Interview: Evan Goldberg (co-writer of 'The Watch', 'Goon', 'Superbad')
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Date Stamp: September 13, 2012
Thick: So, how did this crazy hockey movie, Goon, come to be?
Evan Goldberg: Well, I wanted to do something Canadian, always did. We did Knocked Up, Superbad, Pineapple Express, and then finally there was a lull for a moment. Dave Gross and Jesse Shapira, the producers of the movie, they brought this book to me about this goon. And I was very excited because when I was a kid, my mom wouldn’t let me hockey. She was like, I’m not getting up at 5:45 am in the morning to take you to hockey practice, and my over-protective Jewish mother was like, yeah, play a sport where people smash your head into a board, go for it. So, I played baseball, which was always like a sore spot for me. My last year at McGill I learned how to skate, how to stick handle, and I learned how to play just a little. I’m not a hockey nut, I just like hockey. So, then these guys brought me this story about this goon, and Jay Baruchel had just written his first script, which he asked me to read ‘cause we were really good friends from way back, and I got really excited because I realized I could kind of live out my wish to play hockey and write a movie with a buddy I’ve always wanted to work with, and that buddy just happens to be the biggest hockey fan on the entire planet. So, it was like a perfect match, and I just immediately agreed to do it, Jay immediately agreed to do it, and almost immediately we all realized we should hire Michael Dowse and it just happened.
T: How did the cool cast come together? How did you pick Seann Williams Scott for the lead?
EG: With Seann William Scott we started discussing the idea of him…we had a meeting with him and it was one of those things where we were like, it was great to meet you, man, it was really nice, thanks for coming. And when he steps out of the door, we’re all quiet and going, (whispered) fuck yeah, fuck yeah, this is the guy. To a problematic point, if he hadn’t done it, I don’t know if we would have done it. He was so perfect, that it had to be him. Fortunately, he was psyched beyond words to be in it.
T: I don’t know if I would have pictured him in this role before seeing Balls Out but that set the tone for him being a little rough around the edges and sporty.
EG: I never saw it. For me it was Southland Tales. Did you ever see that movie? It’s by the guy who did Donnie Darko. It’s batshit crazy. It’s him, the Rock, Sarah Michelle Geller. He plays two versions of himself that are like lost…the movie barely makes sense but he’s like a displaced him out of his own continuity and him. But it’s not comedic, it’s fully serious and I just thought he was the shit in that movie! And American Pie, I mean, you’d have to be an asshole to say he’s not funny in that movie. Everyone knows he tears it up. So, he’s got one of the most memorable comedic performances ever and he can do serious shit, but nobody ever asks him to enough. I think it’s a miracle that he was as psyched to do this as he was.
T: And some of the other names too like Liev Schreiber?
EG: I wrote the movie but I was stuck in Green Hornet world working on the visual effects for a car falling for ten months or something. So, I just got a call, Liev Schreiber is going to do it, and I almost shit my pants ‘cause he’s like one of my favorites. I just love that guy. The movie Defiance, which is like a solid movie, not the greatest movie I’ve ever seen, but he is fucking the best in it.
T: I haven’t seen that yet.
EG: His performance alone is kinda worth seeing it. Really Jew-y.
T: He has range. He plays a cross-dressing security guard in the ‘70s period movie Taking Woodstock.
EG: What I think is crazy with this guy is…I’m sure many would scoff at this comment, except for a Canadian, but for an American to play a Canadian and not make it a stupid caricature but actually play a Canadian is way easier said than done. And he does so…he actually plays a bad-ass Canadian. I’ve shown it to a ton of Americans and they’re like, fuck, is he bad-ass. But to Americans our accent immediately means harmless, so he pulled off something that is like an oxymoron unto itself.
T: And there’s even more great names like Eugene Levy, Kim Coates, Allison Pill…
EG: Alison Pill is someone that everyone was psyched about because she’s bad-ass. Eugene Levy, Kim Coates and Liev Schreiber I just got phone calls about and I was like, fuckin’ eh!
T: And how about Jay Baruchel? He was in like four or five movies a year or two back and then it’s like he went into hiding.
EG: He was doing this! He was super heavily involved. And my next project is me, Seth and Jay all together. So, I’m fucking mad psyched for that.
T: So, that movie is based on the short, Jay And Seth Versus The Apocalypse, right? There was a lot of buzz on a full length movie for a while but then it went silent.
EG: It’s not 100% green lit but we’re hiring people, and it’s ramping up.
T: I saw a tentative cast list that looked to good to be true. Who’s gonna be in this?
EG: The cast is Jay, Seth, Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride, and more.
T: Since the short, what has developed?
EG: We made this 50/50 with a fiancé company called Mandate. So, they love our stuff and we love working with them. So, before we made 50/50, before we sold them 50/50, we made a deal to make The Apocalypse with them…which is no longer the title. Some dickhead somewhere owns the title. So, we gotta come up with a new one (ed. note: the film is now titled The End of the World). We just got a phone call like, you can’t use The Apocalypse. Agh! So, we had it with this company Mandate and us and Mandate have taken it to a studio. And yeah, we’ve been developing the script. The script still holds true to the same thing as the short, which is two dudes stuck in a house as shit goes bananas outside. We’ve expanded it from just Jay and Seth, to Jay, Seth and bunch of other dudes.
T: Something I’ve never heard a definitive answer on is why Stephen Chow left the Green Hornet.
EG: It was just a confusing scenario across the board. At first, it was just me and Seth trying to work with him as the director and as Kato. Then, we got Gondry involved, and then it was us and Gondry trying to get him involved just as Kato. But it was, for lack of a better explanation, communication breakdown. That guy and us were just not on the same wave length. Whether it was a directing discussion…what he saw as directing and what we saw as directing is so different. He’s from a world where you can make a movie for a 170 days for like $20 million and he’s not used to the world of “every penny counts.” It was just really hard to communicate ideas back and forth. He didn’t speak English, that wasn’t helpful. It’s kind of a bummer because Kung-Fu Hustle is one of the greatest fucking things I’ve ever seen.
T: Shaolin Soccer too!
EG: I think Kung-Fu Hustle is better but Shaolin Soccer is really good. But I saw Kung-Fu Hustle first, so that probably affected me. But, ah, it was just too difficult to figure it out. Our styles were so different. Seth and me are super collaborative and involved, and I think he is more a guy who has a vision that he executes. So, it was a bummer it didn’t happen but that’s that.
T: Tell us about The Watch.
EG: First time anybody has asked me about it. We took it as a rewrite job for a few weeks and before we knew it, we were writing the movie full on, and fully involved. It’s fucking crazy, it’s a wild movie. I’m pretty psyched. I mean, I’ve only seen a few brief snippets of it. I haven’t seen the whole movie yet, but they finished filming. The director, Akiva Schaffer, is the fucking man. Obviously, you know the cast, it’s a crazy cast…
T: I recognize Hill, Stiller and Vaughn but who is the fourth guy?
EG: Richard Ayoade?
T: Yeah, I guess.
EG: He’s the funniest motherfucker in the world. You gotta watch the IT Crowd out of England, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, and then he just directed a movie I haven’t seen called Submarine.
T: I saw Submarine. Didn’t know he directed that?
EG: The IT Crowd is a sitcom. It’s him and that dude Chris O’Dowd, who is the cop from Bridesmaids, and this other chick, and they run an IT shop in a building…and he’s unbelievably funny. You gotta check out Darkplace too…don’t forget.