Seth Rogen on why balls are funnier than boobsStar comedian Seth Rogen and his co-star Chloë Grace Moretz talk about the rules of engagement in Neighbours 2 and reveal the secrets behind good humour
THE RED BULLETIN: There is one joke in Neighbors 2 that you wouldn’t really call politically correct…
SETH ROGEN: (Laughs.) You’re talking about my “Another Jew in the oven” joke? That is one of the biggest laughs in the whole movie!
CHLOË GRACE MORETZ: That is one of the most vile jokes.
But you’re able to pull it off.
SR: (Laughs.) I have the right. I am Jewish. If anyone is allowed to say that, it is me.
Who came up with the joke?
SR: I just said it. It was totally improvised. It even shocked me when it came out of my mouth. It’s one of those jokes I honestly didn’t think a regular audience would laugh at, or even understand. It’s so fast. The first time we showed it, we literally got one of the biggest reactions in the entire movie for it, which I didn’t expect at all. It’s just a quick verbal joke in a movie with outrageous physical set pieces.
This film is a lot more than just outrageous jokes though. You address gender issues and topics like the generation gap. How did you even manage to make it this funny?
SR: It is funny. When people make a sequel, they instantly think: “Let’s make a bigger and funnier movie!” Our approach was: “Let’s try to make a smarter movie than the first one”. We put a lot more thought into the themes, the stories and the messages.
You’ve been able to accomplish a rare thing: a comedy without a bad guy. There are only likeable characters plotting against each other. How did you pull that off?
SR: I don’t like villains, especially in comedies, but there is definitely a conflict between the characters in this film. In my opinion, if the villains are good then they are a real character in the movie. They are likeable in a way and you understand where they are coming from - you may be even rooting for them at times. That was a big part of this.
Chloe’s character does something very unrealistic in the movie. She throws Zac Efron out of her house …
CM: Well, I guess that is a common misconception about young women.
SG: They are not all blinded by Zac.
CM: Yes, we are not all blinded by abs.
So what’s the status quo in terms of comedy? It seems one is allowed to show men’s balls, but not female nipples?
SR: No, we can show nipples. But we just don’t.
SR: Because boobs aren’t funny, but balls are! (Laughs.)
ZM: The censorship board actually allows more feminine nudity than masculine nudity.
SR: And we are working directly against it.
ZM: Yeah, which is actually funny to use the adverse.
SR: I think it’s like horniness in comedy is conflicting emotions. And honestly, even from when I was growing up, I would watch movies like Animal House and I loved those movies, but the nudity always seemed out of place to me. It just seemed weird, like they were just putting it in to tick a certain box or something like that. We decided to not have nudity unless there was a really strong reason for it.
You and Zac Efron spend a lot of time running around half-naked. Did you feel comfortable? Zac is in very good shape.
SR: He does have a great body. But I don’t feel bad about mine. I see how much effort he puts into it and I would never want to live my life that way! I enjoy food and I enjoy sitting on my ass watching television.
Chloë, we haven’t really seen you in comedies. Is this something you plan on doing more of in the future?
CM: I always wanted to do comedy, but this is my first actual comedy role. It was a lot of fun and it was an awesome opportunity to work with Seth and some of the greats of our generation. I’m going to try and stay versatile and see what come next.
Seth, you were great in Steve Jobs. Could you see yourself going in the opposite direction?
SR: I would do more of that for sure if they would have me. But I think I am going to do one of Chloë’s movies after this.
CM: Right. (Laughs.)
SR: I had a lot of fun making this film. Zac’s acting is on another level, but it is not something anyone will ever acknowledge, because it is a funny movie and he pulls his balls out. But there is some incredible acting in this movie and it is the only reason that it is funny. But because it is funny, people don’t like to see this as actual acting.
After your experiences with The Interview, would you consider doing another movie like that?
SR: Well, never say never, but The Interview made me think twice. In a lot of ways it was an incredible achievement and in other ways it was incredibly disappointing.
Did you get police protection when The Interview was released?
SR: Sony gave us all security for a few weeks around the release of the movie. And then, one day, they were just gone. (Laughs.)
Just like that?
Yes! They didn’t even call us to tell us that they weren’t going to be there any more. I walked outside one day and the guy was just gone. The whole day they were there, we were like: “We don’t need security. Bullshit!” And the second they were gone I was like: “Where is my security? How come I don’t have security anymore?” And I called James (Franco) and asked him, “Are your security guys late, too?” And he said, “No, they just f**king disappeared today. I guess we are not in danger anymore. Or Sony didn’t want to pay for them anymore.”