Jay and Mark Duplass have been known names on the indie festival circuit for seven years, but no matter how much critics rave about their work, people just didn’t seem to make the effort to see their first two feature films, The Puffy Chair and Baghead, at least not in theaters. If for some reason this is because neither of those movies had known stars, hopefully that will change with their upcoming situational comedy Cyrus, which stars John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei and Catherine Keener.
In the movie, Reilly plays a guy also named John who hasn’t dated anyone since his wife left him seven years earlier. When he meets Molly (Tomei) at a party, they instantly hit it off, but then he meets her 21-year-old son Cyrus. This is where Jonah Hill comes in, playing a very odd guy who will do anything to get his mother to break up with John, beginning a hilarious game of one-upmanship as the two of them try to convince Molly that the other one is up to no good.
A few weeks back, ComingSoon.net sat down with the 26-year-old actor who broke out in Greg Mottola’s Superbad in 2007, and the first thing we learned was that Hill was actually one of the Duplass Brothers’ early fans. It wasn’t the best interview because it was hard getting answers out of Hill, and just as he seemed to be warming up to us, the interview was over, but we did our best.
ComingSoon.net: You’ve been working with Judd Apatow and doing his improvisational comedy method for many years, and with this, you worked in the “Duplassian Method” I guess you could call it. Did you know their stuff beforehand or how they worked before you came onto this?
CS: So you were nice about it. You could have said, “You guys dissed me seven years ago so now I’m more expensive…”
CS: Had John already come on board or did you guys come on together?
CS: I know they were looking for very specific people and it wasn’t about casting for the characters. I know they had some sort of script but how detailed is it. Is it a full script?
CS: Once you’re on set, they don’t do a lot of the usual setting up cameras and lights once you find the right location, but is it a matter of them just letting tape run for 20 or 30 minutes and letting you go on scenes?
CS: So do you experiment in what you do each time and do you talk a lot about it beforehand?
CS: What was a good example of that, something John or Marisa did that threw you in a different direction that you weren’t expecting or made you change your own game?
CS: Do they throw out lines at all like Judd does? I assume they wouldn’t want to intrude in the characters interacting.
CS: You’ve worked with John before albeit briefly…
CS: He’d worked with Adam McKay a few times who is also really big on that comedy improv, so how did Marisa fit into that, since she comes from a more straightforward acting background.
CS: It must have been a dream come true to have such a hot Mom being so clingy to you…
CS: Because she’s not really your mother and she’s kind of all over you in the movie…
CS: Yeah, but you get to have Marisa Tomei hanging all over you for the entire movie.
CS: What else did they tell you as far as Cyrus as a character? Did they just tell you to be as weird as possible?
CS: I’m thinking specifically of the techno scene where you’re playing John your music and I wondered what’s going on in your head while you’re standing there staring off into space.
CS: That’s just part of him trying to freak out male acquaintances of his mother?
CS: When you’re an actor making a movie like this, you’re really putting a lot of trust in Jay and Mark to make sure to get the best stuff you’ve done on set into the film. Do you feel that you did a lot of stuff you liked that didn’t make it into the movie?
CS: So there were whole other scenes. I was thinking more as far as those 20 minute takes and having to whittle them down to just the best parts.
CS: I know you’re doing “Moneyball” next. I spoke to Soderbergh last year and when he was directing it, there was going to be more comedy in it, so is it getting more serious now?
CS: What was your background before you started appearing in movies? Were you a stand-up comic?
CS: Did you do drama in high school or anything like that?
CS: I know Judd’s really into having his actors write – I think maybe you were the first person to tell me this…
CS: How has that been going? I know you’ve been writing “21 Jump Street”… is “The Sitter” something you wrote as well?
CS: That’s from someone else’s script.
CS: How has it been going with the writing because I know you’ve working on some stuff for a long time? Might some of those screenplays start moving forward into production?
CS: Have you been getting any calls to do any rewrites on stuff or touch-up the comedy in scripts?
CS: Do you think you’ll ever reunite with Seth Rogen or Michael Cera? “Superbad” was so well-loved, you would think one of these days, you’d want to do another movie with them.
CS: No, I think that would be kind of hard to do.
CS: Hey… some people like “Aliens” more than “Alien.”
Cyrus opens in New York and L.A. on Friday, June 18. You can also hear what the Duplass Brothers had to say about bringing actors like Hill, Reilly and Tomei into their process in our exclusive video interview.