Laremy Legel, Aug 10, 2010
I recently sat down with Edgar Wright, Michael Cera, and Anna Kendrick to discuss the dynamo that is Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. We’ll have a review coming later in the week but for now enjoy the gang holding court on everything from Scott Pilgrim to The English Patient.
Editor’s Note: this interview was conducted in conjuction with Brad Brevet of RopeofSilicon. We alternated questions and a good time was had by all!
Laremy Legel: So do you like garlic bread in real life too?
Michael Cera: Yeah, I love it.
Is the movie theoretically also against us as we’re part of the world?
Michael Cera: Definitely.
Edgar, do you worry about this film being too modern? The beginning is really busy before it begins to tone down a bit.
Edgar Wright: It’s funny, I can’t watch it cold like an audience does. It is to me, and I watch it in kind of a rush, because it feels like two years of my life flashing before my eyes in 112 minutes. I’m a big fan of films that I grew up on and would watch obsessively, over and over again. If I didn’t feel like I got everything on the first watch good, I want to see it again immediately. My favorite film of all time is Raising Arizona. I watched it again as soon as it was over. I had it on VHS, rented it, and I watched it and said, “I want to watch that again, right now.” I think I did the same with something like Goodfellas, which is a completely different genre. I saw that at the cinema and went back the next day because I wanted to experience the rush again. So I’m that kind of audience member.
I also feel like so many summer movies do not give you your bang for $12. You know what I mean?
You do get a lot of bang in this.
Edgar Wright: There’s also something that you would come out of thinking, “Wow, I got my value for my money with that film.” There’s so many other things that you just feel you wasted two hours of your life.
Like The English Patient.
Edgar Wright: Nah, nah, I like The English Patient!
Yeah, but it’s not a summer tentpole. Let’s put it that way.
Edgar Wright: [Laughing] English Patient is longer than two hours as well.
Michael, did you slappa the bass before this movie or did you learn it during the movie?
Michael Cera: I played a little bit. Yeah. I learned on guitar.
Edgy lead guitarist sort of thing?
Michael Cera: Yeah, edgy lead guitarist.
Anna, did you do any barista method acting? Did you go work at a Starbucks for a year or anything like that?
Edgar Wright: Like Daniel Day-Lewis.
Anna Kendrick: No, but … in Canada … I’m such an idiot. I didn’t even know Second Cup was a real place. I just knew it from reading the books. I went to rehearsals and in our hotel was a Second Cup, and I was like, “Oh my god! This is the Second Cup! I found it. I didn’t even know it was real!” I was asking for coffee, and I tasted it and I was like, “This is really great!” And it’s like Starbucks over there. It’s like going into a Starbucks and going, “Oh my god, I didn’t even know this place was real.” And I was like, “This is really good coffee, you guys!” Ugh!
Well, it’s like I always say: Canada only exists in our mind anyway. So you’re kind of off the hook with that.
Michael Cera: That’s kind of the comment that the film makes. In a roundabout way.
Edgar Wright: We’re planning on going into the theater showing Inception and splice Scott Pilgrim vs. the World onto the end of it so it seems like the final dream.
Michael Cera: I thought you were saying Splice was going to be in it? The film Splice.
Edgar Wright: It’s a triple-feature with Splice in the middle.
And Don’t right in the middle…
Edgar Wright: [laughing] Oh my god. You just come up with the craziest triple-bill of all time.
You’re up against Expendables and Eat Pray Love. Are you worried about getting lost in that crowd? Some heavy hitters in there.
Edgar Wright: People kind of ask you that question as if you had any say in the matter, or as if there’s anything you can do about it, and I kind of feel like I would hope something like this has a life beyond opening weekend. There’s nothing you can do about that. I also feel between the three films you have several different demographics. There are probably 15-year-olds who don’t even know who Sylvester Stallone is.
It would seem, based on the quality of your film, the only way to approach a video game film is to make a movie that’s not based on a video game.
Edgar Wright: Yeah, that was something in the back of our heads when we were writing it. A funny aspect to it in the same way, there was a point before how Batman and Spider-Man changed things and how the great comic book movies of the ’80s were not comic books. RoboCop, when that came out, was like, the best comic book movie ever and it’s not based on a comic book. I guess in the back of our minds we thought it would be interesting to make a video game film that’s not based on a video game, but it’s kind of like a flourish, a structural thing, because at heart it’s a love story. It’s a love story about young love and its pitfalls and up and downs.
Pitfall was not a video game reference, I’m sorry.
There’s a phone number in the film, 212-664-7665, that was also used in Definitely, Maybe. Why is that? Is it some sort of Easter egg?
Edgar Wright: I know why this is. Definitely, Maybe is a Universal film too. It’s a bought number. I think I read we’re the third film to use it. The reason it’s in there is I always hate when they have 555 in there.
Michael Cera: I do too, it takes you right out of the movie.
Edgar Wright: And we have a double whammy because there is the movie within a movie that Chris Evans is in — he presses 555 with his gun. We get 212 and 555 in the same film. If there are fans out there who love the 555 they won’t be disappointed.
You showed it more than once, so I figured I’d write it down and Google it.
Edgar Wright: I was just showing it to show off, like “Hey, we bought a 212 number!” I showed it a bunch of times for all the Definitely, Maybe fans.
I’ve never read the comic, but I know there was some doubt around Michael Cera playing Scott Pilgrim. Was he always the guy for you?
Edgar Wright: I know he’s sitting right next to me, but he was always the first and only choice for me. If there was any sort of question mark it was people’s perception of the character. Me and Brian Lee O’Malley discussed this a lot. When you read the books there’s a question mark, and you’re in one of two camps. Is Scott Pilgrim awesome? Or does he believe himself to be awesome? Both me and Brian Lee O’Malley are in the latter camp. Your lead character has an inflated sense of his own worth and skill and general awesomeness. If you read the books, by the time you get to the last book he becomes an unreliable narrator. So Scott Pilgrim is telling you he’s awesome rather than he actually is. It’s not like he’s an action hero, it’s not like Vin Diesel would’ve been better for the part.
Rumor is Matt McConaughey screen-tested better.
Michael Cera: My hair is more like the drawings, though.
Edgar Wright: There was a bongo scene in the first draft.
I noticed that people laughed over a lot of the secondary punch lines. When you’re editing, do you worry about that sort of thing or is it more like, throw everything at ’em you’ve got?
Edgar Wright: The first time you saw Airplane did you laugh so much that you had to watch it a second time because you missed stuff? These are high-level problems to have. The worst crime is to leave a gap. If you’ve ever seen the film version of the Broadway [show] Producers, they leave the same gaps they did on the stage and it feels very strange to watch. On stage they know where the laughs are, on stage it works, but it’s much better to just hammer through. I’d rather try and cram in another two gags than leave a pause to say, “Hey, wasn’t that bit funny?”
Where did the Seinfeld musical cue come from?
Edgar Wright: That was my idea, but it came from a bit in the book. There’s a bit where Scott and Ramona kiss, and there’s a little arrow and it says “studio audience” and it went “aaah.” I thought that was so sweet, and we wrote that into the script. And the next scene was him coming back all cocky after making out with Ramona the night before, so we thought he should do a Kramer-style entrance, or a Fonzie-style entrance. And then the thing was we should show the entrance with the [makes Seinfeld noise]. Happy Days was the first show where that really started to happen, where the show would stop for like 30 seconds every time Henry Winkler came in.
Anna, do you look at 2010 and say, “This is a joke that I’m not getting an Oscar nomination,” or do you expect one for Scott Pilgrim too? I mean, you were pretty supporting here.
Anna Kendrick: The weird thing is, I met Edgar for the first time before I even knew what Up in the Air was and before I shot the first Twilight film. And somebody, a journalist at a roundtable, said to me, “Oh, you must have done this before Up in the Air and Twilight because you wouldn’t have done it otherwise.” But I absolutely would have done it otherwise.
Journalists are the worst.
Anna Kendrick: Yeah, like, what is wrong with you guys? I don’t know, she was being kind of snarky or whatever. I’m sort of floored by everyone else’s performance here, and envious in the sweetest way that I can think of in terms of how well everybody does in the movie. I’m just really happy to be grouped in with these people. These actors might not be people that my mom and dad know, but I’ve known who Alison Pill and Mark Webber are for years. It’s such a seasoned and professional cast, especially for a young cast.
Edgar Wright: That’s what’s funny to me — people saying, “All these new young faces,” and I’m thinking most of these people have been working for 10 years even if they’re 20.
What are your future projects? Is Them still on your slate?
Edgar Wright: I think Them might be on the back burner; I’m not really sure what’s happening with that one. But just to clarify, that’s not a remake of the ants film. It’s an adaptation of the Jon Ronson book.
Michael Cera: Is [Them] a filmic version of the TV show Totally Hidden Extreme Magic?
Edgar Wright: [laughs] I’ve never even heard of that show!
Michael Cera: It’s on the SyFy Channel.
Edgar Wright: I’m going to say “yes.”
Michael Cera: It was a great show. A great show.
Anna Kendrick: Can we make that movie?
Edgar Wright: You’ve got the exclusive now, the three of us are making a big-screen adaptation of Totally Hidden Extreme Magic.