Jesse Eisenberg may be the main star of the upcoming comedy 30 Minutes or Less, and he may be seated in the center of the dais during a small press conference concerning the film ... but this talented young actor is far from the center of attention.
And this does seem to be something of a conscious decision on Eisenberg's part and not just a case of him being constantly overshadowed by his generally hilarious co-stars who come armed with quick wits and penchants for improv comedy: Danny McBride, Nick Swardson and Aziz Ansari. Sure, these guys do have quicker trigger fingers when it comes to punch lines, but Eisenberg is also the guy who rode his bike here to the Ritz-Carlton Central Park just the night before, locked it up across the street, and came into the lobby bar for a quick hello before sharing a bedroom-bound dinner with his girlfriend. The man is not exactly a glutton for attention. His cohorts in comedic crime, however ... well, read on ...
Mining its laughs from a very similar real-life incident that did not share the same predilection towards the humorous side of things (in which the same series of events led disastrously to a man's death), 30 Minutes or Less tells the story of a pizza deliveryman (Eisenberg) forced by two gorilla mask wearing morons (who usually while away their days blowing up watermelons and teddy bears) to strap a bomb to his chest, rob a bank and then deliver the money to them in exchange for the bomb-disarming code. And with his best buddy somewhat unwillingly by his side, that's just what he does.
Having seen the film and also read the specifics on the real case it is indeed rather eerie how closely linked the two ideas are. But despite whatever pall a similarity like that could have cast over the proceedings, the movie is indeed funny and the press conference promoting the film perhaps even funnier — the room filled to the brim with loud laughs and good energy. So here, depending on your own personal sense of humor, are 30 laughs or more with the cast of 30 Minutes or Less.
Can you guys talk a bit about maintaining your characters amidst so much improv?
Nick Swardson: Danny and I really had a good chemistry; we didn't know each other before the film. We really hit it off and we would get really into the improv and kind of go crazy ... It was one of the funnest times I've ever had, working with Danny.
Danny McBride: This script was really tight and in good shape, so when everything's there ... it just kind of gives you the confidence to push the comedy. We already had a good base to start with, so a lot of the improv—
Aziz Ansari: We get it, Danny!
DM: You get it, Aziz? Ask Aziz a question ...
There's a lot of bromance going on in this movie ... when does a bromance become full on gay?
AA: Can everyone stop saying bromance? For some reason it bothers me, I don't know. That sounded mean ... There is an alternate ending we shot where we all fuck each other. But when we watched that we were like, "This is turning into a gay thing."
DM: Yeah, I agree with what Aziz said so that he doesn't cut me off.
NS: I think the cool thing about the movie is that it does show ... how tight a friendship can be ... how close guys can be without chowing each other's cocks.
Jesse, you've played a number of possibly shady characters lately: this film, The Social Network and also the under-appreciated Holy Rollers. Is this by choice or coincidence?
Jesse Eisenberg: Um, thanks, Mom.
Were you guys nervous about making a comedy about such a dark subject, especially one based on a real life incident??
NS: Yeah, when I first read the script I was like, "How is this gonna work?" But the people behind it are amazing ... I trusted them a lot. And as far as the incident, I mean it's so different — it wasn't like, "Oh my gosh! This is verbatim what happened!" It was so far from it that— (A phone starts ringing) That would be Aziz's phone ...
AA: That's my text message sound, sorry about that.
NS: Not professional ...
AA: Very jovial text message noise, though. It's the horn, if you have an iPhone. It's better than the Marimba one. Switch it. It's better.
Danny, once again you have treated our delicate sensibilities to ear-blistering filth ...
DM: You're welcome.
What is your language like in your private life?
DM: I speak fluent Spanish. No, you know, I just like lowbrow, dirty, juvenile humor. But I don't call my mom and say, "Hey what the fuck's happening, bitch?" I'm still respectful.
Was there any particular music that any of you listened to in order to get hyped up for your action scenes?
DM: The Best of Peabo Bryson was one ...
NS: Just an audio loop from gay pornos.
AA: Jesse exclusively listens to Waka Flocka Flame on such a loud level that I would hear it in my trailer as well.
What was the experience like blowing up watermelons and teddy bears and wielding flamethrowers?
DM: The watermelon explosions, that's what made me do the movie. I really wanted to do a movie where watermelons explode, and this script had it. That stuff is always fun — when you get to mix comedy with weapons that always seems cool. Nick was always in a good mood on set every single day, but when he had to wear the flamethrower that was the quietest Nick I had ever seen.
NS: Yeah. It was one of those things where you read it in the script and you're like, "This is so awesome!" And then you get to set that day and you're like, "I ... don't wanna do this!" It was scary, man. I wasn't that nervous about it and then I had to do all this fire training and there were all these guys standing by in case something went wrong. All these scenarios like, "Well, if this does explode on your back and you burst into flames this is what you should do." And it didn't help that Danny kept throwing rocks at my flamethrower backpack.
DM: They ran us through so many things that could happen that it was almost disappointing when nothing happened.
NS: Yeah, I was bummed out that I didn't burn myself. The watermelons kind of scared me too. I don't know ... I guess I'm a pussy.
Any favorite bank robbery films? Or car chase films?
NS: I love Point Break ... it's one of my favorite movies of all time. I was obsessed with that movie for a long time. I love all the car stuff in Ronin ... pretty badass ... and Fried Green Tomatoes.
Danny, you seem to play a lot of so-called "bad guy" roles. Do you enjoy playing that role more?
DM: It is fun. Some of my favorite characters when I was a kid were always the villains in movies. In The Karate Kid I always rooted for Cobra Kai, weirdly.
Have any of you had a really lousy, miserable job?
DM: I've had a ton of them. My first job was at an amusement park. I worked in the candy store. It was about a 30 minute drive from my house and I used to pray on the way to work, I was like, "God, please help me get into a car accident; one where I don't get hurt but where I don't have to go to work today."
JE: It's tough to find that middle ground in a car accident.
AA: I manage a Bubba-Gump Shrimp Co. right now. | RDW
30 Minutes or Less rolls into theatres on 8/12