The Green Hornet opens Friday at a theatre near you.
With your previous work, this is certainly a surprise. What was the most difficult part of taking on a superhero?
Well it’s always funny to me that the perception of what Seth [Rogen] and I want to do and are good at is not what it is in my opinion. People think that Superbad is what they always wanted to do, it’s the kind of thing we like to do, but that was just what we did. We were like, "why don’t we just write something we know." It was like a strategy; it wasn’t like, “This is exactly the movie that I wanna see!” It was the type of movie that I could actually write at this juncture in my life. But in reality, we want to make movies about aliens coming to end the planet, and giant space battles to stop them. We love big, huge, crazy action.
We made this untitled cancer comedy that we are close to naming, and we made it up in Vancouver for nine million bucks. It was really simple and small. And that was really fun, but I kind of miss that [feeling of], "so we’re blowing up a bus today!" But I’ve gotta say, on a day-to-day basis, it wasn’t as fun to make the action movie because you wait and wait for the stunts, but this is the kind of movie when I see on the screen, I’m like, “F*ck yeah! That what I want to do.”
You want to do the big, tentpole action flicks?
I don’t even care if it is tentpole, just action movies.
What is the one movie that you grew up on that inspired you the most?
Terminator 2! How can anyone say anything else? Terminator 2 is by far one of the greatest movies ever made, and the action in it is absolutely unparalleled. It’s so bloody good and it is so well thought out. I’ve seen Terminator 2 probably like sixty times. I mean, that movie is insane.
I also very much like Young Guns.
I liked that movie a lot.
What about Young Guns 2?
Okay [Laughing], Young Guns 2 was going out with sort of a whimper instead of a bang, but it was kind of classy, I thought.
It wasn’t as bad as people thought it was.
Did people think it was bad?
I thinks so…
I’m learning stunning things like that. We might be doing this movie with John Goldwyn who works with Lorne Michaels. We are looking into it. And they made Spaceballs, which I assumed was one of the highest grossing movies ever. Apparently it is one of the greatest financial disasters ever. I think Spaceballs is the greatest comedy ever made. And he told me, "too soon, dude. Do not make fun of Star Wars. It’s for real." Whereas I am not much of a Star Wars fan, so I don’t understand it.
Now I want to talk about the opening sequence in The Green Hornet. The poor little kid has his superhero doll taken away by his father, which was kind of heartbreaking. Did that ever happen to you?
No. I did cut the heads off my sister’s Barbies. My mom threw away a lot of my [toys]. And me and my brother had a massacre of all of our toys one day. We saw Terminator 2 actually [Laughing] and we realized that if we throw them in cups of water, that we can smash them like the Terminator. So we froze half of our toys and smashed them and then we melted the other half with magnifying glasses. And then we had a vice in my basement and we started putting nails through their heads and freezing them to see if the nails would shatter. Terminator 2 is really where a lot of my shit comes from [Laughing]… professional or recreational.
But with you and Seth writing together, what was the most important thing you wanted to bring from the original comics to The Green Hornet?
For us, to be honest, it wasn’t a Green Hornet based inspiration. It was a hero/sidekick dynamic; that is what we liked. And then someone came in here, Neil Moritz and Ori Marmur, and they sat us down and said we’d like you to do The Green Hornet, and it was exactly what we wanted to do. We wrote one movie about two roommates that decide to be heroes, and slowly they become a villain and a hero and they fight each other. We just wrote the outline. We had like three ideas that we outlined that were relatively similar to doing a hero/sidekick story. And then when they came to us with that, it was like the ultimate hero/sidekick because this is the only hero/sidekick team where the sidekick kicks more ass.
The biggest surprise for me with Green Hornet, you guys didn’t add a “f*ck.” Was that difficult holding back for a PG-13?
We struck a deal with the studio: They told us, "we’ll release you in a four quadrant type scenario IF you do not say f*ck." We were just like, deal! If we had done “f*ck,” we would’ve done it Spaceballs style, which is like: in Spaceballs, the station is about to blow up in the end, and they have the emergency stop button for the self destruct, and they add, “F*ck, nothing works on this ship.” If we would have done it, I would’ve had Kato casually say, “Can we f*ckin’ go?” Like, really casual. [Laughing]
How did you both divvy up the writing duties when it came to Seth’s character? Do you usually write for him?
We just do everything fifty-fifty. We just sit together the whole time, always.
Did you enjoy writing this character for him?
I had so much fun doing it. We both did. In Superbad, we wrote Seth to be Seth, but that didn’t pan out due to the fact he aged worse than Jonah Hill. [Laughing] So we didn’t get to do that, but for Pineapple Express, we wrote Seth to be [James] Franco’s character and that got flipped relatively close before we started ramping up to it. We always meant for him to be that dude and have Franco be the handsome, main guy. It was actually Judd [Apatow]’s idea to flip it, which was genius. In this movie, we are finally writing Seth to be Seth. And I didn’t work on Zack and Miri [Make a Porno] or Observe and Report. In Observe and Report, Seth really got to be a great character. In that, he was acting; he was a whole f*cking character. I f*cking loved that movie. But I didn’t work on that movie. So this movie was the first movie that I am working on with Seth where we get to write a character for him that we both specifically wanted to write for him. I had a great time writing the cop [in Superbad] as him, but this is like, we knew you could do this character. I had the best time doing it; it’s such a fun character.
I f*cking hope so.
Do you have ideas where you’d want to go?
Oh, we have an extremely specific idea of where we’d want to go. I can’t share it but we have an idea that if we gross enough to justify a sequel, our sequel idea is so much better than the idea that this movie was. When we first wrote this movie, we skipped the first one and decided to write the sequel. That was our big idea: to skip the whole story of how they come together. That doesn’t work, we found. But we have a sequel kind of written and we have this incredible idea for a villain and I really want it to happen.
I’ve read that test audiences are reacting really strongly to the film.
Well, the great thing is when we took this project, we said that people are going to react very negatively at first. We know that, but we both said to ourselves as we were sitting in our trailer during Pineapple Express, we were like, if we take this project people will react extremely negatively; then as we ramp towards it, it will get even more negative, and then if they like the trailer, they will start to come our way, and hopefully we will see an upswell of people who want to see it because the negativity will create a buzz. And that is just what we hoped would happen, and through happenstance and wacky events, I feel like that is what is happening.
Which film do you prefer, Pineapple Express or Superbad?