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PAUL

Casting The Film
As Pegg sees it, the cast assembled for Paul is "a coming together of the comedy communities in the U.S. and the U.K.” Pegg and Frost represent the British contingent, and the other principal members of the cast are notable American comic names, many of whom have previously worked with Mottola.

The director has a long history in the world of television, and that would prove quite helpful as he phoned a number of previous collaborators when casting for Paul began. Shares Mottola: "I had made friends with all these super talented, next-generation comedy types and was in the position to be able to call them, send them the script and say, ‘Would you do this?' I liked the idea of mixing Simon and Nick with a wave of American comedy folks, and everyone got into the spirit of what the movie is.”

Along with the human protagonists, Graeme and Clive, the crucial third member of the cast is of course Paul himself. Though his physical presence would ultimately be the work of the CGI wizards at Double Negative, his voice needed to be very human. Says Fellner: "We knew that the film would never work if Paul felt like a wholly CGI character. That would immediately take people out of the movie. He had to feel like every other actor in the film. In every test we did, we learned that the performance of the actor had to drive the CGI…never vice versa.”

The voice that was decided upon was Seth Rogen, one of America's top comedy stars and a performer with whom Mottola had previously worked on Superbad (which Rogen co-starred and co-wrote). It proved to be an inspired choice, claims Frost, as the team was able to take the character in a fresh direction. "At first, Paul was much older and grumpier, much more of a curmudgeon than he is now,” he states.

The team saw Paul as a catalyst for change in everyone around him, and Pegg and Frost liked the updates to their title character that Rogen suggested. "Now he's a free spirit and less of a jerk than he was when Nick and I first thought of him,” says Pegg. "When Seth's name came up, it seemed cool, because Seth's got a lot of youth and vitality. He also has this gravelly voice, and obviously he's incredibly funny. As soon as we started thinking about Seth, we began to adapt Paul slightly. By the time Seth got to him, Paul had evolved into this Ferris Bueller-style sprite who changes everyone's lives.”

In a fortuitous meeting, Rogen had actually run into Pegg and Frost years ago at San Diego's Comic-Con and kept in touch over the years. He found the men to be kindred spirits and enjoyed their writing and unique characterizations. Of course, he'd worked with Mottola on Superbad, so it was an easy decision for him to join the director's new production.

His long friendship with the director ensured that he'd be involved in bringing Paul to the screen. Rogen offers: "I've known Greg for almost 10 years. He actually directed the first thing I wrote that got made, which was an episode of Undeclared. We got along really well, and he ended up directing a couple more episodes that I wrote of the show that season. We became good friends and when we were finally able to get Superbad made, he was the first guy we sent it to.”

Considering that Paul crash-landed on Earth decades ago, Rogen wanted to infuse the character with a world-weary, yet relaxed sensibility of a guy who would contrast well with his uptight fellow travelers. He says: "I thought it would be funny if these nerdy, uptight guys met up with a Neil Young-type guy who was an old hippie who'd seen it all and has a chilled-out attitude…but is also very passionate about some things.” He adds, "Because Neil Young rocks hard and I wanted Paul to have that also.”

Rogen liked the fact that Paul changes the people around him, and he doesn't actually change that much himself during the course of the film. He explains their thought process as they developed Paul's character: "Ferris Bueller is rad to begin with and rad to end with, but everyone else is a little more rad for hanging out with him for the day. That's what we talked about with Paul. Graeme and Clive are incredibly nerdy and in their shell and very afraid to do anything—to go after a girl or pursue their career aspirations. Paul coaches them through that. Plus, these guys' dreams come true and they meet an alien and he's actually a fun guy to be around. He does things like drink beer, smoke weed and make jokes.”

Mottola shares why Rogen was the ideal actor for the part: "Paul can turn invisible and heal things, but he mixes up pistachios and mussels as to which one you'll get food poisoning from if you eat an unopened one. He's fallible; he's us. That's something that Simon and Nick intuitively wrote, but when Seth performed it, he instantly got that about the guy. Paul had to be very similar to a human being, and that's simultaneously disappointing and reassuring about him.”

Casting Rogen also influenced how the character would ultimately be animated. "When we started working on him, Paul's movements were quite big and he was doing loud and funny things,” shares Park. "But Greg just kept bringing it back until he felt very real. That's when we realized what we had to do. We knew we needed to record Seth, rehearse with him, film those rehearsals and then give them to the animators. Seth's own movements had to be the basis for the animation.”

Hot on the tail of both the British visitors and otherworldly kind is Special Agent Lorenzo Zoil (read that back again), who has the answers to many questions about Paul's decades on Earth. Jason Bateman, who dates his relationship with Mottola back to the acclaimed television series Arrested Development, stepped into the role.

Pegg was enthused when Bateman agreed to play Zoil. "Jason is an extraordinary actor,” he compliments. "I could watch him act forever. He has something that is hard to put your finger on, because he's so effortlessly good. There's a naturalism and a rhythm to his delivery that is unique, and he's one of the few actors in the movie industry who can do comic and straight at the same time.”

Bateman's ability to understand both the humorous and serious sides of a scene was welcome on set, Pegg recalls. "When we were casting the film, I was determined that Zoil be played by someone who would be threatening and you could take seriously. The other creative forces were saying, ‘No, he has to be funny; he has to be a comedy person.' And I said, ‘No, the threat's not going to be real with somebody goofing around.' When Jason's name came up, I liked him for it, because he can bring the fun at the same time he is being a very credible threat. It's also nice to see him playing someone who appears to be a bad guy.”

For his part, Bateman views Zoil as a "humorless, badass boss who's intolerant of fools. I felt it was important not to deviate a lot from that, which can be somewhat limiting for an actor, but in another sense is very good because it forces you to be disciplined and not chew up the scenery. I was very pleased to be part of the ensemble of a bunch of actors I admire and filmmakers I enjoy.”

Bateman's fellow interplanetary bounty hunters are two odd underlings named Haggard and O'Reilly, played by, respectively, Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio. As Hader observes of the crime-busting duo, "They're not the brightest guys, but they're eager to please. My character, because he's so ambitious, slowly starts to usurp Zoil's authority because he's caught on that they might be looking for an alien. It was fun to start off as a guy who stra

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