The latest slightly-misogynistic-but-not-enough-to-be-unfunny buddy comedy, She's Out of My League, is miraculously not directed by Judd Apatow, but does star one of his discoveries, Jay Baruchel (Undeclared, Knocked Up, etc.). He plays Kirk Kettner, a frumpy-yet-happy airport security agent who catches the eye of a flawless girl and spends the duration of the film struggling to understand why such a perfect creature would be interested in him. In League's most memorable scene, Kirk's friends convince him to "manscape" his crotch, and (spoiler alert!) while we don't get any full frontal action (a la Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Mashall), we do see a shot of Kirk's entire backside. There's also a pretty gnarly scene in which, through a sequence of only-in-a-rom-com events, an enormous dog licks Kirk's (clothed) crotch to no avail. At a press junket this weekend, we spoke with Baruchel about acting in these humiliating scenes, as well as his experience co-starring in the upcoming Nicolas Cage film, The Sorcerer's Apprentice.
What was the key to playing your character in She's Out of My League?
He's not pathetic. It was important to me that [the movie] not be about a guy whose life sucks. If [Kirk] hadn't met [Molly, the object of his affection], he'd still be happy. He was content with his life. Everything was going pretty well; she just enhanced it.
You opted to use a butt double in the movie. What prompted that decision?
Well, it was two things: One, I have a little sister and a mother. Also, I don't need my junk out there for everyone to see. Had they really wanted me to be naked in it, they should've asked me then when they negotiated my friggin' contract.
How did you choose which backside would be yours?
Whichever one had the least amount of ingrown hairs. [Laughs]
Did you feel at all pressured to do full frontal, like some other comedic actors have done in the last couple of years?
Are you kidding me? No fucking way! I'm convinced I can have a career that I love and respect and am proud of without ever once having to be naked. For the precious few people out there crossing their fingers for Jay Baruchel to be naked in the movie... well, no one's holding their breath for that sequence.
What was the most challenging scene for you to film?
I think we all know that answer: there's nothing more challenging than having dog lick beef paté off your crotch.
What was it like working on a big-budget special-effects film like The Sorcerer's Apprentice?
It was a lot of fun. You become an actor because you played cops and robbers as a little kid, and I've had a few moments in my career where I'm basically getting paid money to play cops and robbers -- in Tropic Thunder, I ran around with an M16 in my hand for six months and that was the fucking coolest thing ever. You get to show up every day and play army guy. And doing The Sorcerer was even more so because I'm fighting monsters and shooting energy out of my hands.... it's just such a movie that I would see. It is what it is, man: it's a massive summer event movie. It's a fucking ride and a half, that flick. I had plenty of opportunities to just geek out on that movie. I'm real psyched about it.
The interesting thing about fantasy films these days is that most of them seem to be working very hard to seem somewhat believable, at least in terms of their realistic, urban settings. How does Sorcerer fit into that trend?
Well, I think that the fact that they shot here [New York City], number one -- there's nothing fake about it. It was important to all of us, and it was important to Nic [Cage] especially. He's a guy who grew up in California, but he says he's made more movies in New York than in L.A. He says New York is his favorite place on Earth. He's moved; he's here now. He doesn't have a house in L.A. at all anymore. And I've been coming down here since I was 15. Everybody involved has a real affection for this city. The first line of stage direction in the script is:
The sun rises. Another day begins over the most magical city in the world.
Given the fact that we're actually shooting where we're shooting, that's how you keep it real --You shoot in Crown Heights for two months, it's real.
What was it like working with Nic Cage?
It was awesome. It was amazing. The movie nerd in me was just blown away to be in conversation with this unique cadence, because he speaks in such a unique way, that I grew up hearing. I mean, my friends and I snuck into see Con Air when I was 15. Here I am, on set with him, so that was crazy. He's just brilliant, and as an actor he's incredibly generous and works his ass off. And he's super polite, on time and the most crazy-professional guy I've ever worked with.
More than anything, I just love the conversations we had. We have the same taste in music. We like a lot of the same movies. And also, I liked doing my impression of him, making fun of him, just bothering him all day long. There was this one time where we shot a sequence on an elevated train platform, so we had to do this walk-through on the subway with the MTA guys. And we were walking on the tracks and he turned to me and said:
[In a spot-on Cage voice] "What is it about danger that is so compelling?"
And I was like, that's amazing! I'd fuck with him the whole movie. I called him Coppola the entire movie. I remember one time he was on the ground and he said, [again, in a breathy, Cage impression] "Why do you insist on calling me Coppola?" and I said, "Because of that reaction, right there. Exactly."
No matter what, I smoked Cuban cigars with Nicolas Cage outside his trailer. And that's the coolest thing ever.
Obligatory geeky question: Who would win in a fight: Gandalf from Lord of the Rings or Nic Cage from Sorcerer's Apprentice?
Oh Cage, clearly Cage. Are you kidding me? Because he's fucking Cage! Where have you been the last ten years, man?