The summer season is almost always the best time of year for R-rated comedies, and this year Nicholas Stoller’s new movie Neighbors looks to be a part of that long tradition. The film tells the story of an escalating prank war between a suburban husband and wife and the fraternity that moves next door, and things promise to get out of hand. Yesterday I told you all about my time on the set along with a small group of other film journalists, hearing about all the ridiculous parties that will be featured in the movie, but it wasn’t until talking to stars Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Dave Franco and newcomer Jerrod Carmichael that it started to become clear just how hard R-rated the new film is going to be.
The three actors were kind enough to sit down with us for an interview between scenes on set and talked about not just the ridiculous over the top shenanigans that they’re characters get into in the movie, but also the different kind of experience it is working with Nick Stoller as a director, the interesting experience of acting with a giant 14 inch penis, and what it’s like to perform sex scenes around a group of people that you only just met. Check it out!
Can you tell us a little about your characters in your own words.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Yeah. I play--I play Scoonie in this. He has a very large penis, like 14 inches.
Jerrod Carmichael: We'll lead with the personality.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: I have to. I don't know what you guys are talking about. That's all they need to know about him.
Jerrod Carmichael: Oh, wow. All right.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: He's the most three-dimensional character.
Jerrod Carmichael: I'm Garf. I believe that it is not the size of the boat… [laughs]. I'm a fraternity brother and, I get to have fun and react to all the insanity that I'm sure you've seen.
Dave Franco: Garf does the hardest drugs in the movie.
Jerrod Carmichael: I do a lot of hard drugs.
Dave Franco: He does.
Jerrod Carmichael: I tried to leave that out, but I don't like to talk about that as much.
Dave Franco: Horse tranquilizers.
Jerrod Carmichael: Horse tranquilizers on the reg.
Dave Franco: Yeah.
Jerrod Carmichael: So, yeah. It's a lot of drugs. A lot. I'm really enjoying college. I don't know what these guys are doing, but I'm actually enjoying it.
Dave Franco: And I play Pete, who is the vice president to Zac [Efron]'s president. And I'm the guy who starts out the movie kind of with the same mentality as Zac's character.It's the same mentality as Zac's character in the sense that we both have a one-track mind. Want to party and get girls. But then throughout the film, you see that Pete actually is working towards having a future. Delta Psi isn't his whole world as it is for Teddy. And he is the smartest of the dumb kids and slightly nicer than the rest of the mean kids.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: You're a real character in this.
Dave Franco: Yeah.
Jerrod Carmichael: Yeah, much like real college, only 1% of the characters have a future.
So, Christopher, with this role, how method did you get? Did you watch Boogie Nights to get into character?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Boogie Nights is a baby compared to what my penis is in this. Yeah, yeah.
Jerrod Carmichael: Boogie Nights is a baby?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Boogie Nights is a baby.
Jerrod Carmichael: Everybody got that, right? Boogie Nights is a baby.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Not the movie, just the penis. The movie itself was fantastic. I was in no method for this. The actual penis that I had to wear was so uncomfortable and so ridiculous. I'll do penis talk all day.
Jerrod Carmichael: Seriously, we're talking about the pathos of this man.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: I was in this movie for, like 15 to 20 minutes, man.
Jerrod Carmichael: What is your penis' motivation?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Well, my penis thinks that--.
Jerrod Carmichael: I'm sorry. Half of your screen time, you literally are naked, though.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: My penis is out, yes.
Dave Franco: Yeah. Yeah. And your ass.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: And my ass is out in this, too. Got to give the women what they want.
Jerrod Carmichael: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: You show your butt in this, too, Dave.
Dave Franco: I do. I do. I do my first real sex scene and the one note they gave me was "More jackrabbit." And this guy was….
Jerrod Carmichael: Oh, man, I….
Dave Franco: Front row seats to it.
Jerrod Carmichael: And we had just met.
Dave Franco: I had just met the girl in the scene as well.
Jerrod Carmichael: Yeah, yeah. It was just, like, "Hey, Dave, nice to meet you." "Oh, you'll be watching my ass move rapidly for a few takes." Yeah, it was great. I learned a lot, actually.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: You did. You texted me the next day, saying I have so many questions for Dave.
Jerrod Carmichael: So many. I learned a lot. I'm yet to apply the things I've learned in my personal life, but I look forward to it.
This is a hard R movie – can you talk about the freedom of being able to say and do whatever the fuck you want?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Dave, you take this one.
Dave Franco: What was the question again?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: How do they let you into this movie? No, I'm kidding.
Dave Franco: It's a valid question.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: The question about the freedom to say and do whatever the hell you want.
Dave Franco: It's great. But at the same time, I don't know. Sometimes after we finish a scene, I look back and I'm, like, "Did I say fuck too many times?"
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Never.
Dave Franco: No?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: No, I don't think so.
Dave Franco: Okay.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Not enough, honestly.
Dave Franco: Okay, all right. That just kind of took the wind out of my sails. It does feel great to have the freedom to say whatever we want. Literally, like, you can get really dark and weird with it. Hard R. I mean, we see Chris' dick.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: And it's not even the words. There's so many drugs in this movie. And there's a boner rig that you wear.
Dave Franco: Right, right.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Every day, it just gets crazier and crazier. Because it's an R movie, you're allowed to do that kind of stuff.
Jerrod Carmichael: As a man with a background in children's cartoons, I really enjoyed it. I have no credits. "Does he really have a background?" No background at all, actually [laughs].
It's all your first time working with him, if I'm not mistaken. So, just what has it been like working with Nick Stoller and his process?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: He's one of my favorite directors that I've worked with so far. He's so relaxed. I've done movies in the past where it's been, like, a crazy director and his energy is very high and he's very nervous. So, the set around him is very frantic and nervous. Nick is just so mellow and so relaxed and he's throwing it all.
Dave Franco: What I love about Nick is that being relaxed, what allows that--him to do is to really kind of, like, you know, live in the moment and enjoy what he's watching. And he is cackling behind the monitor. Literally, probably ruining takes by how loud his laughter is. But it's so encouraging. It's, like, I've been on sets before, even comedies where everyone's so serious and you walk away from a scene that's supposed to be really funny, but, like, everyone's, like, you know, so, like, dower and, like, serious and it's just, like, well, I attempted to do several jokes there, but I don't know if any of them worked because of how everyone's reacting.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Yeah.
Jerrod Carmichael: He has this infectious shout, like, enthusiasm.
Dave Franco: Yeah, mm-hmm.
Jerrod Carmichael: That makes you want to do better for him. Yeah, you want to--you want to try and make him laugh because that's, like, a reward in itself.
Dave Franco: Yeah.
Jerrod Carmichael: Like, that's the immediate reward.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Smart. Smart on his part because it's a silly movie. So, if he is silly and we feel comfortable to be silly around him, we'll be silly in the movie.
Jerrod Carmichael: You just--you just said--that's it.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: It felt really good. I felt like saying that.
Jerrod Carmichael: It felt great.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Yeah, it felt great.
Jerrod Carmichael: It felt great to me.
What is being in this movie mean to all of you as far as your personal goals and your career and stuff like that?
Jerrod Carmichael: It's been written by Noam Chomsky [laughs]. Yeah. Yeah, it's like, "I didn't know that?" Let's start with my childhood.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: This is your first movie.
Jerrod Carmichael: This is my first movie. So, it means it's really fun. I hope that everything else could try and at least match this. It really means the world that they allow me to be a part of the vision of it and it's been really fun.
Dave Franco: And for your character, it's one of these things where it is such a loose set and there is so much improv that on the page, you probably have--.
Jerrod Carmichael: I had, like, four lines.
Dave Franco: --Four--literally. Literally.
Jerrod Carmichael: Yeah, yeah, literally.
Dave Franco: But now, he's, like, a significant part of the story.
Jerrod Carmichael: Well, it hasn't been edited yet. What was the thing like? I'm all over this thing.
Dave Franco: Fair enough. But…
Jerrod Carmichael: But there's a chance.
Dave Franco: Yes.
Jerrod Carmichael: I'm all over this thing, you guys.
Dave Franco: Because, like, they recognize that he is a naturally funny person and they'll try to give you as many lines as possible.
Jerrod Carmichael: They really do. I think all of our lines, you know, throughout this whole thing… it's riffs and whoever says something funny, whoever has the best reaction....
Dave Franco: That being said, it doesn't feel like a competition, you know? We are genuinely supportive of each other. I've known Chris for a few years and we're pretty brutally honest with each other where I'll be, like, "Hey, is this funny?" and he'll be like, "No, that's awful." [laughs]
Jerrod Carmichael: --That's what friends are for.
Dave Franco: It's nice, though, because when you have the freedom to try literally anything, you want to feel like you can fall on your face and it's not going to be embarrassing. It's, like, "Alright, I tried it, that sucked. Let's try a new one." It's such a supportive environment.
Chris and Dave, you guys have worked together before, you've done shorts. Were you sort of a package deal when it came to this film? Or could someone come first?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: In a way we kind of…
Dave Franco: We both came first in the other person's mind.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Yeah. I knew you were doing it... Oh, no, I didn't know you were doing it.
Dave Franco: No, not at all.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Evan [Goldberg] hit me up to do it. And then I was on the fence because I was maybe going to record an album with my band.
Dave Franco: But then I heard that Chris was fully attached.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Yeah.
Dave Franco: And so, I wanted to tell him in person. I was giddy to tell him that I got the part. And we go out for drinks and I was, like, dude, I'm in [Neighbors]. He's, like, no. I'm recording my album. I was like, "Fuck you."
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: You really were the defining factor that I was like, "I got to work with you again."
Dave Franco: So, it was my mission that night.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Yeah.
Dave Franco: I got him very drunk. And by the end of the night he committed too.
When you guys first got involved how much changed for your characters and for the movie?
Jerrod Carmichael: We kind of got to explore and figure it out on our own.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Throughout, yeah.
Jerrod Carmichael: Throughout. Like, we got to figure it out, through even in rehearsals, just adding these things.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: And the script is so different now because it's on the page. You hardly get the lines as they are on the page.
Jerrod Carmichael: No.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Everything is different. I would love for them to release the old script. And then when the movie comes out, the actual script. You know and compare how different it was. It'd probably be so ridiculously different, yeah.
Jerrod Carmichael: You're able to just add all these little quirks to the character. These little things from the high five - very specific high fives...
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: The Delta Psi handshake.
Jerrod Carmichael: Delta Psi handshake, yeah.
Dave Franco: We all are -- Chris, Zac, and myself -- we went out drinking before the movie started just to bond. And we got a little drunk and we knew that we were going to have a lot of freedom to kind of just try anything we wanted. And so, we were like, "We should come up with a handshake. Some very specific handshake that's going to make it seem like we've all been in this frat together for a few years. So, we created the most homoerotic anything anyone's ever done.
Dave Franco: Yeah. So, it's basically there's a little hand move, but then one person drops to their knees and mimes giving a blow job to the other person. The person on their knees takes it in the mouth and then spits it to any nearby brother.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: My brother Tess or whatever. And then, like, "Delta Psi!!"
Dave Franco: Yeah. Then did this "Delta Psi!"
Jerrod Carmichael: It's fun but it's simple enough so children can do it.