A party of four seemingly typical gentlemen sat at a table tucked into the corner of Preston’s Restaurant in the Loews Hotel on Miami Beach. Prying diners seemed confused as two publicists escorted journalists behind the curtains that partially obstructed the view of the table, as if wondering, “Why are those guys getting the V.I.P. treatment?”
But such a reaction is understandable. After all, the teen sex comedy “Superbad” was three weeks away from making groups of moviegoers laugh in unison and, by their own admission, the actors at the table were not exactly A-list.
“None of us are really famous,” Jonah Hill said. Hill was cast as the obsessive, penis-sketching oddball Seth after working with producers Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen on their other summer hit, “Knocked Up.” “Hopefully the fact that people loved ‘Knocked Up’ will really help this movie,” Hill said.
But it turned out that “Superbad” didn’t need to ride the “Knocked Up” wave to score big. Indeed, the film banked more than $31 million in one week after its Aug. 17 release, besting first week earnings for “Knocked Up” by more than a million dollars.
The feat was not something Hollywood expected from a comedic, yet ultimately heart-warming, tale of three nerdy high school buddies who set out to lose their virginity to the girls in their fantasies.
But Bill Hader, a Saturday Night Live cast member who plays the role of a drunk-driving, cop-car-torching police officer, said test screenings were a huge indicator to him that “Superbad” had box office potential.
“[The audience] clapped at the end of the movie, and then they watched the full credits, and then they clapped again!” he said.
“Then we went to New York and it was the same reaction. Judd was like, ‘I’ve never seen a movie kill like this before.'”
So what, other than its unique plot, makes ‘Superbad’ so funny?
“Everybody here improvises,” Hill said. “I think that is how Judd has set up his way of making movies.”
The answer is seconded by Michael Cera, who plays Seth’s best friend and is most popular for his role on the now defunct, yet critically acclaimed television series, “Arrested Development.” He said Apatow and Rogen’s confidence was assuring for him as an actor.
“They get to the point where they’re confident and positive with everyone and then they can say, ‘Okay, now go do whatever you want.'”
Perhaps big-screen first timer Christopher Mintz-Plasse is the cast member with the most appreciation for the filmmakers. His portrayl of Fogell, a wannabe lady’s man who gives himself the name McLovin on his fake I.D., has garnered him so much attention that Sony Pictures is developing a line of “McLovin Merchandise.”
“I love walking in [a place] and hearing a bunch of people going ‘McLovin! Yeah!'” he said. “Before this movie, I was just a regular high school kid, going to school and work.”
Merchandising opportunities aside, the guys insist they won’t let their Hollywood success story get to their heads.
“We got an invite to the Playboy mansion, and we all turned it down,” Hill said. “They were going to film it for the [E!] reality show. But I think what people really like about us is that we’re really the opposite of Hollywood-type people.
“We all hang out and live our lives as we normally would if we weren’t doing this. What makes you not go crazy is when you don’t buy into the bullshit that comes along with being an actor.”
Nick Maslow may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.