9 Revelations from the Set of 30 Minutes or Less
Things you should know about Grand Rapids, Mich.: the city was first settled by Europeans at the start of the 19th century as a spot for fur trading; if you're out past 1 a.m. on a September weeknight, it's advisable to wear a coat; and it's the place Jesse Eisenberg and Ruben Fleischer decided to film their Zombieland follow-up, 30 Minutes or Less.
Due in theaters on Aug. 12, 30 Minutes or Less follows Nick (Eisenberg) and Chet (Aziz Ansari), two estranged best friends who must put aside their differences to rob a bank when Nick has a bomb strapped to his chest by a couple of bumbling criminals (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson). The film shot on location in Grand Rapids last summer and into September, and Movieline got to visit the set with a cavalcade of other journalists to see the planned mayhem first hand. Spoiler: It included a flamethrower.
Below, the nine best revelations from the set of 30 Minutes or Less.
Jesse Eisenberg actually delivered pizza to prepare for his role.
"I went out with a guy who works at the place where we're filming," Eisenberg said into a scrum of tape recorders. "It was very helpful and also very interesting. [...] It made me realize that the character was conceived very accurately, and it was not a dissimilar experience that my character has." Method!
Those expecting 30 Minutes or Less to be Zombieland 2 should wait for Zombieland 2, provided it happens.
"The comedy in this is a little less winking to the audience," Eisenberg said about the differences between the films. "Zombieland had more the tone of constantly playing on the absurdity of the real characters in this crazy situation whereas this movie is genuinely scary in a real way. It doesn't ever feel like safe; like Zombieland always felt scary in a safe way and in a cleverly humorous way. The stakes in this movie are legitimately high and the characters, at least Aziz and my character, are real world characters."
If Nick and Chet act like they've seen Heat, Lethal Weapon and other action movies, that's probably because they have.
Like Hot Fuzz, the protagonists in 30 Minutes or Less have been educated on high stakes action by Hollywood. "You don't want to fully avoid it," Eisenberg said about whether he found himself aping performances from other action films, "because part of the fun of it is that these characters were just like regular guys get into it, and really immerse themselves in the bank robbery; because they have no choice -- because if they don't get the money than the bomb explodes. So yeah, part of the fun of the bank robbery is how committed these guys become -- they become crazed."
As for Ansari, he prepared for 30 Minutes or Less with a whole lot of Michael Mann. "Yeah, you know the whole time before we were shooting that I just watched Heat over and over again, to really get in that mindset. So, it's just like an idiot like me trying to channel through to Heat. [...] I don't think there's ever been a bank robbing comedy so that just seemed like a really interesting concept to me."
Ansari also said he watched The Killing from director Stanley Kubrick, which apparently wasn't as fun.
Maybe Ansari should have just watched Fargo instead.
Despite all the references to Heat and Shane Black on the set, director Ruben Fleischer had another film in mind. "Zombieland was a little more popcorn. It's pure entertainment. You have zombies, comedy. It's a classic avenger story. This one has darker undertones and the best reference point would be Fargo. The grounded-ness of it; the reality, but humorous. Hopefully this will be more actively funny than Fargo was because of the comedians. [...] It's a crime story similar to how Fargo was, as far as the messed up plot of it. Just a misguided plot, and this is a misguided plot, and it's bad for everybody."
Thankfully, not bad enough to include a woodchipper. And yet...
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