Posted: 10/03/2008

 

Seth Green Goes on a ‘Sex Drive’

by Paul Fischer



Exclusive Interview


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Seth Green may well be the hardest-working funnyman in Hollywood. A performer and writer, Green continues to tickle the proverbial funny bone in Sex Drive, which revolves around eighteen-year-old Ian, who finally gets the opportunity to lose his virginity when a woman he meets online offers to have sex with him if he drives to Knoxville to meet her. Accompanied by friends Lance and Felicia, whom Ian has a thing for, but she in turn has a thing for Lance, take off on a road trip in Ian’s brother, Rex’s beloved 1969 GTO—without permission, of course. Green plays an Amish farmer—typecasting, naturally. Green spoke to Paul Fischer.

Paul Fischer: What have you been doing that’s so busy because it seems you’re always working?

Seth Green: Well—oh, man. How do I even detail it for you without making your head spin and taking up your entire interview? I make this show called Robot Chicken. So we just on Friday wrapped up 23 weeks of writing. Twenty-three weeks of writing. And then I made this movie, and I made this other movie. I’ve been doing guest spots all year.

PF: Why do you work so hard?

SG: I’m very driven. [laughs] I—no, no, I just get opportunities to work on stuff that I think is cool, or valuable to do, and I really—I’m very discerning, but I’m also fortunate and get huge opportunities often.

PF: You’ve been in the business since you were, like—

SG: Seven years old. Yeah. Working professionally. [laughs]

PF: So, what’s the secret of longevity?

SG: The secret? I think you just don’t stop working. You know? A lot of people—But you’ve got to choose, almost, the right projects. I do feel like my career has been defined by the things that I’ve passed on as much as the things that I’ve done. But, you know, for me, I never really accept a “no.” And I also—I pay very close attention to how the business works, and what has happened, and who succeeds, and what I personally need to do to continue to work.

PF: Which is what, exactly?

SG: You know, it’s a lot of self-generation, at this point. I find more that my own activities is valued over my agent’s activity.

PF: Creating your own vehicles?

SG: Creating your own things. The relationships that you make. Your own interest in furthering your career. I’m incredibly active in developing material for myself, and then finding ways to make it.

PF: What about this one?

SG: This was just one of those—every once in a while, luxurious opportunities present themselves. As an actor, to come and just work on a movie. This was—you know, about two weeks worth of work for me, with actors that I was really fond of, and a writer-director that I just thought was great. Just great, great, great. Right off the bat, I wanted to be a part of this movie.

PF: So the sarcasm in the character, was it in the script, or did you help?

SG: We did a bunch of improv on set. You’d have to ask Sean what they picked that was in the script. I don’t even remember, at this point.

PF: Do you like that part? Enjoy doing that part, the improving?

SG: I love improv, man. I love improv. Especially when you’re working with people that improv in character. Like, if you all are very clear on what it is that you’re playing, and the relationships between yourselves, and then you improvise in a scene, you’ll get something that is [snaps]—you know, magic. It’s something that you couldn’t have written, that you couldn’t have gotten, had you tried to pre-plan it.

PF: What do you think sets apart this movie, from other sort of sex road comedies?

SG: Well, it’s crass, but without being gross. And it’s very, very sweet. And for as naughty as it is, it’s very innocent. It’s very naïve. And—don’t you feel there’s like, a youth to it? There’s like, a silly—“Oh my gosh, there’s boobies!” kind of quality to this movie?

PF: That’s what I enjoyed about it. Was that it stayed away from, like, just trying to gross you out.

SG: Yeah. It’s not—you know, it’s not pubic hair in a wedding cake. This is—did anybody see American Wedding? The worst. Gosh, they should all be—

PF: Seann William Scott eats dog shit.

SG: I actually left the movie when they came up with a ten-minute set-up to figure out how to make Seann William Scott eat dog shit. I was like, “This is”—because I saw where it was going, and it was so unrealistic. Like, nothing happened organically, and that’s what made the joke so unforgiveable. But this movie is just—it’s naughty and silly and goofy and fun. I think it’s very, very funny. I think that’s why people are reacting to it. And then the thing that Seann does so well is very authentically give you a romance in the middle of it. There’s a relationship that feels completely natural. You actually root for these kids to get together. You know? And it’s sweetly-done. You’ve got When Harry Meets Sally and Road Trip mixed into one movie that functions seamlessly, I think.

PF: Are you into cars at all?

SG: I drive. [laughs] That’s a pretty car.

PF: Yeah, that was a great car.

SG: I pulled it out of the garage and I was like, “Wow, I’d get killed in this car.” Because I drive very fast. Very fast.

PF: What else is going on with you then?

SG: Oh my gosh. What is going on with me?

PF: What about Robot Chicken? What can fans of that expect? What do you tackle this time?

SG: Well, our season—the end of the third season is gonna air. It’s actually begun airing already. And then our fourth season opener has guest appearances by Ron Moore, Joss Whedon, and Seth MacFarlane. It’s really funny! This bit—I’m so excited that they all did it. But basically, at the end of every season, you know, we get cancelled one way or the other. And at the end of this season, it’s not really a spoiler, but we basically murder everyone in the cast and crew. It’s silly. So then, you know, Matt and I are out of work looking for jobs, and we hit up Ron Moore and Joss Whedon and Seth MacFarlane for work. And MacFarlane’s like, “I hear you already have a job on my insanely popular show.” And I’m like, “You expect me to live on hundreds of thousands of dollars a year? No.” So it’s very—it’s a silly—I’m really excited about the season. Yeah. We just finished writing all 20 episodes. And I’m fucking happy with it, man! I’ve finally accepted the fact that this is not just my side project. You know, with other musicians. This is actually my job. I make—I make this show.

PF: Does the writing process excite you more than anything else, do you think?

SG: I’m best in the booth, to tell you the truth. I’m on the other side of the glass whenever we have actors in. So that’s really where I think my—where the full benefit of my skill comes in. I think I’m good at getting the sessions that we need from the actors that we bring in. But I do enjoy the writing process. Because it’s where we’re coming up with all this stuff. And—you know, and that’s the spark of it. We just have excellent writers. And so they come up with things that inspire the whole room to make it bigger and better, until we’ve got a sketch or a show.

PF: Do you make fun of Dark Knight at all?

SG: We did a couple—yeah, we did a couple this—well, because that movie’s so great, and it made such a cultural impact, that we—we pick on a couple of things in it.

PF: Do you watch—you know, there’s been this whole slate of disaster movies, and all that crap. All, like, the mocking stuff. Do you guys see them doing a bit in that, and be like, “No, we can’t go there.”

SG: Are you talking about, like, Epic Movie, and things like that? You know, to tell you the truth, that kind of parody’s been around, forever, whether it’s Airplane! or Top Secret! or Naked Gun. But what I’ve found is that there’s a little less effort put forth in a lot of these movies. Where instead of making a joke about something, they are simply recreating a moment from something popular. You know. If you look at—gosh, what was that movie? I can’t even remember what it was. But it ended, and it had an Owen Wilson lookalike in a tuxedo go, “Hey, I’m here to crash this wedding.” And that’s meant to be a joke. Or they’ve got—you know, someone dressed as Napoleon Dynamite who’s like, “I can’t believe you did that. Gosh.” And that’s in place of a joke. Whereas in—you know, if you’re doing authentic parody, if you’re—like, Hot Shots. That’s a parody movie, you know? You can’t—so, I find those movies—not all of them. Because a movie like Not Another Teen Movie is an excellent example of how to authentically parody a genre. And they went everywhere from Varsity Blues to The Breakfast Club. They were all over the place. And yet, it was very well-constructed, funny, thoughtful, subtle, and bombastic at the same time. And these other films, whether it’s Epic Movie or even the latter Scary Movies, they’re more recreating popular concepts than they are coming up with a clever commentary on it.

PF: Do you want to direct a movie yourself?

SG: I’m gonna direct The Freshmen, which is a comic book that my friend Hugh Sterbakov and I created. We have two graphic novels in the marketplace, and we conceived it as a feature. But that’ll be the movie that I direct.

PF: What is the basic status and the premise?

SG: Well, the premise is very simple. It is kids—it’s Revenge of the Nerds meets X-Men. It’s kids in their first year of college, their first days of college, leaving the nest for the first time, awkwardly discovering their own identifies, trying to cast off all the things that have been placed on them throughout their scholastic career, and define their own identity in college. And these kids are—you know, because of the overflow of the enrollment, they’re put into the science building, where they don’t even have permanent housing. And, you know, now this is a makeshift group they’re supposed to be best friends with, and they find themselves at a fraternity party where they are the butt of every joke and humiliated beyond their imagination. And then they go back to the dorm and kind of mull over the notion of being trapped in this place for the next four years. And then they are the victims of a scientific event, which gives them borderline useless superpowers. So now in addition to being these outcasts of the outcasts, they are additionally alienated, with a physical deformity.

PF: And the status of this is—

SG: We are writing the feature, and we’re gonna make it when it’s ready.

PF: In a studio, or are you gonna finance it?

SG: You know, it’ll probably need a studio for release. My estimation is to make this movie the way we want to make it, we’ll need independent financing. But the nice thing about independent financing is, you know, a small-budget film is $35 million these days. And that’s about what we’d need to make it.

PF: Would you be in it?

SG: No. No, no, no, no. This is—it’s younger than I am. But more than anything, I just—I’m gonna helm this thing, you know what I mean? My buddy and I made this up, and I feel, quite arrogantly, the best to translate it. You know.

PF: So I could find this in a comic store?

SG: You can find both of our books. Yeah. Freshmen One and Two.

PF: On-line as well?

SG: I’m sure it’s on Amazon, yeah.

PF: Is there a reason why you have a beard?

SG: I’m doing Heroes. I’m doing a bit on Heroes.

PF: As? Can you talk about what you’re doing on that?

SG: No, not really. But Breckin Meyer and I are doing it together, which is awesome, because Breck and I have known each other forever and get to work together a lot, but rarely on-camera. So all our scenes are together, and it’s great.

PF: Is it a comic sort of thing?

SG: It is a little bit, sort of. I guess so. I mean, I don’t know how funny it is.

PF: What’s your relationship together?

SG: We are old friends in the show.

PF: Is it a multi-arc?

SG: It’s a few episodes. Yeah. It’s an open-ended thing.

PF: So that’s another reason why you’ve been so busy.

SG: I work a lot, man. Yeah. Yeah. I did—what did I do that—I did an episode of [My Name Is] Earl. I did just another bit on Entourage.

PF: Talk about Entourage.

SG: Oh, yeah. I did another bit on Entourage. Apparently people took me too seriously the last time we did Entourage, and they thought that was my actual personality, instead of a parody of a celebrity personality. So we took it just a little bit further.

PF: You’re playing yourself.

SG: Yeah. I’m playing myself on it, but I play myself as an absolute cocksucker. Just an unbearable—

PF: And people thought that was you in real life?

SG: Well, that’s what’s so fun—‘cause I think I’ve got a reputation as an exceedingly nice guy.

PF: Right. Not as a cocksucker.

SG: Well, I play an unbearable bastard on Entourage. So this one, we just took it even further. The first time you see me, it’s nine in the morning, and I’m having a pool party at my mountain mansion estate. And I’m smoking the biggest joint you’ve ever seen while getting my back rubbed by a bikini girl. Just in case anyone thinks it’s happening in the real world. So Kevin Connelly and I, basically, we’re nemeses, on the show. So we just take that a little bit further.

PF: With how busy you are, how do you have time for a life outside of the business?

SG: You’re looking at it. [laughs]

PF: So you have no personal life?

SG: You know, I mean, I have degrees of personal life. My friends are all very understanding, as I am of them.

PF: They must be married—like, Breckin’s got a child, and—

SG: Breckin, yeah.

PF: Is that some way you want to go?

SG: Well, I hire Breckin all the time just so I can take him away from his wife and family. And insist that he stay with me all day. [laughs] I just—I locked him in for five weeks of writing. And then I’m putting him on our show all the time. Is that something that I look—of course, I think every human being inherently longs for a partner and a family, and I’ve yet to find it. So. In the meantime, I’ve got nieces, which is great.

PF: What are you doing immediately next then ?

SG: What’s going on? Well, we’re shooting the show right now, which we’re already waist-high. Just finished writing. We’ve recorded about ten episodes. That’s not true, we’ve recorded, like, 15. Oh my gosh, we only have five more to record. So we’ll—but it’s—I put things in place. I’ve got a creative director on the floor who’s directing all the on-set stuff, so I don’t have to do that this year, which is a huge relief. Because I did that the first three seasons, and it’s—it’s very taxing. And we shot our second Star Wars special that I directed, which was—you know, two solid weeks of coming in before seven in the morning and leaving at 8:30 at night, just putting that show together. But I love it. And I’m single right now, so it’s totally acceptable. [laughs]

PF: How long does it take to do 24 episodes?

SG: Eleven months. It’s 20 episodes. The entire production process is 11 months. We’ll write and get into pre-production. We’ll start getting our legal approvals at the same time that we’re recording, doing storyboards. And then there’s a period of, like, two months, where everything overlaps. Where we’re still writing and editing and mixing the show at the same time. Just an assembly line of episodes. It’s a brutal, brutal schedule.

PF: So when does the new season come out?

SG: Well, the third season’s gonna be on the air—it’s actually already begun. The end of the third season is on—they broke it up into two parts, just so we would have less of a gap between original episodes. The new stuff will probably be on in March. But the second Star Wars will be out in November.

PF: Could you identify with your character in Sex Drive?

SG: I did a tremendous amount of research in the Amish people. I watched Witness, and I watched Kingpin.

PF: I can see parallels between Witness and Sex Drive.

SG: I studied Randy Quaid in Kingpin. And I really just wanted this to be authentic. I met with Daniel Day-Lewis and commissioned him to cobble me a pair of shoes, and discussed with him—you know, what a sarcastic Amish person would be like.

PF: And in fact, did you get into the character the same way Daniel Day-Lewis gets into character?

SG: I did, I did. I spent—well, you know, here’s the funny thing. In all reality, the clothes that I’m wearing in this movie are authentic Mennonite clothing. I don’t know if you guys know the materials of fashion in the Mennonite community. It’s double-knit polyester bib pants with riveted front. So you—it’s a rivet, like that. You pop ‘em all down to go to the bathroom. And then the shirt is unprocessed denim. You ever put on—you ever get into a sack race? You ever been in a sack race? Potato sack? It’s that, only stiffer and itchier. Now, here’s the really funny part. None of those clothes breathe, at all. And we were filming in Florida. And it was 92 degrees, with 88% humidity.

PF: It was quite baggy. You had lots of room.

SG: I sweat off my beard a couple of times. It was really, really hot.

PF: The things one does for one’s art, though, really.

SG: Well, nah. It was fun, though!

PF: Who else do you have a burning desire to work with?

SG: You know, lots of people, really. You know who I really want to make a movie with that I’ve gotten to know, is Phil Joanou. I just got to screen Three O’Clock High and State of Grace at the New Beverly. And Phil came and did a Q&A, as well as Richard Tyson. Who, by the way, is so fucking underrated that it’s criminal. Richard Tyson takes such a bad rap cuz he’s a handsome guy, and cuz he did Two Moon Junction. But if you watch his performance in Three O’Clock High, or you watch his performance in Kindergarten Cop, that guy is so measured and so authentic. He pulls of performances that are very, very difficult. And he said he’s doing Shakespeare in Topanga. I’m gonna go check him out. But Phil Joanou’s making a movie that I’m woefully wrong for. We met about it, and we talked for two hours, and I’m like, “Man, I just want to make a movie with you so bad.” And he’s like, “Let’s work together.” I’m like, “You’re making a movie right now that y could hire me for.” And we both agreed, “Nah, you’re not right for it.” And he just—you know, you are or you aren’t. And you’ve got to know that and adhere to that, or else you wind up like Michael J. Fox in Casualties of War. Right? Great actor, great movie, not right for that part. And, you know, it worked to the detriment of him being taken seriously, of the movie being considered seriously. Do you know what I mean? You’ve got to find where you fit.

PF: At least you acknowledge it, and you recognize it.

SG: Well, it’s hard. When people tell you—when people give you a chance to do something, and then they tell you that it’s possible, you believe it. And you want to do it.

Paul Fischer is originally from Australia. Now he is an interviewer and film critic living in Hollywood.



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