After receiving critical praise for his portrayal of George-Michael Bluth in the Emmy Award winning comedy Arrested Development, Michael Cera was immediately cast by Judd Apatow as the lead in his hit movie Superbad, and went on to star in the Oscar nominated Juno. He’s currently filming the highly anticipated Scott Pilgrim vs the World, directed by Edger Wright, which is based on the graphic novel, Scott Pilgirm Volume I: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life.
His latest film, Youth in Revolt is based on the acclaimed coming-of-age novel by C D Payne. Cera portrays Nick Twisp, a unique, but affable teen who falls hopelessly in love with the beautiful, free-spirited Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday) while on a family vacation. With Sheeni’s encouragement, Nick abandons his dull, predictable life and develops a rebellious alter ego: Francois, who will stop at nothing to be with Sheeni.
When you were 16 were you anything like this character?
When I was sixteen I was working on Arrested Development and so those are sort of my memories of being sixteen, just trying to keep up with school while doing the show and trying to be around all those people on the show as much as I could. Those were some of the funniest people I’d ever been around and so I was just really enamored by all of them.
Did you feel like an adult since you were working with adults?
Kind of, I felt like a kid but I felt lucky to be able to be around them in a really unique circumstance, I think, that I was able to be a part of.
Do you feel like at this point you’ve established a Michael Cera brand of comedy?
No. I don’t feel like that. I’ve just had scripts that I really liked come my way that I was lucky to be attached to.
But there is something that you do that’s not what everyone else does.
I guess so. It’s really hard for me to think about it like that. I can’t have any perspective on that whatsoever.
Are you a big fan of the Youth in Revolt books?
Yeah. There are several books. There’s one that’s called Youth In Revolt that has three books in it and that’s kind of what this movie encompasses but I had read that a couple of times and had really loved it.
Have you been trying to get this made into a film for a long time?
No. It was sent to me with the script when I was 16 and I just really loved it. I was trying to be a part of it for a long time. It was one of those movies that kept getting pushed back and I was worried that by the time it was being made that I would not be able to play the part, but I just always asked about it and always wanted to be a part of it.
Does that make someone like Francois special, since he’s something that people haven’t seen you do?
Yeah, I was really excited to get to play that part and I had a lot of fun doing it. It was really fun to get to do that with Miguel [Arteta, the director] and figure it out.
What made the Francois character so much fun to play?
It was fun to get to wear contacts and put a mustache on and transform how I looked and just say kind of really gross things and smoke. I had a lot of fun things to do with actors that I really admire, too. It was fun to do that with Ray Liotta, have a scene where I was having this challenging moment with him. There were just a lot of really fun scenes and things to do and say.
Did you model Francois after anyone?
Not anyone specifically but we tried to capture how he felt in the book as much as we could. Also I was inspired by Malcolm McDowell and James Cagney, a little bit.
Did you see this as playing two different characters or as Nick would see his alter ego?
I think it’s a subtle difference. They’re totally different and so I think I thought of it as just a different thing.
Is it a natural transition from hopeless romantic to action hero in Scott Pilgrim?
It doesn’t feel like a transition. It just feels like a different thing but we had a lot of training on that movie and a lot of time to get to hangout with each other and prepare for it. So it felt like a pretty smooth transition.
I’ve heard wild things about Edgar Wright’s directing style on that movie. How do you have to adapt to something like that?
There’s not much of an adjustment. You just sort of jump in and do it. We would do a shot for it that was just for one line, and so it wasn’t like you’d run a whole scene some of the time. That was kind of different, but for the most part you just have to let go and go with it.
Could Scott Pilgrim be a franchise?
That’s hard to say because the movie encompasses the whole graphic novel series.