Set Visit: Pinneapple Express
It was a Saturday night and I had one place to go. I made my way to the lovely city of Downey, California. It was a rare night indeed when the I-5 Golden State Freeway isnt a parking lot because at 8:00pm on a Saturday night, people are already at their destinations. But not I, I was on my way to Downey Studios to catch a glimpse and hang out on the set of the new Seth Rogen film, THE PINEAPPLE EXPRESS.
I didnt know much about the film going in, but I did know that Seth, fellow Freak and Geek James Franco, the one and only Mandy Lane, Amber Heard and comic favorites, Nora Dunn and Ed Begley Jr. would be on hand. And I also knew there to be action and marijuana involved. I dont know about you, but that sounds like a fun time. So when I arrived on set, I found myself in the middle of a dark lot, at a street made to look like your average upper middle class neighborhood. It still amazes me when an entire block of houses and cars can be created away from bustling on-lookers and people complaining about traffic. It really was a simple set but it truly is a sight to see. And that is movie magic folks. Its the simple things that sometimes amaze me the most.
Seth Rogen and James Franco
As I walked towards the practical set they were using, a nice two story house with a very typical patterned wallpaper, it kind of reminded me of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Keep in mind, Im a horror geek so most things remind me of a horror movie. And in one room of the house, several crew members, along with the director, the amazingly talented David Gordon Green, were sitting in front of a couple of monitors. He sat along with a few others, including Seth Rogen himself, and a long haired dude wearing a shark eating a kitten shirt. I didnt realize that the long haired dude happened to be James Franco until they went for another take.
In the scene, Seth and drug dealer James are on the run from a dirty cop (Rosie Perez) and another drug dealer, played by the great Gary Cole. Sadly, neither was on the set that day. And when Seths character has to warn his girlfriend and her family that some bad people are on the way, daddy Ed brings down a shotgun and Amber stabs poor Franco in the back with a fork. Its all a whole lot of fun and it was interesting, because I realized as they were about to shoot the scene, they called out to make sure everyone had ear plugs I didnt. Luckily, one of the production assistants came by and saved my ears. Its amazing how loud squibs can be.
We watched the same scene a few times over and I can honestly say, I didnt lose interest at all. Its cool to see Harry Osborn/Green Goblin back doing comedy as he did with Seth and Judd Apatow in his Freaks and Geeks days. The set seemed very relaxed even though it was the last shooting day. I thought there would be more anticipation or more nervous energy. But it was even keeled and everyone seemed to be in good spirits.
And when we got to chat with David Gordon Green, Seth Rogen and James Franco, they were all very kind and happy to speak to us. Although both David and Seth had it easier than James, we hung out with them in their trailers. But poor Franco didnt get a chance until around one in the morning, after being repeatedly stabbed with a fork. You could see the exhaustion in his eyes, especially after coming off of a major press tour for SPIDER-MAN 3. Yet he was warm and very kind. Frankly, he wasnt what I expected. I thought he would be much more serious and maybe a little pretentious, but that wasnt the case at all. They were all terrific.
After that, before we left, a couple of us stayed to talk with the lovely Amber Heard. If the name doesnt ring a bell, it soon will. She had been getting a lot of attention as of late for her performance in what may soon become a cult classic; the indie horror feature ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE. And after meeting her I can see why. She spoke fondly of the role and mentioned her upcoming series, the Kevin Williamson penned, Hidden Palms. When speaking of both Express and Mandy Lane she said, It was very difficult. Its very different when youre playing it [terrified] in a comedy and in a horror film. Although as Mandy, she wasnt terrified at all (We have to wait to see the movie to find out why); but here she is frightened enough to stab someone with a fork. And from what I saw, she gives a very funny and grounded performance.
So in a few months after the release of KNOCKED UP and SUPERBAD has made Seth Rogen officially a star. And David Gordon Greens dark, character driven SNOW ANGELS is released, possibly around the same time as his druggie action flick. Well see how an audience responds to this kind of flick. But theres a lot of talent going into THE PINEAPPLE EXPRESS and I didnt even mention the great James Remar. So it will be nice to see a good old-fashioned R-Rated action comedy without the dreaded and watered down PG-13. And of course, what looks to be a pretty awesome DVD. Look for it coming to a theatre near you.
Interviews with David Gordon Green, Seth Rogen and James Franco later this week...
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