With The Green Hornet currently the number one movie in America, it’s time to post the final interview I got to do at the press junket and it’s with co-writer and executive producer Evan Goldberg. While Seth Rogen gets a lot credit for Superbad and Pineapple Express, both were co-written and executive produced by Evan Goldberg. He’s Rogen’s partner in crime and a major component in his success.
Anyway, what’s great about talking with Goldberg is that he’s brutally honest. When I asked him about the online buzz for Green Hornet, he didn’t shy away from talking about it. In addition, we also talked about what Sally Menke did on the film before she died, deleted scenes, what changed by doing test screenings, what are his motivations right now for making future decisions, and I got updates on future projects like Sausage Party, Neighborhood Watch, his Untitled Cancer Dramedy (previously called Live With It and I’m With Cancer), and a lot more. If you’re a fan of any of the projects I mentioned, I think you’ll really enjoy the interview. You can either watch the video or read a transcript after the jump:
Since I know some of you just want to know about future projects…
Regarding Neighborhood Watch, Goldberg says:
“I honestly don’t know what I should and shouldn’t say. I mean, I could say that some guys form a neighborhood watch, and stumble upon something that is very real. I don’t know what the world knows, that’s all I can say.
But he did tell me that they’ve been brought in to “up the R” and “we wrote a thing where someone was smoking a hardcore drug, and they were like, ‘Yeah, that’s a little too far.’ So, it’s a hard R, but it’s not going to be really brutal.”
Regarding Sausage Party, Goldberg says:
“It’s our secret project. Me and Seth and Jonah Hill came up with it one day. Me and Seth and Conrad Vernon—who did Shrek 2 and Monsters and Aliens—are going to produce it, and me and Seth and our writing cohorts Ariel and Kyle, who are buddies from Canada who we brought down to work with us, are going to write it. It’s about Jonah and Seth, playing the two main characters, they’re sausages in a supermarket, and it’s a hard R mockery of a Pixar movie, where they get taken across the store in a cart, and fall out of the cart, and they need to get back to their aisle before the fourth of July sale, so they can reach every sausages goal of being purchased and carried to the heavens by the humans.”
I then asked if it would have filthy dialogue. Goldberg says:
“Yeah. The script’s completely done, and is by leaps and bounds the dirtiest thing we’ve ever done. It makes ‘Superbad’ look like ‘A Walk Through the Park.’ It’s insane. That’s why it’s not getting made, right (laughs)? But we’re really close to getting made, I think we might get financing this week, and none of us are taking any money for it. I’m a very practical person. I’m not doing shit for free. I would not do ‘The Green Hornet 2’ out of a love for what I’ve done before. I expect to get paid if I do something, but ‘Sausage Party?’ I’ll pay money to make it.”
Regarding his untitled cancer dramedy previously called Live With It and I’m With Cancer, Goldberg says:
“We currently have a title, and if no one beats it in like the next week or two, that’s going to be the title.”
While he wouldn’t tell me what that was, he did say he thinks it will be “released at the Toronto Film Festival, or right around then, so I imagine there won’t be a trailer out for at least three, four months.” And regarding what he thinks of the project, he says:
“I couldn’t be more proud. My mom had breast cancer. All of our parents had cancer of some type, who was involved with the film more or less—except for lucky old Seth, who comes from a health family, I guess—but the audience cries, people just ball when they watch it, and laugh. I couldn’t be prouder.”
Finally, if you missed my other video interviews with director Michel Gondry, Jay Chou, Seth Rogen and Cameron Diaz, and producer Neal Moritz, just click their names. Here’s the video interview with Goldberg and further down is the complete transcript.
Evan Goldberg: No they didn’t.
For you, as one of the creators of the project, what was going through your brain, knowing you have a solid movie, but people are really bad mouthing it?
Goldberg: Well, two things. One is I get a sick joy out of bad reviews. I don’t read good reviews. I like to know what percentages are going on. When Sony sends out something saying that people are liking the movie, I like to know that, but I don’t actually sit and read the good stuff. I go on the IMDB board and I’ll find something like, ‘Is this for real?’ And that’s what I like to read. Because I just get a kick out of it, and because, hey, we’re still making movies, it doesn’t matter what they say. When we first took this project, we knew that would happen. We actually took the project on this spot. This is where the ‘Pineapple Express’ base camp was set up, I think literally in this exact spot. Neil came to us and brought us the idea. We agreed to do the idea in the room, because we were like, ‘You’re saying 80 plus million, action, hero-sidekick?’ Which is what we always wanted to do. We were like, ‘We’ll do it.’ The second they left, we said we’ll do this, but people are going to think this is the worst idea ever, at first. Ever. I just stepped out of myself for a moment and just thought, ‘I’m just some guy and heard that Seth Rogen is going to play the Green Hornet. That’s the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever heard.’ That’s what we expected. But we hoped, and it actually seems to be happening, is that the negativity helped to create a real upsurge in the positive reviews coming up to the release of the movie.
Well, some would argue it’s better to be the underdog, and then come out of left-field, then to have such high expectations…
Goldberg: I don’t like to make it seem as though Seth and I had some sort of master plan and it happened. We didn’t. This whole movie, we weren’t prepared for certain things, some crazy things came out of left-field. We said at that juncture—and this is really egotistical and stupid at the time—but we were like, how are we going to follow up ‘Superbad’ and ‘Pineapple?’ They both did so well. We need to lower people’s expectations. So we kind of wanted to take a project that would make people think. Which, in hindsight, was probably stupid (laughs).
It’s good that you don’t have a grand, arching plan, you know?
Goldberg: Yeah, ever since I learned that you can get money from the Canadian government, as a Canadian, to make movies, I throw it all away at the drop of a hat now. I can always go back to Canada and just do shit there.
Goldberg: I got Twitter right after that. It confused me and I deleted it. Then I got Twitter like two months ago, checked it out a bit more, and I concluded the only thing Twitter I’m interested in following is Nick Stoller.
He’s a wacky guy on Twitter.
Goldberg: He’s got some interesting stuff on Twitter. But yeah, it’s still not really getting me.
This was Sally Menke’s last project, and she was on it for a little while. What did Sally, on her time on the project, bring?
Goldberg: Oh yeah. When people say, ‘Oh, it’s Quentin Tarintino-esque,’ I think a lot of time they should be saying, ‘It’s Quentin Traintino-esque, with that Sally Menke kick.’ You can see, she definitely knows how to make a hit hurt. She knows how to make things come home, hard. I think that is one of the reasons that it didn’t pan out properly. She’s got a real vision when she does her shit, and there’s definitely some of the stuff she did—like we sat down with the editor Michael Tronick, and he was like, ‘Oh no, hers is better. Let’s do hers on that one.’ She brought, you know, a dark, edgy, hard-hitting element to it that in the end I would say contributed to the action on a huge way. Some of her action was really amazing. Also on the start, with Britt’s father, she really made those emotions hit hard. Just that kind of shit. She’s just hard-hitting, really.
Something I liked about the movie is that Britt Reid is basically just a spoiled little brat. Could you talk about the level that you could play Seth Rogen’s character at, while still keeping the audience invested in his being a protagonist.
Goldberg: Seth and I were really excited to do this character, because in all these years we have never come up with a character for him and then done it. Like, he was supposed to be Seth in ‘Superbad,’ and then he ended up being the cop. He was supposed to be Franco’s character in ‘Pineapple,’ and then he ended up being the other character. So this is the first movie where we wrote it for him. The only time we ever kind of had a balance issue was with any joke that was sexual in nature. We found through our testing that whenever he was like, a little too sleazy to Lenore (Cameron Diaz’s character), or he was being like, ‘Oh, I was out banging this girl I was with last night,’ people were just like, ‘ugghhh.’ They didn’t like that. So I mean, besides that, there wasn’t really much of a challenge and we were just all happy and it all worked out. We definitely had a de-sexualizing pass of editing, and we definitely had a, lessen-the-dickeness pass. He was a little too dickey, in some of the screenings we did, and the sex jokes really failed. Like, just failed.
Goldberg: There’s a whole bunch of deleted things. Unfortunately a whole lot of them are so small in run time that it would be an unsatisfying feature, but I think we have seven or eight strong deleted scenes—some alternate deaths for henchmen, and stuff like that. We have one really good scene, that didn’t happen at all in the actual film, where Seth and Christoph Waltz meet at a bar, not knowing who the other guy is. That scene, that’s a good one. That’s probably one of the best scenes we filmed, and it’s not in the movie unfortunately.
Was it just because of tone or pacing?
Goldberg: We came up with the idea. We were being told we weren’t allowed to do it. We were told there was no time, no money. We were filming at CAA, the Daily Sentinel. Our locations guy and our line producer guy came up, and they were like, ‘we can film it, in that restaurant, for this much money, and we can film it right now, and we have like one hour.’ We were like, let’s do it!’ So we all ran over there during the setup of another scene, and we shot the scene, and it is one of the best scenes in the whole movie. They sit down in a bar, are together, and they don’t realize who the other guy is. They each motivated the other guy to go on their third act path, in a scene where they didn’t realize who they were talking to. It was really cool.
I’m actually really curious to see that
Goldberg: It was a really cool scene, I’m pretty bummed it was not in the movie
Recently you guys signed on to Neighborhood Watch. What can you tell people who don’t know anything about the project?
Goldberg: I honestly don’t know what I should and shouldn’t say. I mean, I could say that some guys form a neighborhood watch, and stumble upon something that is very real. I don’t know what the world knows, that’s all I can say.
Is this an R rated kind of thing, or PG-13?
Goldberg: We’ve been hired to up the R.
So, we’re talking hard R?
Goldberg: Yeah. We wrote a thing where someone was smoking a hardcore drug, and they were like, ‘Yeah, that’s a little too far.’ So, it’s a hard R, but it’s not going to be really brutal.
Is there a filmmaker on this?
Goldberg: No, we got hired on by Shawn Levy to do it, he’s producing it, but there’s no director, there’s no actors attached, there’s nothing but a script.
It seems like you’ve been working nonstop for a couple of years now. What’s your criteria for picking something that you want to be involved with?
Goldberg: Well, Seth and I have different motivations. I’m more financially motivated, because I have not gotten gigantic actor paychecks. ‘The Green Hornet,’ I haven’t been paid in like two and a half years, I don’t have any backing on the Hornet, because we made the deal during ‘Pineapple.’ So during these three years, where you think I would have made mad cash, I was just working on ‘The Green Hornet’ for the salary I got paid. So I very much want to reach a financial goal in my life, but it’s also largely what is going to amuse me on a day-to-day basis. I have a great script in our possession that has no producer attached right now, that’s amazing and it’s great, but there’s no action, there’s no huge comedy, it’s more like a ‘Royal Tenenbaums’ kind of thing. Which is a great movie, but I want to do something with aliens, and with people who come from the center of the earth, with explosions, with giant war things. Seth and I very much want to do big stuff. I just want to keep going for broke, making bigger and bigger things like ‘Lord of the Rings’ until they kick me out of Hollywood. I just want to do the biggest thing I can.
Obviously you guys reinvented this whole Green Hornet thing. Is Sony or are you sitting down right now thinking about other franchises to work on?
Goldberg: Well, we pretty much have our plate full for the next while. We got ‘The Green Hornet,’ and now we’re doing that. If ‘The Green Hornet 2’ happens, that’s going to occupy a massive amount of time, but who knows. Then we have our ‘Sausage Party’ movie, we have our apocalypse movie, and we might be doing a movie over at Paramount. So we have three projects running that are probably going to happen—we’ll, apocalypse is definitely going to happen, the one with Paramount will probably happen, and ‘Sausage Party,’ mark my word, will happen.
Goldberg: It’s our secret project. Me and Seth and Jonah Hill came up with it one day. Me and Seth and Conrad Vernon—who did Shrek 2 and Monsters and Aliens—are going to produce it, and me and Seth and our writing cohorts Ariel and Kyle, who are buddies from Canada who we brought down to work with us, are going to write it. It’s about Jonah and Seth, playing the two main characters, they’re sausages in a supermarket, and it’s a hard R mockery of a Pixar movie, where they get taken across the store in a cart, and fall out of the cart, and they need to get back to their aisle before the fourth of July sale, so they can reach every sausages goal of being purchased and carried to the heavens by the humans.
Is this going to be some filthy dialogue?
Goldberg: Yeah. The script’s completely done, and is by leaps and bounds the dirtiest thing we’ve ever done. It makes ‘Superbad’ look like ‘A Walk Through the Park.’ It’s insane. That’s why it’s not getting made, right (laughs)? But we’re really close to getting made, I think we might get financing this week, and none of us are taking any money for it. I’m a very practical person. I’m not doing shit for free. I would not do ‘The Green Hornet 2’ out of a love for what I’ve done before. I expect to get paid if I do something, but ‘Sausage Party?’ I’ll pay money to make it.
Wouldn’t you argue that making a movie like ‘Sausage Party’ that is so hysterical and makes people laugh, is just so good for the future, though? People then think of you as the ones that made it, and it helps with the next thing.
Goldberg: Well, I guess you got to go, ‘Sausage Party, ‘Superbad, ‘Sausage Party,’ ‘Superbad,’ “Big Movie,” because you’ve got to do the big ones if you want to bolster your status.
‘Live With It,’ is that the final title?
Goldberg: Hell no.
What is it?
What’s the process with (naming a title) like?
Goldberg: We currently have a title, and if no one beats it in like the next week or two, that’s going to be the title
So, what’s the title?
Goldberg: Not saying. It’s not the title, because someone responded, ‘Well, currently, it’s ‘Live With It,’’ and for like two months everyone thinks the title is ‘Live With It.’ Which it is not going to be.
Well, there was also ‘I’m With Cancer.’
Goldberg: That was the original title, and it’s undeniable, it’s a marketing bullet-in-the-head. We just can’t put “cancer” in the title. That title can’t be beat, but we just can’t do it.
When do you think people are going to see a trailer?
Goldberg: I don’t know, I imagine it will be released at the Toronto Film Festival, or right around then, so I imagine there won’t be a trailer out for at least three, four months—don’t you think? I guess it depends on what title we land on. If we land on a title that’s hard-hitting, that changes things. If we land on a title that’s middle-of-the-road, that allows us to build what we want the vibe of the movie to be in the public arena, then we can do that. So it’s to be determined, I would say
Have you’ve seen a rough cut, what do you think?
Goldberg: Oh yeah, we’ve screened it. I couldn’t be more proud. My mom had breast cancer. All of our parents had cancer of some type, who was involved with the film more or less—except for lucky old Seth, who comes from a health family, I guess—but the audience cries, people just ball when they watch it, and laugh. I couldn’t be prouder.