Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jay Baruchel talks to the AV Club

Jay Baruchel, star of She's Out of My League, spoke with The Onion's A.V. Club.Here's a snippet of it.
The A.V. Club: The filmmakers involved in She’s Out Of My League talked about casting actors with experience in stand-up and improv. How did that figure into the final product?

Jay Baruchel: I’m a chronic ad-libber. So whoever hires me, often to their chagrin, should know that I will be talking a bunch of smack. My introduction to acting in the States was on a show called Undeclared, so I was Apatow-ized from the beginning. I started acting when I was 12 back home in Montreal, and in kid acting, there’s no ad-libbing. So it spoiled me. They don’t always want you to ad-lib. But on a movie like this, I think just granted the fact that T.J. Miller and Nate Torrence and I are in the same room together, we’ll all be ad-libbing. It’s never that we needed to, because the script was strong. Everything was there. But it’s almost like the script is a coloring book, and the improv is the shading. It’s like adding little flourishes in moments here and there. It was so nice, because we all find each other very, very funny, so we were always trying to make each other laugh. We also all really like each other and get along together, so in those moments, it’s real, pure friendship. It makes it real. I think it translates to fun stuff in the movie.[...]

AVC: You once compared Judd Apatow’s moviemaking process to Wong Kar-wai in terms of how he goes about influencing and shaping a movie as it goes along. How was this similar and how was it different?

JB: The thing is, I guess, that Judd’s put his time in, and he’s been slogging it out for a while. He’s earned the ability, I think, to effectively have a blueprint for a script and then just let us play and do almost like a choose-your-own-adventure story, shoot so many different versions of different scenes. In this one, it was amazing, because Jim Field Smith, this was his first at-bat as a feature director, but he was coming from the world of sketch performance in England. He came from comedy troupes. So he always knew that often the best stuff is in those moments. With this one, we had lines. It was far more developed than just a blueprint, but still, he always was cool enough to allow us to try to find our own version of things and our own voice in things. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, because a lot of the random stuff we said on set ended up in the movie.

AVC: When you’re in a situation where it’s a blueprint, where it’s an Apatow-type thing—

JB: Or Ben Stiller. He’s the same way as well.

AVC: They’re relying so much on you to come up with things. Are you coming to set with ideas in mind of what you’re going to try to do?

JB: A little bit, but I think that can screw you over. Rigidity is the enemy of acting. And I think that people who stay up all night focusing on every beat they’re going to do the next day always end up getting screwed. I’d say that the No. 1 attribute you need as an actor is to be malleable. You need to be able to change and tailor what you’re doing to what the situation dictates. So I guess I always have sort of general ideas, but the best stuff would be the stuff that came to us in the moment, always. Always, always, always. The funniest moments in Undeclared, the funniest moments in Knocked Up, the funniest moments in this movie, I think were a bit more spontaneous and figured out in the moment. I’d look over the script, and I’d try to find jokes maybe where there weren’t any, in certain moments, but for the most part, I just kind of like doing it as I’m going.

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