In order for a movie to be entertaining, it needs to have characters that the audience can invest in. This element is always aided by having supporting characters that can provide history and motive for everything the principal character does. In Ruben Fleischer’s 30 Minutes or Less, Michael Pena and Dilshad Vadsaria play these all important roles.
Providing background for Danny McBride’s character, Dwayne, Pena plays a hitman who he hires to kill his own father, establishing why he and his partner, Travis (Nick Swardson), need to get together some quick cash. Vadsaria, on the other side, plays Aziz Ansari’s twin sister who has been having a relationship behind her brother’s back with his best friend, played by Jesse Eisenberg. But why should I have to explain it to you? There here to tell you themselves.
While on the set of 30 Minutes or Less last summer I and a group of other journalists had the chance to speak with Pena and Vadsaria between takes to discuss their characters, the make-up chair, and the news story that the script was actually based on. Check it out!
So there’s a scene where you actually get shot with a pen?
Michael Pena: Oh, this is where I got shot with the pen. I was pretty fucking amazed. It's one of those scenes where I was like, “I don't know how the fuck we're going to shoot this,” and actually, the writers always look this shit up. So, it's actually like a pen that does shoot a .22.
If you take anything from the set you're going to take that, right?
Pena: Yeah, but that's the most embarrassing way to get your ass kicked. “I got shot with a pen, dude.” You're like, “Oh, fuck.”
Do you endure any injuries yourself or is mostly just trauma?
Dilshad Vadsaria: Trauma, and Danny [McBride] pulling me back and forth, but I got to kick him and I got to elbow him a little bit. And I think I get to struggle with the both of them next week, kind of do a little bit more to them.
Pena: [starts imitating porn music]
Vadsaria: Yeah, the back of that van is really sexy.
And you and Aziz [Ansari] are twins in this?
Vadsaria: Yes, we play twins, right.
And this is your first major movie role, right?
How is it going? Is this one your favorite?
Vadsaria: Well, yeah. He is standing right next to me and will kick my ass.
How did you come onto the project?
Vadsaria: I auditioned, the whole traditional way. I went through the whole auditioning process.
Do you know who you were up against and were you intimidated by?
Vadsaria: There's this really, really pretty girl. I don't know her name, but I've seen her at auditions before and I came out of my audition and she was sitting there. I was like, “Oh, okay.” Then I walked out going, “Never mind, I’m not going to get this.”
Pena: Yeah, the pretty girl beat the pretty girl.
Vadsaria: This girl is like gorgeous. Maybe I would sleep with her if I was a guy, that kind of deal.
Can you talk about Chango? He's a hitman who is hired to kill Danny McBride's father?
Pena: Danny McBride's father, and he actually calls off the deal because Danny McBride is like, “Yeah, can I bump it,” as if it's a reservation at Sizzler. I'm like, “No, dude. You can't bump it. Fuck this. You became the hit.” So then I go after Danny and then with this scene over here, everything just comes to a head and I want to kill Danny. Then I see Nick Swardson's character and I was like, “What?” Then I have to kill two guys.
Are they actually doing this whole thing to get money for you?
Pena: Yeah, it's kind of crazy. They're putting a fucking bomb on one dude to go rob a bank to pay the other guy to kill his dad, and I was like, “Why don't you just put the bomb on the dad?” You see what I mean, but the fact is another thing that they got from Wikipedia which is that it's one of the shittiest ways to die or something like that. The guy was actually in on it. He wore a bomb on his fucking neck and he was like, “Give me the money,” and he robbed a bank. Then he gave the money to his friends and then his friends blew him up. I mean, what do you expect, dude?
There was a Colombian movie like that, too, where they asked for ransom money or else they were going to blow somebody up –
Pena: Think about that shit for a second. We're like, “Henry, this is what we want you to do?” “Is it going to be real explosives?” “Oh, yeah. Fuck yeah. It has to be.”
Vadsaria: “But trust us. We'll split it with you.”
Pena: “Yeah, no worries.”
Is your character a professional assassin who's done other jobs?
Pena: I think he thinks he's a professional assassin because if not he wouldn't have fucking…you know what I mean? I'm like The Professional.
In his head is he any particular assassin from the movies past?
Pena: You know what, that's funny. I won't tell you the name, but there's somebody that I know in Chicago that talks a lot like the way that my character does and he's in and out of the pen. He loves Scarface, Goodfellas, The Godfather. He's always quoting them. I'm like, “Dude, you're not them. Obviously you always get caught. That's why you go to the pen all the time.”
So he's remaining nameless because you're afraid that he'll come after you?
Pena: He knows who he is.
Do you think that bank robbers will be influenced by this movie, thinking that this is a way that they can do it?
Pena: That's how they did it in Heat and not much happened after that. Not too many people are that stupid. I think now, to be honest with you, they just say, “Give me some money.” Nine times out of ten don't they get caught. You should write that so nobody will be like, “You know what, the percentage is pretty fucking good. I might rob a fucking bank.”
And you have a partner in crime as well, right?
Pena: Yeah, this girl Juicy.
Vadsaria: She’s the one that came up with the idea.
Pena: She's like an ivy league chick that just happened…nah, she's a stripper. She's a straight up stripper and we have a little “bang sess”. A little bang session.
I was going to ask you to be a little more specific with bang sess, but –
Pena: I think with the fist going like this, bang sess, you know? Whatever. We have a romantic scene where we're both facing the same way [laughs]. Use your imagination. No, but we have a same directional romanticism going on and she's a stripper and is the one who kind of sets us all up. She gives Danny a lap dance, and is like, “Oh, really? You want to kill your dad? I think I know the guy,” and then she calls me up.
How long do all the tats take?
Pena: I think it takes as long as your hair takes.
Vadsaria: We come in at the same time.
Pena: Yeah, we come in at the same time.
Vadsaria: And then all the boys come in a half hour after us.
Pena: Yeah, they have to do a lot. Don't they straighten your hair?
Vadsaria: My hair, yeah. They have to blow it out and stuff, but you look over and he's sitting still.
Pena: With my iPod.
Do you have any real tattoos?
Pena: Yeah, of my mom right here. I'm going to get my son right here. Or maybe not right here, but maybe like this. I've got some real ones going. I have the starter kit. I've got the fucking band right here. I've got the skull right here. No big deal. It's like a starter package for posers in L.A.
The movie is balancing the comedy and action sequences. How has that been?
Pena: That's really interesting to me because when I did Observe and Report it was mainly, like, you knew you were doing a comedy, and I was, I guess, the bad guy for that. This one, it's interesting because you have to do a little bit of drama. This one, even when I read it, there are two scenes that I've done out of my character's sequence where they're actually more like drama. Then the other ones you can fuck around with a little bit. But there's some that are drama and then some that are comedic. I'm not sure how yours are.
Vadsaria: My character, she's like the love interest. So I don't necessarily get to play with comedy as much as I get to try and figure out what's going on with Jesse [Eisenberg]’s character. He meets me on top of a rooftop and all of a sudden he's telling me that he loves me, but she has no idea what's happening with the bomb or anything. So it's kind of two different movies going on at the same time. It's kind of like, “Okay, that's nice. I love you, too,” not thinking anything about it, basically. “I have to go downstairs because I have a meeting,” and then he goes, “No. You're not listening to me.” “Well, I don't know what the hell you're talking about.” So I don't get to do the stuff that these guys get to do.
What about being kidnapped?
Vadsaria: Well, we haven't done that yet and so I don't know what's going to happen next week. I'm kind of looking forward to beating them up a little bit and seeing what happens with that. Obviously, I'll try not to hurt them as much, but kind of figuring out how to hit them and surprise them and seeing what kinds of responses I can get out of them.
Pena: Just don't go for the balls.
Vadsaria: No, no, no. Just using the elbow and the kicking.
You've been screaming a lot tonight. How has your throat been?
Vadsaria: I know. After the fourth time I was like, “Ooh,” but now I'm going to have actually do it. That was just for them, but we haven't shot any of that yet. We're going to have to turn around and go in that direction.
What's happening when you scream?
Vadsaria: He shows up and then he knocks Jesse's character out because his character and Jesse's character, they've had a run in.
Pena: Yeah, this [points to scratch on his face] is from Aziz, this character. It was a pipe and he just hit me in the face. My character remembers that [laughs] and I have to hit that guy. So I take the first opportunity.
Vadsaria: Yeah. So he goes down and that's where the scream is coming from.
Now that you've had a chance to work with them, who would make a better real life criminal, Nick or Danny?
Pena: Danny McBride. No. I don't know. Maybe Danny McBride.
Why would he make a better criminal?
Pena: Look at Danny McBride [laughs]. I don't know, no.
Vadsaria: I think Nick, maybe.
Pena: You think, because he would make everybody laugh, like, “Dude, just give me the money. Come on, just give me the money, dude.”
I saw him breaking up in the scene with you, having a hard time keeping it together.
Pena: He breaks up all the time. He says something funny and he's like, “That was really funny. I'm sorry, let’s do that again. Sorry, man. All right, flamethrower.” He's really fucking funny.
Vadsaria: One line that he keeps saying that we just can't hold it together on, Jesse and I were cracking up on our coverage and he's cracking up on his own coverage when he says it, and so you're kind of like, “Oh, God.”
What's the line?
Vadsaria: It's not even written in the script, but he just sort of came up with it. When Jesse says to Danny's character, “Throw your gun,” and then he says, “Take the thing down,” he goes, “Well, I can't really throw it down. It's attached to my back,” like my backpack. He's giving an explanation. We just all lose it on that line.
I’ll be posting more about my visit to the 30 Minutes or Less set throughout the rest of the week, so be sure to stay tuned to Cinema Blend. Be sure to click HERE for all of my set visit coverage!
NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.
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