Earlier this month I had the wonderful opportunity to talk with the cast of Universal Pictures new sci-fi comedy Paul. Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Joe Lo Truglio, Bill Hader, Blythe Danner and director Greg Mottola were all in attendance, spilling the beans about their funny new film, the on-set antics the ensued during the production and whether or not they believe in aliens.
It was a fun event and I wish you all could’ve been there to meet the hilarious cast, but since I don’t own a time machine (well, not that I know of) I’m doing the next best thing: providing you with some of the most informative and entertaining quotes given by the actors and director about Paul. Click here to read my review of the film and read on below for select quotes:
Greg Mottola on how he got involved in the project:
The way this film came about was I got a call from my agent that Simon Pegg had a movie that he was writing with Nick Frost about an alien. Much like the kind of pop culture mash-ups he had done on Spaced, Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, this was going to be their sci-fi love letter. They weren’t going to be able to do it with Edgar Wright, he was going off to do Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and they wanted an American director. I met with Simon the day Superbad opened, we met in NYC. Simon had been shooting a film all night long. They had the wrap party and he was still drunk the next morning. I was very nervous because my first ever studio movie was coming out and he told me the plot and they were still in the middle of writing it. I said please let me do it. I warned them that I’m not as good as Edgar Wright and that it’ll be something else, something different. I love Edgar and I was intimidated to do a film with these guys who had done incredible work. I had to try, it was too fun to pass up.
Simon Pegg & Nick Frost on how their road trip across the southwestern United States influenced the writing of Paul.
SP: It was the most important thing we did prior to writing the film.
NF: It was the only thing we did.
SP: We’ve traveled around America a lot, but we go apple to apple and its not until you drive that you realize how enormous and breathtaking and beautiful and scary and lonely and varied and extraordinary this country is. And the fact that it has so many people in it and yet you can go a whole day and not see anyone. A lot of what we experienced on the road, and the adventures we had went into the script. The only thing that didn’t happen to us on the trip was meeting the alien. We made that up. I confess. A bird hit the window. We ran into some scary hunter…
Kristen Wiig on playing a closed-minded, conservative Christian and Jason Bateman on creationism:
KW: I wasn’t bothered by it because I didn’t feel like we were making fun of it. I think it’s just an interesting character choice for someone who’s about to see an alien for the first time. Because, you know, if you see one or we realize that they’re there, that does ask a lot of questions in regards to religion. And I think they took that and made it a funny character trait rather than making fun of anyone or making a statement or anything like that.
JB: Maybe I’m an idiot, which I’ve been called, but the religious creationism thing — seeing an alien wouldn’t necessarily debunk that, because wouldn’t the creationist then say, “Yeah, they created the aliens as well. He didn’t just create life on Earth. He created life on all these other places we just haven’t been able to see them yet.”
Kristen Wiig on having fun on set and breaking character during a scene:
We did a game called “Stop, Stop, The Robber Is Coming.” And each time we took a turn, there were really no rules, we kind of made them up before each turn, and I really think that was why I had to run a mile. But we did a lot of off-camera fun and games and stuff like that.
Personally, I know that once I laugh, I can’t go back. As I’m about to say it the second time I feel like everyone is wondering if I’m going to do it again, so then I just start laughing. So for me, I just have to not do it or else we’ll be there all night. And that’s kind of the other thing. If you start laughing, you start feeling bad because everyone is like, “Okay, that was funny for a second but we’ve really got to get out of here.”
Jason Bateman on working with Pegg and Frost:
I like their British humor. It tends to be a little drier, a little less winky than what we ding-dongs do over here. So that was fun. I tried to learn as much as I could. Mostly, I was really taken by how kind and nice and enthusiastic they were. They wrote a movie and a big studio gave them a bunch of money to shoot it and they got to hire all of their friends and it was just a great place to go to work.
Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio on what attracted them to Paul:
BH: What made me want to do it was that I was a huge fan of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost from Spaced and Shaun of the Dead. I knew them socially and thought they were good guys. And I had worked with Greg Mottola times. It was kind of like I heard they were just working together and I was like, yeah I’d love to be involved.
JLT: Same. I’d been fans of Simon and Nick since Shaun of the Dead — I’m a big horror movie fan. While watching that movie, I just knew that I was watching people who loved what I loved. So I jumped the chance to work with them. And of course, it was great working with Greg and Bill. And I knew Kristin. It was just a dream opportunity. They didn’t twist my arm too much (laughs) to do it.
Joe Lo Truglio on being the physical stand-in for Paul:
It was a thrill to do. I had never been in a movie with so many visual effects so as a lover of film I was very interested in being part of that whole process. And then hanging out with Simon and Nick every day was such a treat. It was fun because Seth [Rogen] did such a great job with bringing what he wanted to bring to it and then I’d throw in some ideas and some lines and they’d add things. There was just a lot of people throwing their two cents in to this character that, if it didn’t work, the movie doesn’t work. It was a thrill to be part of bringing him to life. And my knees were saved from any scrapes because I was wearing knee pads.
Bill Hader on why Judd Apatow’s work resonates so well with contemporary audiences:
When you work with him on stuff, it’s never about just being funny. It’s like, yeah, we know it’s funny but where’s it coming from? If you watch all of his movies, everything is coming from a kind of personal place. What do you know, where’s the emotion in it? It’s really smart and it taught me a lot, working with him in that way. Superbad, I mean, that was such a personal movie, obviously. I mean, Seth and Evan named the guys after them. But he was smart enough to be like, Greg Mottolla, I’m a fan of yours and I trust you guys to just go do your thing, you know? And Greg brought so much heart to that movie. That whole end scene in the Escalade is just touching, you know? It’s also about letting people do their thing, you know? He’s really smart about that. He’s also sort of a fan of people. Any time I hang out with him, all we really talk about is comedy that’s inspired us. Comedy albums. You know what I mean? Lorne Michaels is the same way. You talk to him and it’s just like, this is a big comedy nerd, like us. They’re just great guys, you know.