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INT: Jay Chandrasekhar

04.21.2006


Set Visit Intro / Jurgen Prochnow / Paul Soter & Erik Stolhanske / Steve Lemme & Kevin Heffernan / Jay Chandrasekhar

Here’s an interesting story director Jay Chandrasekhar told us before we started his BEERFEST interview: In order to get through to the aquarium section of the bio-park, you had to walk through the Oktoberfest area. On a particular day, they were filming a scene in the Oktoberfest area involving a wet t-shirt contest at the same time that a lot of families (with children) were passing through to get to the aquarium. Needless to say, the families got a little more than they were expecting from the park that day but hey, the kids gotta learn the birds and bees sooner or later, right? And if they do, why shouldn’t it be through a wet t-shirt contest?

Jay Chandrasekhar

Do you think there’s a shortage of beer drinking comedies and how you’re starting them up again?

I don’t know. I feel like the country’s gotten a little bit crazy in terms of how alcohol is only bad, and considering how much beer this country drinks and the world drinks, I think there’s a good side to drinking beer and drinking it heavily.

It’s probably been 20 years since…

Since Strange Brew, right, I mean I don’t know. I do see there’s a danger to making these kind of movies, in that when you’re drunk or you’re stoned, you think that everything’s funny, and so I think you have to have more than just “we’re drunk and stoned. Isn’t that hilarious?” We tried to build in a plot that’s not “The Godfather” but at least, there’s some story to it and some structure to it, and you know, if you don’t drink a ton of beer every weekend or every night, then you’ll still enjoy the movie.

I know Rob Reiner is trying to push forward something like anyone who smokes cigarettes in a movie is a bad guy and it kinda is anyone who smokes pot or drinks a lot in a movie is kind of a bad guy…

I hear the Rob Reiner thing is just about cigarettes. Did you hear that it’s more than that?

No, no, I see it can go that way. It’s like this, I remember BLADE 2 with the guy that smoked weed and he turned out to be evil…

Well, they want that if you smoke pot, there be some repercussions, but there really aren’t any repercussions when you smoke pot…

Except being awesome.

Except being awesome, I dunno.

Nothing bad happens in this movie to people because they’re drinking?

Both the heroes and the villains drink beer in large amounts. Bad things don’t happen to people because they drink beer in this movie.

There isn’t a differentiation where heroes drink American beer and the baddies drink European beer?

No, everybody drinks all kinds of beer.

Are you using real German brands of beer?

We are, actually. There’s a company… I can’t remember the name, it’s embarrassing. There’s a poster of there stuff right there. They’re like a big German beer company but they’re trying to break here in America…Rotterberger! Rotterberger. Yeah.

Has anyone hit the wall on drinking on the set? Is there a day where it’s like “I’ve had five gallons of this fake beer and I can’t do it anymore.”

Uh, Will Forte from Saturday Night Live, who I hate to say is the fastest chugger in the cast. I still have a few days to beat him, and you gotta beat him on film in order to really be the top chugger, but he chugged a massive glass of beer so unbelievably fast, and it was shocking, because I thought, “Oh, it should take about 9 seconds.” It took him 5 seconds. And then of course, I said, “Well, let’s see what you can do on Take 2” and he poured it down again, and I’m like, “I wouldn’t mind one more take,’ and he left, threw up, came back, downed it again! Apparently, his Freshman year in school, he was 40 pounds heavier than he is, so he’s a professional.

Is this the longest shoot for a Broken Lizard movie? Paul said that he hit the wall after 27 days, but you probably won’t be shooting longer on this than you did on Dukes, right?

Yeah, Dukes was about 55 days. He said he hit the wall on this? Really? Well, you go til it’s done. Every day has been fun, so you show up and there’s funny stuff happening, you know?

How much leeway do you have to do anything?

Yeah, the president of Warner Bros Jeff Robinoff, he’s a young guy and he’s into this kind of comedy and he trusts us, so he basically said, “Try very hard to stick to the budget, fellas, and don’t embarrass us out there.” But he thinks that if he trusts that we’ll make a good movie and…

Did you get a lot of notes on the script from the studio?

Not a great deal, but the notes we got were good. I personally think that a little bit of resistance makes for better movies. I think that if this movie made a ton of money and the executives stop telling us notes, I’d bet you’d see a bit of fall-off.

How does the budget compare to Club Dread? Is it double?

No, it’s about another… Club Dread was about 8 ¼… 8 ½ and this is about 12 ½. You know, the incentives down here in Mexico has added about a million to our budget, so I mean, you get a bunch of money back just by shooting here.

What kind of drinking games have you come up with to go along with the movie?

No, I don’t know. I’ve never played that game where you watch a movie and drink. I imagine…we were gonna try to create something like that, but we didn’t. I think you kinda have to see the movie and figure it out.

You mentioned how much beer American drinks. What aspect of beer culture that exists have you drawn specifically?

Well, we all went to Colgate in upstate New York, and it was a farirly hard drinking school. It was a really hard drinking school So there’s…I don’t know if it’s rumor or fact but way before we got there, sometime in the mid-80’s, Playboy ranked the top drinking schools and they ranked Florida State as #1 and then supposedly, there was an asterisk and Colgate was right next to it saying “Colgate would be #1 but it’s a professional drinking school.” I don’t know if it’s true, but when you go to Colgate, they tell you that.

Were you surprised that Jurgen [Prochnow] was a fan of Super Troopers?

Yeah, absolutely. Are you kidding me? He’s such a scary guy in movies. You never really see him smile, but then you meet him in person and he’s laughing after every sentence. He’s just a funny… it’s just surprising. And you know, we need that kind of guy to lend credibility to our stuff, I think. To me, it’s great to have real actors who can sort of ground the film, and he’s funny, too. He’s got all sorts of funny lines.

Is his energy like Brian Cox at all?

Yeah, he was the one who sort of said, “I’m playing the Brian Cox character” and he said that they’re up for similar parts sometimes. I think so. He’s done a lot of serious stuff, and for him, I think it’s fun to get a chance to goof off a little bit.

What about Cloris Leachman? Did she know your stuff beforehand?

She didn’t. She didn’t know us at all but I mean…

Did you send her the script?

Well, we sent it to her, but she was the only one…we wrote the part for her, and we assume that when you write a part for somebody, you don’t get them. And amazingly, we got her, because I don’t know who else would have done the frankly really bawdy wild stuff that she’s done in this movie. Some of her dialogue is like (whistles).

What does she play?

She plays the great grandmother to the two brothers.

Did the horses freak out around her?

We didn’t let her get near any horses.

We heard that she’s very fond of you.

She is fond of my lips. She thinks they’re big and thick and cushiony, and she’s right.

What do you think of the state of comedy today?

I feel pretty good about it. I think that…I always really look forward to Todd Phillips’ movies. I think the stuff that Wes Anderson is doing is great. I love what Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller and Jack Black are doing. I think they’re all like kind of top…you know, comedians that are funny but are still men. I think that some of Sandler’s stuff when he’s…I was actually a big fan of Spanglish and what he did with Paul Thomas Anderson. I think he’s great.

Did it help having WEDDING CRASHERS and 40 YEAR-OLD VIRGIN both having a hard R and doing what they did business wise?

Yeah, big time! I think that…you know, we stated fairly early on that we were only going to make R rated movies, so…

You can’t really do Beerfest as PG-13, can you?

The whole thing just falls apart. We’ve felt that way all along, but I was worried that maybe…I don’t know...there was a really clear direction that the studios were going which was PG-13, PG-13, and you weren’t sure if it was to be good for Washington or if it was for the money. It turns out it was for the money. You know, those two movies have made it so every studio’s like, “Okay, we can actually make good comedies and make money.” Look, the key is I think that you have to have some sense of taste, and you have to have some plot, and something to draw people in.

Well, it’s a different climate then when you made Super Troopers.

100%. Absolutely.

What about in terms of your guy’s deal [with Warner Bros.] to discover new comedians?

They want us to find young up and coming people, I mean, like for example, like Steve Carrell. I was talking to them about it, and they said, “Oh, we could have done that movie and we just didn’t know. We’re hoping that we have our fingers on the pulse and can bring in guys like that.” We’re psyched to make funny movies, whether we’re in them or not. We’re not competitive with anybody. We just want great movies to happen.

Is this any different from doing something like DUKES as opposed to the other Broken Lizard movies? Big Hollywood movie – do you come at this with a different take?

I think the thing about Warner Bros for me, was for the first time I realized, they really do want to make great movies. They want the movies to be…respectable is probably the wrong term…It’s going to push boundaries and be a little bawdy, but they want it to be good. It’s not just “hey we gotta hit that number” which was our experience at another place. You can talk to these people and they’re really involved in trying to make it good, and I learned that on the DUKES. They were like, “oh, okay, it’s going to cost a little more. Okay, you can have it.” If it was justified, they would say “yeah, you can have it” so in this movie, we actually ended up staying on budget, but more importantly, the movie has been good everyday. I’ve never said “oh, that sucks but we can move on.” I’ve said, “that sucks. We have to fix it.”

How about doing a sequel to DUKES?

I think we made it…it was fun. I loved it. I had a blast. I hear they’re talking about going forward with a low budget prequel.

So you’re not interested in directing it?

Not for me. Look, I had a blast. I loved the Dukes of Hazzard show and I loved the movie we made. I know some people trashed it, but I don’t really give a fuck. I loved the movie, and we had a ball, me and Johnny and Sean and Burt and Willie and Jessica. I thought she was great in what she had to do. Another one? We made it and we’re done.

Was it kind of an honor to be nominated for a Razzie? Like a pop culture sort of thing?

I thought so. We have a Stonie from High Times magazine. I was a little disappointed that we got six Razzie noms and we got shut-out. You’d figure we’d get one, you know?

Is there a lot of pressure to be the comedy person at Warners? To be called upon to bring the comedy to them?

Uh, well you just hope that what you tell them is good is good. I mean, we’re extremely…the sieve is pretty tight. Not a lot of stuff is going to get through. Just stuff …I believe in the story, I believe in the filmmakers, I believe in the producers, okay now we’ll bring it to ‘em, because I don’t want to get left hanging out there with some piece of crap.

I got to interview Shethal for the Albert Brooks movie. Is there an Indian contingent?

Well, I don’t know. I know that Sheethal and I are friends. You meet them now and then, yeah, absolutely. I know AJ Nadu from New York. He’s in one of Linklater’s movies and he’s funny, and I met the guy who was in Harold and Kumar. Yeah, we find each other.

Oh, okay, but there’s not like a guild….

No, there’s no Indian guild. The DGA actually invites Asian Americans all together. I mean, it’s a little weird…we’re here because we’re all brown. It’s never been my game.

And is this legend of Beerfest? Is that something you totally made up or is it based on anything?

It’s 100% true. (laughter)

BEERFEST goes wide on August 25th

Source: JoBlo.com

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