It felt so refreshing to see these characters delivering such epic lines seriously, but the film never becomes somber or dramatic. It stays light. Comedy is balanced with sincere emotion so well—especially when it comes to romance. In a scene outside the cave, when Nyles is giving his big speech, he says, “I’d rather die with you than live in this world without you.” Reading this out of context, it could be from an epic romance. How did you manage to marry the wit with such big feelings?
That is one of the lines that, read out of context, could feel heavy-handed, so I appreciate that! From the get-go, it was important to set the tone of this movie, that we will never take ourselves too seriously. Max and I would joke about having one foot on a banana peel and the other in the grave, being able to go from slapstick to serious was always an important tonal shift for us. There’s a silliness to the movie, and so therefore with those lines, my hope is that even in reading the script, by the time you get to a line like that, you as a reader would know what Nyles is like in your mind. Also, I credit Andy Samberg for knowing how to deliver lines like that without them feeling cheesy. When we first met Andy and the Lonely Island guys, he understood this character, by the end better than I did. The character was just words on a page, a figure that existed in my mind. He created this character.
What did you learn from working with the Lonely Island guys, in terms of taking inspiration from their comedy experience while creating something brand new?
By the time it got to them, the script was finished to a point that I was happy with. But Max and I didn’t know that much! So those three guys, and Becky Sloviter who was the producer for them, they know so much more than we did. We were able to not only on the practical side make people want to make this movie, but also on the other side, I’d say primarily in third-act stuff, they helped me dig deeper, and find a satisfying conclusion to the movie where the earlier version of the script just wasn’t as satisfying—you still got to the point, but we were able to mess with the mechanics a little bit more. And they got me to dig deeper on the science part too, where I let this journey into the subconscious via a Jungian, individuation approach maybe take hold a little too much!