Interview - “Get Him To the Greek” Director on Russell Brand and Diddy

Alex Moore :: Friday, June 4th, 2010 10:00 am

Writer and director Nicholas Stoller knew he wanted to make a movie about hanging out with rock stars. “Rock stars just take things to a whole different level than comedy nerds,” he says.

The director of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him To The Greek talked with us about his new movie, Russell Brand, and Diddy as you’ve never seen him before. [Photo by Julia Galdo]

What was it like for you as a director working with Russell Brand— to bring someone back into this nefarious behavior who’s been sober for seven years?
I think there were scenes in this movie that were challenging for Russell because he did have to dig back into this stuff—not factually, but emotionally. And I asked him lots of questions about addiction—I’ve never been addicted to anything, and I asked him a lot of questions about what was accurate and what wasn’t. But he’s not a guy who is afraid of that challenge—he’s just published a book about these experiences and he’s very open and willing to access all of this stuff.

I have this theory that the age of the rock star is over—that Coldplay were the last big rock stars. Do you feel the same way? Did you want to celebrate the end of an era?
No, I think there will always be rock stars. I mean, from the time of the ancient Greeks we’ve always had this need to band around outrageous performers, and there is just such an appeal to rock stars. I have had the chance to hang out with movie stars and actors in my profession, and it’s just not the same thing. Rock stars just take things to a whole different level than comedy nerds.

I couldn’t believe how funny Sean Combs is. How did you know he could be funny?
What, you couldn’t tell from Monsters’ Ball? [Laughs]. No, I don’t know. Sometimes you just have this sense for people. I always thought he had this great energy and I just thought I could sense something behind his eyes—I just knew he could be funny. So wrote the part with him in mind and he came in to audition for it and he was just great—he brought this weird, funny energy and he was just hilarious. Which is great, because when you write something for someone and then they come in to audition and they aren’t good, it’s just so disappointing. He was great at improv. He actually improved that whole bit about “mind-fucking.”

Really? But that’s written in all through the movie.
Yeah we do a lot of improv, and once he improved the “mind-fucking” part, I went back and wrote it into the script. It was amazing. He had this whole thing about how he had once mind-fucked Prince. And it was sad—he improv’ed this before Michael Jackson died so we couldn’t use it, but he had this thing about how he was once a backup dancer on a Michael Jackson tour and about how he had mind-fucked him and he’d never been the same. He was like, “I mind-fucked Michael and he went right out and bought Neverland Ranch.”