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
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
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