A few weeks ago I got to go to the set of the upcoming Jason Segal/Paul Rudd comedy I LOVE YOU, MAN. The film is about someone (Paul Rudd) who is looking for a male best friend to be his best man at his upcoming wedding. As you can imagine with the cast, it’s going to be funny. Anyway, while on the set I managed to participate in roundtable interviews with a lot of the cast. While we posted a few of them already, tonight you’ll get the rest. And up now…director John Hamburg.
On the set he plenty to say about how Andy Samberg was untalented.
John Hamburg: “Andy isn’t that good at improv, so his scenes kind of suck.”
He also had plenty to say about the joys of working with actually talented people in I LOVE YOU, MAN.
Question: So, there are a lot of “fucks” in this film?
John Hamburg: Yes.
Question: A lot of “fucks”, or a lot of “fucking”?
John Hamburg: Yeah, there are a lot of people having sex. But that is all done off camera. Everybody has hooked up. The F-bomb is dropped in this film. I try to get people not to say it as much. We will be getting an R rating, because every other word you hear starts with an F. But I like to save it for when it is really powerful.
Question: What do you think about Andy Samberg? (Andy is standing behind John)
John Hamburg: Andy is a dick. (He turns to see Andy standing there) Oh, my God! I had no idea!
Andy Samberg: You never do.
John Hamburg: No, Andy is a really decent guy. He is funny. He is cute in those shorts he does on SNL (Andy waves him off). I love Andy, I think he is a comic genius. He is great. He is really funny. He is a very good actor. On SNL he does sketches, and those digital shorts. You haven’t really seen him act. But he is super funny. He is real. He knows how to play.
Question: How come you haven’t mentioned “Hot Rod”?
John Hamburg: Like I said, he hasn’t been in that many movies. “Hot Rod” was great. But its not like he went on to make “Hot Rod” 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Some of that movie is super funny. Anyway, he’s got some chops. He’s been great. Plus we flew across the country together. Both of us were sitting next to each other, and he made sure that we watched “27 Dresses”. We had to push play at exactly the same time so that we could watch it in sync on our little video players. He was obsessed about that. He didn’t want any of us to get a scene ahead. We had a delightful time. We drank Bloody Maries. We had a real Sex in the City girls’ night across the country.
Question: Percentage wise, how much footage is completely unusable because you are all cracking up?
John Hamburg: Ninety-eight percent. I think only two percent of it is workable. No. Definitely people laugh a lot on the set. The actor always feels bad about laughing during a take. But I love it. It means you are having a good time and you are enjoying yourself. There is nothing wrong with laughter.
Question: How far into the shoot are you?
John Hamburg: We are almost done. We have a week and a half left.
Question: Who is the big RUSH fan on set?
John Hamburg: Paul Rudd is a big RUSH fan. In real life, are you saying?
John Hamburg: In real life, Paul is the big RUSH fan. Rashida has gotten into it. Segel wasn’t a big fan to begin with, but now he has gotten into them.
Question: That is interesting, because his character in Freaks and Geeks played “Spirit of Radio”.
John Hamburg: I genuinely did not know that when we started. I had seen a couple of episodes of that show. I even directed a couple of episodes of Undeclared, which was made after that. But one of my crew members said, “Oh, there is that scene in Freaks and Geeks where Jason plays RUSH.” When I was writing this script, I hadn’t thought of the actors yet. I had just thought of the script. I had this guy that played the drums. And then we cast Jason Segel. Originally, he was a drum player, but when I saw that scene you are talking about, I changed it. Because I wanted this to be a different character.
Question: How did the casting process work on this film? Did you get Jason and Paul, and then they were the magnets that got everyone else involved?
John Hamburg: Yeah, we started with them. Then we worked our way through. We were fortunate that a lot of people wanted to do the movie. The people we asked wanted to do it. It was a good thing. It worked out quite nicely.
Question: There is a lot of improving on this movie. Does it take the film in directions that you didn’t intend? (Andy appears behind John once again)
John Hamburg: (To Andy) What’s up, man?
Andy Samberg: I just want to hear what you are saying. (Andy sticks his phone in with the rest of the interview tape recorders)
John Hamburg: So, the improvising. Is there a lot of improvising? Yeah, definitely. Scenes get expanded. Andy isn’t that good at improv, so his scenes kind of suck.
Andy Samberg: You don’t have to address it. I just want to be a fly on the wall. I’m not even here. Not even!
John Hamburg: Sure, the improv takes the film in some different directions. But I think that if you see the finished film and read the script, it will be quite similar. But these guys bring a lot to it. Not Andy. But most of these guys are really funny. And when you get a ton of really funny, smart people together, they elevate the scene. You will have something that is just four lines long, and that will get really elevated. More things happen. This is sort of free and open to that. And it makes good things happen.
Question: What was the genesis of the project? When did you get involved?
John Hamburg: I got involved about a year and a half ago. A version of this movie had been around for a number of years. And I had read a script with a similar concept about five years ago. It was being developed. Then a few years ago, I said to myself, “I have my own version of that story to tell.” So I got together with the producer, and here we are.
Question: Do you know what you are doing next?
John Hamburg: I’m not sure. There is a movie called “The Troubleshooter”, which I may put together. I may direct it. I like to do them one at a time. They take so much time and energy. When you are writing, and directing, and producing, there is a lot of stuff to do. I like to finish one, then while I am editing I will think of the next one.
Question: What is “The Troubleshooter” about?
John Hamburg: It is a comic thriller about a mild mannered home theater installation artist that witnesses a murder. Then he has to go on the run, but he is completely unprepared for the forces that are after him.
Question: So he is installing people’s sound systems?
John Hamburg: He is the guy that comes to your house and puts in your plasma screen. He witnesses something he shouldn’t, and he basically doesn’t want anybody to bother him. He is a big movie buff, so he knows all of these thrillers. Suddenly he finds himself in the middle of an actual thriller.
Question: So, he uses all of these movie cliches to stay one step ahead of the murderers?
John Hamburg: He doesn’t really use movie cliches. He is aware of murders and movies, then he’s suddenly in a real life mystery. He wants to find out what is happening. It is a comic Hitchcockian man on the run movie.
Question: Besides having RUSH on the soundtrack, what other kinds of bands are we going to hear?
John Hamburg: That is the only band that we officially have. Today we were fortunate enough to have the band Okay, Go! They are the wedding band, which is really amazing. Hopefully they will do a song for the soundtrack. Again, the only band that is officially on board is RUSH. While we are editing, we will start to put more music in.
Question: What is your favorite Man Date from the movie?
John Hamburg: I couldn’t pick. There are so many ridiculous, fun dates. One guy comes in and plays Rugby with Paul. He has a date with Tom Lennon. Those two really connect, but it doesn’t end the way he wants it to. There are a lot of fun ones. It’s like having to pick your favorite child. I love them all for different reasons.
Question: It’s great that you are able to bring in all of these guys from The State.
John Hamburg: Well, I have been friends with these guys for years and years. It is fun to be able to work together on something. We have members from so many great comedy groups here. We have guys from The State, from Human Giant, from SNL, The Upright Citizens Brigade. Just all of these really smart, funny and talented people. It is fun everyday. There are new people here everyday to make you laugh.