Following his successful run on TV’s Arrested Development, Michael Cera’s film career took off when Judd Apatow cast him as the lead in his movie Superbad. The young actor went on to star in such diverse films as Juno, Youth in Revolt, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Year One.
In his new movie Scott Pilgrim vs the World, directed by Edgar Wright and based on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s popular graphic novel, Cera portrays the title role, a charming and jobless bass guitarist for a garage band Sex Bob-Omb. He has just met his dream girl, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) – unfortunately, her seven evil exes are now coming to kill him!
What was it about the character of Scott Pilgrim that you were drawn to?
Bryan Lee O’Malley created such a unique, distinct character that it made it easy for me to get into character. But it was a little intimidating because Scott Pilgrim has such a following, but Edgar was very helpful in finding the right tone and helping me not to go too over-the-top.
How likable is Scott? Earlier in the film he makes some decisions that are not all together –
Considerate, yeah. I agree. It’s interesting, watching the movie I was like, ‘Oh, yeah. He’s doing some really selfish things.’ But for some reason, maybe you feel sympathetic because he’s being constantly attacked. That makes you kind of feel sorry for him.
He doesn’t really consider Knives (his girlfriend, played by Ellen Wong) in the beginning when he breaks up with her. She’s just kind of written off and he moves on. So he’s an idiot. He just doesn’t think of other people. He’s kind of a doofus.
By the end he sort of realizes a very simple truth, that you need to care about people’s feelings and that you need to be responsible for your actions. That’s sort of his growth, I guess.
As an actor, do you yourself have to be oblivious in some of those scenes or can you just play it that way?
Yeah. It’s in the writing. Really stupid things are coming out of his mouth and so it’s pretty obvious. Homer Simpson was a big inspiration for this thing because he’d just say stupid things and it’s so cartoony, the movie, that it works and doesn’t seem really out of place. So you could really just be an idiot.
What was it like working with Edgar?
Right off the bat, you feel like there’s a voice that the movie has that is all its own; that’s what Edgar does well with all of his films. As we all rehearsed for weeks, it started to become a world that we all believed in, something very real.
What is it about Ramona that Scott is so infatuated with?
Scott becomes obsessed with Ramona when he sees her in his dreams. Then, when she appears in real life, he can’t quite figure her out; she keeps slipping away from him, and that’s what draws him to her. But he’s also got this other girlfriend now, so he is not allowed to like her, and that starts to make him like her more.
What was Mary Elizabeth like as Ramona?
Mary’s amazing. She did most of her own fighting and is completely believable at that, yet has this delicate quality that’s also convincing.
What was the fight training like?
I learned there is a lot of trust involved because you’re literally depending on the guy who’s holding the rope. They had us doing all kinds of things that my body has absolutely no capability or desire to do, and that I will probably never do again, but it was amazing. I’m planning on just sitting around and never doing another push-up for the rest of my life.
Did you have to do a lot of work to get into shape?
Yeah, and just build up stamina, too, because it’s so exhausting. You’d do a take of high exertion and then you have to sit around and then you have to go again and it wears you out. We had to run every morning for a few months so that we could just not pass out doing that stuff.
You don’t seem to be like a big fighting guy.
Right. That’s the angle.
Did it boost your ego that so many girls in this film want you and does that feel good to play a heartbreaker?
I knew that it was not real. I wasn’t ever confused about that.
How did you feel the first time you saw the whole thing put together?
I thought that they did an amazing job with it. Edgar kept us so informed throughout the shoot of what was going to be happening, what it was going to look like as best as he could describe it. But I mean seeing it was overwhelming. It’s just so visual and so dense that you’re trying to take in so much at once.
How was it to see it with an audience for the first time because when I saw it Edgar gets the audience right from the Universal logo?
It’s true and we could feel that. I could feel that right away. They were cheering when the logo came up and they were totally onboard all the way through the movie. It was a special audience that we got to see it with.