If you’re a fan of the Harold and Kumar movies, you probably know Kal Penn, John Cho and the rest of the cast are currently filming the third installment, A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas 3D, in Michigan right now. As you most likely noticed from the title, the third installment is being filming in 3D (NOT post converted) and I’m sure the filmmakers are going to offer many new and innovative ways to watch smoke being inhaled and exhaled in 3D. As a big fan of the franchise, I can’t wait to see it.
Anyway, I was able to get on the phone with Thomas Lennon (Reno 911!, The State, Night at the Museum) yesterday to talk about a few of the projects he working on and of course we talked about his work in Harold and Kumar. While I knew his character was named Todd, he revealed he’s Harold’s new best friend and “the best way to describe him is he’s the anti-Kumar in every way.” He went on to say “he is a douchey, uptight white person.” He also confirmed the movie gets released Christmas of 2011 and they’re using the double Genesis camera system for the 3D.
But the best news he told me was “there’s a tremendous amount of pot in the movie and a lot of nudity.” When pressed for more…he told me they were filming naked nuns taking a shower yesterday. While we all knew there would be no shortage of weed in the film, I’m very happy to hear this isn’t going to be a soft R. For a lot more info on Harold and Kumar, hit the jump:
Here’s the part of the interview on Harold and Kumar, look for a lot more of my exclusive interview with Thomas Lennon very soon.
Collider: So what are you doing right now?
Thomas Lennon: Right now I’m making a very important film called A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas.
I am well aware of that film.
Lennon: Imagine my face and seeing my….the level of acting that I bring to films in three dimensions. I hope they make people sign some kind of waiver because if their mind explodes from my acting in 3D, it’s not my fault.
Lennon: I don’t feel I should be liable for that, you know what I mean?
Totally. I know they’re filming it in 3D and not too many comedies, if any, have been made in 3D.
Lennon: I think you’re pretty darn close to right, yeah. Never has there been a comedy where so many bongs and boners and boobs get pointed out right into your face.
This sounds kind of good.
Lennon: This is a film that is begging to be in 3D. In fact, if it weren’t in 3D, I wonder if it would be getting made at all, but certain …you know this was a movie that was just waiting for the technology to catch up.
Oh 100%. Absolutely. Harold and Kumar, I think technology.
Lennon: I think when people Harold and Kumar in 3D it’s going to be a full visceral experience not unlike seeing Avatar with a bunch of dudes smoking pot and some naked nuns taking a shower, which is what I believe they’re filming today. In fact I know for a fact that’s what they’re filming today because I happen to not be on-set today and it’s kind of a bummer.
Let’s ask seriously though, how familiar were you with the franchise and was this one of these things where they offered you the part and you’re like, yeah I’m in?
Lennon: I was actually fairly familiar with the franchise. I’ve seen all the films of course. And they didn’t offer it to me. I had to audition.
Lennon: Yeah. Oh yeah, yeah. I’m still at that point in my career. I’m in the very fun point of my career of being movie actor without being movie star. I assure you it is more fun because nothing’s riding on you when you’re a movie actor. Being a movie star is stressful as hell. You’ve got to do crunches all day long. You’ve got to get up and learn lines. I don’t do any of that. I wander in; I make a couple faces in 3D in this case. No but I auditioned for the role. There were a lot of people up for this role as a matter of fact. I was auditioning for this role against many of my best friends in the comedy world, so…and I was thrilled to get it. Of course then when I got the role I’m now, basically, in the back alleys of Detroit filming nights holding a 2-year old baby in very single scene that I’m in. So it’s basically one of my worst nightmares sprung to life.
I’m very surprised that they would make you audition because honestly like you did some really good work in 17 Again and I Love You, Man which showed your acting, you know?
Lennon: Yeah you would think, right? You would think. But this point in my life as I nose up on 40 somebody would have recognized that I’m a comedy genius. I keep having to remind people all the time. Ah, so exhausting.
Who do you play in the film?
Lennon: I play Todd who is Harold…has a new best friend who is sort of…I guess the best way to describe him is he’s the anti-Kumar in every way.
So he’s basically he’s serious and…
Lennon: Yeah. He is, as you can probably tell from my career, he is a douchey, uptight white person which is something that I really truly excel at on my resume. Douchey, vaguely kind of creepy, uptight honky.
So I’m assuming that this is…if I’m familiar with the film at all I believe it starts off where Harold and Kumar are no longer friends. So you’re in his life essentially. You’re the replacement….
Lennon: I am…exactly. The film begins and I am the new Kumar. And I think the intention is that the audience be wildly disappointed that Harold’s new best friend is me.
Should I assume though without , you know this is Harold and Kumar so I’m not really going to go out on a ledge here, that by at some point at the end of the film there will be marijuana attached or inhaling in your body?
Lennon: I think I can say that…without there being too many spoiler alerts, there’s a tremendous amount of pot in the movie and a lot of nudity. And I’m a part of some of it, yes.
Well, I’ve got to be honest this actually sounds pretty interesting because I’m not sure how you feel…
Lennon: I’m not kidding when they said to me Harold and Kumar I said Harold and Kumar 3? I kind of shrugged and went yeah, I guess. And then when they said Harold and Kumar 3D, I literally almost started to cry and said that’s one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard. I’m not kidding. I thought it was literally one of best ideas I’d ever heard.
I think it’s fantastic. And I saw some footage from Jackass 3D which comes out later this year and if I’m not mistaken Harold and Kumar…does it come out this year or next year?
Lennon: No, it’s actually I believe it’s Christmas 2011.
It’s really that far away?
Lennon: Yeah, it’s pretty far away. We’re not…I mean they’re really doing this movie right. It’s not like…the 3D is not thrown together. It’s really going to look amazing. They’re shooting in the real 3D.
Are they doing the camera…the James Cameron Pace system or are they doing the red…
Lennon: The double Genesis system.
Ah, there we go.
Lennon: There’s 2 Panavision Genesis cameras. And weirdly they mount one on top of the other, not next to each other. I always thought they’d be next to each other like the way your eyes are, but apparently they go through some crazy ass beam splitter now.
I don’t know the technology involved but I’m assuming there’s someone on-set—a stereographer who does.
Lennon: There is a stereographer. All I know is that every time I walk by the cameras I point my fingers at it wiggling them and make oooohhhhh sounds.
Well, I want to get back actually…
Lennon: It’s hard to resist doing that when you walk by a 3D camera.
I actually want to get back to something that happened in the 90’s was Hollywood moved away from…in the 70’s and 80’s Hollywood made a tremendous amount of….nudity was not a problem. You know, sex and drugs not a problem. Then in the late 80’s and into the 90’s and even into the 2000’s….We got very, very safe and you know showing nudity and sex taboo, but it sounds like….are we getting back with Harold and Kumar into like 80’s nudity?
Lennon: God I hope so. I know that’s what they’re selling today. I know that part of the problem was that probably me and my writing partner weren’t making enough films. I think that might account for the dry spell because if you look at like “Reno 911 Miami” it borders on being an NC-17 through sexual stuff and nudity. But I do agree, you’re right. There was sort of a prudishness for a very long time. This movie as far as I can tell…well I probably shouldn’t say too much about the scene. I’ve been told and I’ve read it, so there might be a scene with a group of nuns taking a shower.
Yeah, this sounds fantastic. So I guess the thing is how long…without revealing too much but is it going to be one of these things….obviously with Harold and Kumar you can’t keep the two of them separated for too long or it sort of isn’t a Harold and Kumar movie. So is it like…
Lennon: You’re exactly right on that count. I wonder how much of the plot I should give away. I will say that we all….that Harold’s new friend, me—Todd—Kumar, Kumar’s new friend Adrien who’s being played by Amir Blumenfeld from….he did a bunch of stuff on college humor and stuff. Very funny dude. The four of us then kind of end up on an adventure.
Well with it being Harold and Kumar…
Lennon: And the adventure of course drug related.
Without a doubt. So did you film some scenes…I know that Neil Patrick Harris wrapped he said on Twitter. He was there for a little bit. So did you get to work with him?
Lennon: You know I had no scenes with Neil and I actually only know Neil very vaguely, but then I read on Twitter that he said I’m hilariawesome. A combination of the words hilarious and awesome. And I was pleased to know that because I’m such a big fan of his but I’ve never really hung out with him or talked to him at all. And actually we had no scenes together, so. I will tell you that his stuff in the movie is completely insane and really, really awesome.
I would expect nothing less. So I definitely have to ask you with….you’re obviously a very talented writer. You obviously have a script when you get on-set, how much are you guys improving vs. what’s scripted?
Lennon: You know I know that authors like Jon and Hayden who’d written all the Harold and Kumar movies, are like pretty good friends of mine. So I’ve got to say that like sometimes I do a pass. A lot of times you’re just doing the script. For me, my process and from years of Reno 911 and stuff like that, I need to be spontaneous sometimes. Sometimes I find that the little detail or nuance that you add to it that’s based on what’s happening at the time that’s not very rehearsed often ends up feeling like the funniest thing. Usually because it feels the most sincere. You know my process is….I think Jon and Hayden’s script is great. I’m always doing what I can to look for and just feel out funny things that are happening in the scene and improvise off of them.
So how long are you shooting this thing? Or how long is the…
Lennon: I’ll be here in Detroit through basically like August 18th something like that.
Oh so you’re there for another few weeks. How long have you been…when did you first get up there?
Lennon: I started kind of a while ago. I’ve been here off and on for most of the summer.
Well, with the 3D process I heard that it like…I’ve been on some 3D sets and sometimes it can really slow things down a little bit.
Lennon: Oh my goodness, yes.
Lennon: I mean I’ll tell you every frame of footage of this movie that I’ve seen is stunningly beautiful and the 3D will absolutely make your mind explode. That said, when you’re on-set oh my God it takes a long time.
Yeah, I’ve seen it first-hand.
Lennon: Every single…when you’re shooting with 2 cameras there’s a million things that can go wrong and blah, blah, blah. Undoubtedly is more complicated, yeah.
Lennon: Sure. Is there a Harold and Kumar 4 the Legend of Todd? Yes.
I wanted to know what’s been the scene that you’ve really enjoyed shooting the most so far. If there’s one scene.
Lennon: Let’s see…actually probably the first time that I meet Kumar who I’m sort of replacing in Harold’s life is a really, really funny scene. And it was just really fun to work with both Kal and John at the same time. A lot of my scenes are with John but to get us together was just a blast. If we had not been shooting it on one of the scariest streets in Detroit at like 6:00 in the morning.
At least you’re using practical locations.
Lennon: Yeah, we shoot a lot of nights in Detroit which is kind of intense.
Are you playing Detroit for Detroit?
Lennon: No, it’s Detroit for New Jersey and New York. Right now Detroit’s the new Vancouver so there’s huge incentives to film in the state of Michigan and I think that’s awesome.
Oh no I’ve heard it’s like…I have some friends that are filming up there and it’s like a 42% tax incentive or something?
Lennon: It’s enormous whatever it is, so. I’ve been told there’s something like 9 movies shooting in Michigan, maybe more.
No, no I think you’re actually right.
Lennon: It feels like it, yeah.