Last year, when director Nicholas Stoller’s (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) R-rated comedy Neighbors was filming here in Los Angeles, I got to visit the set with a few other reporters. The film stars Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne as a young couple with a newborn baby that has a fraternity–headed up by Zac Efron‘s character –move in next door. The thirty-somethings soon find themselves the victims of pranks and other unsightly activities after an attempt to welcome the Delta Psi Beta chapter goes awry. Neighbors also stars Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Dave Franco, Jake Johnson, Ike Barinholtz, Jason Mantozoukas, and Lisa Kudrow.
During breaks in filming, I was able to participate in group interviews with Rogen, Efron, Mintz-Plasse, Franco, Barinholtz, Stoller, producer Evan Goldberg and screenwriters Andrew Cohen and Brendan O’Brien. They talked about making the film, what it’s about, the atmosphere on set, Mintz-Plasse’s massive penis, Efron’s abs, their extremely graphic, homoerotic handshake for the fraternity in the film, and so much more. Hit the jump for 35 things to know about the film. Neighbors opens May 9th.
Before going any further, if you haven’t seen the very funny trailer for Neighbors, I’d watch that first:
30 Things to Know From Our Set Visit:
- Efron and Rogen say that their characters both do villainous things to each other, but they also can be sympathetic at times. The film has no clear-cut villains or heroes.
- Rogen says his role in the films speaks to some of his personal fears about married life, getting older, and the possibility of having children.
- Efron and Rogen first noticed they had great chemistry at the film’s first table read.
- Rogen and Goldberg confirm that writer Jason Mantzoukas (who also plays Rafi on FX’s The League) helped them make the film’s script coherent by making Rose Byrne’s character an active participant in Rogen’s war against the fraternity.
- Initially, Rogen and Goldberg had trouble with the studio wanting to change too much of the film, but they negotiated to a low enough budget with the studio that they have been able to make the movie exactly the way they originally intended.
- On his philosophy of filmmaking, Rogen said: “I think we always have been interested in making the types of movies that we like to go see. Sometimes they turn out to be those movies. Sometimes they don’t. But, that’s always our goal, is to make the types of movies that we, as just movie fans, would be psyched to go see.”
- Neighbors is being shot with digital cameras because digital allows for more takes, which works better for Stoller’s improvisational style.
- On the prominence of male nudity in the film, Stoller said, “It’s a fraternity movie on some level. Half the movie is about Seth, and his wife, and his daughter, and the other half of the movie is a fraternity movie. Fraternity dudes like to take their dicks out. There’s no question about it.”
- On shooting the party scenes, Stoller said: “The secret is to put the camera low and in the crowd so it feels epic…I think that a lot of slow-mo really works in party scenes. Honestly, we give these little Canon and iPhones and all this stuff to extras and to our own people in the parties. And that stuff cuts in really well…That makes a party feel huge.”
- On the film’s star Zac Efron, Stoller said, “He’s awesome. He’s quite dreamy. Sometimes, it’s hard to give him notes, because I zone out in the middle of it and just stare at him.”
- Stoller says he never touched Efron’s abs during production.
- Stoller says Efron lifts weights intensely in between takes for a lot of the scenes.
- Mintz-Plasse plays a character named “Scoonie” who has a massive penis, which the actor estimates is supposed to be about 14 inches long.
- While emphasizing that Boogie Nights is an awesome film, Mintz-Plasse says “the penis in Boogie Nights is a baby compared to what my penis is in this.”
- Mintz-Plasse says the “rig” that he wore for his character’s large genitals was extremely uncomfortable, but the rig allows them to depict his character’s sexual arousal.
- When Cohen and O’Brien wrote the frat character with enormous genitalia, they thought of Mintz-Plasse, because they thought that his small stature and overconfidence would make him very funny in the role.
- Franco plays Pete, a character who is Zac Efron’s right-hand man, but, he says his character is more complex, and actually has more of a future than the rest of the fraternity.
- Carmichael plays Garf, the character who supposedly does the heaviest drugs of anyone in the film.
- Mintz-Plasse, Franco, and Carmichael got drunk together before shooting the film and developed an extremely graphic, “homoerotic” handshake for the fraternity.
- About the atmosphere during production, Franco said, “Literally, that’s every scene. It’s, like, just try it. If any stupid idea comes to mind, might as well try it. And a lot of the time, you’ll get Nick cackling behind the monitors and you’ll feel good about yourself, yeah.”
- All 3 actors say that Rogen and Stoller laugh constantly and loudly on the set during takes when actors try out jokes.
- Barinholtz plays Jimmy Blevins, who is the best friend of Rogen’s character, Mack.
- Barinholtz met Seth Rogen when they did Eastbound & Down a few years ago, and Barinholtz used that connection to land an audition for Neighbors.
- Barinholtz says there was a scene that ended up taking about 3 hours, because all of the actors were saying every penis joke they could think of in regards to Mintz-Plasse’s character.
- On Byrne’s character, Barinholtz said, “Multiple times in the movie, she hits me or throws something at me because I’m just so disgusting and horrible…It was really fun to play off someone being disgusted with you…Being yelled at in an Australian accent’s pretty fun.”
- O’Brien says that writers usually don’t get treated well on film sets, but since they’re friends with Rogen and Goldberg – both of whom started out as writers – they get treated very kindly.
- There are some big cameos in the film, but the cast and filmmakers refused to give away who they were.
- Stoller talked about a new editing method with Avid that allow him to take out actors who are distracting in the background of shots and replace them with their better takes.
- Stoller says that the Gasper Noe film Enter the Void had a huge influence on Neighbors in its visual aesthetic.
- According to Cohen and O’Brien, there was supposed to be a scene with “poop everywhere,” where poop was being handled and thrown amongst characters, but everyone agreed it was too distasteful to make the final cut.
- O’Brien said they knew right away that since this was a frat movie, they wanted to make it a hard “R,” so people could say and do whatever they wanted.
- O’Brien said that Rogen and Goldberg were always pushing for the scene to be as inappropriate as possible with the fraternity.
For more on Neighbors:
- Zac Efron and Seth Rogen Talk About Their Characters’ Relationships, the Freedom When Making an R-Rated Movie and More on the Set of NEIGHBORS
- Director Nicholas Stoller on the Extreme Amount of Male Nudity, the Secret to Shooting Party Scenes, and More on the Set of NEIGHBORS