This article was featured in the February 27 print issue.
Harrison Dahme, Howl Staff
After having watched the movie, I was still shell-shocked the next day. Deem (our Photo Editor) and I made our way to the Royal York, which at the time had all the fire alarms going off and was full of older, large people, clutching Doritos, carrying diet sodas under one arm and hard liquor under the other. . Fancy as shit. Apparently the 19th floor, executive suite washrooms are the nicest in Toronto. Anyway, the cast of Project X was seated at the head of a pretty massive wooden table that just screamed “BUSINESS!”. Picture three young, laid back, twenty-somethings, who are still coming to grips with all the fame they’re recieving. Positively “dripping with fame,” JB told me the night before. They managed to keep everything really light and fun all the same and we had a pretty fun afternoon. Also, there was no fudge, but the cheese was delicious.
What was the audience like last night? What was it like to be involved in an event film?
JB: It’s not so much an event film, but more like a “small scale disaster movie set in a block where the world blows up, but John Cusak escapes” kind of thing.So it’s like you mixed that with teen comedies, and then cranked it up to 11. So part of the experience was watching the audience, and that’s a bit unnerving for me, honestly, it’s vindication for all the work and effort.
Costa: Yeah, and I’m not really sure if they’re always supposed to be laughing, or what parts they find amusing
Tom: I think as long as they find it fun, the energy of what was on set will carry it. Lots of people will get that from the film. I mean it’s so fast paced, and so much energy, people will probably be exhausted after watching it. Just ’cause it’s so much in such a small amount of time.
JB: Yeah, I knew things went well when a guy came up to me while I was peeing and went “awesome job”.
Costa: Yeah, we got hit on by so many dudes. Lotta love.
JB: Lotta love from the bros. Maybe 1.5 chicks.
Reached TMZ fame yet?
JB: [Laughs] No, more like “Hey, when’re you moving out Johnathon!”
Brilliant film, I’ve got to say, but as a homeowner, scary.
JB: Yeah, I think it’s a comedy until you reach age 35.
Especially your character, Costa.
Costa: Yeah, if someone had a kid like that, I’d probably tell them “Hey, your kid sucks|”
JB: There’s nothing disturbing about it, really, I mean at the end of the day, it’s a movie.
Did you draw on any of your highschool experiences when you were filming this?
Tom: A little bit, not much. It was more just the energy on set. I mean there was always a DJ playing between takes, so even the extras were always dancing. So it’s really easy to party, but it was probably hardest to be the party pooper, in the scenes where I’m stressing out.
Which scenes were the hardest or coolest to film?
Tom:The roof scene was pretty cool. Especially because it’s a little bit of a turning point in the movie.
JB: Yeah, that’s when the third act really kicks in.
Costa I really liked the tasering scene, I thought that was a lot of fun. Really anything with the two young kids, that was part of the heart of the movie. Nice, funny kids.
You guys are pretty tight – was that all written in?
Tom: Well, we actually had three weeks rehearsal, hours of rewriting the script for our voices and finding our dynamic.
JB: Aside from the script writer and screen writer, we also had an on-set writer who worked with all of us who basically molded the script to our characters and us as actors. They also let us really play on set, which is pretty rare and unique
Were you guys able to improvise a lot?
JB: Improvising came a lot in rehearsal.
Costa: On the day yeah, and also on set quite a bit.
Tom: This is a question we all disagree on a lot. We got to play around a lot right, so that last scene in the movie, with Kirby, was done pretty much on the spot. That’s about as close as it got though.
John, did you do all your own stunts, including that scene in the locker room?
JB: I did not – oh. That, that, well you have my number. In terms of the actual stunts, I had a guy in his late 50s, he told me had done the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre in his 20s. And there are not a lot of guys in their 20s who look like me. At the beginning of your career as a stuntman you need to be in shape. What happens down the line is subjective. But this guy put on a wig and rocked it. You’re seeing this guy easily my dad’s age just dressed up like a 17 year old kid.
I love the escalation. At the end of the movie it makes getting hammered look as unglamourous as it really is. As the movie goes on you look more nad more haggered. How hard was it to balance the comedic aspects with just being sick as all hell?
Tom: That was tough. I mean we shot at night for five weeks, everyone got to know each other. At the end of it, it began to feel like an actual party. So it was a little stressful towards the end, as we had to look at where we were in the script, and what was going on, how’s he feeling about the party. Especially becuase you’re not always shooting chronologically.
Costa: Yeah, for him it was harder because he’s carrying more of the story, he’s got a lot more consquence. My character was just one note, all the way through. We had to shoot that party in order though, as the house was just getting destroyed. So every day it got more exhausting. At the end I looked like crap. I was just covered in dirt, it was disgusting
JB: Yeah, I wouldn’t reccommend throwing a five-week party of your own. But yeah, the makeup got more extensive every time we shot.
Can you talk about the set? I mean, it’s chaos, but it’s a movie, so it’s controlled chaos. Can you talk about Nima’s strengths as a director?
Costa: To me, he made it feel alive. A lot of the movies you see have backgrounds where the kids aren’t moving. He has the attention to detail. I mean, he’d be paying attention to the red cups in the scene, and go “Too many red cups, get them out”. He ended up making the movie feel real. Especially those montages, they really felt real.
JB: He also personally cast all 300 extras, he wanted to find interesting people that would surprise him on set and do cool, fun and interesting things.
Tom: Yeah, and we did a lot dancing scenes, just to find those special moments
Costa: When they did the montages, there were times where they would just turn on the music, turn on the cameras and send us through the crowd. It doesn’t get more realistic. It was apple juice instead of beer – we were beer bonging apple juice, I wanted to puke.
Tom: I remember my favourite moment of being on set, after the cops leave for the first time, we go into the backyard, and everyone’s kind of hushed. Costa yells, “To the break of dawn!”, and the backyard just erupts. It was just insane. They even played Pursuit of Happiness. You come up with all these people who are just so hyped to be in a movie, because they’re probably getting facetime. There’s probably an extra on the poster whose face you can see better than ours.
Costa: Yeah, yeah, these kids just went crazy. The camera was just going through the crowd. We were dancing, drenched in whatever was in those cups.
Was it based on what happened in Germany? (Loveparade)
JB: From what i know it was based on – well, not really based on, but you know – an Australian party. Corey Worthington was a kid who through this rager and I think some of the numbers may have been similar, but there might have been some inspiration taken from there. There’s a cut line from the movie where Costa’s talking about some party…and how some kid fell through the roof. There was something called Kate’s birthday party on Facebook a couple years ago though, where some girl made her party public on facebook and 2000 people showed up, uninvited.
My understanding was that there was a nationwide talent search he;d by Todd Phillips, how’d you make yourselves stand out
JB: I did an open call over the internet
Costa: I had a friend, the goalie from Mighty Ducks, who got me the audition.
Tom: I was just submitted through my agent, and I was like “Pfft, another audition?” But I’m glad I got it. It was a really long process though. I think I went in 7 times, over 9 months. We did a couple of mixes and matches where I’d read with other Costas and other JBs. I started in May, I think Costa started in June.
You mentioned you’d gotten your head cut open – can you expand on that a bit?
JB: We were filming a scene where Costa has the pimp cup – the chalice, One night on set he was shaking it, and it sliced my head. I required on-set medical attention. Lots of blood, lots of bandaids.
Costa: It was a cut. I think you actually yelled “Cut!” though. You actually went “Cut, cut, stop!”.
Tom: I think we were on a truck when that happened, out front of the house. There were so many people there, pushing the truck, but it was like a riot. The energy of these people was insane!
What was one of the best stories from filming?
JB: A lot of the extras threw parties of their own.
Tom: Well, there was the original one, the one with the clever idea to start handing out flyers to all 300 cast members there. They’d decided to have their own party on the weekend when we weren’t shooting.
JB: It was like it was in North Hollywood, pretty clever. There was this one girl on cast who was always dancing with me whenever we were filming, who I saw at the extras party. She went “Hey,” and I went “Heyy, whatever your name is, you’re the girl who’s always grinding on me on camera”. And she just looked at me and said “I’m an actress,” and walked off. She took it very seriously.