We pick up the conversation as the topic turns to incest and
the sexual chemistry between Marisa Tomei and Jonah Hill.
PK: Did you feel like there was a line you shouldn't cross
with the potential eroticism. Did you have discussions about where to take it?
Jay Duplass: It's interesting, Mark and I don't really try
to talk much about it because we don't want to intellectualize the process that
much. We try to create stuff from the gut and try to just go forward and create
moments on set and we try a lot of different things and explore a lot of
different areas. But once we get into editorial, that's when we really start talking about
exactly what's happening, how far is it going, we're obviously pushing a line
with different tones and we're trying to do a bunch of different things with a
movie with this relationship angle. There's a comedic side to it but there's
also a little bit of mystery and a little bit of thrill to it. So we definitely
do manage the tone a lot more in the editorial. But in terms of the writing and
the shooting, we really with our gut and try capture as many inspired things as we can on
PK: The casting of Jonah Hill kind of diffuses it, I mean,
he's a very attractive, funny, but not conventionally sexy guy. So watching him
instead of some hunky guy like Taylor Lautner or Robert Pattinson from
Mark Duplass: We cast Jonah very specifically because of the
person that he is, and his desire to go with us on this ride. Jonah is he is a
dark person, and you might not know that when you watch "Superbad" and other movies he's been in. He's
very introspective and he's very emotionally aware. He's very grown up for his
age. So that element, in combination with the fact that he really wanted to do
a movie with us. He understood the process of our films, he was not afraid of
it at all, he was ready to go into the pit of improvisation with us and that
level of pump is 50 percent of the battle for us. We really need people who are
excited to be there with us and trust us. We're not those directors who are
going to go on set and tell them exactly what to do. We are going to explore it
and it takes a certain kind of person to be ok with that.
PK: Did you write this screenplay for the two lead actors?
JD: We wrote it initially for John [C. Reilly]. It's no
coincidence that the character's name is John. When we started we didn't
initially write it for John. But we named the character John because we were
just playing around with the imagery of John C. Reilly doing these things. And
as the weeks progressed when we were developing the story, we realized that
every time we imagined him in the role, the movie got funnier. It got
emotionally more intense. All the elements that we liked, the tragic elements,
the emotionality of it, the humor of it, the awkwardness- everything just
amplified with John in that role. There seemed to be no downside to it. And
beyond all that, he's such a loveable and pure intentioned sort of guy. And
there's a lot of questionable things that this character does, and we knew
that, if John was playing it, people would be along for the ride with him a lot
PK: Starting with urinating in the bush.
PK: It's probably the cutest meet cute of the year.
JD: Cutest urine scene we've seen as to date. But that was
literally the motivation behind it. We were just tickled by the idea of him
doing all these things. Probably a couple months into the writing process, we
realized that we didn't want to do this movie if John wasn't going to do it.
So, luckily he did it.
PK: What was your inspiration for choosing Marisa Tomei?
JD: She came after we cast Jonah, and a lot of it was about
finding a woman who was strong enough to keep her presence inside of this film
once you have the two forces of nature that are John and Jonah. The character
of Molly is unaware for a portion of this film about exactly what's going on.
And that's one of those roles that can turn into one of those really bad
cuckold roles that are just not developed and not interesting. Marisa is smart
and strong and demanding to be heard and seen. We wanted somebody who would
take control of the voice of her character and take responsibility and be
tough, frankly. She's the Brooklyn girl, ya
PK: She also has a kind of girlish thing. When she comes
into the house when Cyrus is there performing his music and she doesn't know that
John is there and she just sort of joins in. It's just really sort of magical.
Was that spontaneous?
JD: It was written in the script.
MD: But how she did it was all her.
JD: It was written that she would come in and enjoy Cyrus'
music and dance. That's what we needed. The way that she chose to do it was all
her. We believe in giving actors that room.
MD: There's a lot of ways you can do that, and the way she
did it, she let herself look dorky and vulnerable and like a little girl, kind
of, you know, being totally embarrassed by it when it was exposed. She's got
PK: Did you test screen this at all?
MD: A ton. It's a big part of our process.
PK: Even before you did this movie?
MD: We never did the official studio test screening before
this movie. But we, quote-unquote, "test" it on friends, friends of friends,
try to get as many people as we can who don't know us and our style to see this
movie to get some objective eyes on it. The goal is, okay, this is what we
think the movie could or should be, and we play it to people, and we realize
that we're missing half of these moments. They're not landing the way we
thought they would. It's either because they're too subtle and didn't read or
because they were too obvious and our audience got ahead of us. We want our
audiences to be actively engaged, but we don't want to get so far ahead of them
that they feel out of the loop. So, it's very hard to find that little nuance
in it for us. We really try to put it up as many times as we can, and we learn
a ton from it.
PK: In this case, you're trying to broaden your audience, I
MD: Yeah, we are.
PK: Doesn't that dissipate your subtlety a little bit?
MD: No, it doesn't.
JD: We actually use the testing process to enhance our
subtlety. Ultimately, what we're trying to do is communicate the subtlest form
of plotting or of something that's funny or of something that's a passive
aggressive move that someone does with someone else. We do a lot of
improvisation, so we have varying levels of intensity in communication of all
these things. We're trying to find that subtlest form that will communicate,
that will read. So that when the audience is there, it's a very active viewing
experience, where they know that they have to be on their toes, they have to be
watching very closely to see these little things. I think it's empowering.
That's what we want when we go to a movie. We want to be feeling like, "I need
to be right on the tip of my seat, because, if not, I'm going to miss
PK: You almost have to see it again.
PK: So do you have a lot of repeat viewers?
MD: We've had a lot of repeat viewings from our previous
viewings. That might be because they get them on Netflix and it's free to watch
them multiple times. We'll see how it goes in the movie theater.
PK: I've never read anything about your background. When you
decided to make movies, did you both decide at the same time? And what movies
or movie makers inspired you to do that?
JD: We grew up as movie fans. Our parents took us to movies
on Christmas day. We didn't go to mass, we went to movies. Mark and I were a
product of the advent of cable television and HBO coming into our living room
in 1984. In the mid-80s, we watched everything that came through that tube
several times over and over again.
MD: In particular, multiple viewings of a film has been very
helpful to us. Learning innately and instinctually what the pacing of a film is
rather than studying it and intellectualizing it. Jay and I can sit down at
this point and write a preview and script in a couple of days because we just
know, after watching "Kramer vs. Kramer" or "Romancing the Stone" 147 times, our bodies know how to pace
PK: This is kind of a combination of those two.
MD: Yeah. Little adventure, little fun, lots of
crazy stuff, and kind of sad.
PK: And Michael Douglas.
MD: And Mikey D.
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