Andy Smaberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer talk Hot Rod

During a publicity stop in Seattle, I got the chance to speak with Director Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg, and Jorma Taccone about their new film “Hot Rod”. The Saturday Night Live members were in fine form as we talked about their movie. Sarah Fetters of was also in attendance as we did a round table interview.

GVK: How is Producer Lorne Michaels different to work with on a film as compared to working with him on SNL?

Akiva: You get to know Lorne much better on film and you get much more attention paid to you. The movie is also much more relaxed as you are not trying to do 90 minutes worth of material in 4 ½ days.

Andy Samberg: No time for chit chat on SNL.

Jorma: We had a 45 day shoot on this film and when we broke shooting prior to last season we were back at the new season the next day.

GVK: What were your first impressions of the script?

Andy: I loved the script. While I have not seen many film scripts, I was hooked as it really fits our style of humor.

GVK: The film has many pop culture references to it and really seems to parody the teen films of the 70’s and 80s; what can you tell the readers about how this came to be?

Andy: The film was built to reward people who have knowledge of movies and pop culture. The marching scene for example was totally improvised at the end. We even make reference to the BMX film “Rad” with some of the t-shirts that had sayings from the film. They have those shirts on our site as well.

Akiva: I had shot the scene about four times and was really happy with it. All of a sudden we thought wouldn’t it be funny of this happened and we added the scenes with the television at the end.

GVK: How did you come to pick the music in the film, especially Europe’s The Final Countdown album?

Akiva: We used 8 of the 10 cuts on that album; we avoided using the title song and the ballad Carrie.

Andy: Arrested Development used the Final Countdown, and the theme is in the trailer.

Jorma: We almost changed Denise’s name in the film to Carrie so we could include the song, but decided not to.

GVK: How did the Punch Dancing scene come about?

Akiva: that was something we came up with and thought would be great to ad in the film.
Andy: Every now and then you just have to go out in the woods and punch dance out your rage.

Jorma: We had thought about going all out and not stopping with the Pommel Horse.

Andy: We had thought about having him go from that to track and field, javelin, pole vault and then the baton race.

At this point Sarah asked the guys how they know when they have gone too far and how they know when they have gone far enough.

Jorma: During the riot scene we try to think of ways to take things too far.

Andy: And then go even further.

Jorma: (laughing) yes, that fall scene was not nearly long enough.

Andy: Like the spaceship in “Spaceballs” that just keeps going on and on, and the kiss in “Big Top Pee Wee”.

GVK: I had read that you had never been on a moped before. How hard was the training for the film?

Andy: I am notoriously bad on anything with wheels. I am decent on a regular bike, but this was tough.

I did 2-3 weeks of training on the moped prior to the start of shooting. Our stunt guy was amazing as he had worked on “Gladiator” and several other films so he knew what to do.

I eventually moved on to a real motorcycle complete with gears and everything.

(Jorma and Akiva Tease Andy at this point)

Come on, it was a big deal for me.

GVK: I had read that the stunt work was very tricky as making a stunt go bad for the screen is often harder then pulling the stunt off.

Jorma: Very true. We wanted the film to have a real analog look to it and not rely on CGI.

Akiva: We also wanted the film to be like the audience was actually hanging out with the guys and got a real sense of them and what they were about.

Andy: Real not staged.

GVK: While all three of you are writers, for the most part Akiva has chosen to shy away from acting and focus on directing. How did this come about?

Akiva: I am more used to it. I used to act and sort of mess around in our films but would be nervous in other stuff as you are not always sure what they want. I find it easier to do my own stuff.

At this point Sarah asked the group if they were happy to stay in comedy or if they look to move into more serious films in the future.

Andy: Jorma is classically trained and I am sure would love it, but I would love to soak in comedy.

Akiva: All of our heroes did silly stuff early and got more serious as time went on. Steve Martin, Adam Sandler, Bill Murray. They got older, wiser, and made different choices.

Andy: films like “Billy Madison”, “Ace Ventura”, and “Sleeper” are some of my favorites as are Monty Python, Mel Brooks, “The JerK”, and Carl Reiner.

GVK: What do you look for in a comedy?

Andy: Comedies often get a bad rap. I look for 2-3 great jokes a film and if I get that, then the film is good.

Jorma: We will watch anything.

GVK: Knowing how hard the grind of SNL can be, do you find it harder to go back to the routine this year than you did after completing the first part of the film last year?

Akiva: I am actually more excited about returning to SNL this year. Last year we wrapped the first part of shooting and got back to New York on a Sunday and were on SNL the next day. At the time, my head was still in “Hot Rod” so it was tough. This time, the film is done, and I can look forward to the work ahead of me and go in with a clean slate.

Andy and Jorma: Plus it is great to go back and have work ahead of you.

The interview closed with Sarah asking who would win in a fight between Ian and Andy in reference to the fighting their characters do in the film.

Andy: Ian would win easily, as he is in great shape, better shape than I have been in any time in my life.

Check out Hot Rod in theaters August 3rd.