Earlier this week we brought you updates from The Green Hornet executive producer and co-writer Evan Goldberg on several of his upcoming projects including (but not limited to) Pineapple Express 2 and Sausage Party.
Today we bring you the portion of our interview with Evan – in which we discuss how he and writing partner (and The Green Hornet star) Seth Rogen developed their approach to the film.
Look for our additional interview with Goldberg on the trials and tribulations of working with a previously established property, and the sometimes erratic and confusing responses associated with fanboy culture.
SR: Were you and Seth fans of The Green Hornet prior to your involvement with this film?
EG: Yeah we were both the same, we watched Batman and The Green Hornet when we were kids, then they brought this project to us and we were like ‘that sounds really interesting,’ and they were like ‘it’s gonna be a big action movie!’ and we were like ‘we’re in.’ Literally on this very spot, where we are sitting, we had our Pineapple Express base camp and Neal H. Moritz (The Green Hornet producer) and his cohort Ori Marmur came down, and Ori is like a comic-book kind of nerdy guy who works with Neil, and he was like ‘ah Sh**t, Ori these guys together would be good, and The Green Hornet’s the perfect project.’ So they brought it to us, and they pitched it to us, and we were into it.
SR: Was the approach to the material a collaborative effort? Obviously if they’re coming to you guys, they’re looking for a more comedic bend.
EG: They liked our pitch about what it could be — which was to mess around with the hero/sidekick dynamic and to explore the funny quirky little bits, while still keeping it a pseudo-realistic big action movie.
The relationship between Brit and Kato is one of the most talked about, and interesting, elements of the film. In some respects, it turns the sidekick/hero dynamic on its head. Kato is far more skilled, intelligent, and capable than Brit — and yet, without Brit’s drive and financial resources, he would remain the mechanic and coffee maker to a spoiled rich brat – a mass of unfulfilled potential. In the sense that Brit assists Kato in reaching said potential, Brit is the sidekick, and Kato the hero. The sidekick often has strengths that the hero lacks, however, and in that sense, and in that Brit takes nearly all of the credit and supplies all of the resources — the tropes of the sidekick/hero dynamic remain fulfilled.
Another dynamic that the film plays with is between the boys, and Brit’s lovely assistant Lenore, played by Cameron Diaz. Her character was at one time little more than eye-candy, and a possible romantic interest for Brit. She now serves and a unwitting mastermind for two men who never stand a chance with her, yet convince themselves that they are in a romantic rivalry for her attentions.
POSSIBLE SPOILER FOR A FUN MOMENT IN THE GREEN HORNET
There is a painfully uncomfortable, and yet funny, moment in the film in which Seth Rogen’s character begins making reference to Cameron Diaz’s age – asking if they need to “build a ramp” in order to hire her, and questioning why she waited until the “twilight” of her life to pursue her career.
SR: I have to ask, was the Cameron Diaz character always in her “twilight” years as written, or did that portion of the script come into play after she was cast?
EG: That was an improv between her and Seth during the process. We hired her on, and we knew we wanted her to be smarter than the guys, that was the initial thing. That was kind of the going joke with the writing. Cause, like back in the day, she was like this pretty girl who knew their secret and gave like one clue every episode. We were like ‘well let’s make her like really smart and actually she’s the one that, without her, things wouldn’t work.’ During their improv Seth just tried the risque line about her twilight, and she rolled with it, and we filmed it. She was like, yeah, okay, cool.
SR: It really was one of those great, awkwardly funny, moments in the movie.
SR: This seems like a project that had a lot of cooks in the kitchen, what was the most outlandish note you got during production?
EG: I mean that’s impossible to say, every single person has had an extremely asinine moment. All of us have made a fool of ourselves, and been a hero. Matt Tolmach, who used to be the VP, Andrea Giannetti, Michel (Gondry, the director), me, Neil, and Seth would all sit in a room and yell at each other for hours, like truly yell. It was never serious, like ‘F you, I’m outta here,’ but it would be ‘no, you are wrong!’ We would get really intense, in each other’s faces, but not one particular asinine moment.
SR: So there wasn’t one winner for the most outlandish idea?
EG: Not the most outlandish idea, but, there was the moment when the financial outlook of the movie was undetermined, and it looked like a really big budget movie had suddenly been created. It seemed like our budget was a little bit bigger, and they wanted to up our power and we didn’t have a villain and so they were like ‘lets get Nicholas Cage in here.’ That wasn’t a bad idea, but it was so close to the movie being made, and we would have had to rewrite the entire villain. That was a very calculated move, that could have been amazing, but that was just a real wrench in the works — ‘rewrite the entire film right now.’
SR: Do you think it was better with Christoph (Waltz)?
EG: I’ll never know if it was better with Christoph, because the thing with Nicholas Cage is that sometimes he’s not that good, and sometimes he’s literally the best actor on Earth. I think in Adaptation, he is like out of this world. I can’t even describe how good he is in that movie. So you don’t know which Cage your going to get.
No, you never do. We do know more than a few people who absolutely agree with Evan about Nicholas Cage; though it should be said that Christoph Waltz makes a pretty spectacular villain himself.
The Green Hornet is in theaters now.