SDCC ’10 Interview: Piranha 3D O’Connell and Scheer

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Two Wild and crazy guys!

Warning: There MAY be spoilers within.

During Comic-Con, Shock had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Jerry O’Connell and Paul Scheer about their Girls Gone Wild characters in Piranha 3D, in which they admit was probably some of the craziest sh** they’ve done in their careers. From shooting webisodes for the fictional Wild Wild Girls Web site, to getting eaten by piranhas in disturbing ways, to seeing dozens of chicks taking off their tops to be part of the film, O’Connell says that in some ways they sort of lived that life for a brief moment. But it’s all good in the name of making a movie that is true to a Spring Break attack film where hungry fish will devour anything in sight.

Shock: So tell me one thing about Piranha 3D that makes it special?

Jerry O’Connell: This movie must be seen in 3D. It was designed to be in 3D. Alex Aja, when he was pitched this two years ago, said he would do it but only in 3D.

Paul Scheer: Alex really featured on getting the 3D done right. There are those movies like Clash of the Titans and The Last Airbender – nothing about those movies, but the 3D kind of sucks.

Shock: Like a pig shat all over the screen as Eli Roth said during the Piranha footage screening at Comic-Con.

O’Connell: M. Night Shyamalan is never going to cast him now.

Shock: So it must be seen in 3D.

Scheer: Why not? It is having fun with all your senses. It’s going to be blood, it’s going to be girls, it’s going to be thrills. It will be all of it.

O’Connell: I think for Paul and I, it was an originally funny role where we play Joe Francis of Girls Gone Wild and we are trying to get girls to expose themselves, specifically underage girls. And it really resonated with me and I thought it was a lot of fun and a lot of fun to play.

Scheer: We did a lot of deep research to play these characters too.

Shock: Really? So, that involved watching plenty of Girls Gone Wild videos to teach you how to zoom in on breasts I imagine.

O’Connell: They actually gave us a packet on the whole organization and it is really funny.

Scheer: There is a scene in the movie where Steve McQueen’s character is going on our web site. So, one day they send Jerry and I out with our own camera and they got all these local people to come and we shot our own Girls Gone Wild. When [McQueen] logs onto the computer you see Jerry running around with all these girls. That was the most insane day I’ve ever had in my life.

O’Connell: It was almost like living that life. But I’m a father of a daughter so I don’t even want to know about it. You read certain things that happen like Jessica Szohr’s character throwing up after having too much to drink and you are like, “This is going to be in 3D.” Someone’s body part comes off you say, “This is going to be in 3D.” You realize it was designed to be in 3D.

Scheer: Ving Rhames with the outboard motor…

O’Connell: Alex Aja and Grégory Levasseur really know how to make horror movies but they really figured out how to make a real 3D movie.

Scheer: This is the most accessible Alex Aja movie that doesn’t lose any of the cool sh*t that you love from his movies. High Tension is frightening and I think this movie will have those types of moments but you have all these other moments as well.

Shock: I found it funny that the batshit crazy scene where everyone is getting eaten and body parts are flying off during Spring Break didn’t resonate in 3D as much as the puking scene where the audience universally groaned during the footage screening.

Scheer: People don’t want to be puked on. They want to see an arm fly off instead. You can watch someone get mutilated on screen but when someone burps they say, “Oh, too far, too far. That’s disgusting.”

Shock: I assume this movie was a ton of fun to make for you guys.

Scheer: Jerry and I spent six weeks on a boat in the middle of Lake Havasu, Arizona with adult film star Riley Steele, model and actress Kelly Brook and Jessica Szohr and Steve McQueen Jr.

Shock: I feel so sorry for you guys, that sounds like a rough, rough time.

O’Connell: A couple of things were a lot of fun. Watching Alex and Gregory make this movie was something special. Having Richard Dreyfuss coming out for a cameo.

Scheer: And Christopher Lloyd. [Alex and Greg] are French so you think they may not understand Spring Break but they understood it so well. And they are pulling in all these cool icons. I think it is a movie where every turn you are like, “Oh cool.” And the movie does intersect a lot so everyone you see is from a different walk of life.

Shock: I love that Aja seems to not be pulling any punches with this movie and going full bore with blood, babes, gore.

Scheer: That’s why they backed off of Hall H [at Comic-Con]. 6,000 people could have seen a version of this movie and the fact that [Aja] stood up and was like, “No, I don’t want to tone it down.” I love it. Because that’s exactly how he made the movie. Let’s go balls to the walls and let’s do it how I want to do it.

Shock: Have you ever played a Girls Gone Wild type before?

O’Connell: No. When you read the script and the character is there, you know it is a Spring Break movie and you know there is this human piranha going out and trying to get as many underage girls to expose themselves so he can make hundreds of millions of dollars. It made me laugh. I thought it was a really funny modern take on the whole Spring Break adventure.

Scheer: Jerry is awesome in this movie as you have never seen him play a character like this.

Shock: Like the penis death.

Scheer: Well, he’s done the penis death a couple of times. It is going to be a really fun thing to see.

O’Connell: I’ve mentioned the throw-up stuff, but what I really want to say is that someone’s penis gets bitten off by a f***ing piranha and they fight over the penis in 3D.

Shock: Oh, so they actually fight over it.

Scheer: There’s a whole scene before he loses his penis. I think it gets spit out and then another one eats it out, but maybe after he vomits it out that’s enough, we’ll see in the final cut. There’s some stuff we didn’t show that is pretty good and what we showed [at the Piranha footage screening] was a pretty crazy clip reel but there’s a lot more that wasn’t shown.

Shock: For example…

Scheer: Richard Dreyfuss is a pretty great scene. A very Drew Barrymore-esque in the beginning of Scream kind of scene that is really going to be cool.

O’Connell: A lot of characters perish at the hands of the piranha. There is not one similar death.

Scheer: Kelly Brook’s death scene – she meets piranha in a very gruesome way.

Shock: Can you explain a bit more?

O’Connell: Come on, we gave you the penis, we gave you the piranha coming out of the face. The last thing I want is the two French dudes saying [in a French voice] “Why did you tell him this?” Then they are going to take out a glove and smack us in the face and challenge us to a duel.

Sheer: I love movies like Crank and The Expendables. That type of fun popcorn movie. When I read the script it felt like Jaws, but going for more fun than Jaws. I think he did it and if I wasn’t in this movie, it would be the type of movie I want to go see.

O’Connell: There are no doubts in my mind that all horror fans will be pleased with this movie. I’ve done a couple of horror movies. You can IMDB me and you can see there are a couple on there that are not fulfilling. And I apologize to everyone about that. That said, this is going to make up for all of that. It is going to shut everyone up. People will leave me alone. They will say, “Jerry, sorry we left those comments about this particular film I don’t want to talk about.”

Shock: What was it like shooting in 3D?

Scheer: We couldn’t shoot on 3D cameras because they weren’t good under water and they are not good in sunlight. But [Aja] had this 3D team and they had their own 3D village. We would shoot a scene and then they would come in and we would shoot it again. The scene where Elisabeth Shue is looking at the body and going through the weeds, that’s good 3D it isn’t just in the action scenes.

Shock: And the naked ballet scene between Kelly Brook and Riley Steele in 3D.

O’Connell: We’ve been doing a lot of our interviews with Kelly today – who we love – and I didn’t want to come off as perverted but this ballet scene they are doing in 3D – it is going to f***ing blow your mind. It is crazy. That is going to be in 3D and it is going to go on and on and on. It is French people, they know what they are doing.

Shock: Were you guys on set when they were filming that?

Scheer: It was a closed set, but we were near set.

O’Connell: We were near set and we could see some things. We are both married men. We were not looking but we just happen to be looking – we weren’t videotaping but just taking stills.

Scheer: Classy stills.

O’Connell: Black and white stills. Non-digital images so they can’t be emailed out. Old school negative film.

Scheer: I’ll tell you the people that didn’t have problem taking off their tops were the background people. Aja went down to Havasu during Spring Break and the stuff that people, the real people, were doing on camera, it will blow your mind. This was just Alex going out and capturing people on Spring Break. Just grinding, drinking, naked. It is intense. We definitely played true to what it was.

Shock: When you did the webisodes for the Wild Wild Girls Web site how did that go down?

O’Connell: Paul and I went down there and we wanted to make sure we had some Internet presence on this film and Paul and I really wanted to be part of that. We thought it would be funny to go through this fictional Wild Wild Girls sort of thing. So the production gave us 20 local extras. They are giving us a budget, there are giving us a crew and it is becoming a bigger deal. We come to set and they are talking about doing maybe some more adult stuff. It would have been a bump in pay for some of that stuff. So, Paul and I told them, “Listen, you will get paid more if you expose yourself but this is going on the Internet, it might go on the DVD. You will have to see it forever. Your family members will see it forever. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it, don’t do it.” I thought for sure that no one would do it, maybe one or two people that had no problems with it. They all took their shirts off.

Scheer: Jerry is being modest. They got on beds and bathtubs and made out with each other while being taped.

O’Connell: It was a little disturbing. It is just so funny that we are playing this Joe Francis character and kind of like lived it a little bit. But we are the worst at it. Telling them, “Are you sure you are okay with this?”

Piranha 3D opens in theaters August 20.

Source: Peter Brown