Behind the Wild Debauchery of ‘Neighbors’

Neighbors, Zac Efron, Seth Rogen and Rose ByrneUniversal Pictures via Everett Collection

Director Nick Stoller’s newest flick, Neighbors, is infused with an unhinged, bacchanalian spirit. The film pits a couple just settling into the comforts of family life against an army of rowdy, boozy frat guys that have never met a homeowner association they couldn’t piss off. Zac EfronSeth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, newcomer Jerrod Carmichael and Stoller dish about filming the insane party scenes, the surprising inspirations for the film, and why Rose Bryne’s character is totally down to party with the frat bros.

Director Nick Stoller and his cast discuss bringing the film’s wild party scenes to life:

Stoller: “I had some practice shooting party stuff for Get Him to the Greek and so I took lessons I learned from that, both the things I liked that I did and the things I didn’t and brought them to this, and from the very beginning, I wanted the movie to feel like a party and to be cool. I am not cool and I don’t go to parties so I did a lot of research and Seth and Evan [Goldberg, the producer] pitched the idea of a black light party and a hothouse party, which were both cool visual ideas. Then I watched a lot of movies that are much cooler than the movies I make, like Enter the Void was a big visual reference for me. Then another movie that weirdly was a big influence – because there’s a dumb heist element to the movie – so I watched Ocean’s 11  and I took apart that movie to see how it was put togethter. There are certain things, like you put the camera low and it makes it feel epic, you hand out cameras to a lot of extras and that makes it feel more epic.

Jerrod Carmichael: “These party scenes had to be a monster to coordinate. It was like 250 extras along with us. You don’t forget all the smoke and these military grade lights we weren’t allowed to stare into. We had to wear protective goggles.”

Christopher Mintz-Plasse: “I went to the hospital after we shot five days in the house with just a bunch of smoke. I was in the hospital for like, four hours. Just being a nerd.”

The cast on Dave Franco’s now-infamous Robert De Niro impersonation scene:

Dave Franco: “I was most anxious about that scene more than any other when I read the script. So from day one, I was trying to perfect the impersonation so I was looking up videos on YouTube and actually watching De Niro movies, and trying to figure out what he does with his face, and I just couldn’t get it. I’m not good with impressions, so literally the night before I just stood in front of the mirror and just physically pushed my face around and it just kinda took form, and then you throw on the mole and the pleated khakis and give me the cat and I’m just following through with it. It hurts, man, when you’re doing it for six hours. Try to do it for like five seconds.”

Seth Rogen: “I couldn’t stop laughing at Dave Franco… the De Niro face would collapse”

Zac Efron: “It wasn’t like he was breaking character or giving up, it was like he couldn’t sustain it any longer.”

The cast discuss how Rose Byrne’s character transcends the nagging housewife stereotype:

Rose Byrne: “We wanted to not make her the usual stock female character. You know, the nagging wife in the corner. We tried to make her as irresponsible and irreverent as the rest of the cast.”

Franco: “I just love how silly she is and she just goes toe to toe with Seth. She’s not the typical wife in the movie who’s naggy or just getting walked over by the husband. She crushes it.”

Mintz-Plasse: “Rose was holding her own more than anybody. She was hilarious in this movie, probably my favorite character.”

Nick Stoller chimes in on why there might not be a clear cut winner in the battle between Frat vs. Family.

Stoller: “I don’t like villains in the movies that I make, and I think all of us are on the same page. We didn’t want there to be any villains because it gets boring really quickly if you’re just like “that person’s bad,” then there’s no real lesson for them to learn. What is cool about the movie is that if you’re young, if you’re the age of the frat kids, you take the side of the frat, and if you’re closer to my age, you take the side of the family, so that was the goal. Those kids in the movie are doing what kids are supposed to do, which is party constantly.”

Neighbors is in theaters now.