From director Nicholas Stoller, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising sees Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) having their second baby and ready to make the move to the suburbs. But before they can do that, they have to survive their new next door neighbors – a group of young women who have decided to start a sorority house where they can do whatever they want and party as loud as they want. The film also stars Zac Efron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Kiersey Clemons, Beanie Feldstein, Ike Barinholtz, Carla Gallo, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jerrod Carmichael and Lisa Kudrow.
During a series of press conferences held on the front lawn of one of the houses on the Wisteria Lane portion of the Universal Studios backlot, co-stars Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Kiersey Clemons and Beanie Feldstein were joined by writer/director Nicholas Stoller to talk about when talk of a sequel first started, telling a stand-alone story, tacking the issues of young women, the script’s many rewrites, the gay subplot, their own bad neighbor moments, partying safely in college, improv, and the possibility of a Neighbors 3. We’ve compiled a list of 18 things that you should know about the Neighbors franchise and those responsible for it.
The filmmakers didn’t start to think about a sequel until the first film came out, was well-received and did well at the box office. And with so many new characters and new aspects to the story, you can see and enjoy the sequel without having seen the first movie. It feels more like an anthology because it takes the characters of Mac and Kelly and puts them in another stand-alone story.
- When it came time to figure out the story for the film, they started by thinking of where the characters could go next. Knowing that Teddy would likely graduate with no skills and be pretty depressed about it, they then took things from there. They also wanted to see who Mac and Kelly would be, while expecting another child and wondering if they were good parents. That then led them to the idea of the sorority and how they aren’t allowed to throw their own parties.
- When they decided to tackle the issues of young women, the film become more socially conscious than expected, and that became one of the themes throughout. It’s not an educational movie that beats you over the head with a message, but instead uses humor to get its point across.
- There were many rewrites of the script, with many different versions of the story, before the filmmakers finally landed on what you see now. The film didn’t originally have the escrow plot in it. There was also a joke in the film that the women were always calling themselves feminists, but don’t understand what feminism actually is. When they screened the film, the guys in the audience rejected the idea. As soon as they heard they word “feminist,” they felt they were being attacked, so it was ultimately stripped out.
- The gay subplot came about because one of the reporters at the junket for the first film asked director Nick Stoller why he never had a gay character in any of his movies. He thought it made sense to have it turn out that Pete is gay because of the overtones between Teddy and Pete in the first movie. He just wanted to make sure that it wasn’t offensive and didn’t feel like the joke was that the character is gay.
- When making a comedy, Seth Rogen (who is also a producer and writer on the film) said that he just hopes that it’s not going to ultimately be embarrassing. “That’s our goal with every film, essentially. Anything better than humiliating is fantastic for us. That’s a success. None of the people writing the movie had made a sequel, so we really just tried to put a ton of thought into how not to make it terrible and how to make it feel like it justified its own existence, idea wise. We really tried to make sure it had an idea that was strong enough where, even if there was no first movie, we would be excited about this for a movie. And we really liked the characters. That was the thing that we talked the most about. It was about where these characters would go next in their lives. We found that that was a good guiding principle and it made everything a lot easier. As we were making it, it seemed funny and it was fun, but you never know. I’ve made a lot of things that seemed really funny and they’re not.”
- Unlike his character, Teddy Sanders, who has no idea what he wants to do in life, Zac Efron feels really lucky that he’s found something he loves, with his acting career. He believes that everyone, no matter their age, should try to find what really motivates them and what they love, and do their best to keep searching for that thing until they do find it.
- This time around, Efron, Rogen and Rose Byrne got to team up and work together, as their characters fought the sorority girls together. Rogen and Byrne enjoyed getting to have Mac and Kelly nurture and support Teddy, instead of fighting with him again.
- Because they did versions of nighttime parties in the first film, they wanted to do something new for this film. That’s why the big party sequence is a daytime tailgate party.
- When it comes to making parties better and safer in college, Chloë Grace Moretz’s advice is not to feel pressured to drink a ton of alcohol. Kiersey Clemons advice is not to smoke just anybody’s weed. Beanie Feldstein’s advice is to pour your own drink, and then hold onto it, or pour yourself a new one.
- There was a moment where Stoller realized that they didn’t have any cell phones written into the movie. Since every college kid is on their phone, socializing and making plans, they knew they had to add it in, so they wrote a great scene with the Kappa Nu sorority girls and Teddy.
Moretz, Clemons and Feldstein each have their own stand-out neighbor moments. Moretz said that she calls the cops on everyone, whether you’re hanging out in the empty lot next to her house or you park your car out front. Feldstein once had a neighbor call out her address over a dressing room stall while she was trying on clothes. Clemons’ neighbor is so hot that she pays attention to the women that he has coming in and out of his place.
- For the scene where Efron had to have meat grease rubbed all over his body, they had to use a real ham and inject the baby oil into it. It also had edible seasoning, including peppercorns and thyme, and it was impossible to wash off.
- There were so many funny people on set, in roles of varying sizes, that they had to allow for lee-way to improvise. The writers, who are all men, also wanted to allow the young women playing the sorority girls to adapt the dialogue into what 18-year-old girls really say. Stoller sat down with Moretz, Clemons and Feldstein to go over how young women really talk, and they had two female comedy writers on set to help out.
- One of the big action sequences in the film involves an airbag, but Rogen said that it was actually quite an easy one to shoot and pull off. “It’s the simplest camera trick. It’s something they’ve been doing since Buster Keaton times. It’s almost entirely in camera. You just stand on a thing, and then we go, ‘Freeze!’ Everybody freezes and you move, and then you put a dummy there, in the same position, and blast it up in the air with an airbag. And then, it lands and we go, ‘Freeze!,’ and we look at the position that it landed in. And then, the actor flops their body into that position. That’s pretty much it. It literally only costs a few thousand dollars in visual effects to stitch those shots together. They’re incredibly simple to do. It’s a camera trick that’s been done for like a hundred years.”
- Now that she’s actually a mother herself, Byrne said that there are a lot of things in the movie that now resonate with her in a lot more profound way. They wanted to explore how Mac and Kelly are growing as parents and how they’re questioning whether it’s something they’re even good at. So, if they get to do another film, Byrne is curious to see how her own role as a mother has grown, in comparison to her character’s.
- Moretz, Clemons and Feldstein hope that this movie helps the sexism that exists in the college education system and at least gets a conversation going about change.
- They have not yet talked about a possible Neighbors 3 or what it could be about, but they would all love to have the opportunity to work together again.
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising opens in theaters on May 20th.