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JUSTIN LONG, ACCEPTED INTERVIEW

Justin Long has been a rising comedy star since his breakout role in the science fiction satire Galaxy Quest seven years ago. With supporting roles in films like Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and The Break-Up, he has firmly ensconced himself as a go-to supporting character for nutty comedies. That's why he was nervous to take his first lead role since Jeepers Creepers in Accepted, where he plays Bartleby Gaines, a young man who was rejected by so many colleges he decides to set up a fake university.

UGO: How's it feel to star in your very own movie now?

JUSTIN LONG: I hate to start by being very cheesy but when I first saw the finished version of Accepted, I got a little emotional afterwards. I remember calling my dad, who is an absent-minded Philosophy professor but he didn't really know what I was talking about. When I was talking with him I realized that it reminded me of the '80s comedies I grew up with - John Cusack, Matthew Broderick, Michael J. Fox. Those were the movies that inspired me when I was growing up. It had that tone and I got really choked up realizing I was now part of one of these movies. I was very happy about how it turned out.

At the time it didn't feel great because shooting was daunting and really tiring and overwhelming and I didn't think it was going to be that good. The script wasn't all together and it was a first-time director so I was getting sick all the time. I'd never really had the responsibility of my own movie before. Usually I come in for a couple of days, you try to be funny and then you leave. The heavy lifting was left to somebody else. I missed just being the weird, goofy guy who comes in and does a couple bits and then leaves. We were part of the writing process so there's no safety net in this and I think that's why I feel like we were so lucky to have gotten the cast. They were looking for the guy to play my best friend and we were lucky to get Jonah Hill and Lewis Black to play the dean. It was nice to be able to pass the ball to truly funny people.

UGO: You're also in Mike Judge's Idiocracy, which takes you back to your science fiction roots.

JUSTIN: Yeah, although that part is very peripheral. I have a small part. I am a doctor who examines Luke Wilson. The story is about a future where everyone is like Beavis and Butthead. I was at the San Diego Comic Con this year and I had never been to anything like that. It was pretty wild. I kept getting this weird déjà vu and I realized it was from when we shot Galaxy Quest seven years ago. In that movie they recreated one of those conventions and most of the extras were real sci-fi fans and they were all dressed up in their own gear, and it was wild. But Comic Con was way beyond what we did in Galaxy Quest. I got paranoid that they would recognize me from that movie and get angry because I made fun of them. But I don't think of it as making fun, I think of it as an homage to those fans.

UGO: Did they ask you about Robin's Big Date?

JUSTIN: A few people did but not many people saw that movie. We've been trying to put it out there and do something with that movie but it's impossible to secure the rights to Batman. I met the guy who claimed to have owned the rights to Batman but I don't know if he actually was the guy. He might have just been some weird Truman Capote type guy. But really that movie was done for sh**s and giggles, Sam [Rockwell] and I just had a couple of days free. We bought these costumes from some cheesy costume shop so we thought it would be funny. So our friend wrote a script in like a half hour and the next day we shot this thing. The writer submitted it to all these festivals unbeknownst to all of us and he got it into Sundance. We're planning another one because it was so much fun to do. Jonah Hill is going to play The Penguin.

UGO: I see you're also going to be starring in Patriotville.

JUSTIN: Oh yeah, that is going to start in August in South Carolina. It's a really nice script. Talmage Cooley is the co-writer and director and he has done these great short films. It is quirky love story. Emmanuelle Chriqui is in it and she is a friend of mine so I'm really excited. It's a great cast, great character actors and it should be good.

UGO: Are you writing anything?

JUSTIN: Yeah, I'm writing something right now. Jonah Hill and I are writing something for Adam Sandler's company right now.

Interview by Daniel Robert Epstein

(Xioma finds everything! Thanks, girl!)

Justin Long not short on work

Updated 8/16/2006 11:54 PM ET  
Justin Long, who has seven films out this year, stars in Accepted, opening Friday.
By Todd Plitt, USA TODAY
Justin Long, who has seven films out this year, stars in Accepted, opening Friday.
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Here's how Justin Long knows he's becoming famous: His neighbors have stopped yelling at him.

Time was, Long would awaken to residents complaining about him partying too hard, playing his music too loudly and parking too closely to their cars.

Now they're more likely to compliment him on a talk-show appearance. Or his Apple computer commercial. Or his latest film role.

"It's weird," Long says. "Before I was that loud, obnoxious kid. Now everyone is being sweet."

Including Hollywood, which has in the course of about 18 months made him one of the hottest commodities in the industry.

Since his role as the lanky geek who takes shots aplenty to the groin in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Long, 28, has been everywhere.

He has seven films out this year and two more in 2007. He's also the "I'm a Mac" guy in the popular Apple commercials opposite the nerdy PC guy, John Hodgman.

Most important — and surprising — to Long is his first starring role. In Accepted, which opens Friday, he plays a slacker who starts his own fictional college.

Don't bother asking him how he became Hollywood's latest "it" boy. Not only is he at a loss to explain his sudden fame, but he's also unsure whether he can handle it.

"It's really bizarre, and not in a good way," he says over a game of pingpong at a beach cafe not far from the home he rents with actor and buddy Jonah Hill.

"When I was younger, I harbored these secret desires to be known, to be recognized at premieres. But it's not what I thought it would be. I'm in therapy because it's so unnatural, people coming up and not knowing their intention."

It's a far cry from many of the characters he has played over the past seven years, from the flamboyant assistant in The Break-Up to Lindsay Lohan's love interest in Herbie: Fully Loaded.

But as with so many successful comedians and actors in Hollywood, the quick joke and easy smile cover an insecurity that can run deep. "It's not that I'm talented or funny," he says. "I just got lucky to get a part in Dodgeball. Everything changed after that. And that wasn't because I could act. That's because I could take 20 minutes of shots to my head and (groin)."

Others beg to differ.

"He's a pompous jerk," jokes Lewis Black, who co-stars in Accepted. "Seriously, he's a very down-to-earth kid. You don't get the sense that he lets anything get to his head."

Except the film role, says Accepted director Steve Pink. "So much of what we shot was Justin making lines up. He can play the clumsy nerd or the loser, but it's an act. He's equal parts earnest and sardonic. You might not see it at first, but he's darkly comic."

Comedy was not in early career plans. A native of Connecticut, Long is the son of a philosophy professor and a stage actress. His early ambition was to be a priest like his godfather, a missionary in Papa New Guinea.

"Then I hit puberty," Long says. He had dreams of playing football or becoming a biologist, "but you can't be shrimpy and suck at biology for those jobs. So I decided to be a clown."

Although he has been working steadily since landing a role on NBC's Ed, his profile soared with the Mac ads. He says he is recognized more for the commercials than his film roles and gets requests that go beyond autographs or pictures.

"Some people get angry because they think I hate Windows. One guy came up and said that nothing happened when he was typing control-alt-delete. They think I know something about computers, and I can barely turn one on. I'm just an actor."

An actor who is increasingly sensitive about his fame. He recently purchased a Mercedes convertible but traded it for a Toyota Prius because he felt conscious of "doing the Hollywood thing. I can't take myself too seriously.

"I don't want to be a Paris Hilton or a reality star who doesn't have any discernible talent and is famous for the sake of being famous. I'd be happy being that guy you sort of recognize (from) that movie who made you laugh."

(Thanks Xioma for the latest interviews!)

Exclusive Interview : Justin Long
Justin Long, recovering from a cold, happily admits that at 28, he was more than reluctant to take on the role of a senior high schooled in the new comedy "Accepted". “That was definitely a concern,” Long says in a Los Angeles hotel room. Not that the young actor feels that he’s so mature and worldly at this point, “but I do feel like there’s just this inherent kind of innocence and naiveté that comes with being in high school and going into college and I feel that I feel somewhat jaded and a bit more understanding about things.” But it was precisely that sense of cynicism and worldliness that the makers of the film wanted to convey, not your typical teenager. “The character had a different kind of perspective, a bit more of a sense about himself and his place, more so than the normal 18-year-old. I think that’s something that either comes from having experience and being older or once in a while you’ll have a rare sort of 18, 19-year-old who just has that kind of understanding.” Given that perspective, Long says it was easier tapping into a character such as this. “But there were aspects that I just had to draw on my past experience, which entailed a lot of confusion about your place in the world and college. I feel as if there are moments throughout your life where you’re lost and kind of looking for some sort of direction and meaning.”

Long stars as Bartleby Gaines in Accepted, who discovers he's been rejected from every college he's applied to, so creates a fake university in order to fool his overzealous parents, a university that inadvertently becomes a refuge for hundreds of other rejected kids. More than just a typical adolescent outsider, Long sees Bartleby more as someone with “this sort of inherent kind of maturity I and I think that’s what makes him an outsider. I think he’s surrounded by a lot of apathy and detachment, he’s a bit of a nerd.”

Given his utter reluctance to do the film, and the extent to which the script changed during production, Long says he is more than pleasantly surprised as to how well the film turned out. “While we were shooting I had no idea, but because they let us do a lot of ad-libbing, a lot of what’s in the movie I’m very proud of because we wrote on the day, were doing rewrites and we made up a lot of stuff. Even some of the broader, shtickier set pieces that I kind of resisted doing, worked.”

It’s been quite a rollercoaster career for the actor, who initially established himself in the four-year sitcom, Ed, before scoring early big screen successes in the likes of "Jeepers Creepers" and "Dodgeball". Never that interested in playing conventional leading men, Long says those kinds of characters had somehow seemed out of reach. “Even the rare occasion that I did have an audition for the leading guy, it would go to somebody with a name or somebody more recognizable. Also, it’s not as enjoyable for me to play that kind of character as I did in Waiting. Honest to God it was boring as hell, because to play cool or normal is not as interesting. I’d much rather play some like corny, nerdy, flawed guy who’s messed up, because it’s just more interesting and dangerous.”

Yet these days, Long says, opportunities are knocking louder than ever. “I feel like I have a weird moment right now where I have this window where things are opening up to me; but I want to make a conscious choice.” His dream career is to balance the weird and the mainstream, and for the latter, they don’t come bigger than his next project, to which he confessed during this interview. “It looks like I’m doing the new Die Hard movie, playing an amoral guy who becomes teamed up with Bruce Willis. If it works out, it’ll be cool.”

Long will first be seen in one of his more Indie films, "The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang", which premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival. “It’s sort of a quirky kind of comedy about these kids who are really into fantasy and role playing games who kind of stumble into these legends like Bigfoot and UFOs.” And Long also got to work with Mike Judge on his much delayed Idiocracy. “Mike is sort of one of those big influences for me, from Beavis and Butthead. I love his work, so just to meet him and get to know him has been a thrill.”

It seems that Justin Long is finally ready, for acceptance into Hollywood’s big time.

- Paul Fischer (www.moviehole.net)

Justin Long gets 'Accepted' for playing younger parts

 From Tom Long / Detroit News Film Critic

No one seems to want Justin Long to act his age.

Take his new movie, "Accepted," a modern-day "Animal House" spin-off that comes out Friday. In it he plays a recent high-school grad. In another upcoming film, he plays a high-school senior running star.

The problem? Justin Long turned 28 in June.

"I don't want to be the guy with a receding hairline, dyeing his hair and talking about dating the cheerleader," Long says.

"In 'Accepted,' the girl playing my girlfriend (Blake Lively), she had just turned 18. She was 17 when we started. It's creepy because I feel like I'm old, and I'm making out with these girls," he admits. "So it's starting to get weird. I've lost parts to kids who are getting dropped off by their parents."

Not that looking boyish hasn't worked wonders for Long's career. He first broke into film alongside Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver in 1999's "Galaxy Quest." But he was still in college at Vassar at that point and determined to finish before going Hollywood full-time.

After graduation, he starred in the cult horror hit "Jeepers Creepers" in 2001, and then played Britney Spears' boyfriend in 2002's "Crossroads." But his big breaks came completely by accident.

Break No. 1 happened when he had to do two TV auditions in one day. He really wanted to land the first part (he didn't), so he wasn't paying much attention to the second. As a result, when he auditioned he couldn't remember his lines and ended up acting like a stammering, nervous kid.

Turned out they wanted a stammering, nervous kid, and he got the role of Warren on NBC's "Ed." And then he was so good at stammering and acting like a nervous kid that the screenwriter for 2004's "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story," set to star Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller, gave him his second big break by writing a part for him in the film even though they'd never met.

"The writer (Rawson Marshall Thurber) was the only one fighting for me. Both the producers didn't want me; they thought I was too old for it and I was. I was 25 at the time, and it was written for a 15-year-old," Long says.

But he still wanted the part badly. "I was like, you've got to be joking. I couldn't even get arrested at that point. I was on 'Ed,' but I couldn't get movies, so I was really flattered," Long remembers.

A look at the script soon changed that.

"The character description was Justin Redman: 15, gawky, pale, scrawny, painfully shy and I was, like, unflattered," Long says with a laugh. "But you take the good with the bad."

Nothing but good has followed "Dodgeball." Long ended up buddies with star Vaughn and surfaced as a scene stealer in Vaughn's "The Break-Up" this past June. In between, he starred in "Waiting," alongside Ryan Reynolds, and last summer's "Herbie Fully Loaded," with Lindsay Lohan.

"Accepted" marks his debut as the featured star of a wide release, and with no fewer than six more films set to come out in the next two years, including his co-starring role alongside Bruce Willis in the sure blockbuster "Live Free or Die Hard," Long is becoming a constant pop culture presence. (Long may be most familiar to Americans as the laid-back dude personifying a Mac from a series of recent Apple computer commercials.)

Despite all the momentum he's got going, Long still isn't sure he has what it takes to last in Hollywood. Not in terms of talent, but in terms of raw ambition.

"There's a luck element, and there's an element where you have to kind of be somewhat aggressive and create your own opportunities. I think you need to have that. Vince Vaughn is one of those driven people, and I wonder sometimes if I'll ever get to that level because I don't know that I possess that drive," Long says.

Then again, his lack of aggression may very well be the key to his success so far.

"The jobs that I've gotten I feel like are either jobs that I didn't either really want or I had no shot at getting," Long says. "And for whatever reason psychologically I told myself that it didn't mean that much to me to get the job, so I just kind of relaxed."

In the literal Long run, he figures, it may be best not to overanalyze his own success.

"If I ever get to the point where I can articulate (why I get hired), somebody shoot me," he says.

You can reach Tom Long at (313) 222-8879 or tlong@detnews.com. Check out his blog at detnews .com.

Interview: Justin Long

By Fred Topel (www.cinemablend.com)

Interview: Justin Long He stole his scenes in movies like Galaxy Quest and Dodgeball, but the solo comedy career has been a struggle for Justin Long. Waiting was destined for the discount DVD bin, so it was back to funny bit parts like The Break-Up.

Now Justin Long is the star of this summer’s college comedy Accepted. If Universal was confident enough to open it opposite Snakes on a Plane, it just may have a shot of launching Long to the next level.

In it, Long plays a schemer who gets rejected from every college he applied to. So to get his parents off his back, he invents a fake college. The fake school actually picks up steam and before long he’s making up classes and accepting enrollment. All of this with a teen-friendly PG-13 rating.

“I can truly say that yeah, I was hoping that it would be [R-rated] and was kind of very apprehensive about doing it when I found out it wasn’t,’ Long said. “I had real hang-up about it having to be R especially because Lewis Black was involved and my college experience, just personally, to say it was R-rated would be sugar-coating it. It was NC-17. If you’re making an accurate, realistic college film I felt it was sort of necessary, not only because of the sexual stuff but just the ease with which college kids say the F word. It just sort of rolls off the tongue.”

Now that he reigned himself in from improvising F bombs, Long is glad that the final cut is PG-13. “Had they gone for the R rating, it would have been a hard R, and in that case, you have to make a concerted effort to show a lot of boobs and fuck this and that and that might detract from what the movie is which is not about sex. It’s nice. More people can watch and it has more the tone of like an ’80’s comedy like a John Cusack or Michael J. Fox movie and those were pretty much like PG-13. Those were movies that I grew up and I loved with that inspired me.”

It also means his own family can see Accepted. “My family is Roman Catholic and kind of conservative and I did this movie Waiting which is a very hard R, kind of crude about waiters putting pubic hair in food and stuff, just gross stuff. I was like to my mom, ‘You really don’t have to see it.’ She was like, ‘I have to see it. You’re in it. want to support you. You’re in it. I’m gonna love it.’ She’s of the mentality that I’m better-looking than Brad Pitt and so she saw it. She’s been an actress and has been so supportive, but she called me and said, ‘I saw the movie and you were adorable but oh my God, it was awful’ and she just tore the movie apart, just hated it.”

Mrs. Long attempted to warn Grandma about the content of Waiting but the nonagenarian ignored her pleas. It was her grandson, dammit! “Oh God, she heard me talk about testicles and pubic hair. My grandmother saw The Break-Up and I’m only in like four scenes and she didn’t realize it was me until halfway through the third scene. I’m playing very effeminate. He’s very proud. She said to my mom, ‘He was very good at that’ but not liked she liked it. She was questioning maybe I am a little fruity. But, I love you, gram.”

With an ode to the harmless movies of Cusack and Fox, Long can see all of his childhood viewing seeping into his performance, all unintended. “Naturally I grew up with John Cusack and Matthew Broderick and Michael J. Fox. Those guys were my idols, specifically Michael J. Fox. I was so obsessed with him that I just naturally picked up a lot of his mannerisms and I still have a lot of his hand movements. As a kid I was obsessed with Marty McFly and Alex P. Keaton and doing the movie reminded me so I think I kind of slipped into that naturally. I think, with other parts I have to fight to not do those guys but yeah, I wasn’t conscious of it but I think my subconscious was working overtime.”

The other part of the scheming college reject is just natural Justin Long. “I was always the wiseass, sort of the go-getter but for the wrong reasons. I was kind of like the slacker guy who concentrated too much on ways to get out of things. That sort of typical Ferris Bueller type guy. Had I put as much concentration into studying, I would have gotten into MIT and I’d have a great job as some kind of engineer right now. But I focused on sicknesses to come up with and ways to get out of writing papers and charming my teachers that I feel like that was sort of the seed of what I’m doing now. It did come naturally.”

Those old schemes also relate to the Long family tree. “This will be like morbid and not funny but I used to kill off a lot of relatives to get out of school. As the school year went on, it would get higher up on the closer to me scale. In September it would be like, ‘Oh, my great uncle is in the hospital.’ Then, by the end of the year you would have to move up to like, ‘My uncle was in a serious car crash’ or ‘my nephew has tuberculosis’. You would have to get closer and closer to your immediate family. Then you keep the grandparents in your back pocket for the day when you have to bring out the big guns. And I would go to migraines if I had to get out of being sick. That’s one thing that you couldn’t really detect and also serious enough that you would have to stay home. I would feel so guilty about lying that I would try to stress myself out and work up a headache so I wouldn’t have the guilt of not having a bit of the symptom.”

With that much free time, Long must have been a party animal. “I wish but I had no social life. I just didn’t like going to school. I really hated school and so I just wanted to stay home and watch I Love Lucy and watch the movies that inspired me to the point where we are sitting here.”

Accepted opens August 18.

(Thanks Xioma for letting us know about this one!)

Exclusive: Justin Long is Accepted

Source: Edward Douglas
August 11, 2006


Awkward, funny, everyman, dreamy, regular guy, "that Apple guy"… all these phrases might be used if they revived the $25,000 Pyramid and the answer was "Justin Long. " (Click here if you have no idea what I'm talking about.)

Long has been playing the comic sidekicks in many movies in the last few years, but in Universal Pictures' college comedy Accepted, he makes the move to leading an ensemble cast as Bartleby Gaines, a high school loser who can't get into college, so he starts his own, the South Harmon Institute of Technology, a school so popular that it attracts hundreds of losers and slackers who can't get into any other college.

ComingSoon.net recently had a chance to talk to Long about the movie. Unlike other actors in their 20s, Long is surprisingly humble and self-effacing, but like the characters he often plays, he's also friendly and has a great sense of humor. Oddly, he was also born in Fairfield CT, and having lived in the neighboring Westport, we spent a bit of time reminiscing about our old stomping grounds. (You'll be spared the details, but there's a chance that Justin ate at the restaurant where I used to be a cook.)

After getting that out of the way, we talked about the movie, his career and the odd coincidence of him being in a lot of upcoming movies with Jonah Hill (The guy from the eBay store in The 40-Year-Old Virgin!). Maybe that portion of the interview would be better suited for the National Enquirer or Page 6? Enquiring minds may want to know. Or not.

ComingSoon.net: For a long time, you've played the comic sidekick characters. With "Accepted," you're playing the guy holding it together for the first time at least in terms of a comedy ensemble. What was it about "Accepted" that made you want to do it?
Justin Long: Just that, I think, just the offer to play a part like that and the chance to play somebody who was holding a movie together or was trying to. I hadn't really been given the opportunity. It's funny, people ask when you do these things, "Well, what made you want to play that role or take that?" and it's just sort of like, well, I got the part. I auditioned and I got it. I didn't have that many choices, but it was something I had never really been given a chance to do. I auditioned for all those movies--"Orange County" and "The New Guy" and all those sort of teen college movies--but I just never got a leading role. I always got the nerdy sidekick or the nerdy gay sidekick or the nerdy awkward…any sort of variation on that, so this was sort of a chance to play more of a leading many type, like an '80s leading man. It reminded me a lot of a role like that, like a John Cusack or a Michael J. Fox, Matthew Broderick type thing, which were all my favorite movies growing up.

CS: The movie's probably going to be compared to "Animal House," but you weren't even born when that came out. Were there other movies in that vein when you were a teenager that had a similar impact on you?
Long: I hope it's being compared to that, but that's sort of a lofty comparison, that's such a classic, though the formula is very similar. I think it owes more to [movies] like "Secret of My Success" or "One Crazy Summer," "Revenge of the Nerds"…it has a lot of those elements as well. Those are the movies that I kind of grew up. I watched a lot of older comedies, like I grew up with Laurel and Hardy and the Marx Brothers, Monty Python, Charlie Chaplin, like Woody Allen. For some reason, I was kind of like a comedy snob when I was younger. Now I like it all, but for some reason, I kind of just grew up with those older movies, and aside from those movies, it was the Michael J. Fox and John Cusack movies that I loved. That was the nice thing about it. It kind of felt like I had come full circle… and I now can end my career.

CS: How did this part come your way? Was it the usual thing where your agents found you the script?
Long: I met on it like a year before they started shooting, and I remember at the time, they had the idea for it. I think they may have had the script, but the original script, every single word of it has changed. But it was just the idea that "a kid starts his own college" and at the time, they looked at the Adam Brodys, the Topher Graces, that's how it's done. You just feel like you're throwing your name in the hat, and as everyone started passing, I'm sure they got far enough down the list, and right before they hit--they realized that Mark-Paul Gosselaar was a little too old to play this part--they stopped at me. They offered it, though I went in and read, and it was this long sort of improv. The script was very much a work-in-progress, yet they just cast me after a reading. Because it was my first lead and it was as studio, there was a lot of sort of back and forth with the studio. I think what they tried to do is to get a name, and I don't have much of a name, so I think there was a lot of apprehension.

CS: "Jeepers Creepers" was a lead, though.
Long: Yeah, that was a lead. The part in "Waiting" that I played was supposed to be a lead; it got kind of cut down. I've never played a part like this. Even "Jeepers Creepers" was more of an independent movie. This felt like a studio movie. We had a big trailer, we had plenty of time to shoot—I'm sure the director will tell you differently—but "Jeepers" was like an $8 million dollar movie, "Waiting" was 2 or 3. This was like a $25 million… like there were a lot of grips and Teamsters…

CS: They threw a huge BBQ party for you at San Diego…
Long: We did that. They put a lot of money into Comic-Con, although it's funny, we had a big party for the Comic-Con and we were doing interviews all day so we didn't even get to it. There was this huge keg party and we could see it from where we were on this huge loft area looking down on all these revelers. It looked like a lot of fun and all the interviewers were like "Are you going to get out there and chug some beer?" And we were like "We would if we didn't have to be here!"

CS: I was surprised that this wasn't rated R, because it seemed like Hollywood was getting back into that, especially after the success last year of "Wedding Crashers," "40-Year-Old Virgin", etc.
Long: No, in fact that was always the plan. The biggest point of apprehension that I had about doing the movie was… even after I got cast, I kind of resisted doing it. I was doing these two movies at the same time—"Sasquatch Dumpling Gang" where I was playing a crazy redneck. I loved the movie and I felt really good about my performance and the characters, and I was doing a part in "The Break-Up" where I play a very flamboyant effeminate guy. I was just doing these character parts, and I remember thinking that I'd be happy doing this. I don't need to do like a leading man. I'd be so happy playing these characters, so I felt like I was busy and didn't have to do the movie. They were offering money and I was like "I don't need that." I remember not being immediately into doing it. My biggest point of contention was just that they were really gunning for a PG-13, and you can't really do justice to any kind of college comedy without making it R. I felt that an R-rated college experience is like a tame one. That's like watering it down. I would feel like usually, they'd have to be NC-17… at least the college experiences I had. I just felt like why not do it? "40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Wedding Crashers," they'd all been doing so well. I didn't know what the studio's reservation was.

The hardest thing about doing it was not saying the "F" word. There didn't have to be a lot of sexual stuff, I don't miss that. And I don't even miss the "F" word when I see the movie now. I realize that it was a smart choice. I know that a lot of kids like people my age or college kids might not want to see it based on the fact that it's not rated R, but honestly, I've seen it a couple times now and you don't lose anything. If anything, you kind of gain something because you're not hung up on displaying how crude everything is. I don't know. There's sort of a charm in it that may have been lost had it been [Rated R]. They said that if they were going to make it an R, they would make it a "hard R." They were going to show like gratuitous boobs, and "F*ck this," "f*ck that." I feel you kind of get mired in that, if you're just doing it for the sake of doing it. And again, going back to those '80s movies, there wasn't a lot of that. "Revenge of the Nerds" had a few gratuitous shots, but I saw those movies originally on TV, and when I saw them later, the uncut versions, I didn't feel like I had missed a lot. I didn't feel like "Revenge of the Nerds" because you saw whats-her-name's boobs in the shower scene. Or "Porky's" or any of those sex comedies. And this was also not necessarily about sex. The story didn't really center around that. It wasn't like a bunch of kids trying to get laid. It was a bunch of kids trying to figure out their purpose, so it was slightly loftier than that.

CS: What was the strangest thing you had to do for the movie or did everything get dumped on Jonah Hill?
Long: (laughs) No, most of it got dumped off on Jonah, which I was very jealous of, because I did a show called "Ed" for about four years, and I just remember thinking that was my part on that show, getting dressed up in some ridiculous outfit or getting my penis caught in something or having some crazy scenario happen to me. But I loved doing it. There was never a part of me that said, "Ah, I wish I could play the boring straight guy who has all the exposition." And that was the part I played in "Accepted," the guy who had to push the story along, so I was very jealous of Jonah and Hirschman and Lewis Black, 'cause they got to come in and be funny and look ridiculous. I always think those are the more interesting parts to play.

CS: I noticed that you have a lot of movies coming up with Jonah, so is there some sort of clause in your contract where Jonah has to be in the movie if you do it?
Long: Yeah, I have a "Jonah Clause," and in addition to being nearly legally married, we also only will work together. We're doing a remake of "Hello Dolly" and we're doing a touring production of "Brigadoon" in the Northwest territory and Canada. No, I don't know. The next two projects we did, the next one was "Strange Wilderness" which Adam Sandler produced. We both met on it and there were no parts for either of us, so we just kind of met and said that we'd love to be in this movie 'cause we love the script. They said they'll write us a part, so we sort of came in and came up with these characters. I said that I'd love to be in this. "Here's an idea for a character, and I'd love to do it if Jonah is doing it," and he said the same thing, only that he'd love to do it "if Justin were doing it." They saw that we had a sort of natural chemistry, I guess. He's the best. If I could do every movie with him, honestly I would, and the next one we did was sort of a similar situation. It's just fun to work with your friends and he's one of my best friends, and I think he's the funniest person I've ever met in my life. I feel like he makes me funnier. He's a good fulcrum.

Accepted is opening on Friday, August 18.

(Provided by Xioma)

You Asked, He Answered: Justin Long

MTV: Unlike your character in 'Accepted,' you got into a real school (Vassar). Was the college application process stressful for you?
Justin Long: It was very stressful, because I procrastinate a lot and I'm not the world's most responsible person. And I'm not good with paperwork or writing things, so that made for a really bad combination. So it was a stressful process indeed. So to answer your question, yes. But then again picking out a cereal is a stressful process for me.
MTV: What was your major? What else would you have liked to study?
Justin Long: My major was philosophy and my Dad was a philosophy professor. I thought he would like that and he did. I did mostly theater at school, which is kind of why I left. I felt like it was sort of a waste of money to be just doing plays. It sounds weird because at the time I had no desire to do that at all but I would have liked to study business or economics so now I wasn't so slow when it came to those kind of things with my own business and finances right now.
MTV: You've mostly done comedy in your career - any interest in doing more "serious" drama?
Justin Long: I would love to do more dramas, I would like to do more plays. I think in acting sometimes comedy and drama is one and the same, the way you approach them as an actor is one and the same. I think it just so happens that the movies I've been in are comedies, so I would love to use whatever I've been doing lately and just do it in a drama.
MTV: What kind of music are you listening to these days?
Justin Long: I listen to a lot of country music, a lot of Ryan Adams, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson lately. But I love folk and classic rock and good pop from the 80s. I love Ben Folds, The Kaiser Chiefs, The Shout Out Louds, The Bravery. I just heard the Four Thieves, they're really great.
 
(from: www.mtv.com - Provided by Xioma)

Not strictly commercial

With a string of upcoming movies, Mac ad hip guy Justin Long is treading carefully as he sizes up showbiz one hit at a time.
By Mary McNamara, Times Staff Writer
July 23, 2006

JUSTIN LONG has about an hour and a half before he has to drive from Santa Monica to Burbank to shoot some footage for the website of his upcoming movie "Accepted." And though the hip and trendy Urth Caffé on Main Street does have awesome soup, and he is very into soup, the line is prohibitively long so he suggests Mani's Bakery, which is just a few doors down, as an alternative.

There he does indeed order the soup, some of which he actually eats while discussing the events that led to him having a half-dozen films in various stages of postproduction while, even as we speak, his pop icon status grows with every "Get a Mac" TV spot released by Apple.
 
"If I had been egotistical about the movies, I have been brought back to earth," he says. "Nine out of 10 people who recognize me recognize me from the commercials."

Although he is currently playing in theaters near you as Jennifer Aniston's gallery co-worker in "The Break-Up," Long was previously best known for his role in the TV series "Ed" (unless you are a horror fan and then it would be "Jeepers Creepers"). But now, as he prepares to ratchet up his film career (two of his movies, strangely enough, deal with Bigfoot — "What are the odds," he says with a laugh), he is fending off computer geeks who either find his Mac guy righteous or maddening.

"I had a guy come up to me, in my face, saying, 'You think you're so cool? You're not cool' and I'm saying to him, 'Dude, it's a commercial.' "

There have been seven spots so far with Long playing the slacker-hip Mac guy to John Hodgman's nerdy PC guy and there are almost 20 more in the can, guaranteeing that what is currently the hottest campaign on TV can last as long as the heat does.

"It's not even a good story," he says of how he came to embody a computer-obsessed demographic. "I got a call from my agent about it and at first I was very wary. I was in this false arrogance, deluding myself that I was beyond that — 'I'm doing movies.' " He laughs sheepishly. "Seriously. I thought that. But I grew up in a house where my mom was a commercial actress; she made a living making commercials, so I recognize the value of them."

He learned that Phil Morrison was going to direct the spots, and that swayed him. "I loved 'Junebug,' " he says of the indie director's film. "It was one of my favorite films, my favorite type of film. And he wanted it to be very uncommercial so I said, 'Yeah.' "

Although the Mac guy utilizes the same laid-back look and mien Long has in real life, filming the commercials was actually pretty difficult. "Commercials are hard because you don't have a lot to work with but you have a lot to work against. You don't want to look silly and polished but still, you know, you're selling something," he says. "We were fighting with the company people who didn't want it to be too subtle and I didn't want to come off too smug. People who haven't done commercials," he adds, "don't appreciate how hard it is."

A crash course

LONG, a Connecticut boy who has been very ambivalent about the fame part of the job since his breakout role as the young sci-fi geek in "Galaxy Quest," was shocked at how deeply affected people have been by the ads. "I didn't really know about computers," he says. "I didn't even have one — though I do now," he adds quickly, "a Mac of course. But I was very surprised at how passionate people are about their computers, how deeply attached."

Are he and Hodgman the latest commercial demigods, the next Bartles and Jaymes? Long laughs delightedly.

"I am proud to be the new Bartles and Jaymes," he says. "Those guys got a lot of babes; they really cleaned up."

At 28, Long has a slightly goofy, very appealing face, the large and varied vocabulary of the literate hip and a syntax that reflects an already mature career as well as having a father who is a professor. If J.D. Salinger is reading this, and considering selling the film rights to "The Catcher in the Rye" any time soon, he might want to give Long a call. He'd make a perfect Holden.

Meanwhile, the young actor is about to find out if he can carry a movie. "Accepted," which Universal will release in August, follows high school loser Bartleby, as his scheme to rig a website that will fool his parents into thinking he has been accepted into college backfires. (Hence the importance of Long's participation in the film's website.) When people actually begin enrolling, Bartleby and his best friend are forced to create their own university.

"And highbrow hilarity ensues," Long says.

Fit for the job

ALTHOUGH he has been a successfully employed actor for seven years, Long found life as the star rather than the supporting player quite an adjustment. Before filming started, he turned to some of his higher-wattage friends — Vince Vaughn, Sam Rockwell — for advice and was pretty much floored by what they had to say.

"I'm asking 'How should I prepare for my character, what research should I do?' and they're saying, 'Sleep a lot, drink a lot of water, take care of your body.' " He snorts. "I thought they were just blowing me off. But Vince kept saying, 'Don't worry about the character, you are the character but you have to be in shape because it's a marathon, man.' "

Long admits he pretty much blew off their advice. "And then, about 10 days into the shoot, I got insanely sick. I mean they had to have a medic on the set. It was highly embarrassing. I had to keep trying to convince the director that he hadn't hired some sickly weakling."

Now he understands what his friends were talking about: the 12- and 14-hour days are indeed a marathon, especially when you feel like you should be on-set even when you're not in a scene. But it was worth it, at least in this case.

"I hate saying this because it sounds very arrogant," he says, "but I saw it and I love it. It reminded me of the movies I grew up with — you know with John Cusack and Michael J. Fox, who is my hero. Now of course people will read this," he adds, "and say, 'How dare he compare himself to Michael J. Fox?' But those movies inspired me and now I am doing things that remind me of them."

Meanwhile, he's adjusting to life in L.A. He came out two years ago for the standard reason — it's easier to get film work here — and has been following the standard industry arc: enthusiastic determination to hit every premiere or party in town followed by realization that they are called industry parties because they are work.

"I used to go to premieres when I first got out here," he says. "Free popcorn, free soda, people knew me…. Now it just feels like part of the job. Which makes me wonder if I am really cut out for this."

Hanging around his friend Vaughn during this last year has also given Long a taste of what it's like when you do hit it big. "It's crazy," he says of the way people approach Vaughn with seemingly limitless requests — for an autograph, a photo, a deep and meaningful chat. "Vince handles it beautifully; he is just able to be very gracious and friendly and still establish boundaries.

"And Aniston," he adds, "she is just lovely. Reacts to every compliment like it is the first one she's ever heard. I don't know how she does it. But I watched her at 'The Break-Up' premiere in Chicago … " He shakes his head. "There were no ropes, you know, so she gets out of the car and moves toward the crowd to shake hands and suddenly there is just this enormous surge of people. She had to almost run back to the carpet. It was kind of scary."

Long says he finds himself thinking more and more about Connecticut, about how nice it would be to live there again. "There was definitely a time in my life when I thought it sounded cool to be famous and recognized and all that," he says. "But a lot of what I thought was fun about this job has become a bit empty."

It's the work itself, as it turns out, that he likes. Watching "Accepted" and the upcoming "Sasquatch Dumpling Gang" (one of the two Bigfoot movies), Long began to understand the satisfaction of doing something well. " 'Sasquatch' is one of my favorite movies," he says. "Just to continue the arrogance. I can watch it over and over. I have watched it over and over.

Of course, he quickly admits, others might feel differently. "We'll find out soon enough I guess."
 
(latimes.com)
 
Link to the interview provided by Xioma.

Podcast Message From Justin

You can hear a Podcast message from Justin at the Sundance Festival, if you click on the link below, provided by our friend Xioma.

Listen to Justin

Interview from Herbie: Fully Loaded

Xioma informs us that there is a quite entertaining interview Justin has given while promoting "Herbie: Fully Loaded."
Enjoy!

Justin on Herbie

 

October 7, 2005

 

By Christine Bailey-Gates

 

Justin Long has had a long day. The 27-year-old Fairfield native has spent the past eight hours giving countless back-to-back phone interviews promoting his upcoming film, Waiting, which opens in theaters Friday, Oct. 7. Even so, Long is gracious and funny, joking about life in Los Angeles his home at the moment while he is working and getting shut out of the Seagrape in Fairfield. "I was at the Herbie premiere (the movie he stars in with Lindsay Lohan), and it was a big party, with a red carpet and photographers, and I'm being led around by my publicist watching US Weekly unfurl in front of me," he said. "The next night, I'm in Fairfield, standing in line at the 'Grape, and I didn't get in. It was nice to get a dose of reality."

The actor's film credits include Galaxy Quest with Tim Allen and Sam Rockwell, Jeepers Creepers, Happy Campers and Dodgeball with Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller. He also starred in the television series Ed and has appeared on stage in numerous New York City plays. In his new comedy, Long plays "Dean," a twenty-something waiter at Shenanigan's, a generic chain restaurant, who has to deal with the antics of his quirky coworkers and the boredom of his dead-end job. "It was a lot of fun because everyone in the cast was my own age," Long said. "We shot the movie in two months, so I was on the set all the time. It was a lot of work."

The movie was shot in New Orleans, which was recently devastated by Hurricane Katrina, to his dismay. "I fell in love with the city. It's overwhelmingly sad," Long said. "There are such great people down there, beautiful architecture and wonderful food." Long, whose parents both teach in town - his father, R. James, teaches philosophy at Fairfield University and his mother, Wendy, teaches at Roger Ludlowe Middle School - said he oftentimes misses his hometown. Living the high life in L.A. does have its downside, he confided. "It is unreal out here in L.A. you can't take too much stock in it. It's rapid and superficial," he said. "I go back a lot to Fairfield whenever I can. It's a slower pace, not as chaotic it's easier for me to function as myself."

The witty and articulate actor admits to a less-than-stellar academic career, despite having graduated from two prestigious schools: Fairfield Prep and Vassar College. Voted "Most Likely Not to Be in Class," in high school, Long explained how he earned the title. "I wasn't a big fan of school, and I managed to miss a lot of it," he said. "That usually included some kind of ailment that was hard to pinpoint, like a migraine. But I had this intense Catholic guilt [from lying] that I would end up really giving myself a headache." Long attributes his interest in acting to his mother, Wendy, a stage actress. "She more than anyone, inspired me. I grew up going to her plays," he said. As a result, he understood the pitfalls of making a living as an actor.

"Ninety-nine times out of 100, it's not this great glamorous life. It's a lot of rejection, struggle, and blows to your self-confidence," he explained. "When I started, I had no illusions of grandeur. My mother tried to detour me from it. My father said to do what made me happy." So Long along with his two brothers, both actors followed his heart. He starred in several plays in high school and, in college, was a member of the acclaimed sketch comedy group Laughingstock. His talents were quickly discovered. "I just got insanely lucky," he said. "It's such a crapshoot. I just count my blessings.

"I've had the opportunity to work with Sam Rockwell, Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, and Tim Allen. I've watched their movies over and over. To do scenes with them has been surreal the best way to learn about acting has been to work with great actors," said Long. Vaughn, he added, has been a particularly great resource. "You just learn so much from the guy," Long said. "I'll call him up if I have a question about a scene. There's no better teacher." So what's in Long's future? "I would like to do a remake of New York Minute with me starring as Mary-Kate," he joked, referring to the 2004 teeny-bopper movie staring the twin actresses Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.

All kidding a side, Long said he is planning to write a screenplay with fellow actor Jonah Hill, with whom he worked with in the upcoming movie Accepted. "You have to create your own opportunities. You want to create your own stuff, control your own destiny," he explained. Although he is known mainly as a comedic actor, Long said he would also like to do more dramatic films. "People are always surprised when funny people can do drama, but it makes perfect sense to me it's the same animal," he said. "The funny people I look up to - Sam, Ben, Owen Wilson - they are talented actors first and foremost. They don't just look for laughs, they play the reality of the scene." Aside from "Waiting," Long has several movies releases in 2006, including "The Break Up" with Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston, and "Idiocracy," a Mike Judge movie.

(source: Fairfield Citizen)

 

IGN Interviews Justin Long

The Waiting star talks Idiocracy, The Break Up and more.

by Eric Goldman

October 5, 2005 - After getting his start with roles in films like Jeepers Creepers and on the television series Ed, Justin Long found himself in his first true blockbuster with last year's Dodgeball. Most recently seen in Herbie: Fully Loaded, Long is quite in demand these days, with a number of films coming up, including a supporting part in his Dodgeball costar Vince Vaughn's film The Break Up. Long's newest release Waiting... is a raunchy comedy set at a restaurant called ShenaniganZ, where you don't want to upset the eccentric staff, lest they tamper with your food in some very disturbing ways. Among a talented ensemble (including Ryan Reynolds, stand up comedian Dane Cook, Luis Guzman, Anna Farris and David Koechner), Long's character Dean is the self-doubting straight man at the center of it all.

Recently IGN FilmForce sat down with Long for an exclusive interview to discuss Waiting... We also spoke about his many other upcoming projects, including the new film from Beavis & Butthead/Office Space creator Mike Judge, and also his recent membership in the cinematic comedic group dubbed by the media as "The Frat Pack," consisting of Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell and Jack Black.
 
IGN FILMFORCE: How hard is it in a film like Waiting to play the straight man and to resist the temptation to be goofy like everyone else?

JUSTIN LONG: It was actually really hard. I'd just come from doing Dodgeball, where that kind of over the top physical comedy was so welcome. And that was my function; to be the goofy, nerdy guy. And I love doing that. It's what I've been doing for years. And this was just so different. It was like an exercise in restraint. I would feel the need, or sort of the impulse which comes naturally, to do like a spit take or something funny... trip on myself or hit the wall... that kind of over the top stuff. It was hard for the director to break me from that the first couple of days. But I'm glad I did it. It was harder to just not do that. It was a challenge to be just kind of boring. He's a very boring character. It's the first thing I thought when I read the script. Ryan Reynolds' character, Monty, is fun. And I kind of wanted to play Robert Benedict's part, which is a neurotic, funny guy. But I just felt like it would be a challenge. I think I kind of need to do that. But it was insanely boring. I think the goal for me, if I continue to do parts like this, is to try to make that a little bit more... less boring. Sorry, I need another word! But so few people can do that sort of thing. Dustin Hoffman, other guys like that. I have a newfound respect for a leading man.

IGNFF: You knew you wanted to act for a long time. Could you relate to your character Dean, who's not so sure what he's going to do with his life now that he finds himself in his 20's?

LONG:
Absolutely. Even when I knew what I wanted to do, there's always that limbo. I left school early and I just find myself in this sort of waiting area. I think everyone kind of does. You know, everything's just sort of up in the air. I knew I wanted to be an actor but I never thought that acting was a reality and that I could make money as an actor. I just assumed I would struggle and maybe do plays and stuff. But I didn't have it to the extent that my brothers had it where they both took time off. But to different degrees I have it even now, even in my chosen profession. In terms of if I'm working, or in relationships. Your mindset, spiritually, whatever. There's always that place of ambiguity and uncertainty. It's just sort of all around us. So it was not a stretch. Playing that kind of, "I don't know what I'm gonna do" feeling wasn't that challenging.

IGNFF: Your director, Rob McKittrick, was a waiter, your costar Dane Cook mentioned he worked in a kitchen and you had waiting experience yourself. Did you all exchange horror stories on the set?

LONG: Yeah. Rob's got the worst stories because he was in for the long haul. He was at a restaurant similar to ShenaniganZ. I was at a more highbrow Italian restaurant and I didn't witness that level of raunchiness with the food and stuff. But there were occasions when you'd just see chefs touching the food and placing things with their hands. I think that's kind of disgusting. I knew there was one chef who wouldn't wash his hands after going to the bathroom, which was really gross. I have a real germ problem. So doing that movie and reading Fast Food Nation put me over the edge. Crazy paranoia now.

IGNFF: This was Rob's own script, so how was he about ad-libbing on the set? Did he encourage it?

LONG: He was cool. He was very fun to work with. But it was his baby. The script was very near and dear to his heart, so he always wanted us to get the lines out the way they were. I just did this other movie Accepted that was more of a work in progress as we were shooting it. They had all these script doctors coming in and they welcomed improv with open arms. The guy who plays my friend, this guy Jonah Hill, is brilliant at improv. They were very free to just kind of play around. And of course Vince Vaughn loves to improv. But just coming from Dodgeball with him, he was very selective about it. He taught me a lot about playing the straight man. If you watch him in that, he's not laugh-out-loud crazy guy funny. He's sort of the moral center. He's the compass. So his whole thing is, you've got to be true to the intention of the scene. And in Waiting..., my characters intention was always more serious. So there wasn't that much room. I did some adlibbing with David Koechner, because Koechner is so brilliant. He's right up there with Vince and Will Ferrell and those guys in terms of improv. I loved playing with him. We played a little bit and did some back and forth. But my stuff was more reactionary. I was sort of the sane guy in an insane world. So I kind of just let the inmates run the asylum and just sat back and reacted to all of it.

IGNFF: You've got quite a cast here with guys like Ryan and Dane and Luis Guzman. A lot of different types of performers. Was it hard to get through scenes sometimes? Was everyone trying to outdo each other?

LONG: Ryan is very professional. Very rehearsed. If he would come up with an ad-lib, he would bring it up to the director and I would know he was going to do it. We had a few moments where they just let us go a little bit. But Dane's stuff was so spontaneous and ridiculous that I had a hard time. There's one scene where I go to get an order from him and he's sort of, "Yes sir, master! Right away, master!" And I have to be stoic. I have to keep this stone face and let him play up the comedy and there were moments were it was a little tough. Robert Patrick Benedict I think kind of steals the movie. I had a few scenes with him. Some of them got cut out, but the scenes with him were just so funny. A lot of just really talented young guys. But like I said, I just had to kind of sit back and watch!

IGNFF: What was it like going from a big studio, big budget comedy like Dodgeball to something like Waiting..., where you have a lower budget and less time?

LONG: I loved it. There's something more pure about it. You don't have time to wait around. There's no sitting. I hate sitting around. On Herbie, I sat for like a good month. Just sitting in my trailer watching DVDs and reading books. And this was like you're always on set. What it did was endorse this sense of togetherness. You're actually all working together and you're all part of the team. The crew, the cast, everybody was more on the same page I think. It was good for the movie, because it's such an ensemble movie and we all have to know each other pretty intimately. We would hang out all the time. Me, Robert Benedict, Anna Farris and Kaitlin Doubleday had our own little clique that grew out of it and we'd all go out at night. But everyone in the cast hung out. We were all really close. It was very cohesive, but nerve wracking because you didn't get as many takes. You'd get maybe three and you you've got to move on. So it demands that you're kind of more on the ball and you've just got to be ready to work. You've got to have everything down. Not a lot of time playing around.

IGNFF: Do you like how right now you seem to go back and forth between leading parts and then supporting parts?

LONG: That's ideal. I think that's the goal. Between movies like Herbie and this one I just did for Universal that's sort of more the leading man kind of thing, I love doing little character parts. And my goal is to use those bigger movie roles to enable me to do movies like The Break Up where I have a small part, and I did a little part in Anchorman. I love coming in for a couple of days and doing a character. Guys like Philip Seymour Hoffman or Sam Rockwell; those are the guys I look up to and the kind of career I'd like to emulate. And so, whatever path I take to get to there, that would be just the perfect world.

IGNFF: So I was looking at imdb.com, and it seems like you have about 20 movies coming out in the next year.

LONG: I've probably been cut out of 19 of them!

IGNFF: I wanted to ask you about a couple, like Mike Judge's new film, Idiocracy.

LONG: That was the kind of thing of just coming in for a smaller character. I play a doctor. The idea behind the movie is everyone in the future is kind of a dumb ass. Society has devolved intellectually to the point where everyone is just a moron. Luke Wilson gets frozen and ends up in this ridiculously stupid future. And I play the doctor who diagnosis him. It's funny. It was a funny day, it was one of the best days of working I ever had. Just getting to hear Mike Judge give direction was so awesome.

IGNFF: Everybody's been waiting for him to make a new movie for so long, since Office Space.

LONG: It was just hard for me to get past his voice! It sounds so much like the guy who did Butthead or Hank Hill. And this movie was the funniest script I'd ever read. It was an honor. He did my outgoing message. I'm such a nerd, I asked him to do my outgoing message on my answering machine. He's like, [Long affects a Butthead voice] "You've reached Justin's machine." [In a Beavis voice:] "Yeah, yeah! Leave a message!" But I would always do impressions on my machine and people would call me up after that one and be like, "Uh dude, not your best work!"

IGNFF: I also have to ask you about what has to be one of the greatest movie titles I've read lately, The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang.

LONG: Oh yeah. Great title. I think it's gonna be good. It's the guys who did Napoleon Dynamite. And it's that kind of humor, which I love. But there's more of a story to it I think. It's about these two redneck, hillbilly type guys who try to make some money, and so they plant a Bigfoot track in the hopes that it will create this stir. I had a mullet and a ratty little mustache.

IGNFF: What's the name of your character?

LONG:
Zerk.

IGNFF: Another great name.

LONG:
He was kind of a cross between Matt Dillon, meets Cole Hauser meets Sam Rockwell's character in The Green Mile. It was fun. It was just a great release. It was such a fun character. Joey Kern plays my friend. He's got a rattail and he's always got his shirt off and his name is Shirts. And he based it on the character in American Movie, Mike Schank. Kind of did his impression of Mike Schank. He's hilarious.

IGNFF: And I understand you perform the Kermit the Frog classic, "The Rainbow Connection" in The Break Up?

LONG:
Oh yeah! I just saw a little bit of that. It's insane. At the end I sing. I come out... in many ways. I play a very flamboyant assistant to Jennifer Aniston in the movie. And throughout the movie he's just searching for his identity and happiness. And yeah, I actually sang. With John Michael Higgins, who's another one of my favorite actors. I got to sing with him in it, in an a cappella group.

IGNFF: Did the part in The Break Up come about through your friendship with Vince?

LONG:
Yeah, basically. Vince kind of asked me to do it. He's a good friend of mine, but he's also an actor that I insanely admire. There's no better validation. There's no better compliment then to have him actually want me to do something in his movie. And a character like that, that was sort of so ridiculous and hopefully I'm not that much like.

IGNFF: Has it been fun for you to be sort of a new go to guy for that group of comedic actors they call The Frat Pack?

LONG:
It's the highest compliment. Those are the guys that I emulate and I kind of grew up watching. Stiller, Will Ferrell, Owen... I've gotten to work with all of them so far... Hmm, except Jack Black. He won't work with me! And they're all my idols. It's just very surreal to get to do scenes with them. So hopefully that will continue. There's nobody funnier out there right now.

IGNFF: I recall that on the commentary for Dodgeball, the director Rawson Marshall Thurber said he wrote that character for you...

LONG:
Yeah. Insanely, yeah. I had heard that and they sent me the script. It was called Underdogs at the time. And I knew Vince and Ben were going to be in it, so of course I would have done it, regardless of what it was. And then I read the character description and it was like, "Justin Redmond, 15. Gawky. Pale. Awkward." The description was so unflattering! I was like well, you take the good with the bad. But yeah, I don't think I would have been cast in that movie. I'm way too old to play the part. And I don't think the studio really wanted me. I think Rawson just sort of fought for me to do that. And I thank God that he did. I always tell him I owe him a huge debt.

IGNFF: Were you shocked by how big a hit that was?

LONG:
You know I don't have that much experience, and I didn't have any at the time, of doing a movie like that. I'd done a couple of days on Anchorman and I thought that was going to be huge, just because the script was so good and the stuff that I saw them shoot was so funny. And Dodgeball was sort of the same way. I knew that it was funny. But you never know who's going to respond to things. I just knew that personally, me and my friends... it would be a movie that I would go see, independent of my involvement in it. So I was excited to see it. It didn't really shock me that much. But you just never know. I have no way of gauging those things. I've read scripts that I thought were great and I thought people would love and they never come out.

IGNFF: You've mostly been doing comedies. Is that where you see your career going for the most part, or do you also want to venture into more dramas?

LONG: I'd love to do other things. I did this drama Dreamland about these kids in a trailer park in the desert that just got into Sundance. So I'm pretty excited about that. It's not very serious, it's not heavy. It's a nice light drama that again was a challenge to restrain myself and not look for laughs and not have to rely on that. And I did this Lanford Wilson play. I miss doing dramas and hopefully there will be more of those. But I think right now, you just have to kind of go where you're requested. And lately the thing has been comedy. And I'm not complaining. I love comedies. I prefer watching comedies when I go to the movies. Those are the movies that I like. But there's the acting challenge of doing a drama. But you know, drama exists hand in hand with comedy.

Even with The Break Up, there's this scene where I get to do some more intense acting. Hopefully it will be funny, but I get yelled at by my boss, played by Judy Davis, who is amazing and very intimidating. And she chews me out. I kind of slink away, all upset. And there's a cutaway of me just kind of crying by myself, because he's so browbeaten and hurt. He's got so much pain. And it was kind of an intense scene! It was emotional. And hopefully the reaction of the audience is that it will be funny, because it's this weird cutaway of me sobbing. But you know, you can't treat it like a comedy. That's the thing I've learned more from Vince then anyone else. You just have to be true to the intention of the scene and in your head you can't look for laughs. You can't tell yourself it's a comedy. That's how he does it. That's how all those guys do it. Stiller's a great actor. Owen Wilson, all those guys. It's grounded in reality, which is why I think people respond to them. It just so happens that the situations they're in are funny. But there intentions are still unwavering and it's hard to do. Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie is one of his best performances. He's hilarious. But there's an amazingly difficult role in there.


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Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Made to order

A minute with Waiting co-star Justin Long

TABARI MCCOY | CIN WEEKLY 

CiN: In your opinion, what is Waiting all about?

LONG: "I think it's just about that time in your life that everyone can sort of relate to - you're in a limbo, purgatory state where you haven't figured out what you're going to do. (If you go to) college, everything is set out for you and everything is kind of easy, but all of sudden you're in the world. My character is sort of the straight man, the voice of the audience, and I'm in the midst of all these wacky characters and the strange microcosm that is a restaurant. (But) it's more just about people trying to figure out what they're doing and who they are and have a few chuckles."

CiN: You worked as a waiter in your native Connecticut before making it as an actor - how do your memories on the job compare to your character's in Waiting?

LONG: Sadly enough, it wasn't as extreme, but I've heard stories that rivaled what happens in the movie. I know everything in the movie was backed up by the director in first hand accounts who witnessed stuff even worse than that ... I remember a lot of times, chefs would touch food with their hands, which I always thought was disgusting. There was this one chef who would never wash his hands after going to the bathroom, so it brought back a lot of memories I tried to suppress.

But it also brought back that time in my life where I didn't know what I wanted to do - I wanted to be an actor, but I thought I'd be waiting tables for years. Waiting tables and being waited on, that dynamic reveals certain truths about people's character. If you're a positive person or a good person, you're more apt to be friendly to a waiter whereas a lot of the people I would wait on were very fancy, and there was a lot more entitlement and less acknowledgment of your existence and that bothered me more than anything.

CiN: Last year, you were seen in the comedy Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story with Vince Vaughn, which was quite a different movie than 2001's horror hit Jeepers Creepers in which you also starred. What did you learn about acting from doing those films?

LONG: They were much difference experiences, but in terms of acting, they're not that far off. Jeepers was very physically exhausting because you had to be scared for your life and act (at) that level. You can't be over the top as long as you're being real, so that's physically exhausting. Dodgeball was the same sort of intention, as I played a kid who was vulnerable and impressionable.

I learned this from Vince Vaughn more than anybody - you have to play it real and play it for the scene. My least favorite actors are the people who try to play it for laughs - and I don't want to name names - as opposed to playing it for the intention for the scene ... All you can do is put yourself in the situation and play it as real as you can. That's why Jon Heder is so great in Napoleon Dynamite - he's just so real in that role.

CiN: Lastly, you starred in Britney Spears' feature film debut Crossroads, which included a racy bedroom scene between the two of you. What advice, if any, would you have for her now that she's a mom?

LONG: "That was so long ago! ... I could not offer any advice to her about being a mother, but I have a little dog, Moose, that I'm a father to. But working on that with her was so uneventful in a good way because she's down to earth and I was just there for a few days."

CiN: Do you have any final words you want your fans out there to know about your new movie Waiting?

LONG: Be prepared for a very unfunny performance from yours truly. Brace yourself!

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