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Set Visit: Scott Pilgrim Interview with Mary Elizabeth Winstead

05.25.2010
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'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?

Yes.

What color is that?

Uh, some form of green. It’s green.

How’s it been over the course of the movie so far?

It’s been great—the hair, or--? Uh, it’s been fun. I’ve gotten to be several different bright colors. Um, which has been cool for me. I’m actually more used to this than I am my normal hair now, so I don’t know. I’m going to be extremely bored, when this is over, with myself.

How many different styles have there been?

Uh, there’s three different colors and kind of, yeah.

Can you talk about your character?

I’ve think we’ve all drawn everything from the book, really. I mean that’s all we have to go on. But it’s been great because I’ve got to talk with Bryan Lee O’Malley a lot and them Michael Bacall on just sort of for backstory and things you don’t 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 don’t really know that much about her, but me as an actress, I got to kind of learn it.

What’s your favorite part of shooting? What do you like the most?

I think the thing that I’ve found that I really love about this, which was kind of surprising to me, was the stunts. I feel like I’ve fallen in love with doing stunts, and I think part of it is the stunt team is so cool and they’re so much fun to be around and they make you feel so motivated to do a good job that I’ve kind of completely embraced that and that—

Can you talk about some of the stunts? Like what’s the coolest thing--?

Yeah. Well we’ve 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 it’s 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. There’s a little wire work, which is so much fun. You can fly, it’s amazing. But I’ve 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 weren’t able to do in the movie?

Oh, man, I don’t know if I—I might get in trouble if—there are a couple of things, but I don’t know. I probably, it would be wrong of me to sort of give that away I think, but yeah. There’s so much material like you said in the books, and there’s so much stuff going on in this movie as it is. It’s going to be like super fast-paced and crazy, and there’s 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)?

Yes.

What was that like?

Awesome. We had a great time fighting each other, and training together and getting to know each other. She’s 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 that’s when I get to bring out my hammer out...it was really cool.

There’s a really cool old school video game vibe to this film.

Yes.

Did you grow up on video games, and what are some of your favorites?

I definitely was around video games. I’m one of five kids and my brother was really into it and stuff. I can’t say I was much of a gamer growing up or that I am now, but I’m certainly part of that culture or it’s 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 it’s really fun. This—it’s 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 it’s kind of amazing to see it all piled into one film.

I just wondered if you’re 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 don’t think he even knew exactly what the ending was going to be, so no, I don’t. I think from what I’ve heard, it’s 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 don’t know what that ending’s going to be.

One of the things about the books is there’s a lot of character stuff, there’s a lot of day-to-day stuff...

Yeah.

Were they able to keep a lot of the stuff in or is there—

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, that’s what’s 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 it’s 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.

We’ve heard about the different crazy hairstyles here, what about outfits?

Yeah, lots of cool outfits. Ramona’s definitely got a unique style, and they really did a great job of keeping to Bryan’s artwork on that, as well, which is funny to him, because I think he didn’t 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 you’re going to wear?

Uh, I love anything that’s like, you know, real iconic Ramona outfits, like that you remember from the books. Like there’s an outfit I have that is pretty much exactly like the cover of book two, so that’s really cool, it’s like oh, I’m in the cover of book two outfit today. It’s really cool.

Tell us a little bit about Scott, as a character. Is he the kind of guy you could, you’d hang out with in real life, do you think?

Probably, yeah. I could see how he might, you know, get on a girl’s nerves occasionally. Um, but he’s a sweetheart, you know, at the core, which I think, to me is the most important thing, is someone who’s genuine and sweet and kind, and I think he is that even though he’s 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?

It’s, it’s kind of amazing, I mean, it’s sort of something, it’s almost like it’s never really spoken of, it’s 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 he’s like fighting these completely awesome, insane martial arts experts. It’s like yeah, okay, whatever, back to the good world. It’s not a big deal, and it’s kind of such a fun way to handle it, I think.

Just going by the books, at the end of book five there’s this, there’s a lot about Ramona, we see sort of a very different side of her.

Uh huh, yeah.

I’m 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. I’ve always thought Ramona was somewhat of a sad character. Like I feel like she’s been through a lot, like even with her ex-boyfriend and even all the fights, it’s kind of sad. Like she’s always the one who, they’re all fighting over her but she’s like what’s the big deal, like I don’t even get what you’re fighting for, you know? I’m not that amazing. So like I kind of feel like I’ve had to bring sort of a sense of vulnerability and sadness beneath her toughness, from, you know, everything she’s been through.

Can you talk about working with Michael? Because without Scott and Ramona’s relationship there’s nothing left to the movie.

Yeah. He’s awesome. He’s like the coolest guy ever. I feel so lucky to be able to work with him because he’s 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 he’s just a really genuine, funny, sweet guy. And I don’t think there’s many people like him in this business, so I think he’s really one of a kind.

Aside from Michael, I mean because of the structure of the film there’s people who come into the movie and leave the movie. You have this remarkable supporting cast that shows up for bits.

Yeah.

How’s that been, like with new people coming in and going out?

It’s been really great, it really makes it feel like a new film every couple of weeks. Like it’s awesome, it brings a new energy, a new vibe, a new like—it’s kind of new life into the crew, into the set and everybody. It’s been really great. Like um right now we feel like we’re doing a pyramid movie. We call it. So this month we’re doing the pyramid movie and we’re doing the Chris Evans movie before that, and Brandon Routh movie.

Has there been anyone who’s come in and you just can’t believe what you see in them?

Definitely. I think just about everyone is doing something that’s completely different from what you’ve seen them do before or a stretch in some way. Like Brandon Routh is so funny, he’s awesome. And Chris Evans is hilarious. I mean, he’s always funny but just in this character, it’s like, I mean I could barely stop laughing on a single take, it was unbelievable. So I think everybody’s 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 don’t know how they do it, they go up so fast. I mean, it goes from being wooden planks to the next day it’s this glorious, unbelievable thing. I love seeing the apartments, just because of the attention to detail. Ramona’s apartment and Knives’ bedroom and Wallace’s (Kieran Culkin) apartment. It’s just like every little thing they pay attention to. There’s 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 Knives’ 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 they’re so right on, they’re so perfect and real and it just amazes me that they go to those lengths, it’s really awesome.

Is there a lot of CG involved, a lot that’s going to be added later that you’re not going to be seeing on set?

Um, we’re definitely doing a lot of blue screen stuff, but not a ton. I mean I feel like a lot, everything that we’re doing for the most part already looks awesome. Like I feel like we’re ready to be, we’re editing it as we go along and we’re watching it and it’s already looking so amazing, that I can’t really imagine what else they’re going to do to it, but I’m sure they’re 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, it’ll 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 and—it just kind of all went downhill. But I think it’s still okay.

With the endings possibly being different between the film and the books, does that mean that there’s 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, we’ll all go look at the books and say okay, so this is the position that we’re in, and as far as that goes. But I think for me, all the things that Bryan gave me about Ramona that aren’t 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 you’re kind of like who the hell is this girl, where does she come from and what’s 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, they’ll have an idea and they’ll come to Edgar and say let’s add this line in and it’ll 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, that’s just kind of one chunk of the film and the rest of it, we’re sticking to the book.

Are you shooting multiple endings or--?

Just one for now.

You were talking about consulting with Bryan about stuff that isn’t in the book. Can you talk a bit more about that?

Um, you know, I don’t 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?

He’s been kind of in and out. He comes in for visits, but he’s usually pretty, you know, he’s a quiet presence. He doesn’t kind of come in and make himself known to everybody that he’s 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 don’t really think he knew what to think. Um, but I think he’s happy, which is good.

So who’s your favorite evil ex?

Oh.

And have they kept the females?

Oh yes, Mae. Mae (Whitman) is fantastic. She was great...they’re all so funny and such fun personalities and so fun to watch. Jason (Schwartzman) has been amazing to have on set. I’ve always been a huge fan of his, so I was kind of—we 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 I’m 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, we’ve been on this pyramid for a good month now. We’re still shooting the fight, the Gideon fight.

What does it say about Ramona that so many of her exes are evil?

I don’t 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 weren’t 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.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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4:31PM on 05/25/2010
Movie looks like so much fucking fun. I can't wait. And I'd fight a thousand men for Mary.
Movie looks like so much fucking fun. I can't wait. And I'd fight a thousand men for Mary.
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2:56PM on 05/25/2010
I don't know why people give Cera a hard time. It's not like the guys an ahole about his work like so many actors and it's not like he's really been given a big chance to break out. Heck, if he plays Scott Pilgrim as he should, this will be a big break out for him. I'm not a die hard fan, I just don't understand the hate. It seem like that should be reserved for someone like Seth Rogan whom I understand IS an ahole.

Love Mary though, she's always a lot of fun to watch and she's very easy on
I don't know why people give Cera a hard time. It's not like the guys an ahole about his work like so many actors and it's not like he's really been given a big chance to break out. Heck, if he plays Scott Pilgrim as he should, this will be a big break out for him. I'm not a die hard fan, I just don't understand the hate. It seem like that should be reserved for someone like Seth Rogan whom I understand IS an ahole.

Love Mary though, she's always a lot of fun to watch and she's very easy on the eyes. She was definately a great choice for Ramona. Can't wait to see this film! One of my top ten must see films of the year.
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10:49AM on 05/25/2010

Love Mary but....

Cera is a waste of air and he couldn't possibly be further from a "hard working actor". You can argue that and say that I don't know because I'm not on the set but his performance says it all.

He's definitely "one of a kind". An idiot with no acting talent whatsoever that has become a huge star.

I just saw "Youth In Revolt" recently and it was horrible. All he does to play his "bad" character is put on a pair of sunglasses and a fake moustache. His performance change is almost
Cera is a waste of air and he couldn't possibly be further from a "hard working actor". You can argue that and say that I don't know because I'm not on the set but his performance says it all.

He's definitely "one of a kind". An idiot with no acting talent whatsoever that has become a huge star.

I just saw "Youth In Revolt" recently and it was horrible. All he does to play his "bad" character is put on a pair of sunglasses and a fake moustache. His performance change is almost non-existent.
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10:03AM on 05/25/2010
I really hate Cera
I really hate Cera
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9:25AM on 05/25/2010
I have high hopes for this film - I've read the series and cant wait for the last book to drop. I like many was unsure about casting Michael Cera...but after watching Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and more recently, Youth In Revolt I dig Cera again. And MAry ELizabeth Winstead is just pure hotness. And glad to hear they have tried to stay as true as possible to the books - especially keeping the everyday vs fight scene vibe (the feeling that its just something he has to do then gets on
I have high hopes for this film - I've read the series and cant wait for the last book to drop. I like many was unsure about casting Michael Cera...but after watching Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and more recently, Youth In Revolt I dig Cera again. And MAry ELizabeth Winstead is just pure hotness. And glad to hear they have tried to stay as true as possible to the books - especially keeping the everyday vs fight scene vibe (the feeling that its just something he has to do then gets on with life). Can't wait.
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