Jacob Tremblay has already acted in a wide range of genres since his debut, but perhaps none is as funny as Good Boys. Out on August 16, the Seth Rogen-produced movie sees Tremblay putting his newfound improvisational skills to good use and generally behaving in ways his parents wouldn’t approve of. The young actor sat down with Screen Rant to talk about what it was like to learn at the feet of comedic giants, what moments on set were most memorable, and whether The Little Mermaid is in the works for him.
Amazing job on the film. I think it’s the funniest movie I've seen in a very long time. It’s at least the funniest movie of this year. First question: is it fun for you to get to do movie where you get to curse and not get in trouble for it?
Jacob Tremblay: Yes. 100%.
Was there any time that you were making a joke or delivering a line that you had no idea why it was funny to everybody else?
Jacob Tremblay: Yes, that has happened before. I was like, “What does this mean?” I would just go and ask my parents, and if they felt like I didn't need to know that then I didn't need to know it.
How was it to learn from a comedy genius like Seth Rogen? And what did he teach you to help you with this?
Jacob Tremblay: I learned that for improvisation, less is more. Even the smallest facial expression in improvisation can just add so much comedy to a scene.
The highway crossing scene is the most memorable scene. And, obviously, you guys had a bit of a throw up scenario there. What caused that?
Jacob Tremblay: So, basically, in the scene, I have a fake throw up. So, I throw up fakely, and then Keith got really grossed out. So, then he threw up, and I got really grossed out, and then I threw up. And then he threw up again, and it was crazy.
You have experience acting in dramas, horror comedies, and other genres. Do you approach acting differently for each genre? Or does it depend on the script?
Jacob Tremblay: I really like to do a bunch of different genres. I like to do trauma, action, comedy. And I thought, “What better person to do a comedy with than Seth Rogen himself?”
True story. I talked to Keith and Brady earlier on, and they said that there some scenes in the film that their parents thought were a little too much. Did you have those experiences at all?
Jacob Tremblay: I can't remember. But if we ever felt like, “I don't feel like I really want to say this. I don't feel comfortable saying this,” all we'd have to do is just tell Lee and Gene. Everyone was super respectful on set, and they would just say, “Oh, yeah, of course, we can totally change it.”
You guys had a lot of freedom with the improv, it seems like, with what you guys created. What did you find was the most challenging about that?
Jacob Tremblay: Well, you have to really, really be in your character to be able to improv. Because if you improv as Jacob Tremblay, it doesn't really mean as much, I guess you would say. But if you're really into your character, and you really know what your character would say in certain situations, then improvisation can get really funny and really smart.
You have great success as a dramatic actor. Is it harder for you to act for laughs? Because I hear that comedy is harder than drama at times.
Jacob Tremblay: Yeah, I feel like it's harder to hold in laughter than it is to cry in a scene for me. I don't know why. I'm just a very happy kid. I love to laugh.
You were the first person to cast in the movie. Why were you interested in acting in Good Boys in particular?
Jacob Tremblay: I just like to do a bunch of different genres. And I’d love to do a comedy with Seth Rogen, so I just got really excited about it. My parents thought it was super funny too, so we were like, “Let's do it!”
It absolutely is. Your character Max is very unique; he’s more into girls than his friends are. Talk to me about Max's journey in this film.
Jacob Tremblay: Well, he does discover a lot. Because he really wants to remain best friends with Thor and Lucas, but that's not always how it works. Sometimes you grow apart and sometimes you discover what type of friends and what type of friend group is for you. And that's really what's happening with Max in this one; he's more into girls and popular kids than Lucas and Thor. And, yeah, it's about that journey.
For being so young, you have such a wealth of knowledge in this industry, because you've done so much and been active in so many things. Did you have any advice for any of your costars in this film?
Jacob Tremblay: I don't really remember. I mean, I think they kind of taught me stuff, I guess. Because Keith is really good at that deadpan comedy. He’s so funny. And then Brady is also amazing at that physical comedy, and I felt like I could learn a lot from them.
There's a rumor that you took the paintball training very, very seriously. Talk me about the preparation for filming that scene.
Jacob Tremblay: I don't know if this is really that serious, but I remember I watched the scene from The Matrix, where Neo has his trench coat and is doing all the acrobatics and shooting stuff. I remember I watched that scene with my mom, and then I got in character and was able to really harness the power of Keanu Reeves doing some cool stuff.
I like how you did the “woah,” too, like Keanu Reeves would. Will Forte plays your father in this film and his character is often angry. How was it working with him, and what's the best or worst part about playing his kid?
Jacob Tremblay: It was so hard to keep a straight face. I actually played the young version of him in Last Man on Earth, and it was so hard to keep a straight face. He’s just such a funny dude. He was always like, “Look at me. Look at me when I'm talking to you!” And he's just like, yelling in my face. He's such a funny dude, and I love his work so much.
You guys obviously had a good time making Good Boys, and there's a ton of improv. Is there anything, improv-wise, that you wish made it into the film? I know you talked about the mall sequence, but is there anything else?
Jacob Tremblay: Not that I remember. Not that I know of. I do remember a lot of improv that didn’t make it in the movie. You know, sometimes when you improvise, it doesn't always work. Sometimes you will try something, and if it's not funny, that's okay. You tried it. You don't have to be embarrassed about it not working. That just means it doesn't work for the scene, and maybe it'll work for another scene.
A part of this movie was shot at your school. Was that weird for you?
Jacob Tremblay: It was a little bit weird, especially because we had to move lockers. My own classmates had to move their lockers to a different place because that's where we were filming. I actually did have to move my own locker. And I also remember, I would sneak as much crafty food into my locker as I could. So that when school started I would be able to be the Snack King, trading people a bag of chips for a beef jerky or this for a pizza pocket.
That's amazing. That might be the highlight of the story. You also get to play another kid with major problems in Doctor Sleep. What was it like going from that extreme to this extreme?
Jacob Tremblay: Well, my role is just a cameo in Doctor Sleep.
Lion King just came out; it’s a huge hit. Next up is a big project: The Little Mermaid. You're going to be playing Flounder.
Jacob Tremblay: It’s actually not confirmed yet, so –
You can't talk about it.
Jacob Tremblay: Yeah. But I'd love to play in a Disney movie. I think that'd be really fun.
Well, let me ask you this then. Are you a fan of the original Little Mermaid?
Jacob Tremblay: Of course, I am! I love that movie so much. I remember my mom and my dad, we had an old car that had those TVs in it, and we'd always watch The Little Mermaid.
Well, I'm pulling for you to be Flounder. I hope it happens, man, and I’d love to hear you sing.