Set Visit: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World!
If you haven't watched the trailer for SCOT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD, do it now. I'm waiting. Alright. Now do you get what all the buzz is about? This week JoBlo brought you interviews with Mary Elizabeth Winstead who plays Ramona Flowers, director Edgar Wright, Michael Cera who plays Scott, Jason Schwartzman who plays Gideon Gordon Graves and Mark Webber who plays Stephen Stills. Well, today I'm going to give you a glimpse of what I saw on the set and some info from writer Michael Bacall, Ellen Wong who plays Knives Chau, Johnny Simmons who plays Young Neil (and who was cast off Facebook) and Alison Pill who plays cult fav drummer Kim Pine.
If you're not familiar with the comics, here's a bit of back story. The film is based on a series of 5 comics by Bryan Lee O'Malley. The sixth and final chapter will be released this summer, right before the film opens. Scott Pilgrim is a young bass player in the mediocre band Sex Bob-omb. He falls in love with Ramona V. Flowers, who he meets while she rollerblades through his dreams. He must battle her seven evil exes to win her hand. Recognize the second half of that band name? If you do, march right out to your local store and buy yourself a copy. Anyone who gets that particular video game reference will appreciate the incredible amount of pop/nerd culture jam packed into the books. For example, as he beats each ex, he gets prizes. Enemies turn into coins and extra lives. There are flaming swords, giant mallets and bands named 'The Clash at Demonhead' and 'Sonic & Knuckles.' I can almost see you drooling.
Mere hours after San Diego Comic Con last summer, I landed in Toronto, where I got a chance to check out the set of this 'epic of epic epicness.' They were filming the end of the movie, so we didn't see much action, (except for a few moments of Michael Cera with a sword at club 'Chaos') but we did get to chat with most of the cast and see some fantastic sets, including a pyramid stage where the final battle between Scott and Gideon takes place and the giant warehouse turned club ('The Ninth Circle') where Scott has his 'battle of the bands' with the Katayanagi Twins. Yeah, they're evil exes too. We got to hang on each side of the stage. The twins had a shiny, super high tech set up (we got to see it all lit up...my eyeballs are still recovering) and Sex Bob-omb's side? Well, it was kind of dingy. Exactly as it should be.
The art department was covered with concept art, letting we fans of the comic (and most of us on the visit are big fans) breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that this is a pretty true translation. Wright talked about comic author Bryan Lee O'Malley's involvement. “He’s been involved in the process a lot, down to even designing… you know the things where we painstakingly went through and all the T-shirts he drew in the comics, we made them, and we got him to do ones or say when Todd Ingram (Brandon Routh) is wearing a PUNISHER T-Shirt, we got Bryan Lee O’Malley with Marvel’s permission to do the Punisher designer, so it’s the Punisher shirt but it’s Brian Lee O’Malley’s version of that skull, so it should be a really good collector’s item. Which most of the collector’s items in this film are licensed to other people.” He also talked about how O'Malley took a bit from the film. “There’s a couple ideas in Book 4 and 5 that are from our script, only two lines but they’re ones that we’d written and then he said, 'Oh, can I have that?' “
Writer Michael Bacall talked about taking 5 graphic novels and smushing them into a two hour film. “As we went Bryan was writing the other volumes, so we had an idea right away. He had written up sketches and character profiles for all of the evil ex's up through the seventh so we had that to work with, and we had a basic outline of where he wanted the whole story to go. As we worked on consecutive drafts, every time we got to the point where we might get stuck or we maybe had to turn something in, he would send us the script for the next draft or the gallery for the books about to come out and that was very helpful. So every time we were about to hit a wall, he would kind of send us something and we would try and integrate everything that we could. Really we did have to find a way to create a kind of filmic structure because it's a surreal comic so I think we've found a good way to do that to kind of compress the events of the book.”
One of the characters that has almost a cult following is Kim Pine, Scott's former girlfriend and the drummer of Sex Bob-omb. Alison Pill, who plays her laughed when we mentioned her...um, anger management issues, saying, “She’s angry a lot and doesn’t like people? I think a lot of people can relate to that. Especially within the Indie music scene we all hated high school and so we sort of have giant chips on our shoulders and I think a lot of people who find SCOTT PILGRIM will find that definitely relatable, you know?"
Pill actually learned to drum for the role. “Well, first of all I got to…I learned when I was in New York I sort of did some prepping with just learning basic stuff like beating my couch next to my drum teacher, who’s this incredible guy named Charlie Green. And then we came here for three weeks of band rehearsal with [music consultant/member of the band "Sloan"] Chris Murphy. And I grew up in Toronto during Sloan’s heyday, so like I was like 'Oh my god!' And so that was pretty cool. And today I’m not working really so I just brought my sticks and I have a drum bunker set up in this concrete studio space and Brian, who’s Beck’s keyboardist, we’re just going to get to jam for awhile because I’m kind of getting tired of playing the same songs. I didn’t really learn how to drum anything beyond the songs I play in the movie, because nobody was really interested in teaching me like how to really play. Just make sure you know the songs and that you don’t look like an ass. Good, yeah. We’ll cover that first. But now I actually love it and I want to get better at it.”
We asked Ellen Wong, who plays Scott's kinda girlfriend Knives Chau about which side of her character she prefers...the sweet, docile girl she starts out as or the obsessive, yet kick ass chick she becomes. She said, “I don’t know. I think that’s what was really exciting about playing Knives, too, from the beginning was that you get to kind of do both of that, the really… she’s almost like two different people, but that’s what’s cool about it, because I get to show her growth and that’s the thing that’s really cool about Knives, you get to really see her grow up from being meek and innocent and naďve at the beginning to this powerful girl who is going for what she really believes in and what she really wants. She fights for it!”
When we told her that certain fans find her character annoying, she said, “Nooooooooooo!!!! No!!! She’s not! I’m sure we all can remember back in the day when you’re 17, naďve, you’re sort of just this unblemished teenager. You’re sort of sheltered and haven’t really seen the real world and then when you do see it, you’re just like… 'This is the world? This is reality?' And then Scott breaks up with her and she’s forced to go back to her old life? No, she can’t go back now! No, not after she’s seen what exists out there, so she kind of fights for that and she wants to keep going, she’s just passionate, she’s determined, not annoying!”
It's quite a cast and Pill gave us her take on it. “It’s just so amazing. One of the great things about this cast is that we’ve been able to take actors of relatively the same age group that would never usually meet. You know, like bridging the comedy/drama world that for some reason casting directors never really want to bridge or you get into one community and that’s kind of it. And so getting to meet Aubrey Plaza (Julie Powers) and Mae Whitman (Roxy Richter) and getting to know two awesome girls who are just kick-ass. It’s been nice that way where we probably wouldn’t have worked together on any other crazy project. And just like you know Chris Evans (Lucas Lee) teaching us all the high-five because he’s dealing with like non-jocks (laughter) and we’re like yeah! Missed one! (laughter) You looked at the elbow okay. I swear. It works every time. It’s amazing. You will always get a full high-five. And again, we would never be in the same movie.”
Play "Guess the Webmaster"
Johnny Simmons who plays Sex Bob-omb's biggest fan, Young Neil told us that O'Malley gave the actors back story that wasn't in the book. “I got like a list of things at the beginning. There were ten things that Bryan made for each one of us, and he drew us our own personal picture of our character that was in color. And uh, I just have a copy of it, I think that they’re going to do something special with the originals at the end, like presenting them to us. Um, but uh, I can’t remember what they were. But there was like, there were some funny things at the beginning that he gave us. Of course I can’t remember one of us now. Yeah, he gave us a little bit, he told us a little bit.”
Simmons had a rather strange casting story. He was contacted via Facebook. No kidding! He said that someone saying they were Edgar Wright contacted him about a year after he read the script. He told us, “I was like yeah, whatever. And we had been waiting for feedback, you know, nothing had come of this. And for a while it was on hold or something. And I was focused on THE GREATEST and JENNIFER'S BODY, and then I kept asking about this film in particular. And uh, he friend requested me and I was like yeah, it’s Edgar, but it’s probably not. And we started, uh, messaging back and forth through the inbox and he sent me, like a month had gone by when we were just talking, and he said, I said well, you’re in LA, if you want to meet up for coffee or whatever. And he was also friends with Jason Reitman, who doesn’t have his real name set up, so I figured it could have been the real Edgar. He said yeah, let’s meet up for coffee. I’d also like to offer you the role of Young Neil.” Well, damn. Maybe I should start friending more people!
I, like the rest of the net, are waiting with baited breath for this one. Go ahead. Watch the trailer again. You know you want to. By the way, on Twitter today, Edgar Wright promised a brand new trailer if they get 100,000 fans on Facebook. So go do your part, JoBlo readers! Here is the link: www.facebook.com/scottpilgrim
SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD opens August 14th, 2010.