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Improv on the Set
With a reputation as a director who brings out the best comedic instincts of his actors, Stoller has established a process that helps the cast reach the material's full potential. Starting with a solid draft of the script, the filmmakers gathers the talent for a table read to feel out what might need fine-tuning and where they need to leave room in the script for on-the-day improvisation. He shares: "After the table read, we did two weeks of rehearsals that provided a safe time to play around when we're not under the time pressure of shooting. The best improvs went into the script."

Surrounded by a creative team heavy on comedic talent, combined with Rogen's sharp ability to improvise, the performers were able to bring their best material daily. "Working with actors and comedians who improvise all the time can be a bit overwhelming at first because you think you need to keep up with them," shares Mintz-Plasse. "But instead, it's inspiring and makes you want to go home and prepare funny jokes for your upcoming scene to bring your 'A' game."

Though a newbie to this style of comedy, Efron was game for the challenge. "This level of improv is unlike anything I've ever done before and is very fast-paced," he explains. "You have to be ready for anything but it can be hard not to break character, especially when working with Seth because he is just so ridiculously funny. He seems to never break character and if he does, the entire place starts laughing. I've never had this much fun just existing in a scene."

Stoller crafted a particular way to shoot on the day that facilitates improv and unexpected moments. "I always try to cross-shoot to accommodate all the improv. Seth, Evan, Andrew, Brendan and I all yell out jokes and it's a free-for-all." He pauses. "It's a controlled, chaotic free-for-all."

O'Brien was impressed with the quick wit and improv talents of his director. He says: "Nick has so much enthusiasm and is fun to be around. On set, he was running back and forth between the actors and video village with alternative jokes and notes. He's known to laugh hysterically, which kept everything light and fun."

Goldberg appreciated that Stoller brought a vast intelligence to the film. He recalls: "Throughout the shoot, I told him that he's going to watch this movie in a few years and be shocked that he directed it. But he did direct it and he can't ever un-direct it."

The cast was happy to have a director who welcomes collaboration and has a great temperament. Franco sums his fellow actors' experience: "Everyone feeds off the director's energy on a movie set, and Nick is one of those guys who is relaxed and always positive. That being said, he is also intelligent, on top of everything and one step ahead of everyone. He may have ruined other comedy sets for me in the future because I just can't imagine having this much fun again."

Byrne agrees that the collegial environment helped everyone feel at ease trying new material. She reflects: "Seth and Nick have a great working relationship, and they're very communicative and easy. I have worked with Nick before as well. He's collaborative and has a great temperament. That sets the tone for the whole film when the director is collaborative and excited to be there."

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