Quint has a particularly funny interview with THE VIRGINITY HIT's Adam McKay and Zack Pearlman!
Published at: Sept. 12, 2010, 3:50 a.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with a particularly fun interview I did a little over a week ago with Adam McKay (producer) and Zack Pearlman (co-star) for their little teen sex comedy that could THE VIRGINITY HIT.
The title refers to a special bong that is brought out only when one of the tight-knit group of friends loses their cherry. One by one, they each take their hit, but then there’s only one left, the awkward Matt (played by Matt Bennett). His friends document his attempt at losing his virginity to his longtime girlfriend and… well, it doesn’t turn out great, leaving a broken relationship and a desperate search for the holiest of grails.
It was a flick I was very surprised with. I was surprised it was as good as it was. The flick really is a sweet bonding tale told in a fairly vulgar way and it has the cursing and boobs missing from most like films in this genre nowadays.
McKay and Pearlman attending an Alamo Drafthouse screening and I was offered a 1:2 with them afterwards. The publicist suggested The Highball since it was close to the theater, but I figured that’d be too noisy to do a proper chat.
So, being a fattie, my natural instinct was to suggest Gourdough’s, a crazy donut truck a two minute walk from the Alamo South Lamar. Do an image search for Gourdough’s and you’ll see why I recommend it for out-of-towners.
Judging from McKay and Pearlman’s reactions, it was a good choice. I mention it only because it comes into play during the interview.
It’s always a fear doing an interview straight after a damn good Q&A that all the good questions have been asked or the As to our Qs give their best for the crowd and there’s nothing left afterwards. But that was not the case here. I found this to be a particularly funny chat, filled with tangents relating to everything from Das Boot to the history or the fart joke.
A couple more things you should know before starting: At the Q&A Harry asked McKay the status on ANCHORMAN 2 and he said he definitely wants to make it and they’re going to retry in a couple of years, but that all the stars involved wanted to do it, were willing to take pay-cuts and opened up their schedules to return to the world of Ron Burgundy, but the studio still thought it was too expensive and canned it.
The original concept was to actually hone the movie on Broadway, believe it or not. Start it as a show, with all the main cast, have it run for a brief period as different jokes were tested and then when they were all at their sharpest transition immediately over to the film. Yes, it was going to be a musical.
I’d kill to see that! What an awesome idea!
Anyway, let’s get to the interview! Apologies up front to those annoyed by the "Everybody Laughs" interludes... this one's full of 'em, but that's because these guys are some funny motherfuckers. Hope you guys enjoy the chat!
Quint: Yeah, so I really dug the movie. I kind of love that there’s a movie out there that can kind of sneak up on me. Especially when it’s a real return to form for R rated teen sex comedies, which it feels like we have been starved for that for so long.
Adam McKay: Oh God, yeah. The biggest trick with it was it just looks like a “losing your virginity” movie and we kept trying to figure out how to present that it’s different, but at a certain point you are like “Ohm fuck it. Just let people see the movie.”
Quint: If it’s good, people will talk about it.
Adam McKay: That’s it.
Quint: With the budget this low I would have to imagine it gives you guys so much freedom to be able to just kind of let the word of mouth happen. Word of mouth campaigns don’t work for something like SCOTT PILGRIM, you know?
Adam McKay: It’s true. Yeah, you don’t have that heart investment with it, because it’s become a corporation at that point, like it’s so big and this one is so small and scrappy and the budget is so low. Sony knew that and they built the whole marketing campaign around screenings and honest word of mouth, not fake generated word of mouth, and they kind of told us that. They were like “If this plays, you’re great” and we are like “That’s fine, we can live with that.”
Quint: Since this is your first Q&A, Zack, I imagine you haven’t done a lot of these screenings yet.
Zack Pearlman: This is the first screening I have been to. Well, we did the Comic-Con one.
Adam McKay: We did Comic Con and we did one in Florida like a week ago and there was one tonight in like Baton Rouge and New York. It just started. This is like really the second kind of official one, other than Comic-Con.
Quint: That’s cool, and how is it playing then?
Adam McKay: The one in Florida was glowing, although honestly for us this is the Maginot Line. These fans are the smartest. To hear them laughing at all of the nooks and crannies of it and to really get it was like… Because that’s what we have been laughing at, but depending on the audience you show it to, they laugh at the big dirty jokes, but this crowd was laughing at all of the little language moments.
[The Donuts arrive]
Zack Pearlman: Oh, man! I just got the “Mother Clucker.” (Fried Chicken on the donut)
Quint: That’s going to be part of the interview. Hold on, let me take a picture before you do it in.
Zack Pearlman: Yeah, of course. This is crazy!
Zack Pearlman: Oh, my God. Dude! Look at this!
Adam McKay: I got the PB&J. (takes a bite) Oh, my God!
Quint: These pictures are totally going in the interview, by the way. One thing that I really loved about the movie and it’s something that I think has been underused in comedies a lot, with the exception of what you guys and your work with Judd Apatow… it’s something most of his films do well… But there’s a lot of great background humor. That to me is the mark of a great comedy. When you can watch something… I have a feeling what I saw today, I could probably watch again and pick out more things in the background that’s hilarious and Harry mentioned one in the Q&A with the dad. The dad just kind of shaking his head, over-hearing the “You should have been aborted” argument, but staying completely out of it.
Adam McKay: Isn’t that all Robert Altman? Isn’t that just all of us in our own fucking cheap way copying Robert Altman?
Adam McKay: It really is. It’s like we all watch Robert Altman movies. We all love them. We all know we can’t quite do it that good, but we say, “Well I can’t create four layers, I can create two.” That’s really what it is and you know (Andrew) Gurland and Huck (Botko) are really smart directors and they know how to create that density. We always love that. We love the movies. We grew up watching the movies like… TIN MEN was a movie I’ve always gone crazy for and there’s so many little snippets and background layered shit in there and I’ve seen that movie like thirty times.
Zack Pearlman: TIN MEN?
Adam McKay: TIN MEN is the best…
Zack Pearlman: Great movie.
Adam McKay: It’s kind of a forgotten movie, too. People don’t talk about it as much. DINER is more of the one that kind of gets remembered and DINER is great.
Quint: I remember Mel Brooks had quite a lot of background humor in his stuff, too, like in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN.
Zack Pearlman: Yeah, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN is a great example. I love it. That and HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART 1. BLAZING SADDLES! That’s almost all background humor. If you look past the fart joke, which by the way if you guys don’t know this, that’s the first fart joke on screen.
Adam McKay: Is that true?
Zack Pearlman: Yeah, the cowboy fart scene where they are eating beans.
Adam McKay: How can that be? That’s the first one ever?
Zack Pearlman: That was the first scene. You know what it was that I was watching? It was a VH1 POP-UP VIDEO movie edition in the early 2000’s.
Quint: If it’s VH1, they certainly couldn’t be wrong.
Zack Pearlman: VH1 can never be wrong! (laughs)
Adam McKay: They shot that show out of the Library of Congress. That’s why they did it, because everything was now was research, yeah.
Zack Pearlman: And the Library of Congress can never be wrong.
Quint: I remember hearing that that’s the longest fart joke in film history.
Adam McKay: That’s for sure, yeah.
Zack Pearlman: That’s probably true. Give Sandler two more years…
Adam McKay: (laughs) We always try… We had a bunch that we’ve cut. We cut one out of ANCHORMAN. We cut one out of TALLADEGA NIGHTS and then finally in STEP BROTHERS we got one in.
Zack Pearlman: Really? The STEP BROTHERS one was really funny.
Adam McKay: It’s the Holy Grail, like “Can you do an original fart joke?” And you know that it’s going to horrify half the audience and that’s fantastic.
Quint: I’m a huge fan of fart jokes.
[A few people come up, including a particularly attractive lady, comes up to the table to shake Zack’s hand and thank him for the movie. “That movie was awesome.”]
Zack Pearlman: (right after they start walking away, Zack turns to us and says:) Alright, see you guys later! (laughs) That’s so weird. It’s still so weird, but…
Quint: “Speaking of fart jokes…” now back to fart jokes, the important stuff.
Adam McKay: I know, when has anyone been interrupted by a hot girl while talking about fart jokes?
Quint: Having a highbrow conversation about fart jokes…
Zack Pearlman: Yeah, we were talking about the newest fart jokes, but with that I think people go into the movie with kind of a preconceived notion which Adam was talking a little bit about, where it’s like you expect this to be another virginity movie when in reality it’s so hard to show originality and this is so much more than just about “virginity,” it’s about friends and this tradition and the real things that friends do just surrounded in this shitty happenstance.
Quint: Yeah, that’s the real secret to these movies though, you have to buy the friendship. That’s why I think SUPERBAD works. That’s why I think ANCHORMAN works. It’s broader, but at the end of the day I believe that Brick and Ron and all of these guys are close. That’s one of the reasons why I love THE BIG LEBOWSKI so much, you can go back to movies like that and it’s almost like you are revisiting friends.
Adam McKay: Like DAS BOOT, you know they are all buddies… You know at the end of the day they are like “Ah, get over here.”
Adam McKay: Remember that movie LEBANON? Seriously, have you seen that?
Adam McKay: It looks really fucking cool. It’s like a DAS BOOT movie about a tank crew fighting for Israel in Lebanon and I just saw a trailer for it. It looked insane. No joke, it’s actually real, but anyway…
Zack Pearlman: I agree with you.
Adam McKay: You guys really were friends and that’s what’s crazy about it.
Quint: Yeah, your origin story is the best “friend origin story” I have heard in a while.
Adam McKay: Isn’t it? It’s crazy, the fact that they really were partying, hanging out, becoming friends, that Matt really was a virgin coming into it… All of that stuff was real and… You know the background story on Gurland right? He used to be Todd Phillips partner and they made that documentary FRAT HOUSE and they got busted for staging some of it, so to me he is the embodiment of the line between what’s fiction and what’s... He gets it better than anyone.
Quint: Once you shave somebody else’s genitals… That’s either going make or break a friendship.
Adam McKay: You are at least pals at that point.
Quint: You have to be. You are either pals or enemies, there’s no in-between.
Zack Pearlman: I agree. I very much agree. (laughs) It’s funny, because you buy it so quickly because that trust in a friendship is like… With my best friend, which actually is Matt (Bennett), I would if I needed him to; I would have him shave my balls and only because I trust him so much. It’s funny, I’m trying to make a reference outside of the movie and it’s impossible.
Adam McKay: It’s impossible. It’s slightly unnatural, the whole thing.
Quint: I think it comes off in the movie, the chemistry isn’t forced, and it’s really there. It’s not like a bunch of people acting like they are friends. It’s a real friendship.
Zack Pearlman: And that’s something that’s really cool, even though we are actors, Matt, Justin (Kline), Jacob (Davich), and I were all actors, but we are all friends and that’s the core of that dynamic that we are all friends.
Quint: So, are you going to do a reverse ANCHORMAN 2 now and make the stage musical? The Broadway musical version of THE VIRGINITY HIT?
Adam McKay: I would love that.
Zack Pearlman: That would be awesome. I come from musical theater, so it’s not that crazy.
Quint: The sequel: “VIRGINITY HITS.”
Adam McKay: (Laughs) “Yet Another Virginity Hit.”
Zack Pearlman: That’s a very Broadway play version of that. “HOW TO SUCCEED IN VIRGINITY WITHOUT LOSING FRIENDS.”
Quint: So, that means Rosie O’Donnell is a lock.
Adam McKay: Oh, yeah.
Quint: Only she’s the one who needs to lose her virginity…
Zack Pearlman: (Laughs)
Adam McKay: I think Rosie O’Donnell should have first pass on every movie that’s made. There should be a moment where every director has to be afraid, like “Is she going to say yes?” Just a weird fucking like blip in the law and the union rules and… “Well Rosie’s going to take a look. She will probably say no…” For some reason she’s in like INCEPTION.
Zack Pearlman: That’s exactly where my head went, too. It’s like she’s playing Ellen Page’s part, [In a Rosie O’Donnell impersonation] “What are you talking about? I’ll make you a map.”
Zack Pearlman: That’s my Rosie O’Donnell everyone.
Adam McKay: That was good.
Quint: So going a little bit into the technical side of things, how structured was the shoot? Did you have days to make and that kind of thing or were the digital cameras around and you shot at your leisure?
Zack Pearlman: We definitely did have days, but one thing that was very unique is I have an HVX 1000, which just happened to be the camera we were all shooting on, so I brought mine and I would shoot whenever we were in the house or whenever we would go out and I actually got kicked out of a few places for recording all of us. But the cameras were always rolling, just because at the end of the day it’s a character thing. I wanted to be, for the next three months, I wanted to always be recording and always be that person who was behind the camera and it ended up kind of building into all of our friendships, so it’s not only that we shot a movie, we shot us becoming amazing friends, which I don’t think anyone can say.
Adam McKay: Except for the cast of DAS BOOT.
Zack Pearlman: And probably the cast of SCHINDLER’S LIST.
Adam McKay: “Alright, take your shirt off and start shooting.”
Zack Pearlman: I want to make SCHINDLER’S LIST 2: SHOPPING. (laughs)
But, Andrew and Huck really knew that when they had put us all in a huge house in the Garden District of New Orleans and we didn’t. We were just like “Awesome, they got us a house.” Now looking back and seeing the chemistry on film it’s like “Oh of course they wanted us to become real friends…”
Adam McKay: Oh, they knew exactly what they were doing, yeah. We were talking to them and they were like “We got them all in a house. We think they are getting along.” It was like when you get like fish when you are in fourth grade, like “They are out of the bag now, they’ve adjusted to the temperature.”
The trick with Andrew and Huck is I think Andrew is one of the all-time great 20 year olds. I think he was an amazing 20 year old. He did a lot of fucked up shit and he did a GG Allen documentary when he was at NYU and he just gets the vibe of how much fun it is to be 20 or 21 or 22 or 19 and like hang out, so even though he’s saying “I want them all in a house for the movie,” he also gets that it’s fun as shit for these guys and real bonds are going to happen and he’s loving it almost more for that than even for the movie. It was fun to watch.
Zack Pearlman: Now looking back on it, it’s like as much as he had the movie in mind, as Adam just said, looking back it’s like “Oh, he wanted this to be like an everlasting friendship.”
Adam McKay: He’s almost more excited that you and Matt are really friends than the movie; honest to God he said it. He’s like “I just love that they became friends, like they really did.”
Zack Pearlman: It’s so wild.
Quint: Well there has to be that fluidity, if that’s what you are wanting to capture. You have to be very malleable as a filmmaker and I know your filmmaking approach seems to be very much like that. I know that there always seems to be the very long test screening process with your films. You shoot a lot and then you whittle it down.
Adam McKay: It’s the same thing, we all get to be friends and we are all improvising together and there’s always this family vibe when you break up and you are always depressed for like a week afterwards, oh absolutely. Every cast we have is like that. You have to, because you will be putting yourself out there and these guys were doing it to, like improvising and being yourself in front of cameras is a vulnerable situation and, yeah, it’s really cool to watch though and everyone really rises to the occasion. When you commit to that vibe, you don’t get… People aren’t dicks as much; they tend to be a lot cooler in that opportunity.
Quint: Then there’s that noticeable spark, there’s a life to the movie that’s different. It’s subtle, but it’s there and it’s a form of realism, which is why I keep going back to the friendship. The movie wouldn’t have worked for me nearly as well if I didn’t buy you guys and your relationship with Matt and everybody.
Adam McKay: I would honestly claim this movie is like 30% real, like when people are like… Initially when we screened it people didn’t know if it was real or not and we would always go “Part of it’s written and part of it’s real, it really is.” I have never… maybe more so than BLAIR WITCH and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, this actually is kind of half real, half written.
Zack Pearlman: There’s definitely real stuff that almost spilled onto written scenes where like any time Matt and I fought, we were in a fucking house together for three months, so we were getting at each other’s throats. That was kind of like a stress therapy like getting to beat on each other. There’s a scene, not to give anything away, I’m pulling Matt out of a tent and he attacks me and I actually clock him across the face, unknowingly. I was like “Wow, I just punched Matt really hard.”
I was like “Boom” and then, of course, I was like “Dude, I’m so sorry.” He was like “No, it’s fine,” because the next day he got to beat up on me in a living room scene, so…
Quint: I was going to say, that feels real. I’ve seen friends that get into their “I’m half serious about beating you up, but you are still my friend fight,” so that tackle in the living room and the kind of open palm slapping…
Zack Pearlman: It’s like “I don’t want to hurt you, but I want to make sure you know I was here.”
Quint: “I don’t want to do any real damage, but I want you to know I’m serious. This is a real issue between us.”
Adam McKay: That’s what friends are for. You’ve got to be able to fight friends and then not care, that’s it.
Zack Pearlman: Yeah, absolutely.
Quint: So, what’s the next step for you?
Zack Pearlman: I’m writing. I’ve been writing a lot and you know I’m just kind of… I’ve been so attached to this project for like two and a half years, it’s been my life, so I kind of just last week was like “What is next?” But I have been doing a lot of Upright Citizens Brigade. I perform there in LA and I just went to… I’m wearing two Upright Citizens Brigade… like a shirt and a sweatshirt that’s like sweltering.
Quint: You dressed for Texas.
Zack Pearlman: (Laughs) I did… Smart guy! I’m doing Upright Citizens Brigade and I’m working on… I’ve been auditioning a little bit. I just actually directed a pilot.
Adam McKay: Really?
Zack Pearlman: Yeah, I wrote and directed and starred in a pilot with Matt, actually.
Adam McKay: That’s awesome.
Zack Pearlman: But we are not doing anything with it yet, we are just going to show it to people. It’s kind of a weird idea. It’s very out there and different.
Adam McKay: You better be doing shit that’s a “weird idea.” You’re in your early twenties. Wait till your later years to go “What would ABC like?”
Zack Pearlman: (laughs) Yeah, so you know. I don’t know.
Quint: “Get this, it’s a BOSOM BUDDIES reboot.”
Adam McKay: How has that not happened yet, by the way?
Zack Pearlman: BOSOM BUDDIES was a great show. Why hasn’t MORK AND MINDY seen the light of day?
Adam McKay: (Referring to an audience question to Pearlman about losing his own virginity) By the way, if it somehow came around to me telling my virgin story, I was going to really try to convince the audience that I had lost my virginity to Pam Dawber!
Adam McKay: I really was! I was going to say “My dad was a TV writer, we shot a lot out in Boulder and there was this actress…” I was going to really try and sell it.
Quint: And the secret to selling it is you don’t want to give up who it is at the beginning, you know? You don’t even really say, but you lead them to it
Adam McKay: I’d just say “Pam.” I would just say “And Pam was very gentle with me and non-judgmental…” I was loaded. I was ready to go.
Quint: Alright so yeah I think that should do it.
Zack Pearlman: Great.
Adam McKay: Pleasure man.
Zack Pearlman: Thank you so much.
Quint: Thanks for sitting down to talk with me and I hope you guys enjoyed the screening.
My understanding is that the flick is out in limited release this weekend, so if this sounds at all up your alley check your local listings. Whether or not it expands is up to you guys in the cities that have it this weekend.
Hope you guys dug the chat. I had a blast with it! Tons more on the horizon, squirts. Fantastic Fest is creeping up on me and I’m totally unprepared for it… but I’ve already started lining up some awesome interviews. Plus I just did an hour long interview with one of my idols that will be my first contribution to our running AICN Legends column.
See you folks around for those goodies!
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