Interview : The Cast of Accepted


Clint talks to Justin Long, Jonah Hill, Lewis Black and Blake Lively

In “Accepted”, Justin Long plays a bewildered young highschool grad, rejected from every college he applied to, that decides to dream one up – if only because it’ll please his parents to know he got in somewhere. CLINT MORRIS talks to Long and co-stars Jonah Hill, Lewis Black and Blake Lively about the hot new comedy, and finds out whether they’ve ever been ‘rejected’?

First question Justin, where’d you get ‘those peepers’?
Justin: Ah! From those blind… no, from my Dad [actually].

How was it working with Jonah, again?
Justin: Jonah is the comedic relief – and he is maybe, the best improviser I know. He came up with most of his own lines.
Jonah: [Yep] he had to step up his game.
Justin: But I had some great exposition.

Every generation seems to have this type of movie – there was ‘Animal House’ and ‘Porky’s’, and then the ‘American Pie’ films – but this seems to be almost tame, in a sense? It didn’t get vulgar, and there wasn’t nudity as such….
Justin: I think it was always the intention to make a PG-13 movie. They were modelling it more after the comedies from the 80s – like the John Cusack comedies, or the Michael J.Fox movies.

Speaking of these teen movies, did you grow up channelling Matthew Broderick or, say, Michael J.Fox?
Justin: Michael J.Fox was like my hero growing up. I watched so much of him that I ended up doing a lot of his mannerisms [breaks into a fantastic impersonation of MJF].
Jonah: I channelled Stockard Channing. No [Laughs] but, I think it’s easier for a movie to go very vulgar just for the sake of doing crazy things – showing lots of boobs and stuff – and I think what the filmmakers have accomplished [with Accepted] is doing a film that is still funny and cool, without being that.

Lewis, did you have a script at all – or did they just let you do your thing?
Lewis: They let me do a certain amount, within reason. A lot of the stuff I have isn’t very PG-13, you see. I kept pulling my penis out and they were like ‘No!!’
Justin: Yeah, they were like ‘we’re not even filming!’
Lewis: But yeah, they gave me the guidelines, and I would improvise it. Then they’d tell me what to keep, and then I’d do it again. But what was interesting was that they were always doing my shots at like 1 in the morning – and we’d already have been there for thirteen or fourteen hours.
Justin: Yeah, I think your greatest lines came out of sheer frustration
Jonah: You were super-pissed at a certain point…. You were very serious there….

Can you guys talk about rejection, because the whole premise of the film is about people who don’t fit in?
Justin: Blake can answer this question [Laughs]

OK, let’s start with you, because you’re a beautiful young woman…. Can you talk about rejection? Have you been rejected?
Blake: I always get myself into things where I have no idea what I’m doing – for instance, I was in Show Choir and I can’t sing or dance to save my life. I was in there with some amazing singers and dancers and I guess…. Well, on my own level…. I thought I didn’t belong. Even with acting, I still feel I have no idea what I’m doing – my first job was on Sisterhood [of the Travelling Pants], which happened after two months of auditioning and came pretty easily, but I still felt I had no idea what I was doing, and don’t deserve to be here.

Did any of you apply to college?
Lewis: I applied to seven schools, and was rejected by six. I got into Georgetown, but when I realised how close to home it was – twenty minutes – I decided that it wasn’t going to happen. No way. At that point, I decided I would find somewhere else to go. My guidance counsellor totally made shit up, she was like ‘Oh you’ll get into Brown… you’ll have no trouble… that’s like a safety school’. But, of course, I got completely wiped off the map. So yeah, I’ve felt rejected – anybody that doesn’t go through junior high and doesn’t feel rejected, is a prick.
Justin: Same with me. The ones I wanted to go to, I didn’t get into. I was in a weird place at the time though. I didn’t think acting was a viable career choice at the time – my mum was an actress, and my dad was a philosophy teacher, and you couldn’t make a lot of money doing either one – and I was encouraged to do something that was a bit more practical, as most parents do, so I felt the pressure to do something a little more, well, business. So I did that. At the end of the day, I ended up dropping out of school because I felt there was nothing I was good at, or able to do.

You and Jonah are friends in real life. How is it working together?
Jonah: We knew each other before the film, but we became good friends while making the movie. We were roommates. We’ve made two movies since then, and there’s nothing cooler than being able to work with someone that’s like, your friend. It’s fun. It’s just like hanging out.
Justin: It’s easier. We were able to ad-lib. I had read with a lot of kids, who were up for the role of the best friend, and a lot of good actors…
Jonah: Jake Gyllenhall…
Justin: Gene Hackman…
Jonah: Martin Sheen…
Justin: [Laughs] but none were quite as good as Jonah.

Was this project developed with you in mind?
Justin: I’d heard about the project, about a year before it started shooting, but I’m sure they had gone out to like a bunch of other young actors – Topher, and all those guys – before they got down to me on the list. But yes, I was the first to be cast. I auditioned with so many people that were up for my best friend and the girl, and it made me fear auditioning even more than I did, because as soon as these people were out the door they were like ‘we’ll that guy’s not getting the job’. I felt so sorry for all those actors.

Did you recommend Jonah for the role?
Justin: Yeah. And I think he’d already read before, but…
Jonah: They had said no, like a bunch of times.
Justin: They were adamant that he wasn’t the guy. One guy actually said that he’s too ‘John Belushi in Animal House’ – and I was like, ‘well, shouldn’t that be something we aspire to?’ As it turned out, that guy hadn’t even seen Animal House.

What do you think of the speech you give at the end of the film, where you suggest that these ‘life classes’ make more sense, and people can relate to them more, than the classes we’re supposed to take at college?
Lewis: I think there’s a certain amount of validity about what’s being said. The comparison I give is that, when I was 15, back in my day, we were like the equivalent of today’s 11 year old. And the 15 year olds now, are like 27. A lot of the things that are going on in the classroom, then and now, just aren’t relevant.
Justin: Because of what you just said though, I think there is a shift in college curriculums. It use to be very loose and liberal, and you could kind of create your own thing…. The thing with college is that it’s supposed to be the time when you’re supposed to decide what to do with the rest of your life, and for a lot of people, it just hasn’t hit them and they’re just sort of drifting through, and merely adjusting to being out of the house…it’s a very strange time. Even though it is only four years of life, there is this demand that you sort of pick what you’re going to do for the rest of your life, and it’s easy to freak out about that.

Do you think young people are too ill prepared for college these days?
Jonah: I think I, personally, was over prepared for college. I went to a good high school, where I was challenged a lot, and by the time I got to college it was like…less of a challenge. Academically speaking.
Justin: My dad is a college professor, and he said the same thing. He teaches at a school where the kids can’t even string a sentence, and don’t know grammar, and I think there’s something to be said for that. College is such a requisite now – you know, after high school you go to college, whether you want to or are even prepared – but it seems to be more about merely ‘going to college’, rather than what you’ll learn there.
Jonah: I think what’s important is what you learn once you get to college, not necessarily going to college, and I think that’s something important that the movie says. It’s cool to go to college – if you get to study something of interest to you, and that if it develops you academically, and, as a person, instead of doing remedial mundane classes.

Justin, how was the experience of being the lead in this movie?
Justin: It was daunting, very daunting. I was talking to some of my friends, who are actors and have been leads before in movies, and asked for some advice and they….
Jonah: Mark Paul Gosselaar…
Justin: And Mario Lopez [Laughs]…. And, ah, I said, very actorly, ‘how should I approach the character? Should I watch Matthew Broderick movies? How should I prepare?’ and they just said, ‘Honestly, get a lot of sleep’. I thought they were being condescending, but they were right, it’s like running a marathon – granted, I neglected their advice, and a week into it, I got severely sick. That’s what hit me right away – how physically demanding it was.
Jonah: I remember one day, I went into Justin’s trailer, and he was like ‘Dude, I need to be alone’. I was like ‘fuck him’. Stupid movie star shit. Turns out he had diarrhoea.
Justin: True story. And that, by the way, will be the only sound byte that will be used in this entire interview.

Blake, in the film you play a girl whose a little bit oblivious to the fact that Justin’s character is interested in you. Do you, yourself, know when a guy is interested in you?
Blake: Oh my lord. My boyfriend is a guy I had a crush on from like second grade- so I know what it’s like to be on the other end of it. I was such a psycho around him.
Justin: Tom Sizemore.
Blake: [Laughs] So I know what it’s like to be on that end of it, so…

When did your boyfriend finally awaken and realise who you were?
Blake: I don’t know…
Justin: A couple of days after she hit puberty [Laughs]

And ever since there’s been ‘travelling pants’?
Justin : Ha Ha!
Blake : What?! [Laughs]