I trekked to the Plaza Theatre in Atlanta the other night expecting to attend a regular preview screening of Scott Pilgrim v. the World. I was pleasantly shocked to discover the night would include a Q&A with writer/director Edgar Wright and stars Michael Cera and Jason Schwartzman.
They answered questions about things ranging from how they adapted the graphic novels into a screenplay to whether they thought these books and this movie defined a generation, to standard stuff about acting process.
- Wright talked about getting input and approval from Brian Lee O’Malley, the author of the Scott Pilgrim comics. The movie encompasses all 6 of the books but makes certain changes. This was very important to Wright, who said he probably wouldn’t have gotten involved with the project if O’Malley didn’t want the film to be made. Or as he put it, “if it had been an Alan Moore situation.” Ultimately, O’Malley gave the project his stamp of approval, even borrowing a few lines of dialogue from Wright’s screenplay to use in the 6th book.
- Cera was the most quiet of the three, which isn’t surprising. He’s just as understated as he usually is in his roles. But when asked about how he approached the role, he said he knew Wright had a very clear vision for the film and just tried to do what his directed wanted. Wright apparently shot test footage that he then edited into rough sequences to be able to show his actors, so they had specific models to follow when it came to blocking and gestures, especially during the fight scenes.
- All three talked about the training the cast went through prior to filming. Wright had spoken with Quentin Tarantino about how to get his cast ready, and Tarantino said they needed at least 8 weeks of conditioning. And that’s exactly what the Scott Pilgrim cast did. Wright even joined in. Apparently so did some of the actors who didn’t even film fight scenes.
- Schwartzman kind of stole the show. He might be even more funny without a script. He told a story about wearing red pantyhose under his costume throughout the shoot because it factored into his character’s backstory. During one of the fight scenes his pants ripped and he was outed in front of the whole crew. He stretched the story out for 5 minutes and I wouldn’t dare try to replicate it here. But it was hilarious.
The most striking thing about all of these guys is how genuine they are. All three are huge stars at this point, but you’d never guess it. I think Wright is one of the most unique working directors and, along with Jason Reitman, will probably dominate film comedy for the next couple of decades. And he can talk about his craft like the heavyweight he is quickly becoming. But at heart he’s still a fan. There’s no doubt he really did grow up loving movies, comics, and video games – he can talk about all those with the same authority as when he discusses scripting and directing. This authenticity shows in the movie. He understands comic and video game aesthetics and incorporates it easily, which is something most other comic adaptations have struggled to do. He makes it seem effortless and natural.
After a movie is wrapped, the actors always gush about how much they enjoyed working with each other and how great everything was. Most of the time it’s complete bullshit. But Cera and Schwartzman are obviously friends and work together very well. Schwartzman is a consummate performer, but in his own way he’s as unassuming as Cera.
I’ll link my review in a day or two, but I don’t think the PR company would mind me saying this much right now: if you have plans this weekend, change them. And buy tickets in advance.
p.s. Thanks to Matt at said PR company for sharing a few pics of the event. Here are a couple more.