It has been a while since we’ve seen a good party movie geared for the college age. Ok, there was Project X, so lets go with more of a realistic good party movie. Well, thankfully the wait is over thanks to 21 & Over.
The movie follows three best friends who have one unforgettable night and stars Miles Teller, Justin Chon and Skylar Astin. In the movie, straight-A college student Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) has always done what’s expected of him. But when his two best friends Casey (Skylar Astin) and Miller (Miles Teller) surprise him with a visit for his 21st birthday, he decides to do the unexpected for a change, even though his critical medical school interview is early the next morning. What was supposed to be one beer becomes one night of chaos, over indulgence and utter debauchery.
The movie opens on March 1, 2013, and we had the chance to sit down with Miles & Justin to chat all about the challenges of the movie, improv, and what’s next for each of them. Check it out!
How did you become a part of this movie? Did you audition or were you approached?
Justin: I auditioned. I was shooting ‘Twilight’ at the time and I sent a tape in.
Miles: They originally wanted me to go in for Casey because the way it was kind of described was Casey is leading man, good-looking and Miller is a kind of maybe, overweight pudgy comic relief part. I read the script and I was like I’m not going in for Casey, I’m going in for Miller, he’s a lot funnier. I walked in wearing a Grateful Dead shirt because Miller was a Phish fan and I just said “I’m Miller, lets do it.” Read with a couple other people for Casey and Justin walked in hungover wearing a Pink Floyd shirt and I said, “That’s Jeff Chang.”
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Did you have any butterflies or apprehensions doing a movie that was written by John & Scott knowing how big ‘The Hangover’ was?
Justin: No, not at all.
Miles: I was excited. As an actor you’re reading scripts all the time and most of the comedies you’re reading are not funny. When I read this script I thought it was the funniest script I ever read. I was really excited because you want to make a really good R-rated comedy. When I was in high school and saw ‘The Girl Next Door’ and ‘Superbad’ it’s like you want to be a part of something that connects to people at that age.
Was there a lot of ad-libbing and how much stayed?
Justin: A lot of it is scripted but you do one for them and they let us run wild after they get what they need. There is a lot of ad-libbing but I’d say there is a structure to it and most of it wasn’t ad-libbed.
Miles: How we’d do it is do one on bookish, close to the book, but then other than that, there’s this part at the beginning when I’m on the couch saying Africa, bald eagles, whatever, they left the camera on and I was walking back and forth for 20 minutes just trying to make them laugh. There’s a good amount of ad-lib in there and I think that’s a credit to John & Scott just knowing how to get comedy. It’s a controlled fire.
Do you believe in the a lot Asians experience what Jeff Chang does with his father, pushing you to be a doctor, lawyer, etc?
Justin: I think that is the expectations of a lot of Asian-American kids. Me personally, my parents were pretty hands off since I was a kid. My dad was an actor so me being an actor wasn’t that big of a deal.
What was it like filming on campus? Were there real students around?
Miles: When we did the tube socks scene, school had just gotten back in session so there was like 200 people out there taking photos and such. They loved it and were all very excited that we were on their campus.
How much of the stunt work did you do yourself?
Miles: I did all of it up until a point when I was physically unable to do any more. That golf cart scene at the bonfire when I get in and we get away and the buffalo and everything…They said, ok the golf cart is going to come stop, jump in and then it’ll drive off. I said, that doesn’t make any sense. For us to really get away the golf cart should keep moving and I’ll jump in it. I’m from Florida, I’ve been drunk on a golf cart more times than I can count. The first two times were good then the third time I get and before I can sit down, Skylar swerved to miss an extra. I flew out and he swerved back and the golf cart ran over my leg. I thought I broke my ankle and knee. Went to the emergency room, came back and finished the scene and had a boot on the rest of the shoot.
Jeff Chang is drunk for a lot of the movie. Where did you draw from to play that?
Justin: Figuring out how to play the drunk was the hardest thing because you have different levels. There’s the happy drunk, the sad drunk. I had to figure it out and find some stuff…when you look at someone you have to defocus your eyes and don’t look at them…try to focus on both ears at the same time. Always trying to find balance, leaning on stuff. The part that sucked the most was these guys are carrying me and it f****** hurts. When you’re limp and they’re carrying you, your armpits start hurting so bad.
Miles: The physical stuff that he does, as an actor, gotta give a lot of respect to Justin for that. That’s hard. Physical comedy is hard and also playing drunk and inebriated and not making a joke out of it was impressive.
Miles, how good of a kisser is Skylar?
Miles: Next question…honestly every day from the moment I was cast in this movie, I asked what are we changing that to? I was like it’s been done in a movie before, it’s not even that funny, lets do something different. I lost but we did it in two takes, two different camera angles. They wanted tongue and I said there’s no way I’m doing tongue. It’s like CPR.
Justin, Hollywood is interesting when it comes to minorities. It seems like there’s room for “one hot latina, one big black guy…” Do you find that’s the experience you’re having?
Justin: Yeah, definitely. That’s why when I read this role, I was like, I have to play this role. It’s so rare that a 3-dimensional character for a minority is offered, especially for Asians. When I saw this, I was like I have to do this. For ‘Twilight,’ that was actually meant for a Caucasian person and Catherine Hardwicke had to fight to get me on the movie. It’s tough.
How was doing the tube socks/nude scenes. Was that tough/embarrassing?
Miles: Before that I’ve never taken my clothes off in a movie. I remember being yeah man, pretty psyched. Literally on that day, you’re wearing a robe with a tube sock on and they say sound speeding rolling and you take your robe off and you’re just standing there. It was actually liberating and a very cleansing experience.
Justin: I have a tattoo on my leg so I would have to come earlier than these guys and they had to cover it up. I had to spend the morning naked with a guy airbrushing my leg for like hours at a time.
What’s the message of this film?
Justin: Friendship. Be good to your friends.
Miles: It’s just a fun movie. We’re not trying to [save the world] and hopefully it’s a nice, solid, rated R comedy that makes you laugh. I think it’s a pretty smart comedy.
Will there be a sequel?
Miles: I hate to talk about sequel, but I would love to. A lot of sequels turn out bad but I would trust John & Scott.
What’s next for you guys?
Miles: I have five films that are coming out. I just did a film at Sundance called ‘Spectacular Now’ which played really well. I have a film ‘Get a Job’ with Bryan Cranston & Anna Kendrick, just did an indie ‘Two Night Stand’ with Analeigh Tipton and I just did this movie ‘Are We Officially Dating?’ with Michael B Jordan and Zac Efron. So those are all coming out, I’m just going to chill for a minute and maybe film something in the summer.