Exclusive: The Lonely Island on ‘Palm Springs’, Their Favorite ‘SNL’ Digital Short, ‘Hot Rod’, and ‘Popstar’

     July 9, 2020

They say don’t meet your heroes, but the guys from The Lonely IslandAndy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone – are not only incredibly funny and incredibly talented, they’re also just incredibly nice. Their most recent project together is producing the fantastic romantic comedy film Palm Springs, which premieres on Hulu and at drive-in theaters on Friday, July 10th. Samberg co-stars in the film alongside Cristin Millioti, with a script by Andy Siara and directed by Max Barbakow, but beyond noting that it takes place at a wedding in Palm Springs, I refuse to tell you anything else about the film. This is one that really benefits from knowing as little as possible going in, so if the idea of a hilarious and sweet romantic comedy with a twist entices you, I highly recommending checking out Palm Springs as soon as you’re able. You will not regret it — it’s one of the best films of the year so far.

With Palm Springs premiering soon, Andy, Akiva and Jorma were gracious enough to speak with us for an extended interview as part of our Collider Connected series, talking about their work as producers on Palm Springs (we keep it entirely spoiler-free) but also about their career in general. Going way back, we discussed their first impressions of one another when they first met as kids, and learning camera and editing techniques early on that made their first videos so funny (and impressive). We also talked about their stressful first year at SNL, and the trio detailed the origin stories behind the SNL Digital Shorts “Lettuce” and “Lazy Sunday”. They gave their thoughts on the bracket Seth Meyers seeded to determine the best SNL Digital Short ever, and whether they agreed with that bracket’s winner.

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Image via NEON/Hulu

We also, of course, talked about the making of Hot Rod, which happened extremely quickly – the summer after their first season at SNL – and how even during the making of that film, they talked about wanting to create the kind of movie that people would watch endlessly on cable for years to come. And the conversation broached their tremendous second film together, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, and the difficulty of making an album and a film at the same time. The guys were also diplomatic yet candid about the odd marketing strategy to sell it as a Justin Bieber parody.

The discussion takes some twists and turns along the way, as we also talked about their overall approach to producing, why The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience was a “one for them” kind of deal, a status update on the MacGruber TV series, Akiva’s Rescue Rangers movie, and how the upcoming season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been affected by real-world events.

Throughout this wide-ranging conversation it’s abundantly clear that A. Andy, Akiva, and Jorma love what they do and put a lot of effort into their work and B. They really enjoy working together. If you’re at all a fan of their Digital Shorts or their music or Hot Rod or Popstar, I think you’ll find this full conversation illuminating. And if you’re a fan of any of those things, I cannot recommend Palm Springs enough. It’s seriously a legitimately great movie that will bring you much joy.

Below is a broad outline of what we discussed, and you can watch the full interview in the player above. For more of our past Collider Connected interviews, click here.

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Image via Universal Pictures

Palm Springs will be released on Hulu and in drive-ins on July 10th.

  • What were their first impressions of one another when they first met in school?
  • Their early videos like “Just 2 Guys” and “Glirk” and using camera techniques for comedy. Did they love movies as kids?
  • Akiva talks about taking inspiration from editing techniques in music videos to make their first comedy videos.
  • What was their first year at SNL like? Akiva and Jorma talk about getting so stressed they went to the doctor together to get medication.
  • The origin story of their Digital Shorts and how they borrowed a film camera to shoot the first one, “Lettuce,” which was written by Will Forte.
  • The response to “Lettuce” at SNL.
  • How “Lazy Sunday” happened and if they had any idea it was special.
  • The “Best SNL Digital Shorts” bracket that Seth Meyers seeded. Do they agree that “Motherlover” is the best one?
  • They talk about their accelerated experience at SNL, and how they landed their first movie Hot Rod during their first year there.
  • What was it like making Hot Rod? Andy describes the experience as “fun as fuck.”
  • They talk about being amazed at how much they got to do with Hot Rod, but also reveal it was “gonna be weirder.”
  • The origin of Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping and the unique way they got in touch with Judd Apatow.
  • The box office disappointment and how the marketing sold the film as a “Justin Bieber parody” when it absolutely was not that.
  • Do they have any desire to make a Popstar sequel if someone would pay for it?
  • How did they get involved with Palm Springs?
  • Their experience producing the film, and how it differed from producing I Think You Should Leave and PEN15.
  • How working with Lorne Michaels and Judd Apatow influenced their approach to producing.
  • An update on the MacGruber TV series.
  • How their movies have become “feel-good” movies for people now, and how while making Hot Rod they talked about making the kind of movie you’d watch all the time on cable.
  • Andy talks Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s upcoming season and how it’s on hold as they discuss how to proceed in the wake of protests against systemic racism in police departments.
  • The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience and if they’re working on something new together.
  • Jorma teases Kung Fury: “It’s gonna be the weirdest movie you’ve ever seen.”

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