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jesse eisenberg and nick swardson

Following his star turn as a ruthless, if socially awkward, billionaire in David Fincher's The Social Network, Jesse Eisenberg returns to the screen as a downtrodden pizza delivery boy-man in Ruben Fleischer's 30 Minutes or Less.

>> READReview: 30 Minutes or Less by Peter Keough <<

Nick Swardson plays Eisenberg's tormentor. After a successful stand-up career and a number of bit parts in films as disparate as Almost Famous and You Don't Mess with the Zohan, Swardson gets a meaty role as a criminally stupid sidekick to the diabolical Danny McBride. Together, they kidnap Eisenberg and send him on a fraught caper in the wilds of Grand Rapids. I sat down with them when they visited Boston last month.

WHAT'S IT LIKE TO MAKE A MOVIE FOR TEENAGE BOYS?JE: That's the farthest thing from my mind, because my job is to play scenes realistically within the parameters of the character. It turns out that a lot of movies are made for that demographic, so you wind up in those, but that doesn't change the nature of what we do. Also, I thought the characters in this movie were uniquely realistic and consistently drawn from scene to scene. When I say unique, I am comparing them to other movies of a similar genre. NS: You make the funniest movie you can. I think comedy transcends any age group. A movie like Bridesmaids — that's not made for teenage boys, but I went and saw it and I loved it. JE: I didn't see the movie [30 Minutes or Less] so I don't know how it all was put together.

WHAT WERE YOUR FAVORITE COMEDIES WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP?NS: I was a psychotic Woody Allen fan. I wrote a paper on Woody Allen when I was in sixth grade. I loved everything from Sleeper to Love and Death to Bananas — even Hannah and Her Sisters. I don't know why it resonated with a little boy in Minnesota. JE: We watched What About Bob? all the time. My family loved that movie, but my family didn't play good comedic movies. NS: You told me the funniest movie you watched growing up was On Golden Pond. JE: And then when Schindler's List came out, we used to watch it on the weekends. My parents would quote it all the time, the German parts.

NICK, DID YOU DRAW FROM YOUR MIDWESTERN CHILDHOOD TO PLAY TRAVIS?NS: Anybody who's from cold weather knows how bored you can get. . . . With boredom, you just look for mayhem. You want to cause any kind of chaos. We used to read The Anarchist Cookbook and try to make stupid little bombs — nothing to hurt anybody, just out of sheer boredom and teenage angst. JE: I was born in Queens, originally, but we moved to New Jersey when I was five. The only way I could get out of that town was to get into a play in New York. So that's why I started acting when I was 14: so I could get out of going to school in New Jersey because I hated it so much. I didn't like going to such a homogeneous school. . . I felt guilty being amongst middle-class Jews. We all felt guilty.

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Related: Review: Manhattan Short Film Festival, Review: Happy, Happy, Review: Johnny English Reborn, More more >
  Topics: Features , New York, Boston, Midwest,  More more >
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 See all articles by: EUGENIA WILLIAMSON