Going the Distance is an R-rated romantic comedy that tells the story of what can happen when a one-night stand turns into something more. When Erin (Drew Barrymore) and Garrett (Justin Long) hook up, they never intend to end up in a long distance relationship that has her in San Francisco and him in New York City. But despite being on opposite coasts and having friends and family who are against them, the couple think they just might have found the real thing.
At a press conference for the film, co-stars Drew Barrymore and Justin Long, who have also shared their own real-life romance, talked about making the raunchy new comedy, filming the phone sex scene and getting that on screen first kiss just right. Check out what they had to say after the jump:
Question: Drew, your character is more modern, sassy and outspoken than some of the romantic comedy characters you’ve played in the past. Was the fact that she was a more modern woman what attracted you to the part?
Drew: Yeah, I definitely was excited to play that. I just wasn’t in a place in my life where I wanted to play a cuckoo, wacky, role-reversal scenario. I wanted to play someone who was trying to make distance work with a relationship, and someone who can hang out with guys and loves women, but has a spine and is funny. I feel like I relate to that kind of person right now, in my life. It was a pleasure for me to get to improv and work in a much more free-flowing way, where you could play around and not have to be so censored because you had an R-rating. That, to me, was just an absolute pleasure.
What was the most challenging scene to do?
Drew: One of the challenges I was most excited about was doing the drunk scene. Me and Nanette really focused on what type of drunk she is, what we could ad-lib, what could be spontaneous and how she could just let loose. It was the most fun day at work ever because I just really let loose.
Justin: I would say that some of the naked stuff was a little uncomfortable, but I think the most challenging was trying to keep a straight face around Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis. And, a lot of the intimate, sexual stuff, around a room full of 30 or 40 grown men, was a challenge.
Early on in the film, you guys have a dinner date where you’re sharing information about yourselves, and you talk about your favorite things. What are your own favorite albums or movies?
Justin: I would say Blood On The Tracks by Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell’s Blue and Rubber Soul by The Beatles. Those are my top three.
Drew: I’m gonna go with Annie Hall, Lost In America and Sullivan’s Travels. Those are some of my favorite movies.
Justin: For movies, I’m going to say Annie Hall, Back To The Future and Way Out West, which is a little more of a sentimental movie for me.
The key moment in any romantic comedy is that first kiss. When you see something like that in a script, is it something you think about, or is it just part of the role?
Justin: Yeah, I was like, “It’s a necessary evil. Okay, here we go.” No, the first kiss for us in the movie was very sloppy because we were supposed to be stoned. It was just so easy to do, and we were so comfortable. I think you just hope that you’re invested in the scene. Sometimes it can be a surprise, when you’ve never kissed the person before and you’ve just recently met. And, people have different ways of kissing, which sometimes can be jarringly uncomfortable. There can be very little movement involved, and then a quick, sudden movement from a tongue that you didn’t expect.
Drew: I just was lucky because Justin is a good kisser. I was like, “Phew! Thank God!” It’s the worst when you’re kissing someone who’s not a good kisser, and you’re trying to make it look good, but you feel like you’re just working on your own. At least it was a real team effort.
Justin: She’s a great kisser, too. I just want to reiterate that.
Was the phone sex scene scripted or improvised?
Drew: The Marky Mark comment was written, for sure. I was so excited to hit that. I told him about that. I ran into him at an award show and I was like, “I just talked about how hot you are in your underwear, and you’re sexy.”
Justin: It didn’t go over great. I think, in his defense, it is a strange thing to just go up and say to someone. I don’t think he was prepared for it, but I think he was flattered.
Drew: Who would not be excited about that? He’s a very nice guy. I’ve had other conversations with him that went much better than that. Nothing against him, for sure. That was a great scene the way it was written, and I was really excited to go out there and try it because I just thought, “This is one of those things that’s going to fail miserably and be a really gross, upsetting moment, or it could be fun and exciting.” It was just one of those scenes where you have to go for it, not knowing if it’s going to work or not, but not compromising along the way because you’re afraid of it. And, it was shot simultaneously.
Justin: We were comparing who had a more awkward experience, me as a guy, in front of a room full of men, simulating masturbation, or Drew. All of the crew guys in my room were trying to make sex jokes to keep it light, so it made it more awkward. I’d have to laugh and then get into this weird sexual mode. But, I think Drew had it more awkward because she said everyone in the room was being stone cold silent and respectful, which made it that much weirder for her. They were tip-toeing around, whispering while we were in this very intimate moment. And then, (director) Nanette [Burstein] kept coming over to me and describing, cinematically, how to masturbate and how it would look better if I did it differently. I was like, “Nanette, I think I know how to do it. I’ve had a lot of experience.”
Drew, what was it like to play the sister relationship with Christina Applegate, since you guys have known each other a long time?
Drew: I thought it was interesting. I thought we started to really look alike, which was cool. I love when people cast siblings that actually, feasibly could have come from the same womb, and I felt like we started to morph. We used to be in a dance class together when we were kids. She looked really good in spandex, and I did not. I’ve known her forever. We have a lot of parallels. It worked for us.
Can you talk about working with Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis, and what they added to the film?
Drew: For me, films work best when you’re really invested in the whole group of people. I love films – whether it’s the films of Judd Apatow or Christopher Guest – that have this great alumni quality, where you’re just really into all the people in it. You really like the people’s world, so when you cut back and forth between a couple, and it’s their friends or family, or just this group of people interacting, I love when the chemistry goes far beyond the couple. This movie stands on that. One of the things I like best about this movie is all the people in it.
Justin: I pride myself on being able to hold it together, be stable and keep it together. I’ve never had a harder time keeping a straight face than working with these guys. We were so lucky to be surrounded by all these people.
Drew: I just feel like I personally want something that I can escape into, where I can forget what’s going on around me, but I don’t want to lose sight of being able to relate to something. For me, I just want that beautiful, striking balance, and I feel like this film has that. I’m laughing, but I’m crying, and I’m relating, and there’s something emotional about it. I feel like it gets surprisingly real, but then it does save you and make you laugh.
Justin: I also think the fiscal realities of both the characters play a large part, and it was nice to see that played out. That’s something that a lot of people, especially now, can relate to. There are so many things that you take for granted, when you enter into a long distance relationship, chief among them being the logistics of just getting from point A to B, and what is involved with that.
Drew: You want to see each other, but you can’t because of money or schedule.