Two high school friends get their pal Jeff Chang drunk on his 21st birthday and spend the rest of the night trying to get him home in time for a big interview the next morning in 21 & Over, the latest comedy from the writers of The Hangover.
I, along with several other critics and journalists, had the opportunity to sit down with stars Miles Teller (Rabbit Hole) and Justin Chon (Twlight) in advance of the film’s March 1, 2013 release. With mimosas, Bloody Mary’s and some other colored alcoholic beverage we dubbed Blue Shit, we vowed to do a drinking game – every time someone mentioned Twilight we’d all have to take a sip. I had a glass of Blue Shit, and the beverage lived up to its name.
The movie was filmed on the University of Washington campus in Seattle, Washington (where FilmJabber is based), and the cast and filmmakers had good things to say about the city, the UW campus and the 24-hour restaurant 13 Coins. And, of course, 21 & Over.
How did you two land your roles in 21 & Over?
Miles: [I was brought in to read for Casey.] Casey is kind of good looking and Miller is a kind of a maybe overweight, pudgy-like comic. I read the script and I was like I’m not going for Casey I’m going for Miller. I think he’s a lot funnier. And I walked in literally wearing a Breaking Dead shirt because he’s kind of a Phishhead. I said I’m Miller.
Justin walked in hungover wearing a Pink Floyd shirt and I’m like, “That’s Jeff Chang.”
How much of the movie is ad-libbed?
Justin: Well, a lot of it is scripted. You do one for them and then they let us run wild. So there was a lot of ad libbing. There is a structure to it – most of it wasn’t ad libbed.
Miles: What I would do is one on bookish – so one close to the book, then other than that… Like in the scene at the couch, where I’m “America! Bald eagles and you have to kill a bear. Have sex with a pig” and whatever they just let the camera on I would just walk back and forth trying to make him laugh. There was a fair amount of ad libbing. And I think that’s critical to Jon and Scott, knowing how to get the right comedy parts. Knowing how to control fire.
Is there anything you wanted to get in there that you couldn’t?
Miles: Well I actually wanted to get in there and show my dick. But they said you have to wear the sock.
We thank you for that.
Miles: But you haven’t even seen it. So maybe you’re not welcome for that.
What is it like filming on the University of Washington campus? Were there a lot of students around? Were they just standing there talking?
Justin: No, they didn’t give a shit about us.
Miles: In the scene where we are only in the tube socks and walking across the campus, school had just gotten back in session, so there were probably like 200 people out there taking photos and stuff. They loved it. They were all really excited and taking pictures with their cameras.
What extent of the stunt work did you guys do?
Miles: I did all of it up until a point and then I was physically unable to do it. The golf cart scene at the bonfire… when I get in and we get away and the buffalo and all that shit. They said, “OK, the golf cart is going to come, stop, you jump in and then it will drive off.” I’ve been in Florida, I’ve been drunk on a golf cart more times than I can count. And so the first two times were good. And then the third time, before I could sit down, Skylar [Astin] swerved to miss an extra, I flew out and the golf cart swerved back and ran over my leg. I thought I had broken my ankle and my knee. I went to the emergency room and then came back to finish a scene and then had a big boot on for the rest of the shoot. But it was pretty scary.
Justin: I was in the back of the golf cart and when we ran over him, I freaked out, I thought…
Miles: They thought they had ran over my head.
Justin: Yeah, we had run over this guy and he was just rolling around on the ground in a lot of pain. He gets up, and we’re like OK, he’s not dead, so I guess we just keep rolling.
Justin, you spend most of the movie drunk. Where did you draw for inspiration for being drunk all the time?
Justin: <laughs> I love to drink. Actually, figuring out how to play the drunk was the hardest thing because you have to play different levels. There is a happy drunk, a sad drunk. I had to figure it out and find some stuff. When you look at someone you have to de-focus your eyes, you try to focus on both ears at the same time. You’re always trying to find balance, always trying to lean on stuff, you’re always going to where you’re not wanting to go. I think that was the most difficult part, but the part that sucked most was that these guys are carrying me, and it fucking hurts. You’re limp and they are carrying you, your armpits start to hurt.
Miles: The physical stuff that Justin does, as an actor you give a lot of respect, because that’s hard. Physical comedy is hard, and playing drunk and not making a joke out of it, it’s impressive.
Do you think Asians are nerdy?
Justin: No, I don’t think Asians are nerdy. Look at me… I’m full of shit. That’s why I like this movie… this guy is dumb, he’s failing out of school, this Asian kid, he’s not a very good student and he likes to drink. He’s not a nerd in the movie. There’s a scene where he’s dancing on top of a cop car with a pink bra and a teddy bear glued to his dick. Sixteen Candles… that’s some racist shit.
Miles, how good of a kisser is Skylar?
Miles: Next question.
Miles: Honestly when you talk to Jon and Scott come you can ask them about that… every day I would ask them, “OK, what are we changing this scene to?” I was like, it’s been done in a movie before, it’s not even that funny. Let’s do something different. And I lost.
But we did it in one take… no, two takes, two different camera angles.
That was going to be my next question.
Miles: Honestly, they wanted tongue, and I said there is no way. We don’t need it for a shot. It was like CPR, you’ve given CPR before, have you ever kissed a guy before?
I have not.
After you filmed 21 & Over, have you stayed in touch?
Justin: Yeah, definitely. We hang out. Skylar not so much. <laughs>
So I live close to where the film was filmed in Seattle, any places you went while you were there?
Miles and Justin: 13 Coins.
Miles: We went to a Sounders game while we were there, which was cool.
Justin: Yeah, that was awesome.
Miles: 13 Coins is a restaurant where you get fine dining 24 hours a day. You get like strip steak medium rare at 4 o’clock in the morning, which we did.
Justin: They bring you out this little plate with pepperoncinis and salami and olives. It’s really delicious.
How was doing the nude scene?
Miles: I prefer that I never take my clothes off in a movie. <Justin laughs> On that day, you’re wearing a robe, you have a tube sock on and they said “Rolling” and you take your robe off and you stand there and you do your first take – it actually felt very liberating. It was a very cleansing experience.
Justin: I have a tattoo on my leg so I had to come in earlier than these guys to cover it up. I had to spend the morning, naked, with a guy airbrushing my leg. His face was really close to my balls. For like hours at a time.
Where on your leg?
Uh, near my dick.
Why’d they have to remove it?
Justin: Because this guy isn’t supposed to be crazy. I’d show you guys, but I’m not wearing any underwear. Unless you guys really want to see it.
Who actually branded you guys? The sorority headmistress?
Miles: Some guy named Jeff. It’s an awkward thing at first, but you have to get body makeup. There’s a guy sitting there who starts just powdering your ass, he’s talking to you trying to be cool about it, it takes a little time to get used to it.
And finally, what’s the message from this film?
Miles: It’s just a fun movie. I hope it’s just like a good, solid, rated-R movie that makes you laugh. I think it’s pretty well written, a pretty smart comedy.
21 & Over debuts on March 1, 2013 along with our movie review.