Rose Byrne chats with CS about her return opposite Seth Rogen in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
It’s a busy month for Rose Byrne as she’s got two sequels hitting in May! This Friday, she’s back for her third comedy with director Nicholas Stoller in Universal Pictures‘ Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising! (In addition to the original, she also starred in Stoller’s Get Him to the Greek). Then, on May 27, Rose Byrne reprises her X-Men: First Class role as Dr. Moira MacTaggert in Bryan Singer‘s X-Men: Apocalypse.
ComingSoon.net caught up with the Australian actress at the press junket for Neighbors 2 and talked about her busy big screen schedule. She also discusses the difference between doing a first film and sequel and how working with co-star Seth Rogen made it an thoroughly enjoyable process. She also reveals which character from all those she has played that she’d most like to play again. Check it all out below!
CS: The first “Neighbors” became a huge box office success. Was it clear right away that a sequel was probably going to happen?
Rose Byrne: No. I think it was challenging to find the idea. Nick [Stoller] really wants to make good movies. He’s not going to do something if he thinks it’s not going to work. I think we joked about it. No one knew how it was going to do. I remember when he first talked about it and I thought, “That’s never going to happen.”
CS: When did it finally start to become a reality for you?
Rose Byrne: Nick got in touch and said, “We’re thinking of trying to do a sequel, but we’re only really interested if we can get the story right. Are you interested?” I said, “Absolutely.” I loved doing the first one. I love working with Nick and Seth [Rogen]. We did have to find the right story, though. The first one was such a success and you don’t want to do a sequel unless you think it’s going to be as good and as funny. They are incredibly challenging, sequels. The story took awhile and he pitched me a few different versions over a few months. Then they arrived at this idea for a sorority and Chloe [Grace Moretz] signed on. I said, “I would like to do that.”
CS: Lately, you’ve really built a name for yourself as part of this comedy crowd. Has there been a shift from your perspective as far as the type of projects you go after?
Rose Byrne: It’s been a blessing! I’m sort of spoiled. I work with these great people who make me look funny. Seth does the heavy lifting. I feel like I’m more of the straight man, but I’ve loved every minute of it. Comedy is hard. They make it look effortless, but it’s a lot more challenging than it looks, I think. Stakes have to be high.
CS: Is filming a scene in a comedy very different from other projects? I imagine there’s quite a few alt takes.
Rose Byrne: Yeah, a lot of improv. I mean, you start with the script, but it evolves and changes in the moment. A lot of the supporting cast — Abbi Jacobson, Carla Gallo, Ike Barinholtz, Billy Eichner and Liz Cackowski. Lisa Kudrow, obviously, is also really, really funny. They bring so much to these roles. They really let the reins off and it becomes about just trying anything.
CS: Is there a shorthand that has developed?
Rose Byrne: With Nick and Seth, absolutely. It’s the third film I’ve done with Nick and it’s lovely. You get to do different things and try different things and it’s just lovely. There’s a level of comfort there, which is nice.
CS: What is it like filming an R-rated movie with such a young actress playing your daughter?
Rose Byrne: It’s surreal! There’s a pair of twins and their father, Omar, is just fantastic. We would always say to everyone how lucky we were. Omar was just so great and relaxed. It is what it is! It’s ridiculous and raunchy and bawdy and boorish and all that stuff. We were all rolling our eyes and laughing at some of the stuff. The girls were really well behaved, though. We were so lucky because that can really become a nightmare. They’re kids and it gets boring. But these girls were perfect. I’d do every movie with them if I could.
CS: This is a busy month for you. You’ve also got another sequel in “X-Men: Apocalypse”.
Rose Byrne: I know! Isn’t that weird? I mean, I don’t plan this, by the way. It’s embarrassing. I wish they could be a bit more staggered. It would look like I had employment for longer!
CS: Is there anything that makes a sequel different specifically or is every project just a different project?
Rose Byrne: Yes and no. It’s like coming back for season two. It’s that feeling of returning and you ease into that atmosphere a bit better with characters that you’ve done before. There’s that, but it’s also a bit nerve wracking because the pressure is on. Sequels are harder. Generally it does feel even better than the first time around.
CS: Do you go back and look at your original performance at all?
Rose Byrne: No, I sort of just started it fresh. Really, my performance is Seth’s performance. I can’t really find it until I’m with him. Your performance often lies in the other actor.
CS: Is there something that you do as a warm up before the cameras roll?
Rose Byrne: We definitely have rehearsal. Nick really believes in that. We sit around and read the script and talk about it. We did that on both films. It’s nice.
CS: There’s a great gag in the film where your character jokes that her daughter might be talking to imaginary people. Was that a specific “Insidious” reference?
Rose Byrne: Ha, it wasn’t, but there’s another sequel that I did. That was all Nick and a bit of improv. I’m glad it got a laugh. It was pretty silly.
CS: Do you know in the moment when a joke is likely to make the final cut?
Rose Byrne: I don’t. I wish I could say yes, but I just don’t. There are things that I think will never make it and they’re in the movie and other things I’m sure will be and aren’t. I’ve given up trying to figure it out. It’s such a science and all about the big picture when you’re doing the final edit. I’m not a director or an editor, so I never know how these things go.
CS: Are you sometimes surprised to see the final cut?
Rose Byrne: Yeah, I am because I’m inside it. I’m always surprised, which is nice.
CS: At this point in your career, what is a dream project for you?
Rose Byrne: I’ve been so enjoying doing diverse stuff. I loved doing something tiny like “The Meddler,” which was such a lovely experience. “Neighbors” is fun to do a broader comedy and then something like “X-Men.” If I could continue to do such diverse projects, I would be grateful. I love variety. I also love shows. I’m a huge watcher of shows. I loved doing “Damages” and as long as there’s a show that works, I’d love to do more TV. It’s a great medium and the writing is so good.
CS: Do you find that the line between film and TV is blurring?
Rose Byrne: Oh yeah, totally. Look at the incredible actors on TV now. There’s really no difference, I don’t think. There’s very few actors that don’t go between now.
CS: And at the same time — and “X-Men” is a good example here — film is sort of becoming more serialized.
Rose Byrne: Yes, exactly. It becomes more like a TV show. I think audiences love to revisit characters. I think they love to see the story continue. Being inside of it is fun. It’s like being inside of a novel. It’s that kind of experience.
CS: Hypothetically, if you could reprise any role from your career, which character would you most want to play again?
Rose Byrne: Definitely Jackie Q. She was this really trashy pop star that I played in “Get Him to the Greek.” I just wonder where she is now. She’s a truly eccentric character and I would just be fascinated to find out what she’s been up to.
Catch Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising in theaters this Friday, May 20.