Set Visit: Scott Pilgrim Interview with Mary Elizabeth Winstead
'An epic of epic epicness.' Has there been a better tagline for a movie? Ever? Of all the films coming out this year, none are more anticipated by us geeks than SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD. I was introduced to the five part comic series (the sixth and final chapter isn't out yet) at the San Diego Comic Con last year. And I was hooked in minutes. If you have not yet had a chance to experience the awesomeness, it's the story of Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), a young bass guitarist with the garage band Sex Bob-omb. (Say it out loud. You won't be able to stop.) He meets his true love Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) while she's rollerblading through his dreams. She likes him. It's great...but she has seven evil exes that Scott must battle before she can date him.
I got a chance to visit the set of the film last year in Toronto and spoke with Mary Elizabeth Winstead about the film, her crazy hair colors, stunts and rollerblading.
SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD opens August 13th, 2010.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
This is one of the many hairstyles of Ramona?
What color is that?
Uh, some form of green. Itís green.
Howís it been over the course of the movie so far?
Itís been greatóthe hair, or--? Uh, itís been fun. Iíve gotten to be several different bright colors. Um, which has been cool for me. Iím actually more used to this than I am my normal hair now, so I donít know. Iím going to be extremely bored, when this is over, with myself.
How many different styles have there been?
Uh, thereís three different colors and kind of, yeah.
Can you talk about your character?
Iíve think weíve all drawn everything from the book, really. I mean thatís all we have to go on. But itís been great because Iíve got to talk with Bryan Lee OíMalley a lot and them Michael Bacall on just sort of for backstory and things you donít get from the books about her. Um, just sort of where she comes from and thinks that happened to her that make her the way she is. Which is cool. Like she still is extremely mysterious in the film and you still donít really know that much about her, but me as an actress, I got to kind of learn it.
Whatís your favorite part of shooting? What do you like the most?
I think the thing that Iíve found that I really love about this, which was kind of surprising to me, was the stunts. I feel like Iíve fallen in love with doing stunts, and I think part of it is the stunt team is so cool and theyíre so much fun to be around and they make you feel so motivated to do a good job that Iíve kind of completely embraced that and tható
Can you talk about some of the stunts? Like whatís the coolest thing--?
Yeah. Well weíve got to do a lot of kung fu choreography, which was really cool. Like I have, you know, like the big hammer that I use, kind of like a staff in a sense. So I get to use that like a really cool weapon. Kung Fu style. And itís just really fun to get to learn that and execute it in a way that looks cool on screen. It just feels really rewarding.
Did you do a lot of training for that stuff?
Yeah. I was really, really eager to get into this. Like way back in November I started training on my own and then in January we started training with the stunt team in LA and then came out here in February and continued training and stuff until April when we started shooting. So it was pretty extensive.
Are you doing a lot of wire assists or--?
A little bit, yeah. Thereís a little wire work, which is so much fun. You can fly, itís amazing. But Iíve had to mostly just sort of kung fu, you know, ground work. Footwork and stuff like that.
Obviously with you guys condensing so much material into the film, there are things that have not made their way to the screen. Is there anything that you love from the books that you miss that you werenít able to do in the movie?
Oh, man, I donít know if IóI might get in trouble ifóthere are a couple of things, but I donít know. I probably, it would be wrong of me to sort of give that away I think, but yeah. Thereís so much material like you said in the books, and thereís so much stuff going on in this movie as it is. Itís going to be like super fast-paced and crazy, and thereís going to be so much to take in. So I think that they had to kind of choose wisely what to keep in, and I think they did a great job.
Can you talk about your battle with Knives (Ellen Wong)?
What was that like?
Awesome. We had a great time fighting each other, and training together and getting to know each other. Sheís like the coolest girl in the world and I feel really lucky to have been, you know, put together with her and everything. It was really fun and thatís when I get to bring out my hammer out...it was really cool.
Thereís a really cool old school video game vibe to this film.
Did you grow up on video games, and what are some of your favorites?
I definitely was around video games. Iím one of five kids and my brother was really into it and stuff. I canít say I was much of a gamer growing up or that I am now, but Iím certainly part of that culture or itís part of, you know, the sort of time that I grew up in. So I get all the references and I totally get the humor and itís really fun. Thisóitís kind of a mash up of so many different genres and things that kind of, sort of are just part of youth culture right now. Music and action and video games, and itís kind of amazing to see it all piled into one film.
I just wondered if youíre a comic book fan. And also, after talking to Bryan, do you know the ending of the books?
Uh, last time I talked to Bryan I donít think he even knew exactly what the ending was going to be, so no, I donít. I think from what Iíve heard, itís not going to be the same as the film, so. I think that will be kind of cool for fans, in my opinion, to have sort of two different versions of, for the story to end with, and they can sort of find their favorite, maybe. But yeah. I donít know what that endingís going to be.
One of the things about the books is thereís a lot of character stuff, thereís a lot of day-to-day stuff...
Were they able to keep a lot of the stuff in or is thereó
Oh definitely, tons of stuff. I mean every character you totally, you know...the personality is kept in the film, and all of those little moments, all those funny little tidbits are all in there. Which is so important, I mean, thatís whatís so great about the books, is, you know, those two worlds are sort of, the slacker world of just comedy and laziness and then this crazy, over the top action, supernatural world, and you know, combined. To me itís so much like SPACED (Edgar Wright's UK television series) in that way. Um, which I love so much, so I think fans of that and fans of the comics are going to really see that up on the screen.
Weíve heard about the different crazy hairstyles here, what about outfits?
Yeah, lots of cool outfits. Ramonaís definitely got a unique style, and they really did a great job of keeping to Bryanís artwork on that, as well, which is funny to him, because I think he didnít really think about fashion when he was writing or drawing it necessarily, but now he gets to see it.
Did any single costume stand out for you that youíre going to wear?
Uh, I love anything thatís like, you know, real iconic Ramona outfits, like that you remember from the books. Like thereís an outfit I have that is pretty much exactly like the cover of book two, so thatís really cool, itís like oh, Iím in the cover of book two outfit today. Itís really cool.
Tell us a little bit about Scott, as a character. Is he the kind of guy you could, youíd hang out with in real life, do you think?
Probably, yeah. I could see how he might, you know, get on a girlís nerves occasionally. Um, but heís a sweetheart, you know, at the core, which I think, to me is the most important thing, is someone whoís genuine and sweet and kind, and I think he is that even though heís a bit of a doofus. So you kind of have to forgive that, I think, a little bit.
You mention the fight sequences, which are kind of this craziness. Can you talk about how it translates to this real or somewhat real world to that?
Itís, itís kind of amazing, I mean, itís sort of something, itís almost like itís never really spoken of, itís something that just happens. Like Scott, you know, is this kind of loser who just hangs out in his apartment and you know, dates the high school girl. And then one day heís like fighting these completely awesome, insane martial arts experts. Itís like yeah, okay, whatever, back to the good world. Itís not a big deal, and itís kind of such a fun way to handle it, I think.
Just going by the books, at the end of book five thereís this, thereís a lot about Ramona, we see sort of a very different side of her.
Uh huh, yeah.
Iím sort of curious how you can lace that through the performance you created, showing more vulnerability while also being sort of a tough, mysterious girl.
Yeah. Iíve always thought Ramona was somewhat of a sad character. Like I feel like sheís been through a lot, like even with her ex-boyfriend and even all the fights, itís kind of sad. Like sheís always the one who, theyíre all fighting over her but sheís like whatís the big deal, like I donít even get what youíre fighting for, you know? Iím not that amazing. So like I kind of feel like Iíve had to bring sort of a sense of vulnerability and sadness beneath her toughness, from, you know, everything sheís been through.
Can you talk about working with Michael? Because without Scott and Ramonaís relationship thereís nothing left to the movie.
Yeah. Heís awesome. Heís like the coolest guy ever. I feel so lucky to be able to work with him because heís so sweet and such a just hard working actor and so willing to do whatever it takes to, you know, make this film as good as it can be. And heís just a really genuine, funny, sweet guy. And I donít think thereís many people like him in this business, so I think heís really one of a kind.
Aside from Michael, I mean because of the structure of the film thereís people who come into the movie and leave the movie. You have this remarkable supporting cast that shows up for bits.
Howís that been, like with new people coming in and going out?
Itís been really great, it really makes it feel like a new film every couple of weeks. Like itís awesome, it brings a new energy, a new vibe, a new likeóitís kind of new life into the crew, into the set and everybody. Itís been really great. Like um right now we feel like weíre doing a pyramid movie. We call it. So this month weíre doing the pyramid movie and weíre doing the Chris Evans movie before that, and Brandon Routh movie.
Has there been anyone whoís come in and you just canít believe what you see in them?
Definitely. I think just about everyone is doing something thatís completely different from what youíve seen them do before or a stretch in some way. Like Brandon Routh is so funny, heís awesome. And Chris Evans is hilarious. I mean, heís always funny but just in this character, itís like, I mean I could barely stop laughing on a single take, it was unbelievable. So I think everybodyís going to be really, really happy with all the exes.
What was it like wielding a giant hammer?
It was kind of tough. I pulled out my shoulder several times, I got tendinitis. Um, but it was fun, I mean I definitely felt tough and crazy, swinging it like a hammer, swinging it like a bat, I mean, quite often. Which was, break stuff, break a lot of stuff, which was cool. But yeah, it was nice, I like being a bad ass every now and then.
What about the sets?
The sets are incredible. I donít know how they do it, they go up so fast. I mean, it goes from being wooden planks to the next day itís this glorious, unbelievable thing. I love seeing the apartments, just because of the attention to detail. Ramonaís apartment and Knivesí bedroom and Wallaceís (Kieran Culkin) apartment. Itís just like every little thing they pay attention to. Thereís things that the audience will never see that are so great. Like the note, I think that was on the blog, like the notes that were in Knivesí bedroom, we were going through and reading all the notes. It was hilarious. Like all the notes that she writes to her friends and, and theyíre so right on, theyíre so perfect and real and it just amazes me that they go to those lengths, itís really awesome.
Is there a lot of CG involved, a lot thatís going to be added later that youíre not going to be seeing on set?
Um, weíre definitely doing a lot of blue screen stuff, but not a ton. I mean I feel like a lot, everything that weíre doing for the most part already looks awesome. Like I feel like weíre ready to be, weíre editing it as we go along and weíre watching it and itís already looking so amazing, that I canít really imagine what else theyíre going to do to it, but Iím sure theyíre going to, you know, do whatever it takes to make it look even cooler.
Are you officially awesome on roller blades now?
I am manageable. I, you know, itíll suffice I think. No, no, I feel pretty good. I trained for a long time and I got really cool, like I was doing jumps. It got like, I felt really good, but then when I got out on gravel and fake snow andóit just kind of all went downhill. But I think itís still okay.
With the endings possibly being different between the film and the books, does that mean that thereís more room for you guys to play around in the movie to make things different on your own? Or is it the kind of thing where you say what is she thinking, let me turn to the book now and look. How do you sort of do that?
I think we look to the books a lot, especially for visual, the visual aspects. Like before a scene, weíll all go look at the books and say okay, so this is the position that weíre in, and as far as that goes. But I think for me, all the things that Bryan gave me about Ramona that arenít in the books, were like the most helpful as far as who she is and everything like that because she is so mysterious. When you read the books youíre kind of like who the hell is this girl, where does she come from and whatís she all about? So that was really helpful.
Is there room for you guys to improv and play around or is this so technical--?
Yeah, I mean I think, occasionally like Michael and Jason will come up, theyíll have an idea and theyíll come to Edgar and say letís add this line in and itíll be really funny and great and you know, work. But for the most part, people stay true to the books and the dialogue and the ending, you know, thatís just kind of one chunk of the film and the rest of it, weíre sticking to the book.
Are you shooting multiple endings or--?
Just one for now.
You were talking about consulting with Bryan about stuff that isnít in the book. Can you talk a bit more about that?
Um, you know, I donít know that I want to give away like details of what he told me, because I think it was pretty, kind of a private thing. Um, but yeah, I mean it kind of gives a sense of the darker path that she has, and why she may be as guarded as she is, so he kind of gave me some sort of sad, sort of dark secrets to kind of hold onto for Ramona.
How present has Bryan been on set?
Heís been kind of in and out. He comes in for visits, but heís usually pretty, you know, heís a quiet presence. He doesnít kind of come in and make himself known to everybody that heís there. He just kind of comes and watches and hangs out. I think the first time he came, he was a bit overwhelmed, just seeing everything come to life like this. I donít really think he knew what to think. Um, but I think heís happy, which is good.
So whoís your favorite evil ex?
And have they kept the females?
Oh yes, Mae. Mae (Whitman) is fantastic. She was great...theyíre all so funny and such fun personalities and so fun to watch. Jason (Schwartzman) has been amazing to have on set. Iíve always been a huge fan of his, so I was kind ofówe started training together in LA, like Jason and me and Michael and Mae and it was like, it was so cool. Like all the people Iím just huge fans of were just, were all in the same room. Just incredible.
What are you shooting on set today? What are you up to?
Well, weíve been on this pyramid for a good month now. Weíre still shooting the fight, the Gideon fight.
What does it say about Ramona that so many of her exes are evil?
I donít know.
I have a couple of evil exes, but I also have a couple of okay ones as well.
I know. But it seems like they werenít necessarily evil when she was dating them, but I think in her, the way that she leaves them, obviously affects them negatively. Uh, she turns them. Yeah, I think in retrospect she may have been a bit cold-hearted to some of them, and you know, maybe might think differently in the future of how she treats them.