Capone hangs out with SHE'S OUT OF MY LEAGUE stars Jay Baruchel and Nate Torrence!!!
Published at: March 10, 2010, 10:57 p.m. CST by Capone
Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.
Sometimes an interview feels like an interview, so matter how relaxed both parties might get in each other's company. And every so often, you sit down with somebody and the conversation just starts flowing. This can be a good and bad thing. When you let the conversation go wherever it wants, it might not really that interesting for the readers to sift through for any nugget of actually information. So when I sat down with SHE'S OUT OF MY LEAGUE stars Jay Baruchel and Nate Torrence recently, I attempt to let the fun of the conversation just happen, while still maintaining something resembling control over where we landed from time to time. It was one of those great experiences that doesn't feel like work.
Baruchel has been one of my favorite comic actors since spotting him as the lead on the Judd Apatow-created series "Undeclared." After a few smaller roles in film and television, Apatow brought Baruchel back into the fold as one of Seth Rogen's roommates in KNOCKED UP (he's the one with the maple leaf tattoo on his chest), and that led to bigger parts in such films as FANBOYS, TROPIC THUNDER, and NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST. He'll soon be heard as the young Viking Hiccup in HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON and will play the title role (opposite Nicolas Cage) in THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE, coming out this summer.
Nate Torrence got his start as part of the Second City crew here in Chicago. After several years of one-one roles in dozens of TV series, Torrence was cast as a regular on Aaron Sorkin's short-lived "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." It wasn't long after that that Torrence got his highest-profile role to date, that of Control Agent Lloyd in GET SMART. Lloyd and his partner Bruce (Masi Oka) even got their own spin-off, direct-to-video movie. In SHE'S OUT OF MY LEAGUE, Torrence plays one of Barchel's work buddies, the only married one, therefore his advice on relationships is met with open hostility by their group of friends. The movie is damn funny and has a load of heart to boot, just like Jay and Nate. Please enjoy our lively discussion…
Jay Baruchel: How are you doing today?
[There are glasses of water on the table in front of us from the previous roundtable interview.]
Nate Torrence: I like to have three glasses of water at all times.
Capone: Then you're all set. Jay, you have been in some of my favorite comedies in the last few years, and it's really great meeting both of you guys.
JB: Likewise man.
Capone: There has been influx of these sort of sex comedies crossed with romantic comedies, so what do you guys think separates this film from what we have seen to date?
JB: I hate to be cliché, but it’s the heart. It’s like none of us are douchebags, you know? We are all family guys. I live two blocks away from my mother. He’s got a wife and two kids. Mike [Vogel, their co-star] has a wife and two kids. And I’ve got a little sister, so I didn’t want to do anything that would reflect some kind of misogynistic alpha male frat kegger thing, you know? We very much didn’t want to be like that TV show [on Spike] "Blue Mountain State" or whatever.
JB: Good luck to those kids, but that was just not what we wanted to do because that just doesn’t reflect us, and so the whole time we knew that we would satisfy some of the gross-out, shock elements that there are, but we also thought that…. In movies, you are either a frat boy douchebag or you are the wuss, and in real life it isn’t like that. You can talk coarse and be a sloppy guy and still be a good guy at the end of the day, and that’s kind of what I think our movie is.
Capone: There’s an actual relationship at the core of this too. It’s not about pursuing someone. You pretty much, earlier on, get her; you're dating. So it’s really about holding it together.
NT: I liked that. That’s what I really like about the movie.
JB: And her character, there’s never a doubt in her mind the whole time.
NT: [Laughs] Because she’s in control, actually, of the whole science.
JB: She’s the one who’s into it the whole time. It’s my friends and my family filling my head with nonsense about how she’s too good for me. That’s the thing, there’s no pursuing, it’s more of “Can I deal with it?”
Capone: Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.
JB: Right, and how I'm hanging on for dear life, basically.
Capone: [To Torrence] What I think is funny about your character you're the only one who is married and you seem to be giving solid advice, and of course they dismiss you like some sort of reject.
JB: With all of those Disney references…
Capone: The Disney references are creepy man. There’s no getting around that.
JB: I love how obsessed he is with ALADDIN.
Capone: Exactly! “Princess Jasmine!”
JB: That’s my favorite line in the movie, when you see her and the wind picks up and blows her hair, and Nate is like "Princess Jasmine." And that line is the difference. That line would not be in a lot of other movies.
Capone: Even a character like his wouldn’t be in other movies.
NT: I know, that’s what’s really crazy.
Capone: He's a relatively stable guy, and you make him feel so awful.
NT: I think actually it said “a grown up Howdy Doody” was the actual stage direction in the script.
JB: That was actually in the directions on the script as a “grown-up Howdy Doody.”
Capone: The only thing missing are the freckles.
NT: There we go.
JB: And the hand up his ass.
Capone: No, Howdy Doody was a marionette.
JB: Oh, my bad. You’re right.
Capone: Tell me about the guys just hanging out. A lot of those scenes where you guys are just talking at work really does feel like they just turned the camera on in the middle of a conversation and just decided to use it. I can imagine a DVD filled with about two hours of extras of that raw footage.
JB: [Claps] Thank you, thank you so much. Oh don’t worry, that’s exactly what it will be.
Capone: Tell me about just forming that relationship initially.
NT: We were lucky man. It doesn’t happen all of the time. The biggest thing as comedians, you are just always hoping they have the same sense of humor as you, because you don’t really meet them until it’s done, like we are signed and we are at a table read, and that’s just kind of it.
JB: It’s a big trust issue and it’s all about “Are you going to be able to gel with these guys?”
NT: Yeah, so that’s the first hurdle, “Do you think it’s funny what I’m doing, and do I think what you are doing is funny?” Then it does this thing where, it doesn’t happen often, but we actually really got along and became really good friends. I mean, you're in Pittsburgh for two months, and a lot of time no problem with it, but sometimes you don’t hang out that much and we ended up liking each other enough to hang out on weekends.
JB: All the time and I’m usually exhausted on the weekends, but we still went to Dave & Buster’s constantly.
NT: And TGI Fridays!
JB: We went to TGI’s a lot!
NT: We took Jay there and had his birthday there, and it was with us four.
JB: And he got me the best birthday present ever though, I have to say. During the shooting of this movie I was obsessed with what may or may not of been an urban myth. It was this thing called Jenkem, which they were telling all of the kids in Florida were doing this drug, which is basically they would piss and shit in a mason jar and then put a balloon on top of it and let it ferment for two days, let the methane gas fill up the balloon and then taper it off and inhale it.
NT: Just disturbing.
JB: Just disgusting, so at TGI Fridays for my birthday, you know when the waitress comes and brings over he cake and everyone sings “Happy Birthday”? What Nate went and gave here was a Yoo-hoo bottle with the label ripped off and a Baby Ruth in the bottle with a balloon on the top. She carried it in, and everyone started singing “Happy Birthday.” [laughs] We really tremendously enjoyed each other’s company and we fuckin' just really find each other funny. And then all of the non-funny stuff, we would always just be talking about everything together. The legacy of this movie is I walked away with three best friends.
NT: And there were no egos. I think that’s the biggest thing. Nothing is harder than when you are working with someone who wants to have the funniest line in the scene and wants it, or a lead actor that doesn’t want to give the funniest parts in a scene, and I’ve worked with that a couple of times where you have people that they get a little, not intimidated, but they definitely dislike when someone is giving and they are like “No, I don’t want you to say that.” So I think it gives a lot to Jay that he was willing to let us play, but also that none of use were trying to steal. It’s an improv thing, specifically Second City, where one of their main rules--and it isn’t the case for the Groundlings--the Groundlings Theater, it's all about the brass ring, they have a different rule about funny. But at Second City, it’s always about “My job is to make my partner look good on a stage, and his job is to make me look good” and it’s always about trying to give to your partner so they can take it.
JB: There was no pissing contest.
NT: When you work with people like that, it does make a big difference.
JB: We’re just trying to fuck with each other to make each other laugh, which is so much more pleasant and makes me want to be there all day.
NT: I think that and all of those things combined, it doesn’t happen often or people are just really great actors, they can make it feel that way, but this is one of those few times where “Wow, we are actually acting on camera like we are acting off camera.”
JB: That’s the thing and I think that that’s what they realize was working. I don’t want to say what’s best in the movie, but some of the greatest moments in the movie, like you said, sounded like we were just chilling and talking together.
NT: Or the laughs. I just like when they sincerely cut to someone, and they are genuinely laughting at something. There’s one of Vogel in the bowling scene, and I know when we see him laughing, it wasn’t for the joke. They just got that somewhere and I think it was him laughing at when I was rolling the the bowling ball, and I just remember him laughing so hard.
JB: Because you bowling is the funniest fucking thing in the world. Like you are carrying the ball like this…
NT: It’s hard to bowl bad. I tried to not make that look too odd.
Capone: The bowling sequences are bizarre, because you are getting into fights with the guy in the lane next to you, and I kept thinking that was going to come back later like, but it never does.
NT: Yeah, and we all just go back to normal after the fight. We all talked about it, too.
Capone: Anyone who bowls on any kind of basis has met a guy like that.
JB: Oh, for sure. That’s exactly it and it’s the whole thing like at the end of the day, the movie is freaking earnest as hell you know? There’s no pretense about this flick whatsoever.
NT: There was a couple of scenes that could have went a completely different way in how broad we wanted to make them or how wacky.
JB: Nate’s inherent genius for example would be like the ball-shaving scene, right? On paper, that’s a very National Lampoon gross-out shock value “That's the joke.” And to Nate’s credit, he was like “No, that’s not the joke. The joke is that he’s fine with it and that they are good enough friends that the gist of that scene is affection more than gross-out, and that to me is infinitely funnier.” That’s all him and that’s jut him being like “Shouldn’t I just play it like I’m kind of psyched to be with him?”
NT: They really wrote it all about the awkwardness and me being infatuated like “Of the moment.” And I’m like “Is it alright if I just approach it this way?”
Capone: I was holding my breath during that scene.
NT: Oh, it’s out there, man.
Capone: I exhaled the minute you started blowing on his shaved balls, just like a barber surveying his work. It’s like you're cutting your son's hair. Not big deal!
NT: I had one line before it where I said “Oh, we should have put a hot towel on it,” so I literally said, “Jim [Field Smith, the director], I’m just going to do the hole thing like a barber.” So I did the blowing.
JB: And the best part is how pleased he is with himself.
NT: Yeah, it’s like rather than doing what I'm actually doing, I was giving a guy a crew cut.
JB: When my mom called me after she saw the red band trailer, I was like “Jesus Christ what is she going to say?” She said…because my mother is like Nate’s biggest fan in the world and when I told her that I was doing the tour with him, she was like “He’s the best. He’s so funny.” And she said “He’s just so pleased with himself after that!” I was like “That’s your favorite scene? “That’s my favorite scene.” I was like “Okay, fine mom.”
Capone: I do think that’s a scene most people are going to talk about afterwards. It definitely got the biggest laugh when I saw it. That and the scene with the dog. How do you even do that?
JB: Oh my God. That’s the closest I’ve ever felt to being an asshole in a clown outfit getting 12 year olds to nail me in the balls with a baseball bat all day. “I’m some whore for money today boys.” It was real gross, and I will say I did love that dog. That dog “Oswald” was the coolest dog ever. It was kind of fucking gross that to get him to constantly lick here, they just put beef pâté on my pants all day, so for 12 hours my crotch reeked of pâté and the dog was licking me, and I could feel him licking. It was no good, and the people that played Alice’s parents in that scene are her actual parents in real life, so just to add a whole other awkward dynamic to the whole thing. And they are all from England, so I was like “Welcome to North America, guys.”
NT: And too, even if you aren’t a boyfriend, you're watching a dad watch his daughter be called this sexual whatever. “Oh this is the scene after she was grinding on a guy.” I don’t care if it’s real life or not, it’s like, ugh.
Capone: Ill never be able to see that scene again without thinking “Wow, those are her parents.”
JB: Tell me about it! How the fuck do you think I felt?
NT: I remember finding out and being like, “Oh, Jay I’m sorry. That’s just messed up. This just got creepy real fast! Someone needs to do a documentary on this moment for a DVD extra.”
Capone: Speaking of Alice, I think I’ve seen her in maybe two things…
JB: STARTER FOR 10 probably…
Capone: That and CROSSING OVER, but this is really her first out-in-front kind of thing, so do you feel personally responsible for the success or failure of her career from this point forward?
JB: Oh Jesus Christ! Now I do!
JB: Well listen, I think she will do fine. She is a very talented, gorgeous, blonde girl.
Capone: That type never succeeds.
NT: [Laughs] We never were able to rely on that one. We didn’t have that in our back pocket!
JB: No kidding and I think yeah, the world is her oyster.
Capone: Jay, in films of yours like FANBOYS, TROPIC THUNDER, and KNOCKED UP, they all feature groups of guys. Do you feel more comfortable in that environment?
JB: If I like the guys, yeah, and I was real fortunate like on FANBOYS again, those guys [Dan] Fogler, [Chris] Marquette, and [Sam] Huntington are some of my best friends on Earth. I’ll be seeing Fogler when I go to New York. These are guys I can speak to like my relatives. Every Christmas, I want to see them and make sure that everyone is doing okay and all of that stuff. On KNOCKED UP, I lived with Seth [Rogen] for a year or two on and off before. He’s practically blood for me Seth, one of my best friends in the whole world. I guess it’s always a better working environment when you are around people you dig, you know? But in terms of where I’m most comfortable it’s just if it’s a movie that I can envision myself spending 12 bucks on. That’s all it comes down to, and will I enjoy showing up there everyday. When it’s with a group of cool guys, then the second thing is fulfilled?
Capone: Nate, same question to you. Do you feel like just playing off of each other makes you better? We hear that about people who do competitive sports--if you are against somebody better than you, it actually makes you better.
NT: A hundred percent. I feel like that is this movie, specifically for me at least, because really this is my first larger role and everything, so I mean everything else is and this is such a funny word to say, a “supporting” role, because that’s exactly what you are doing. Every other thing it’s like “It’s my job to get everything right, so this person, if he messes up it’s okay.” If I have a scene with Steve Carell inGET SMART, I’m not adding anything. If they ask me to, I will. But to be in this environment, it was exactly where I feel like “Oh wow, they are doing a good enough job of making their characters so real, I now know how to react.” And then I remember when I got the script thinking “These four guys would never hang out. Stainer’s too crass for Devon. Mike’s too cool-guy for all of us,” and then there was Jay who was kind of like obviously bringing these three guys together, but I was still like “I don’t know how this chemistry is going to work.”
JB: Then you buy it when you watch the movie.
NT: I remember TJ [Miller] one time being like…I forget which scene he was doing, and he was like “Hey, I want to feel bad for Devon at this point, because I feel like I want to make everyone know that I really liked him.” There’s one moment where he goes “Aw” after I say something. That’s a good actor. It’s all about us justifying every thing. And Jay has the whole other ensemble working with the family.
JB: To me, this movie honestly when you watch say SIXTEEN CANDLES or something from that era, there are a bunch of people in that movie who are movie stars now that have one line in that movie, right?
JB: This movie is that to me. There are so many fucking people in this movie that I feel like in a couple years time we will all be movie stars. Between fuckin' Nate and TJ and Mike and Kyle [Bornheimer] and Hayes [MacArthur] and Kristen [Ritter] and Lindsay [Sloane]…fucking Lindsay is on fire in this movie, and that was like constant confidence, reassurance, and knowing that “We can go to the fucking Stanley Cup with these people!
Capone: When I was interviewing Jason Segel last year, he said that he realized in high school that him naked was funny, and you without your shirt is also kind of funny. No insult intended.
JB: [laughs] You don't think I know that, and how I reconcile that is I’m an actor, so of course I’m prone to vanity like anyone else, but one of my heroes growing up and to this day is Rowan Atkinson. He is it for me man, and I remember there are two "Mr. Bean" bits--one where he goes to the pool and one where he goes to the beach--and he strips down to his bathing suit, and the audience laughs instantly and he knows it and he’s got a frumpy posture. He clearly knows what he looks like with his shirt off, and he was not above using that as a sight gag, and so that was like “Well if it’s good enough for my hero, it’s good enough for me.”
Capone: Wspecially next to Alice who is just perfect.
JB: Absolutely perfect, yeah.
Capone: With Alice, did you do anything with her, as much as you spent time with the guys trying to get that camaraderie, did you spend anytime with her?
JB: Oh, tons.
Capone: It almost seems to your advantage to be less at ease with her.
JB: Well, she’s hot as fuck, so no matter what anybody is ill at ease around her. You are just like “Jesus Christ, that came out of someone? Somebody gave birth to that?”
NT: She must have been the result of some sort of immaculate conception.
JB: Exactly. It seems like some sort of angel had something to do with that. But no for us the thing was “No matter what, everyone is going to buy that she makes me feel uncomfortable.” What people wouldn’t buy, the danger, was “Could people buy that she actually digs me, and we have some sort of a connection?” She and I hung out just the two of us a bunch for like the first little while when we were in Pittsburgh, just going and running errands. I would drive her to the doctor’s office, and we just spent a lot of time in a car together and eating supper and stuff like that and just chilling a lot. We developed, as you do, a short hand. Like I said, awkward is my bread and butter. I don’t do anything that is not awkward, like eating supper was ridiculous for me. I can’t do anything normally, so we needed to sell the real aspect of it.
Capone: So you guys were in Pittsburgh? Did you go look for any Romero landmarks?
JB: We shot… There’s a place where we kind of built a set where the airport was. That used to be a mall, and I think that’s the mall from DAWN OF THE DEAD, which is kind of fucking cool, and I would like to just take a moment to say how much I absolutely love that town, not just because you don’t hear that very often. I truly love it, and I think our movie is many things and I think one of the things it is is kind of a love letter to Pittsburgh, because it looks beautiful in our movie, because it is an actual beautiful city.
NT: There are two ways to approach it. Most people will treat it the way some people do with Cleveland, where it’s like “This place sucks” and they made it look like it was like a dump on film.
JB: Like fucking Afghanistan.
NT: Instead it like you were waiting to see a rainbow at the end of the street. “Pittsburgh, the place to live.”
JB: It’s a great town full of great hardworking people and delicious food and a real nice way of life and they get, for whatever combination of reasons, they never get their due, and it’s an absolutely awesome place to hang out.
NT: The bridges and stuff like that…
JB: It has the most bridges of any city in fucking North America, man, and it’s real old. The thing is I grew up very working class, and I’m more at ease in those types of places, so Pittsburgh just reminded me of a lot of my childhood and people I knew and grew up with.
Capone: Yeah. What sort of comedies made you guys laugh when you were younger? You mention "Mr. Bean" as far as TV went.
JB: For me it would be "Mr. Bean," anything "Kids in the Hall," anything PYTHON, specifically LIFE OF BRIAN. My other hero would be Michael Richards. I can do every Kramer bit in my sleep.
JB: That is like this intangible religious thing for me. I think what he channeled for nine fucking years was something awesome on that show, man. Then my favorite funny movie of all time is probably a movie called THE WRONG GUY with Dave Foley that like nobody even knows exists, and it’s his weird version of a Hitchcockian thriller, but it’s really weird and funny and strange, and then I have to say I’m pretty crazy about AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE.
Capone: The TV show?
JB: The movie specifically. I think the movie kills anything on the TV show. That movie, to me is in my top three best comedies of all time.
Capone: Well, the opening is certainly one of the greatest.
JB: Oh my God is it amazing! “You’re money is our money!”
Capone: What about you, Nate?
NT: When I was a kid, I was all about "Saturday Night Live" guys, so it was the Adam Sandler and stuff like that…
JB: Yeah, no kidding. That was the golden era man. Mike Meyers, Rob Schneider, Jon Lovitz, Dana Carvey, Chris Farley, all at once.
NT: I was a huge Farley fan, but then you grow up a bit, like right now I like "Tim and Eric" on Adult Swim, and then I love documentaries, like AMERICAN MOVIE or HANDS ON A HARD BODY. Some of those things I’ve really gone towards where there’s something funny about reality.
JB: PROJECT GRIZZLY! Did you ever see that one? Not GRIZZL MAN, but the one where the guy builds the suit to fight bears? I'm a Canadian, so that film strikes a specific chord with me.
NT: Or ANVIL, I really love that great line where it’s never about making fun of these people, it’s about embracing someone who has passion, and that just makes me smile.
JB: It’s more happy than it is funny.
NT: Then at the same time when you get into sthese predicament where you are like “I can’t believe this is really happening.”
JB: When he chokes that guy in Germany in ANVIL, it’s pretty funn.
NT: Or just the idea the it looks so much like SPINAL TAP, like that they missed their train and are like “We are stuck here.” They go out in front of like six people. I'm waiting for, it was Fred Willard who played the guy in SPINAL TAP where he’s like “Well, we are really ready for a great show.”
JB: That ANVIL strikes a particular cord with me too, because of where I come from, I’m half Irish and half Jewish and these two guys are two working class Jews from Ontario and it’s so personal. I know so many people like that, so that’s one of my favorite movies in the past couple of years, actually.
NT: And then I guess I went through a Christopher Guest stage too. WAITING FOR GUFFMAN was like this… I just remember I saw it and remember watching Parker Posey do the Dairy Queen speech, and I didn’t know if it was real. “Is this a real person?” “We’ve got cones."
Capone: She’s so brain dead it's amazing.
NT: I was like “Is this real? What is going on?”
JB: I’m also in love with her, for my whole life. We both are. For me, it started with PARTY GIRL.
NT: It was before DVD, and I bought all of the VHS outtakes on ebay for WAITING FOR GUFFMAN. It was like 80 bucks, and I was like “Awesome!”
JB: Oh and TRAILER PARK BOYS. That’s a huge inspiration for me. He had never heard of it. Most Americans hadn’t heard of it, and when I told him there were seven seasons and two movies, he was like “What the fuck?” Seven years. Seven amazing seasons, and for whatever reason it’s on BBC America here. I don’t understand that.
[We get the wrap-up sign.]
Capone: Okay, I will see you guys tonight then.
JB: Thanks so much. It was a pleasure talking to you.
NT: Have a good one. We will see you this evening.
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