the heyday where they were hip and they were funny and they were absolutely not just for kids. They were for everybody.
Nick: Yeah, yeah. That’s what we wanted to go back to, the original movies and the original "Muppet Show," you know, in our script, and the original “Muppet Movie”, “The Great Muppet Caper”, “The Muppets Take Manhattan”... that was really our kind of inspiration for it.
Drew: So now that you’re wrapping “Get Him to the Greek,” is it a vacation next or do you have something else lined up?
Nick: I’m going to take a vacation and turn off my Blackberry. ( laughter).
Drew: It looks like you’ve earned it, sir. I’ve got to say the trailer really hit hard yesterday and I’m very excited to get a look at the movie.
Nick: I’ll say this too. The trailer does not capture how the crazy the movie is. Like the movie is truly… I think we’ve actually really made a totally crazy movie and I’m very excited to get it out there.
Drew: Are you going to cut a red band as well?
Nick: Yeah, there’ll be a red band.
Nick: Of course there’ll be a red band. (laughs) C’mon.
Drew: Awesome. Well, sir, thank you so much, and congrats again. Can’t wait to see it.
Nick: Thank you, sir.
"Get Him To The Greek" starts partying this summer, and we'll have plenty of coverage of the film before then, so keep checking back here at HitFix.
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