YAH sat down with actors Justin Chon and Miles Teller at the recent press day for 21 & Over. There was a lot of laughter as Miles and Justin talk about the film, how they were cast and running around in a tube sock on a college campus! Warning for language and adult content in the following interview!
21 & Over is currently in theaters Nationwide!
Question: How did you find your way to this film?
Justin: I auditioned. I was doing Twilight at the time so I sent a tape in.
Miles: Drink! Every time he says Twilight drink. (laughs)
Justin: I sent a tape in, they called me and I auditioned.
Miles: I auditioned. They originally wanted me to go in for Casey because the way he was described was good looking, leading man. Miller is a kind of overweight comic relief part. I read the script and was like I’m Miller. I’m not going out for Casey, I’m going out for Miller. I think he’s a lot funnier. I walked in wearing a Fish shirt because at the beginning he’s a Fish fan and said I’m Miller. Read with a couple people for Casey. Justin walked in wearing a Pink Floyd shirt and I’m like that’s Jeff Chang.
Question: Did you have any apprehension about doing a movie written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore knowing what The Hangover was?
Miles: Did you (to Justin)? I didn’t.
Justin: No, I was excited.
Miles: As an actor you are reading comedy scripts all the time and most of what you read is not funny. When I read this script I thought it was the funniest script I had ever read so I was excited because you want to make a good rated R comedy. You want to be a part of something that connects with people.
Question to Miles: Looking at the movie, it’s like that’s the role you want (Miller) so obviously you made a move for that role.
Miles: It was the closest thing to my own voice that I have ever had.
Question: How much of the film is ad libbed?
Justin: Most of it is scripted. You do one take for them [the directors] and then they let us run wild after they get what they need so there is a lot of ad libbing to it but there is a structure to it. Most of it wasn’t ad libbed.
Miles: One take would be bookish, close to the book [script], but then there is that one part where you can improvise. They would leave the camera on and I would just do whatever at times. I think that is a credit to Jon and Scott for knowing how to get comedy. It’s a controlled fire.
Question: Is there anything that you wanted to get in the film but couldn’t?
Miles: I wanted to actually show my dick but they said you have to wear a sock. I got as close as I
Question: Do you believe the portrait of the father as an Asian American first generation is typical? Did your parents push you to study?
Justin: I would say this is the experience of a lot of Asian American kids. For me personally, my parents didn’t give a shit what I did. They were pretty hands off since I was a little kid. My Dad was an actor so my being an actor wasn’t that big of a deal. I feel bad for anyone who has to go through anything like that.
Question: Why do they always call Jeff Chang instead of just Jeff?
Justin & Miles: [In unison] Because it’s funny (laughs)
Justin: It’s not racial at all. It just sounds funny. It has a ring.
Miles: I have a friend whose name is Justin Decker. His mom calls him Decker. Everyone calls him Decker. In high school I feel like you get a nickname and it sticks.
Justin: It’s not a race thing, it’s just Jeff Chang. It’s really easy to say. I hope it catches on.
Question: Are you surprised this film is rated R? It feels a little restrained for an R movie? Did content get cut?
Miles: I remember saying there is a lot of male almost nudity..why don’t we balance it out with the females because I think that would be nice for the young male audience. There is just not a lot of that. Language maybe.
Question: Even drinking, you just drink but what else do you do? No drugs.
Justin: Just drinking, no drugs.
Miles: I talk about weed at one point.
Question: In general male nudity is funny. Female nudity is not funny. People laugh at male nudity.
Justin: That’s why all of us our naked in the film (laughs)
Question: What was it like filming on campus? What was it like with all those extras around?
Justin: They didn’t give a shit about us.
Miles: When we were wearing the tube socks we were walking across campus. School had just got back in session, there were 200 people out there taking photos. They loved it. They were very excited we were shooting on their campus.
Question: How much of the stunt work did you guys do?
Miles: I did all of it up until a point and then I was physically unable to do the rest. The golf cart scene at the bonfire when I get in and we get away, I was supposed to jump in as the golf cart was moving. The first two times went fine. The third time Skylar swerved to miss an extra, I fell out, the golf cart swerved back and ran over my leg. I thought I had broken my ankle and knee. I went to ER, came back, finished the scene and had a big boot on for the rest of the shoot.
Justin: I was in the back of the golf cart when we ran over him and I freaked out because I thought we ran over his head. He was just rolling around on the ground in pain. He got back up so I was relieved he was alive. (laughs)
Question: I remember talking to you Justin at a red carpet in November about this film and you were talking about how you are drunk the entire time and I thought you were joking. Where did that come from? Personal experience?
Justin: Yes. I’m hungover right now.
Miles: Yeah Justin is hungover right now. He woke up in Santa Monica this morning and didn’t know where he was at.
Justin: Figuring out how to play the drunk was actually the most difficult thing. You have different levels of drunk: there is a happy drunk, sad drunk, so I had to figure it out. When you look at someone you have to de-focus your eyes and kind of try to focus on both ears at the same time. You are always trying to find balance, you are always leaning on stuff. When you walk, you are always not going to where you want to go..The part that sucked the most was that these guys are carrying me and it hurts..When you are limp and they are carrying you your arm pits start to hurt.
Miles: I give a lot of respect to Justin for the physical aspects of acting that he does in this film. That physical comedy is hard, playing drunk and not making a joke out of it was impressive.
Question: Do you have the impression that Asians here are very nerdy?
Justin: No, I don’t think Asians here are nerdy. Look at me, I’m cool as shit. That’s why I like this movie. This Asian kid is dumb, he’s failing out of school, he’s not a very good student and he likes to drink. He’s not a nerd in the movie and he does some amazing things. He is dancing on top of a car in a pink bra with a teddy bear glued to his dick. It’s not Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles. That’s some racist shit.
Question: Miles how good a kisser is Skyler?
Miles: Next question. (laughs) Honestly, when Jon and Scott are here you can ask them about that. Literally every day from the moment I was cast in this movie I was asking about that scene being changed. I lost the fight but we did it in two takes, two different camera angles. They wanted tongue and I said there is no way I’m doing tongue. We don’t need it for the shot. It’s like CPR, you have given CPR before, right?
Question: What is next for both of you guys?
Justin: This guy (to Miles) is about to blow up.
Miles: I have five films that are coming out. I just did a film at Sundance that is coming out The Spectacular Now. I’m going to just chill for a minute.
Justin: Miles got the special jury award at Sundance for The Spectacular Now which is great.
Question: When you do a movie as big as Twilight how does that alter your career in terms of directors looking at you for a part, as far as “he is too big for this film,” etc.?
Justin: No, not at all. I’m just an ancillary character in that movie. I can definitely get in a room if I like a part but in terms of me, I don’t get offered parts. I’m an auditioning actor. But it’s a very recognizable film so I can be seen for parts. It does help for financing projects. I have been asked to sign a letter of intent in order to get financing, etc. I guess it helps them have a Twilight actor in the film. But in terms of my being offered a part without auditioning, that doesn’t happen.
Question: In terms of Hollywood it seems like there is only room for one minority per film. Do you find that to be your experience?
Justin: Oh, hell yeah. That’s why when I read this role I was like I HAVE to play this role because it’s so rare that a three dimensional character for a minority, especially Asian, in a lead so I had to do the role. My role in Twilight was meant for a Caucasian but Catherine Hardwicke fought to get me in the first film.
Question: Do you think it’s more of the people doing the casting making the decision, the audience, a combination of both? Do you think the audience is ahead of the people making the casting decisions?
Justin: I think so, yeah. Let’s face it..the majority of this country is still Caucasion so I don’t complain about it. But definitely it is a struggle as an actor trying to make it in the U.S.
Question: Do you get a lot of people who say you should do a Kung Fu movie?
Justin: All the time, yes. I do get that sometimes. People want to know if I can do wire work or flips? I’m like no..I can barely walk.
Miles: That’s true..he can barely walk.
Justin: If someone gives me a Kung Fu film, I would totally do it.
Miles: Justin doesn’t give a shit. He has been making good money doing acting for a long time. You wouldn’t necessarily know what he’s from but he doesn’t care. He has his clothing shop and he just wants to do a TV show, get paid and chill.
Justin: Yeah, I just want to chill man. (laughs)
Question: You guys have great chemistry. After the shoot did you stay in touch with each other?
Justin/Miles: Oh definitely. We hang out all the time. Skylar not so much. (Laughs)
Question: Now that you had a big shot with this film, do you now go for the roles that are financially rich or for the roles that challenge you?
Miles: That doesn’t even happen. Maybe now after having done eight movies the money is starting to increase a little bit but big paydays just don’t happen. Now most actors get paid in the back-end which is based on the script you are doing. Even more reason you want to make a good film. I have always based everything I have every done on the script. It’s hard to be a lead in any type of movie in this business as it’s a very small business so I think if you are lucky to do a really good script, then that is the situation to be in. Otherwise you just want to work and hopefully enjoy what you do.
Question: What is the message from this film?
Justin: Friendship. Be good to your friends.
Miles: It’s just a fun movie. We aren’t trying to save the world. It’s a nice solid rated R comedy
that makes you laugh. I think it’s pretty well written, smart comedy and that we don’t
dumb anything down to much.
Question: Do you think this film will establish you as an ensemble and maybe we will see you come back?
Miles: I hate to talk about sequel but I would love to do it. I think sequels most of the time are
pretty bad but I would trust Jon and Scott to do it well.
Justin: Yeah, I agree.
Miles: I would do a lot of films with him (to Justin).
Question: Do you know any other languages?
Justin: I know Korean.
Question: Some of the things in the film seem offensive to the Chinese in the audience. Have you had any feedback about that?
Justin: I don’t think so. To be honest, the first meeting I had with Jon and Scott they sat me down and asked me if there was anything in the script that I found offensive to Asians and I really didn’t find anything offensive. If you switch out my character with a Caucasian person, no one would be saying anything. It’s just a sensitive thing when you put a minority in any movie. People will try to find something wrong with it. I think it’s great comedy and didn’t find anything wrong with it at all.
Miles: Miller says some pretty ignorant stuff but everyone has a friend like Miller.
Question: How was it filming the nude scenes?
Miles: Before this I had never taken my clothes off in a movie and I remember being on the set with a robe and only a tube sock on. Once you do your first take it’s actually kind of cleansing and liberating.
Justin: I have a tattoo on my leg so I had to come earlier than these guys because it had to be covered up. I had to spend the mornings with a guy airbrushing my leg with his face really close to my balls for hours at a time. (laughs)
YAH wants to thank Relativity, Justin and Miles for a great interview!