Danny said you are the nicest one out of the group who are trapped. How do you handle a crisis like this?
Jonah Hill: I don’t know. This whole movie is so complex, playing yourself and playing a version of yourself. It definitely feels like a cap on a certain era of all of our lives and coming up together. It’s cathartic in a lot of ways. I wanted to play a version of myself – and they’d originally written it differently – but someone who always saw the sympathy in a situation. Someone who was overly sympathetic to everything. And I poke fun at myself. Obviously everyone does in this movie. I went to dinner with an actor who was shooting out here the night before we started shooting, and he had a big diamond stud earring in his ear. So the day we started shooting I said I wanted to wear a big diamond in my ear and they thankfully let me do that.
At what point did you know you wanted to be in the movie, and at what point did you first read the script and see their version of you?
They asked me maybe a year ago? I’m not really good at time, I always have to go by movie. It was right after I finished Jump Street, I think. I came over to Seth’s house and they discussed it with me. There are a few people in my career I’ve been lucky enough to work with who I would do anything for and Seth and Evan are those guys. If they ask me to show up, I show up. It doesn’t really matter what it is. They’ve been great friends and I definitely will always be there to support those guys specifically. They deserve all the respect they have.
How has the dynamic of your friendship changed seeing these guys as bosses on set calling all the shots?
When I was younger they obviously gave me my big break, them and Judd and Mottola with Superbad. They were running the show back then, too, so it’s not like this feels like a boss-employee relationship like it has on other films. We’re close friends in real life. The next couple of jobs I have coming up I’m definitely going in as employer-employee, and Seth and Evan don’t treat anyone in that way. They don’t treat people like they’re their bosses, which is why people love working with them so much.
You say this is a cap to a period in your lives, do you feel like there’s something changing now that makes it different from when it was Jay and Seth’s short?
I mean for me personally, I can’t speak for anyone else. My college experience was making movies with these guys. We all started out together and have grown and evolved in different ways. To have everyone assembled together for a movie like this, and have had them start together, is rare. I know this is my last comedy for the next year, year-and-a-half probably, so it feels like a cap to my early 20s. I don’t know how to put it without making it sound like it wasn’t important for anyone else, only me, but for these guys starting me out…it’s rare to get to work with this many people you’ve known for years and years and years. The next three things I’m doing are more hardcore, emotionally, and this is really fun. It’s cathartic and fun, there’s no other adjective I have for it. It’s fun, there’s no pressure or intensity, it’s just really a laugh.
When they asked you to do it did they already have you in the script?
You’d have to ask them. The first script I read, I imagine they wrote it for these guys. I just kind of showed up. They were like, “Hey, you want to come play yourself?” and I said sure! I’d do anything for these guys.
How different is the dynamic from Knocked Up, where you and Jay and Seth had a lot of scenes?
That was like my first bigger movie role, I think. Well, I had done a modern movie classic called Accepted before that – I think it’s on the AFI 100 list, if you’ve never seen it – but I don’t know. I was younger and learning about having bigger parts and movies and learning from Judd and Seth and those guys. I really like John Cassavetes movies and how it’s just people hanging out and talking. That’s why Knocked Up, when those scenes were really good, just felt like people were hanging out and you were kind of spying on them in a weird way. I think in this movie, too, I try to emulate the vibe of whatever is going on at the time, so the talking and joking around with one another almost right up until they yell action fuels the casualness of the scene and the strong relationships you have with the people in the movie. These people are supposed to know each other really well.