Capone has a very silly chat with CYRUS stars John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill!!!
Published at: June 21, 2010, 1:51 p.m. CST by Capone
Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.
You all know John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill, two of most reliable actors--comic or otherwise--working today. They even played brothers in the highly undervalued WALK HARD (or at least Reilly played Dewey Cox while Hill played the ghost of Cox's dead brother). In the new movie CYRUS, which opens nationwide this weekend, they have another very special relationship, with both of them seeking the affections of Marisa Tomei. Nothing weird about that at all, except when you factor in that Hill's Cyrus is her grown son, while Chicago-native Reilly plays her new boyfriend. Thanks to the skilled, free-form directing style of Austin's own Jay and Mark Duplass, CYRUS is a masterpiece of awkwardness. It also works as an engaging comedy and human drama, with all of the actors touching on some very fundamental truths about human behavior and emotions.
I got a chance to sit down with Reilly and Hill in March at the SXSW Film Festival, and I knew from talking with Quint that Hill is a die-hard reader of AICN, which makes me very happy. Quint had also talked to Reilly not too long prior to my interview, at Fantastic Fest last September. In other words, this was a fun, very loose interview in the middle of a very long day of interviews for everyone involved (including me). It always helps when the publicist enters the room before you and announces to the actors "Next up is Capone from Ain't It Cool News, to which Hill immediately responded "Aw, shit!" about as gleefully as any man can. Please enjoy my conversation about a truly great movie with John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill…
Jonah Hill: Aw, shit. Look at this motherfucker right here! Capone!
Capone: What’s up, man? It’s good to finally meet you two.
JH: I know, dude. I read all of your shit, man! I’m a big fan of the website.
John C. Reilly: How’s it going?
Capone: Good. Another man from Chicago here.
JCR: That's right!
JH: I read the website everyday.
Capone: Thanks, that’s awesome. Well, I see everything the two of you do, so it seems only fair.
JH: We are all huge narcissists, that’s why.
JCR: Ain’t It Cool… Ain’t I Cool?
JH: If you are a film aficionado, you like to read reviews and hear about people’s views, and upcoming news.
JCR: Yeah, but this website was the first to chip away that stranglehold that the studios had on the product.
Capone: We’ve been around for like 12 or 13 years now. I guess we're coming up on 13 years.
JH: Was Harry there last night? He told me he was going to come!
Capone: Yeah, he was sitting right behind me.
JCR: You guys were the first ones to crack through the whole facade of the marketing department, like the first ones to use the internet to say “This is what this movie is really like,” before it was out. You guys kept people from going out and seeing some bad shit.
Capone: I guess at the time, reviewing anything before the day it came out was like not appreciated. We showed them.
JCR: Now look what you have done!
Capone: Now we are all out there, and the aliases don’t mean shit.
JH: I’m a fan man, I read all your stuff.
Capone: Thanks again. That mean a lot. John, I heard a rumor from someone I ran into that you were smuggling tequila in your belly into the Q&A last night.
JCR: Smuggling tequila? [Puts on a very "Who me?" face.] I had consumed tequila. Yeah, we went and had a couple cocktails beforehand, but I was well sobered up by the time the Q&A happened.
Capone: I ran into Edward Norton downstairs just before I came up and he mentioned that.
JH: I think at the red carpet we were pretty gone. Ed an our friend Shawna and John…
JCR: I went to eat during the middle of the movie, so by the Q&A I had gotten my shit together.
JH: He was convinced that that might have had something to do with the way the Q&A went last night.
JCR: That was just odd, because the questions were kind of bizarre.
Capone: Jonah, the thing I wanted to talk to you about was your haircut in the movie and how it scared me. The combination of the short-cropped hair and the plaid shirts made me realize that I don’t like guys that look like that. I don’t trust them.
JH: [Laughs] I think a lot of people look like that, just this guy in particular is pretty out there and creepy. Mark and Jay did something really interesting, they wanted me to look totally different hair wise, and I have long, curly hair obviously, and Mark had an interesting idea when we were cutting my hair off and it still looked too much like me. Then Mark was just like “Take his hairline back,” and they took my whole hairline back. I don’t know if you could notice, but they literally took my whole hairline back.
Capone: Wow. I didn’t actually, but yeah.
JH: And I did something interesting or I thought was cool, everyday if it started to grow out, I would cut a little chunk out of my hair, and I was like “Maybe he ripped his hair out while he was sleeping.”
Capone: Yeah, one of his many mental problems.
JH: One of the weird fucked up things that he did.
Capone: The one thing that did come through in the Q&A last night was the idea and I love this idea of the improvisation being used for comedy, sure, but then also to get to some sort of dramatic truth and some real truth about the way these characters' minds work, because these are three very fragile people that could clearly all benefit from knowing each other in the right context, and it’s kind of sad to watch it fall apart initially. You guys are both so well known for the comedic improvisation, but to work to these ends is a very different thing and I really liked it.
JCR: It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, you know coming up in Chicago in acting school, I always saw improv as a way to become a better actor and to be truthful and in the moment. There were a lot of people doing straight comedy improv at the same time in Chicago, and I just never gravitated towards that, but you know the techniques are the same you know? I always thought it was just limiting to use improv only to get laughs, you know? There’s so much more that you can discover and it took this long to do that in a movie although I always improvise a little bit.
Capone: Yeah, it seems like THE PROMOTION was built on that same foundation.
JH: I love that movie.
Capone: I do to.
JH: I quote it to him all the time.
JCR: Really. that movie is pretty tightly scripted. Yeah, but [writer-director] Steve [Conrad] has the knack of writing to make it sound like very naturally dialog.
Capone: We did a screening of the film in Chicago, and he and Seann William Scott came out for it. He lives there, but he came to the screening. At the time, I had seen it like three times in a row.
JH: Me too. I love that movie.
JCR: Was it the Midwest Film Festival screening? That one?
Capone: No, not even that screening, no. They let me do one just for Ain’t It Cool and then Steve came out to the theater where it was playing opening weekend, and we did a couple Q&As as well.
JH: That’s one of my favorites. I would talk to you about that all of the time. I love that movie!
JCR: Yeah, we were talking about it today.
JH: I think it’s such a well written, directed, acted… I just love that movie. It’s so wonderful.
Capone: In different hands the story of CYRUS would have been a very different film.
JH: A very dumb movie, yeah.
Capone: Yeah, very broad. I could see that other, lesser film in my head as I was watching this one unfold. TIt doesn’t end the way you think it’s going to. It doesn’t even end on the beat a lot of movies tend to end on, but it was fun to see it go in directions that were unexpected and resolve in much more realistic ways, with people acting like people and not characters.
JCR: I was kind of surprised. They were making the movie, improvising a lot, finding it each day and searching around, and a lot of times I felt like Mark and Jay really didn’t know what they wanted it to be, which they didn’t. Now I realize they deliberately would come in with a clean slate every day a lot of times, because they wanted us to discover something real. So that could be difficult on certain days because you are looking towards these two for leadership on getting the movie done, and they are kind of throwing it back to you, you know? But then seeing the movie I realized more than half of what they do is in the editing room. They really crafted the story then.
JH: Jay Dueby, their editor, is incredible too. They call him the third Duplass brother, whose actually name is Jay Dueby, that’s not a pseudonym. But he’s a great guy. I think he was the first one to do those scenes where John and Marisa are getting to know each other, where the dialog doesn’t match the shot. They just do a great job. I think they truly sculpt the movie in the editing room with those three people.
Capone: Even the way they move the camera around a scene like they're trying to find the the moment, that’s so unique and to me as a stylistic choice. They might not have invented it, but they certainly use it in their movies better than I've ever seen it used.
JH: Effectively, yeah.
Capone: It’s jarring sometimes, but in a good way. Were you sort of aware of the stylistic choices they were making as you were filming, or was that kind of a surprise when you saw it finished?
JCR: No. We didn’t watch video playback or anything.
JH: I hadn’t seen a lick of film until I went into the editing room and saw the first cut of the movie. I hadn’t seen any playback or anything.
Capone: That’s unusual, isn’t it?
JH: Different from what I’m used to. We typically have a dailies truck on the bigger and broader comedies I do. We watch a lot of playback to hear if the jokes are working and the emotional throughline is working, and this was completely foreign, just not seeing anything you know. It's just trust, but that’s what it is with these guys. As an actor, all you can do is choose a filmmaker who you can trust to get you to the finish line.
Capone: How familiar were you with their work before hearing about this project? Had you seen their other films?
JH: Seven years ago, I was in a short film at CineVegas, and they had their short film INTERVENTION playing, and I saw it and I asked a bunch of questions in the Q&A, because it blew my mind, and I told them, “Hey, if you ever want to work with me…” And I hadn’t done anything then, but I said, “I would love to work with you guys.” They were like “Okay, stranger.” Then I saw THE PUFFY CHAIR and loved that and said it again to them. And then I think they did a profile on me in The New York Times for SUPERBAD, and they asked me “What’s a movie that you love that maybe people might not have heard of?” and I said THE PUFFY CHAIR. And they said that helped them a lot, because people started checking into it more, maybe people who were fans of mine, and then I was like “Now you guys owe me. It’s payback time, you better put me in your movie!” Then they had written this movie for John and for myself, and it was lucky enough to all work out and it turned out great. I’m really proud of it.
Capone: Yeah, it is great. Guys, thank you so much.
JH: Thanks, Capone. I appreciate it.
Capone: Great to meet you finally.
JCR: You too. Say Hi to Chicago.
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