Set Visit: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg talk Green Hornet!
He wears a little green mask and a dapper outfit. He's got a sidekick named Kato and a car named Black Beauty. How could Seth Rogen not play the Green Hornet? I got a chance to visit the set in Los Angeles and chat with Rogen and co-writer Evan Goldberg, which was like watching great stand up. They told us a bit about how the project came about, Rogen's fancy costumes, having Oscar nominee Christoph Waltz as the bad guy and casting Jay Chou as Kato. It's not your usual superhero/sidekick relationship. (By the way, we got to talk to Chou. His English is pretty broken so we can't really bring you the interview, but he was incredibly charming, even telling us jokes. Can't wait to see what this guys does!)
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
So can you talk about the genesis of your take on the GREEN HORNET? Were you always GREEN HORNET fans? Was this something that you guys came across later on?
Evan Goldberg: Yeah, we both have always been GREEN HORNET fans. We all watched the show and read a couple of the comics and, you know, watched the old serials.
Seth Rogen: But I wouldnt say like we would sit around and be like maybe one day well make a GREEN HORNET movie. That was not how
EG: Yeah, I watched it with BATMAN in the hour stretch of television. But it was just the appeal of a giant action movie about a sidekick dynamic, really.
SR: Exactly. To us, this was more like a format to make a movie weve always wanted to make. And this is what would let a studio give us enough money basically to do it in a way we would want to do it, you know?
EG: And its a cool name and cool costumes.
SR: Its a cool name and there are several things about it that are wonderful. And several things that are somewhat not very thought through and I feel like we addressed those things well.
EG: Of a different era.
SR: Exactly. Of a different era. Thats a good way of putting it.
Like your wardrobe.
SR: Yeah, exactly. The vest, its nice.
I mean no ones wearing this around now.
EG: Oh, they will be.
SR: Oh, they will after this. (laughter)
Its what Prince is to purple.
SR: Exactly. Its a Prince vibe. It has a Prince thing to it. I mean its a costume. We make no illusions of the fact that this is a costume.
Is everybody getting Hornet cufflinks for the wrap party?
SR: No, not everyone. Britt Reid is a very good dresser though. That I can tell you. The devils in the details when it comes to that.
Is there a mask?
SR: There is a mask, yeah. Yeah, it looks very similar to the original GREEN HORNET mask. We decided to wear masks in the movie. Yeah, we go for the mask.
So now Silent Jay (Chou), we hear he doesnt say much but what he says is cool?
SR: He talks.
EG: He talks more than youre thinking probably.
SR: Yeah, but hes definitely the strong-but-silent type but that makes up for me because Im the weak-but-loud type, so I think together we complement each other very well. Yeah, the scenes seem really funny between us, you know, and its not As you can see in that little thing (they showed us a trailer) he gets a lot of the laughs. Its not just me, you know? I mean he has great timing.
EG: Yeah, like the I dont want to touch you thing.
SR: He just improvised that like he .yeah, I mean we encouraged him to improvise. He totally gets it. I mean, its not always as 100% understandable as it could be or needs to be, but that is something that is very easily fixed in post-production.
EG: And we dont .its not like in the movie hes this man who speaks flawlessly.
SR: Exactly. In the movie he doesnt speak perfect English, yeah. Were not trying to sell him as a guy who speaks perfect English.
What is it about Jay that you saw in him where you thought he could play Kato?
EG: That little rump.
SR: Yeah, exactly. No. (laughter) Hes just unbelievably cool. I mean, hes like Steve McQueen kind of. Its like everything he does he does super cool. And hes funny. Thats the other thing. Whats funny is we actually auditioned for the first time with each other over Skype and I think he was in Taiwan and we were in L.A. and it was very awkward and the timing was off and there was a delay, but it was funny. He was just funny you could tell. And we flew him here and we auditioned together and he just was super cool. He was everything Im not and it was very clear that - and it plays in the joke that we like - he should not be the sidekick. Like its cool its clear when you put the two of us together that like he is the leader. Like he is the leader. He is cooler, he is smarter, he is much more physically adept than I am and it played into the whole joke that we have for the movie, basically, that he shouldnt be the sidekick, you know?
Could you talk a little bit about your original intentions for Kato and then how those things in the different iterations of casting sort of changed and then once Jay came to the picture how now the character cemented?
EG:I mean - to be honest - it didnt ever change that much. One thing that has always been the same - because thats why we took the project initially - is we wanted a sidekick/hero dynamic.
EG:And you know the amount he spoke changed here and there.
SR: Thats true. There was a version where, you know, at one point we were like what if Katos American? Like we literally wrote a version of the script
EG: Where hes a punk rocker from Santa Monica.
SR: Yeah, like a skater from Santa Monica.
EG: We have that version.
SR: And the dynamic in the actual story is not really that different from what it ultimately is now, but that was a version that we experimented with and we explored because again, ultimately we werent sure who we would wind up with. And there was a version where Kato was older, you know? Obviously with Stephen (Chow) we talked about that earlier when Stephen was going to it, Kato was much older. So, you know, Kato could literally have been my father in that circumstance. But the dynamic, the general story, the hero/sidekick story that weve always wanted to tell has always been the same Id say from the first pitch we did for the movie to now. This scene were filming today, this was in the first pitch we had for the movie and the scene leading up to it was in the first pitch we had. Like this has existed for over 2 years this scene, you know?
Does it fall like somewhere in the middle of the movie, this fight? Its the big falling out. Its
SR: Yeah, its somewhere, yeah probably closer .yeah around the middle.
EG: Later 2nd act.
And does the fighting get stronger after that fight? Or is that pretty much the peak of your fighting skills?
EG:In the sequel hell be dynamic.
SR: No, exactly. Id say my fighting gets somewhat stronger than that. That fights not over. You should wait. (laughter)
As one of the writers, did you ever make it easier on yourself or make it harder on yourself in terms of like putting yourself in the action.
SR: No, you cant think about that.
EG:I very specifically, and Ive never said this to you, tried to write in more like running and stuff. I constantly wanted to get a scene where he had to run like for a very long time. I dont think there is one.
SR: One continuous shot.
Can you guys talk a little bit about Christoph (Waltzs) character because he wouldnt tell us anything?
SR: Well then we shouldnt either.
Well, thanks for saying that.
EG: I can tell you that he was integral in making the character. He really helped us a lot and brought a lot to the character and its a lot of him.
We all have crushes on him now.
SR: My girlfriend has a crush on him. Hes a handsome guy.
And he has a crush on you actually. He was just telling us.
SR: Hes a wonderful guy. But I will say our intention with the movie was to kind of deconstruct these movies in a lot of ways and I will say, you know, to the best of our ability we deconstructed the villain role in these movies as much as anything else, so our hope is that its a very unconventional villain.
When you say that about the deconstruction, by focusing on the hero/sidekick dynamic, thats almost exclusively not in this new wave of superhero films. Spider-man doesnt have a sidekick, and theyve really gotten away from that with Batman. So its something that is unique in the marketplace right now because we dont see that dynamic at this point.
SR: Yeah, its true. And I think they must .its so hard now to do straight I would imagine, no pun intended, but and I think that is that anyone thats seen Batman & Robin can tell you firsthand its inherently a funny dynamic. I mean, its weird. Just the term sidekick is ridiculous. And the fact that theyre a team but one guy is inherently above the other guy is ridiculous and I think the fact that were part of a ripening partnership is part of the reason we were able to explore that idea because we know inherently you cant be partners if one guy is above the other guy. And so I would imagine that thats why it hasnt been done because no one has done this tonal approach to one of these movies and I imagine itd be hard to really accurately explore their relationship without it getting somewhat funny because the most realistic version of that is funny. I mean, its just its ridiculous.
In the way you guys write, which one of you is more of a Kato and which one of you is more the Green Hornet?
SR: According the Kristoff, Im the Green Hornet and hes my sidekick.
EG: Kristoff said I was the sidekick.
SR: But its not at all like that actually. Ill tell you its completely equal. And if anything, he touched more so he probably gets the lead.
EG:And if it started to get disbalanced, our writing would suck. We counterbalance one another quite well.
SR: Yeah, theres no leader obviously.
How difficult is it to keep from falling into parody when youre writing this type of thing? Where youre trying to write a comedy, like an action comedy, but do you ever find yourself going for a joke and being like this is turning into parody?
EG:I mean if we took out all the jokes, it would still play straight. Theres no scenes that hinge on any jokes like that.
SR: Yeah, I think thats a good way of gauging.
EG:We leave them cut-able. If something seems like it might go there.
SR: Yeah, exactly. But I think you just have to you know we approach it like a real movie. We dont approach it trying to parody things. Theres definitely a lot of I think if youre very familiar with a lot of superhero movies, youll notice a lot of references and subtle homages to those movies in this movie. Theres a lot of them. If you werent looking for them you probably wouldnt notice them in a million years, but if you knew they were out there we put it in there because we think its funny. We think its interesting to reference these things. But I think as long as youre making a real movie with a real story then it just wont fall into spoof as long as youre careful the jokes arent just for joke sake, that theyre all inherent to your story and your characters and you know what youre trying to do, you know? Theres no AIRPLANE type jokes in it. I think thats what you just have to make sure of is youre not doing something to just be funny. Youre doing it because it plays into what the whole scene is and the whole movie, you know?
What about sort of the buddy-film and the action comedies that may have inspired you for this particular movie? Were there any ones that you were looking to sort of emulate? Like you know, obviously MIDNIGHT RUN, 48 HOURS films like that, that sort of era of the buddy-action comedy?
SR: HARD BOILED, yeah. RUSH HOUR. No. (laughter)
SR: Yeah, exactly. BULLETPROOF (laughter). We talked about BULLETPROOF sometimes.
EG: I liked BULLETPROOF. (laughter) Very casually.
SR: No, you shot him in eyeball. That parts funny. Thats a good question. I mean there was not a lot specifically that we talked about with this one. To us, it was always THE GREEN HORNET. That was what we were trying to emulate in a lot of ways. I mean, we watched the show as we were preparing to pitch the thing and it was like, it was all there, you didnt need to try to base it on I mean it was based on THE GREEN HORNET. relationship. It was based on the Kato/Britt relationship. The hero/sidekick relationship. I mean, I think like for PINEAPPLE EXPRESS for example, we did look more like these 80s action movies and try to play into that, but for this it was all very inherent in the source material and in pretty much every hero/sidekick relationship in every comic book every basically. So that, if anything, is what we talked about and looked at is all these hero/sidekick relationships and how they play out and do how you expect them to play out and whats so just ridiculous. So I mean, other than the first time we watched the show and the first thing is Kato doesnt have an alter-ego name. Hes just Kato. I mean, its so ridiculous. Like they didnt even give him a name? Like he doesnt have a name?
EG: Like he never calls him in the...battlefield they never .
SR: He never calls him anything. He doesnt introduce him to people. Its not like this is Kato, also known as Kato. So its just little things like that like we didnt even have to make it up. Like it was just there. The fact that when you watch a show like Britt Reid sits in the back seat and Katos in the front. Its just so disrespectful. And
EG: And Katos constantly getting him beverages.
SR: Hes always getting him coffee, you know? Hes like hell save his life one moment and hes serving him coffee in the next scene. And so it was things like that and like when you watch the show without thinking about it, it doesnt even seem that weird because its the hero/ sidekick relationship and the alter-ego has this man-servant and its not weird. Its just how it is but then when we really started to think about it like how would you actually feel in that circumstance if you were both these guys, you know? And how would that play out in the middle of this really stressful situation of trying to be a superhero like thats what really just seemed endlessly entertaining to us and the movie really was not that aspect of it was not difficult to write. I mean as soon as we started watching it, we were just like thats clear what this movie is, you know?
How much room was there to play? Because I think most of us have been on a Judd Apatow set and youll see 2 hours of shooting end up as 30 seconds of film or less.
EG:No time whatsoever.
SR: It depends actually. I mean not no time. We find it
EG:Relative to what they see.
SR: Relative to what youve seen, theres very little time. Id say relative to your average action movie theres a thousand times more improvising that goes on here than you would get on like a Michael Bay set, but its pretty rushed, you know, in general. We just generally times the enemy, I mean its really complicated what were trying to shoot and
EG:Once we get like a joke or two, theyre like we have to go. We have to dump a dump truck on top of someone.
SR: Exactly. (laughter)
EG: We dont have time for this.
SR: Yeah, exactly. But we pick our moments, honestly.
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