Interview with Paul Rudd, Jason Segel and John Hamburg, Part I


What better place to meet two legends than in the bowels of a third?

Actually, the prospect sounds kind of cramped and ill-smelling. However the Bleacher Bar, situated below that venerable Fenway Park seating area, proved atmospheric and pleasant and a cozy spot to interview Paul Rudd and Jason Segel, stars of  the soon to be released “I Love You, Man,”  and rising stars whom “Vanity Fair” recently  included among their “New Comedy Legends.” They are joined by the film’s director John Hamburg,  a legend of sorts himself (he co-wrote one of my favorite recent comedies, “Zoolander”).

PK: They showed the film last night to a college crowd? 

JS: It was a young, kind of raucous crowd. There was a group of girls in the front row who had clearly had too much to drink. And were very raucous.

PK: Did you have a Q&A?

PR:Yes. It was a lot of students that were there last night. Yeah. 

JS: A lively bunch.

PK: Do you think we should have faith in the future college generation based on your experience?

JH: From last night, no. Not from last night.

PK: What’s the gender breakdown on the movie, do you think?

PR: From what I understand, it’s split pretty evenly down the middle. Men and women both seem to--boys and girls--what do you call them? Young men and women?

JH: Young men and young women. 

PR:  XX and XYs. 

JS: They all seem to like it cause it’s got elements for both.  John can probably speak to that more, because he wrote the brilliant script. 

JH:  Thanks Jason. (Laughter) No, you know, you judge that from all your previous great test screenings and see how the different--they divided into four quadrants and men and women under 25 and over 25, and it was at these previews they were within almost a percentage point of the same you know reaction to the movie. 

PK: All four percentiles? 

JH: Yeah, yeah.

PK: Would you say that the women over 25 they just sort of forget about it…

JH: Not really. I mean, it’s been proven with a lot of recent movies like “Sex and the City.” I mean, that was like, suddenly they tapped into these audiences.  Women over 25 love going to movies. They just, sometimes the movies aren’t marketed toward them, but we found you know they connected with the movie the same way guys in their early twenties did. 

PK: When I was watching the movie at first I thought this is promoting the same stereotypes that you see in the beer commercials, and then I said, oh, this is kind of like interesting because you’re sort of subtly subverting these stereotypes.

PR:  Yeah, it’s actually “not that.”  It’s a truer depiction of the male psyche than the basic generalization.  And I know that when I read it, I thought, oh, these are like guys I know and um, and--I love that Jason and I are two characters that can wear our hearts on our sleeves, that we can talk about our feelings and it’s…

PK: Just like real life.

PR:  Just like real life. Yeah, that’s the way I do. We’re very, very touchy feely guys.

JS:  Yeah. The only stereotypical alpha male in the movie is the Tevin character and he is villainized. I think if anything, we turn all those stereotypes on their head.

PK: This is the Jon Favreau character?

JS:  No, Tevin is the associate, who’s such a, such a…

JH:  Well, Favreau’s got a bit… Favreau’s…

PR:  I was gonna say that it’s such a funny thing that he said the other day when he was doing the interview…

JH:  Yeah, they interviewed Jon Favreau. They came to the set, some, Comedy Central or somebody and they said, “So Jon, do you consider yourself a guy’s guy?”  And he looked around and he saw Paul and Jason and Samberg and he then he goes (imitating), “In this crowd I am.” 

 (They all laugh)

PK: So you’ve got three actors in this cast who’ve all written and I guess directed movies? Is it a little contentious at times, what’s going? Or did you get a lot of improv going on?

JH:  It was only weird when they started yelling ‘action’ and ‘cut.’ Aside from that, we got along famously. No, you know what, this movie was a very enjoyable experience to make. And if anybody has a good idea then we all talk about it and there’s no… I don’t believe there’s any egos involved in doing it.  It’s just the, Jon Favreau wanted to do a lot of CGI work.  Which we didn’t have time for.

PR:  Or the budget.

JH:  The budget, or time. So.

PK: I thought it was all CGI.

JH:  Most of it. Well, Paul’s performance is CGI.

PR:  Yeah. We needed the latest technology.

PK: Your wardrobe was CGI.

JS:  Yeah, my wardrobe was pretty remarkable, wasn’t it?

PK: Did you have to pick that out?

JS:  No, the amazing costume designer Lisa Evans picked it out, who also did the costumes for “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”  She styled me. I mean, it’s so bizarre but it’s brilliant. I mean, have you seen Ugg boots that size in your whole life?

PK: Uh, not really. No. Where did you find those? Well, she found them.

JS: She found them, in Andre the Giant’s wardrobe.

PK: You’re wearing them right now.

JS:  I am. I am.

PR:  They had to be specially made. 

JS:  Each Ugg boot was four other pairs of other Ugg boots sewn together. 

PK: So this is the bromance genre. Do you buy that? 

JH:  I think, I have no problem with it, but I don’t really--we never approached the movie with it as a bromance genre.  In the original story for this movie was written by a writer named Larry Levin, like six or seven years ago before there was any talk of this. I think, there’s always just been movies about buddies, you know, Hope and Crosby even.

PR:  Laurel and Hardy,

JH:  Laurel and Hardy. Abbott and Costello. I mean, there’s always been comedy duos.  It just seems that maybe in the last six months or something, the term has been created, but we never thought about that term while we were making the movie.  We just said, this’ll be great to explore male friendship and really make that the theme of the movie as opposed to a subtext.

PK: So when does a bromance movie become gay? Is there a dividing line between…

PR:(uncomfortable pause) Well, I think we all know maybe, technically, what the answer might be. 

PK: I mean, is it like, kissing but not on the lips? (longer uncomfortable pause) Or… I guess, we’ll leave it at that.

(uncomfortable laughter)

You’ve been acclaimed as the new ‘legends of comedy.’ How do you feel about that?

JS:  I think it’s a gross overstatement, personally.

PR:  I don’t think anybody’s really thinking that.  I think probably.  It’s very, very flattering to be in “Vanity Fair.” 

JS:  It’s hyperbole, isn’t it. We’re just doing our best in this crazy world.

PR:  Aren’t we all, Jason, really?

PK: You chose different comedy icons to represent yourself. (To Paul) You chose Gene Wilder--

PR:  I chose Gene Wilder.  Who really is a legend. I love Gene Wilder. I always have. And I love that movie, I mean “Young Frankenstein” is one of my favorites. 

PK: (To Jason) And Buster Keaton was yours?

JS:  Yes. 

PK: That goes way back.

JS:  Yeah, you know, I started out as a fan of Charlie Chaplin.  Beause I think, you know, as a kid I was more familiar with Charlie Chaplin. "Chaplin" had just come out.  Remember Robert Downey Jr. in “Chaplin,” in that breathtaking performance?  Uh, yeah, and then I found that there was sort of another dude.  And so I checked out Buster Keaton and I actually liked him better. While Charlie Chaplin had a more hopeful energy, Buster had a more stoic and sort of morose energy, which I really enjoy.

PK: It’s more existential.

JS:  A bit.

PR:  And he loved trains.

PK: Chaplin’s a bit creepy I think

PR:  You think so? I think he’s incredible.

JS:  Yeah, I love Chaplin.

JH:  I think some of his, you know, real-life dalliances may influence that creepy factor.  But I think he married a 13-year-old. 

PR:  You’re sure you’re not thinking of Jerry Lee Lewis?

JH:  I, I… maybe.

PK: I think it was more like sixteen. But he did rob the cradle at one point. 

PR:  And then he married Eugene O’Neill’s daughter, Oona. 

PK: Right.

JH:  I didn’t know that.

PR:  Yeah. Oona O’Neill.

PK: So even though you’re not comedy legends, would you say that there’s a--

JS:  What makes you say we’re not comedy legends? (Laughter)

PK: Well, you said that.

PR:  New Comedy legends.

JS:  When you re-listen to this interview, you’re gonna say, wow, those guys are legends in their own right.  With that whole Oona O’Neill reference?

PK: Yeah, that was pretty good. No prompting either. Well, besides being comedy legends, would you say that there is a kind of renaissance in comedy going on.

JS:  I think there’s just a shift. I mean, it’s constantly shifting. I mean, think about what 80s style comedies were like.  Like “Loverboy.”  When Patrick Dempsey is having sex with women who order a special pepperoni and sausage pizza.

JH:  Yeah, he’s a pizza delivery boy.

JS:  Yeah, and it means they get to have sex. I mean, the 80s movies had a specific type of comedy and then it sort of transitioned into the Farrelly brothers era of comedies, and now I think it’s moved a little bit more into this realistic…

PR:  I don’t know. I just think that we’ve been in a couple of movies that have done well. And… you know, it’s, you can’t really pin any kind of style or anything.  It’s been a fortunate, fun thing to be a part of. Something that people go see and seem to like. And it does seem that, it is true that the style and taste of comedies seems to just change, it just does.  Different generations.

JS:  And what’s going on in the world around you as well, you know.

PK: Well, it seems like comedy is becoming more and more the serious comment on gender roles and other important issues.  So you would agree with that?  Speaking of gender roles, it wasn’t the cover, but the picture inside you imitated the notorious coger with Scarlett Johsanssen, Keira …Do you regret doing that at this point?  Because, uh, I’ve been reading some of the websites and they’ve been saying, how come they’re not naked? Are they making fun of the two actresses in the original cover?

JH:  I think if they were naked, it would be, on the internet, a lot more backlash. 

PR:  And it’s not as if… (to Jason) You’ve certainly been naked in the past. Seth has. I mean, is that really a thing?  I lucked out. I just, I got the tuxedo, so…

JS:  Annie Leibowitz has a reputation to maintain and she didn’t need the three of us actually naked in that photo.  There’s no way to make that beautiful. 

PK: Was her call the nude suits thing?

JS:  Yeah, she came up with both of those concepts. And she’s a genius. Shooting with her was such an honor. But it was an uncomfortable day. I’m not gonna lie to you. 

PK: Yeah?

JS:  Yeah, well Paul walks out in a suit like, “alright, I’m ready to go.”  And then Seth, Jonah and I walk out in these body stockings and immediately everyone starts laughing hysterically, which is not… it doesn’t give you confidence.  And we’re supposed to get in these sexy poses and, you know, none of us love exercise.  

JH:  Interestingly, all four cover guys have the same personal trainer.

JS: Yes. That’s the truth.

PK: You’re in good shape.


PK: You’re in good shape, too.

JS:  Yeah, thanks for noticing. I’m a different kind of shape. I’m pear-shaped.

PR:  Eh, I’m not in such great shape.

JS:  You’re pretty physically attractive.

PR:  Thanks Jason.

Next: Failure to pick up after your animal.


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