Seth Rogen and Zac Efron are two actors that you wouldn’t necessarily put in the same circles. The former is a giant in the world of R-rated comedies, not only starring in movies like Knocked Up and Superbad, but also now directing his own films. The latter saw his career grow on the Disney Channel, singing and dancing his way to teen heartthrob status through the High School Musical series. Both stars come from very different ends of the Hollywood spectrum, but this summer the two of them will be going to war in the new comedy Neighbors.
During an evening shoot last May, I had the pleasure of joining a small group of other journalists to visit the set of the new Nicholas Stoller-directed film. During our time on location we not only had the chance to watch some of the movie being filmed, but also talk with the stars and filmmakers behind the production, who shared plenty of funny and interesting info about the upcoming feature.
Based on a script by newcomers Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O'Brien, Neighbors begins as Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) move into a nice little California suburb with their newborn child with plans on settling down and beginning a real adult family life. What they don't account for, however, is the fraternity that exists in the house next door, run by chapter president Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron). While Mac and Kelly initially believe themselves to still be young enough to party with the college-aged dudes - unwilling to completely give up on their youth - soon enough the relationship deteriorates when the constant noise and partying begins to make life impossible. What could have been a friendship between old and young quickly turns into a bitter rivalry and a prank war with ever-escalating stakes.
The supporting cast of the film is outfitted with a number of talented comedic actors, both fighting on the part of the family and the frat. Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Craig Roberts and up-and-comer Jerrod Carmichael star as Teddy’s collegiate cronies, each with their own strange frat brother nickname (Assjuice, Garf, Scoonie, etc), while Carla Gallo and Ike Barinholtz play friends of Kelly and Mac’s, respectively, who also happen to be going through a very bitter divorce from each other (but that doesn’t stop both of them from getting in on the war).
As projects in Hollywood regularly do, the script evolved quite a bit as it went through its development stages, always keeping the core of the story, but in some cases radically changing the important details. Sitting down for an interview between takes, Stoller explained that originally the movie was a lot more male-character driven and mostly featured Rogen’s character and his friends fighting a war against the frat while his wife existed in a separate storyline. Ultimately, it was decided that this idea wasn’t going to fly.
"We all sat down and we were like, ‘This is crappy Old School,’" the director told us. "So we all went through it and figured out it'd be better if it was actually about Seth and his wife taking on the fraternity. It's a much bigger idea, and it makes a lot more sense."
One important element of the script that was maintained through the screenplay’s development, though, was the party habits of the fraternity brothers. Throughout the film Teddy and his mates throw all kinds of different ragers – including a blacklight party with gallons and gallons of Day-Glo paint – but the night we were on set was what you might call a more 420 friendly affair. You can check out pictures from set that night below: