Since neither of you is from a small town, how did you get into the spirit of places like that, and how fracking is impacting those towns?
We did a ton of research. Once you start reading about fracking-- it wasn't nearly as big an issue two years ago as it is today. We hadn't seen Gasland or anything like that. We started reading all these firsthand accounts, and this series in the New York Times called Drilling Down. We kept reading everything we could and researching these individual specific stories. Then we went to upstate New York and and visited these small towns. [The convenience store] Guitars, Gas, Guns and Groceries is based on a real store in upstate New York. It's pretty easy to tell the story of the unheard voice in the landscape like the one we have now. It was really sort of about the universal people that weren't being heard rather than getting into cliches and stereotypes.
And you've been really careful to avoid taking sides on the fracking debate. How did you pull that off?
When we started the script and knew it would be about fracking, Matt said to me once, "For some people this become the anti-fracking movie. People will try to claim it's this one thing, because oft he subject material. We knew that until people saw it, they could say whatever they wanted about it. We knew once we got the script down it would be self-evident what we were doing.
We wanted it to be genuine. We wanted every single character to be very specific. It was really important to us to make the townspeople smart and legitimate adversaries for Matt and the other people. The cliched version of "The town is stupid and they didn't realize what was happening" is not at all what was going on. These people have a vested interest, and they're very responsible. You bring on someone like Gus, and his whole m.o. is intimacy, genuine genuine. He would not allow these people to be represented as some kind of whole that could be written off as a group. He was a phenomenal
You and Matt both say that these are roles you wouldn't have gotten if you hadn't written them for yourselves. Why is that?
Once Matt and Gus were a part of it, it's a pretty high-profile movie. Had I not written it, it would have been an incredibly competitive landscape for an actor, because it was a really fun part. The constant feeling that you're trying to figure out who this guy is for the whole movie, that' something really fun to play. To not play a one-sided character is obviously exciting. When you get to the end, something like that, it's just an honor to play something like that, but it's something I've always wanted to sink my teeth into. This whole process is surreal. To be a guy who's going through a huge transition in his career, coming off a television show. It's probably one of my proudest moments. At the same time, The Office is never something that I'm looking to get off of or ever was.
Yeah, when did you realize that you were going to be releasing this major movie while also transitioning out of this career you've had on The Office?
I didn't realize, I don't think, until very recently, that it would be an actual transition. I guess in my head The Office has been such a huge part of my life that there would be the end of that and then taking time to figure out what I did next. The fact that this is all happening at once is one of those things that is so surreal, but probably helpful to keep my mind off it. Starting in the new year, that'll hit home. We're so proud to be doing these big steps with introducing the documentary crew. After new year, when we start getting into those final episodes, it's going to be really intense.