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INT: Eurotrip director/writers


This week, the producers of ROAD TRIP bring us a new teen raunch-fest, EUROTRIP, chronicling the hijinks of four recent high-school grads as they traipse around the Old World, in search of new and interesting ways to offend the natives. Oh, and they're looking to get laid, too. Along the way, they encounter a seemingly endless array of sleazy Eurotrash, bizarre performance artists and other shady characters.

Such infantile humor could only come from Harvard grads: Jeff Schaffer (Director/Writer), Alec Berg (Producer/Writer) and David Mandel (Producer/Writer). I sat down with the trio at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood to talk about the film. Cracking jokes and finishing each others' sentences, they reminded me of the kids who sat in the back of class, playing Dungeons & Dragons and drawing lewd pictures of the teacher. Here's what they had to say about the film.

(l. to r. David Mandel, Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer)

What kind of research did you do for the British soccer hooligan scene?

Schaffer: It's sort of embarrassing, because it feels like cheating, but we went online and got an English slang dictionary. A lot of the dialogue that we wrote initially was pulled out of this English slang dictionary. We were joking at the time that this is going to be the first movie that was R-rated in the United States and NC-17 in Britain.

Mandel: Of course, when Vinnie (Jones) showed up and we talked to him about it, he goes, "What is some of this? This is like archaic 17th century British slang."

Berg: Irish 1850s schoolboy slang.

Mandel: And so when Vinnie tells you, "I wouldn't say it like this," and you go, "Well, how would you say it?"

Schaffer: "I'd say, let's give that Nancy a fucking good kicking." 

Mandel: That sounds better. Good, Vinnie!

Schaffer: That's better than what we had.

Mandel: We also - what's the name of that book?

Among The Thugs.

Schaffer: Yeah. By Bill Buford. It was a book that left a very lasting impression on all of us. So we were sitting there and talking, "Look.  They're going to England. We're not going to do anything with the Queen and all that stuff you've seen a million times." They go to England, what do they want to do? They're kids. They want to get drunk. You know, no drinking age. So they go to a pub. They go to an English soccer pub, a football hooligan pub. And in our wildest dreams, we we're sitting there going, "Maybe we could get Vinnie Jones."

Berg: We wanted a Vinnie Jones type. 

Schaffer: He read the script and all of the sudden, "Vinnie's excited to do it. Would you guys meet with Vinnie?" It's like, "Yeah we'll meet with Vinnie!" And all of the sudden, Vinnie Jones, who is our dream cast, is coming to Prague, and he's saying, "Look, how do you want my hair? I can give you the one or the two with the clippers. Right now it's a two." And we're like, "Two's good." And he was like, "No, I'm gonna take it down to one." 

Berg: One's good.

Mandel: Do whatever you want, Vinnie, just don't hurt us.

Berg: Please don't kill us.

Mandel: We actually downloaded off the internet the famous picture of Vinnie playing in a game where the ref is looking the other way, and he's got the balls of his defender, he's squeezing, and the guy is like this. (Wincing in pain). We showed it to all of the actors. We showed it to Scott and Jacob, saying, "Make sure you know your lines."

Schaffer: They were not acting when they were doing the (English Pub) scene. Because Vinnie was like, "Yeah, I'll intimidate them a little bit."

What about the opening of the beer bottles with his eyes?

Mandel: Vinnie can do that.

Schaffer: The thing with Vinnie is like, he's so funny. You think he's gonna be intimidating, and he sort of is. But he's really like a big Teddy Bear.

Berg: And now, because you've said that, he's gonna rip out your larynx.

Schaffer: One day we were shooting outside the town of Pilsner, which is out in the middle of nowhere. It's where Pilsner beer comes from. And we were shooting the hooligan bus. It was alternately hailing and rainy and sunny, and sometimes all at the same time. We were looking at a monitor and he had an umbrella. All the sudden he goes, "Ahhhh!" And he goes, "I got struck by lightning." And I go, "No you didn't." He goes, "That's it, Jeff. Fuck you, I'm getting out of here." And I go, "This is awesome. I saw Vinnie Jones scared." I'm gonna tell my kids.

Berg: Unless he kills you.

Was this written prior to 9-11?

Mandel: No. Why?

Obviously, attitudes toward Americans have changed a little since them.

Schaffer: The attitude hasn't changed that much. They've hated us forever.

Mandel: And they still do. We actually sold the movie under the title, "Ugly Americans." Hopefully, it will be called that in Europe. Honestly, people go, "Well, you make Europeans look so bad." We also make the Americans look bad. They are your stereotypical American kids.

Berg: This guy has been writing to a woman for two years and he doesn't realize it's a woman? He's an idiot!

Mandel: They go over, they butcher the language, they think they own the place. That's what American kids do when they go over there.

Berg: They're sort of living the American credo, which is, "Europe is the weirdest country on Earth." That's what Americans think, and that's what these kids are.

Will there be an unrated version for the DVD?

All: Yes. 

Berg: And it will blow your mind.

Mandel: We're gonna put the "rate" in unrated.

Berg: I thought we were putting the "un" in unrated.

Mandel: No, we already did that.

Berg: What about the "ed".

Schaffer: You see the trailer, you see the TV spots. You can't show what's really in the movie, which is a hard R. Then, the unrated DVD has a lot more stuff which was cut out because we were streamlining the movie. There was a lot of funny stuff we just didn't have space for. There's some really shocking stuff, some really funny stuff, and just some great whole deleted scenes that we give you little hints of in the closing credits.

Berg: It's a weird thing. Each of the scenes is funny in and of itself, but when you put them in the context of the movie...

Mandel: It just slowed it down.

When you start a movie like this, do you already know that you have the opportunity to do an unrated cut?

Schaffer: We didn't really think about it like that. Before you start, you say, "Ok, there's 18 funny scenes here." It's just sort of a comedy buffet. We're gonna do the best we can with all of them.  Some don't work out the way you want it. Some work out much better than you ever imagined. And then you put it in front of the audience and you sort of go, "Do you see what people are always kicking at?"

Mandel: We didn't shoot anything for the DVD. We shot stuff for the movie. Like one scene, we shot the nude beach with these 50 naked guys. So you can imagine, take after take after take, there is a lot of footage of the 50 naked guys. We put into the movie what we thought felt right and what the audience was seeming to respond to. But for the unrated cut, we kind of said, "Why don't we push it a little more."

How did you get Matt Damon to be in the film?

Schaffer: One of the things about being in Prague is that there are so many movies shooting there.  When we realized we were going to be in Prague, we sort of looked and said, "What other big movies are shooting there?"

Berg: What real movies are shooting there?

Mandel: Matt Damon was in Prague doing THE BROTHERS GRIMM. We went to school with him. We convinced him, very nicely, to do a day.

Schaffer: I think the fun thing is, if people are doing a day, like Matt or Jeffrey Tambor, or they're doing a few days, like Lucy Lawless, it's just fun.  It's like, "Look, it's a fun movie. Come in and just have a great time.  Let your hair down."

Berg: It's not ten weeks.

Mandel: People will have a lot more fun in three days and do something they've never done.

And Matt's never done anything like that before.

Mandel: But you know what? I know this is going to sound stupid, but we've seen Matt like that. You know, before he was Matt. 

Schaffer: He's a funny guy.

How'd you get the rights to the David Hasselhoff song?

Berg: We have to give credit to our music supervisors, the Houlihan brothers.

Schaffer: They put this song in the fantasy makeout scene, and I'm like, "This song is hilarious. Is this Hasselhoff?" It's this little German song. And they're like, "It's Hasselhoff." And we're like, "My God, it's even funnier now."

Mandel: We think people are going to go up to him and go, "Man, you're so funny in that movie."  We don't think he knows.  Some lawyer in Germany signed off on it. 

Berg: We have never spoken directly to him. We talked to people who talked to people who talked to people who may or may not have talked to him. So, we have no idea.





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