INT: Jay Baruchel
I've been a fan of Jay Baruchel's since Judd Apatow's Fox series "Undeclared" first debuted. He hasn't been the breakout success that his TV co-star Seth Rogen has but Jay is well on his way with TROPIC THUNDER. Jay plays Kevin Sandusky, a fanboy cast in the insane movie among a bunch of nutty actors. One beautiful and sunny Sunday afternoon I stayed inside to talk to Jay about TROPIC, the perils of working craft services, JUSTICE LEAGUE and him becoming a leading man. Check it out!
You're based out of Montreal still?
Yup, still live in Montreal.
Our site is actually based out of Montreal.
Yeah we started out of there about 11 years ago.
Wow, dope! That's amazing. All the cool stuff comes out of Montreal. Are you in Montreal now?
No I'm in Jersey. In started in Montreal but now we have people all over.
That's what always happens. It's starts in Montreal and then goes to New York City.
I was talking to Ben and he said that your role was the hardest for him to cast because it has to be the straight man through all this insanity. But he said it was your take that really won him over. What was your take on this character?
Basically I knew that I had to be some version of the audience. What I knew was that I had to set them up as well as I could, not step on any of the funny stuff that was happening and, if it made sense without ruining anything, be funny myself. So that's what I tried to do. If there's anything I do it's try to find funny moments maybe where there aren't some for me. So I think that's what Ben was talking about. I didn't play him completely straight. I just got what was funny about him. I tried to do that without stepping on anyone else's stuff.
He also told us that your riff in the movie --
About the HD-DVD and Blu-ray...
Yeah, that you would walk around the set and just talk like that.
He literally just heard me saying that to someone. There's a myriad of riffs like that. There's another version of that scene where I'm talking about how underrated Renny Harlin is as a director. And another where I'm talking about the face on Mars... It's just all the crazy bullshit you'd hear me saying to the people on set all day.
How'd he approach you about adding that into the movie?
He just said, "That's so on the nose for that character. It makes so much sense that you have to say that." He asked if they need to write anything and I was like, "I don't think you need to write anything..." I could just talk about this until the cows come home. These are the conversations I'm having anyway.
Did you know Ben all that well before this?
Well Ben actually did an episode of "Undeclared" and I got to hang out with him a bit there. I knew him a little bit and we knew a bunch of people in common so there was that much less that we had to talk about and it made the introduction that much easier.
He was saying he hadn't even seen KNOCKED UP and only knew you from MILLION DOLLAR BABY.
Yeah, right right! Which is nothing like what I do in TROPIC THUNDER.
Yeah I figured Judd recommended you highly or he saw you in KNOCKED UP but I guess that wasn't the case.
Well he asked Judd about me and Judd sent a nice e-mail. It was a combination of him knowing enough people that could vouch for me and me not fucking up the audition.
Have you gotten a chance to see TROPIC with a public audience yet?
I haven't seen it with an audience that's had nothing to do with the movie. That I can't wait to do. I did get to see it and there's no bigger fan of that movie than me. I fucking loved this movie. I loved it, loved it, loved it. The way I described it is that it's a movie without precedent and there's nothing I can compare it to. It just gored my mind open.
Yeah you can explain the premise to people but that doesn't even get across how insane it is.
The premise almost has nothing to do with the movie. The stuff that's amazing about the movie has nothing to do with the THREE AMIGOS conceit.
When you were talking with Ben about the movie did you have any idea of how big the scope of the movie would be?
Definitely. I'm just a huge, huge film nerd. I asked him every question about stuff that had nothing to do with my character. My character stuff bored me. I was more interested to hear about the set pieces and stuff like that. He told me very specifically that he wanted the action in this movie to be really, really fucking hot. Because in most action comedies, the comedy works but the action is a tad anemic, standard or formulaic. But he wanted this to be substantial. That's what he got John Toll to shoot his movie. It's gorgeous, it really is.
I don't think any other modern actor can say they've worked with a comedy team at one time as impressive as Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey, Jr. --
Danny McBride, all of em. During the readthrough that must have been insane to sit down with everybody.
It's crazy. I remember thinking, "If a bomb went off in this room, there'd be no more movies." Yeah it's intimidating but it's a huge honor and I keep making reference to - I like hockey analogies. I live in Montreal, ya know? - a kid gets drafted and he gets to have ice time against some of the big dogs, some of the athletes who are the reason why he started in the first place. Two things can happen. You can either wilt and become introverted and choke because of the sheer awe of the people around you or it makes you try that much harder because you're rolling with the big dogs. That's what it was for me. It just made me want to work that much harder.
Ben explained that the genesis for this movie came from his and his friends' experiences working on big-budget type movies. Have you ever experienced any behavior like this while you were on an actual set?
[Laughs] Yeah, definitely... This was the single most arduous fun I've ever had but it was difficult to make this movie. As remote as it seen, it was that and more so. All the Hollywood things that it lampoons, like the craft services guy getting the tray of fruit knocked out of his hands, that guy literally carries the fruit around when the yell cut. He was our craft services guy. The lines were quite blurry and it in and of itself became what it was lampooning.
One of the projects you having coming up is JAY AND SETH VS. THE APOCALYPSE. Is that really gonna happen?
It seems to be happening. We'll probably shoot it in the next year sometime. "I just can't believe people think the world wants to see the two of us sitting in an apartment during the apocalypse.
Do you imagine that being like the short or really ramping it up?
Parts of it will be like the short but parts of it will have some really crazy set pieces. If we make the plot that I think we're going to make, we're going to blow everyone's mind and has the potential to be pretty fucking galvanizing. It would be controversial.
Are Seth [Rogen] and Evan [Goldberg] writing and do you have a hand in that?
I always inject my two cents whether they want it or not but they're writing it officially. I'm actually executive producing it. So I'll be approving stuff and all that. It's just nice to get a chance to make a stuff that I've always wanted to do and make stuff with my friends. As hackneyed as it sounds I just like working with my friends.
That makes it easier when you have insanely talented friends.
A lot easier to work with them when they're that good.
JUSTICE LEAGUE, which you were cast in, was delayed. Do you ever see it starting up again?
Well it's been postponed indefinitely. And it keeps getting postponed. And each time it gets postponed, the chances of it getting made seem to decrease. All I know is that it was the most fun I've ever had rehearsing for a movie and if they ever made the movie that I read, it'd be the greatest fucking superhero movie of all time. It was a trip and a half and I got to spend time with a director [George Miller] that I absolutely idolize having seen ROAD WARRIOR when I was eight-years-old. Just to be able to sit there and pick George Miller's brain for two weeks and to be in Syndey, the most beautiful city in the world, there are way worse jobs to have.
So there's a chance you could get a call tomorrow telling you it's back on?
It's never been officially over. So there's always that. In a heartbeat I would drop whatever I had going on to do that. That movie and what I get to do in it is like nothing I've ever seen or would ever get a chance to do again.
Do you see yourself taking on more starring roles in the future after really killing with these supporting roles?
I just want to be in stuff that I would go to see. And stuff that I'd enjoy doing, as cliched as that sounds. Sometimes that means being the lead and sometimes it means just being the friend. I just want to have a good time and see if I can't make a living out of it. I've been doing leads in independent movies in Canada for the better part of five years. When I started when I was 12, it was doing leads on Canadian kids shows. I've got practice on carrying movies and I did my first studio lead on this movie SHE'S OUT OF MY LEAGUE. It was interesting. People keep asking what it's like as a phenomenon. To me it's no different. It's all just showing up, saying lines and going home.