Exclusive Interview With Director Nicholas Stoller On Neighbors


WGTC: I’m so sad to hear that didn’t make the final cut. Were there any other celebrity cameos that didn’t make the final cut?

Nicholas Stoller: Was there anyone else? Hmmm…I don’t think so – wait! Oh yeah! During the history of the fraternity flashback, one of the thing we cut out was the invention of the wet T-shirt contest. In that one we had Nathan Fielder, from Nathan For You, and Bobby Moynihan. Really funny stuff, but it’s the rule of three – can’t have more than three.

WGTC: So can we expect scenes like that in an Unrated home release?

Nicholas Stoller: It’ll be on a deleted scene. The cut in theaters is the one that I really slaved over, and usually the Unrated cut is the one that feels long and boring even though it’s the one people buy because they don’t know and just assume it’ll be better even though it’s just not as good as the original cut.

WGTC: Was Zac Efron always going to be the fraternity leader? Was there a casting process, or did you only have eyes for Efron as Teddy Sanders?

Nicholas Stoller: Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien thought of the idea and from the beginning knew it had to be Zac Efron. They pitched it to Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and after they’d written it for about a year, they called me – so I wasn’t even involved in that part of it. I’m just a fan of Mr. Efron’s work and was excited to work with him.

WGTC: So Seth’s dance moves – are those his own? Where did he pick those up?

Nicholas Stoller: All his own. He’s a strangely good dancer. He did a lot of karate as a kid and he has very smooth moves. I remember the day we shot the dance scene he’s like, “what are we going to do?” I over-prepare for everything, but I knew for the dance scene we didn’t need to prepare a thing. I knew it was going to be funny. I never do that, and I knew it. Seth was kind of nervous because we had no plan, but I just let him dance because I knew it’d be hysterical. What’s in the movie is one of the first takes. They instantly nailed it. I mean it’s Zac Efron and Seth Rogen having a dance off, they could do anything and it’d be hilarious. Seth’s anxiety also translates to the screen where he actually looks nervous, so I accidentally created a good situation for my actors.

WGTC: So let’s switch gears for a little and talk about a franchise you’ve written two films for – the Muppets. In the reboot with Jason Segel, there are a ton of cameos that unfortunately didn’t make the final cut. Did the same thing happen during Muppets Most Wanted?

Nicholas Stoller: Not really. The first one had a ton of cameos cut out because we had a whole sequence where the Muppets throw a fake Oscars, so we had a bunch of celebrities. It was actually pretty funny, one of them was actually Ricky Gervais – which was hysterical – but the whole plot point got cut out. That was the main reason, so I don’t think anyone got cut from Muppets Most Wanted. I think James Bobin, who directed and co-wrote, figured out places to put cameos this time that were uncuttable.

WGTC: Personally, my favorite was Danny Trejo’s cameo when Tina Fey, in character, says goodnight to him playing himself…

Nicholas Stoller: [Doing his best Tina Fey with a Russian accent…accent] “Goodnight Danny Trejo!” Haha, of course.

WGTC: Which Muppet do you identify with the most?

Nicholas Stoller: Fozzy, because I’m always afraid I’m saying a terrible joke and people are just laughing politely. I think I have the most sympathy for him.

WGTC: Are there any plans on continuing this new Muppet franchise with another movie?

Nicholas Stoller: You know, I’m not sure. I would love to, the Muppets are so much fun to write for. I’ve heard rumblings they might be trying to do some sort of TV show, but I don’t know what the next plan is exactly. That said, I love it. If they are interested in another one, I always love writing for the Muppets. There are so many stories you can tell.

WGTC: So if you had the opportunity, where would you take the Muppets next?

Nicholas Stoller: Something we were originally playing around with was more of a romantic comedy, a movie truly based around a Muppet wedding seemed like a funny idea to make that the whole movie, that seemed like a fun thing. I think there’s a lot of different options. Oh, I also thought about picking up right where the last one ended and now they’re trying to start a TV show – a movie about doing a TV show. One of them is becoming really famous and the others aren’t – that always seemed like a funny group dynamic to play around with. You’d have like Frankie Valli – I don’t know why I used that reference, that’s really old – but they’re all getting jealous. Yeah.

WGTC: Switching to another character you’ve worked with many times, Russell Brand’s Aldous Snow, are there any plans for future appearances, or have we seen the last of this raunchy rocker?

Nicholas Stoller: I think I’ve told the Aldous Snow story, and yeah – but I actually used one of the songs from Get Him To The Greek in Neighbors. There’s a song that Diddy plays after Jonah Hill pitches Aldous Snow, and Diddy goes, “You want to hear a game changer, here’s a fucking game changer” – and it’s just “I’m gonna fuck your shit, I’m gonna fuck your shit up.” The frat blasts it during part of the movie. It’s really fast.

WGTC: So no Christmas album? C’mon, the name Aldous Snow just begs for one!

Nicholas Stoller: That could actually be pretty funny. Again, we recorded so many songs that didn’t get used.

WGTC: The next project you’re being tied to is a buddy cop comedy tentatively being called Black And White starring Seth Rogen and Kevin Hart. Has writing commenced on that project, or is it simply an idea at this point?

Nicholas Stoller: Oh no, Rodney Rothman wrote a draft and it’s hysterical. It’s an insane movie. I’m a little out of my comfort zone which means I want to do it, I like to challenge myself each time. It’s about the first black and white cop pairing in history, and it takes place in the late 40s. It’s a weird mix of whatever my tone is mixed with Tarantino mixed with Baz Luhrmann. They’re infiltrating the jazz scene in New York City to bust jazz musicians for weed, so it’s insane. I think it should be a fun, really nutty movie.