Interview: Evan Goldberg Talks ‘Green Hornet’, Apocalypses, and ‘Spaceballs’
In a trailer on the Sony lot, Goldberg answered some potential criticisms and revealed some behind the scenes secrets, like Shane Black’s contribution to The Green Hornet. He also shared some ideas about his upcoming apocalypse comedy and some theories about classic televison.
Q: Did you want to explore real daddy issues with Britt Reid?
Evan Goldberg: Yeah, definitely. It was something we were going for. To us, a lot of the things in this movie, we used to meet with Shane Black because there was a period where he was going to maybe direct the movie. We would sit and chat with him in cafes for hours. When we sat with him, we came to realize through a lot of his helpful guidance that in writing this movie, he was like, “You flipped the hero/sidekick relationship and you almost at that juncture had flipped the hero motivation with the parent thing. Make sure to flip everything. You’ve got to make sure to flip everything.” That’s where we were like: Okay, Batman’s dad inspires him. Superman’s parents inspire him. Spider-Man’s uncle dies and he was such a great man, he wants to live up to that. We were like, what if we make his dad an *sshole and he hates his dad. He gets his motivation from him but it’s a negative motivation that he shouldn’t have. So we just tried to take everything and completely reverse it in that regard. That’s kind of how it came to the big daddy issues that it was.
Q: And Britt mentions how novel it is to be superheroes who are not perceived as good guys, but isn’t that part of Batman and Spider-Man too?
EG: Batman, personally I think it was an extremely weak conclusion in that film. [the dark knight] was a great movie but how in the end, there were so many stories going on and the story never really was is Batman a good guy or a bad guy. In the comic books he’ the dark knight, he’s the darkest of the heroes but he’s a hero, period.
Q: Well, even in Batman Returns he’s framed for a while, and the newspaper in Spider-Man is out to get him.
EG: Yeah, Spider-Man they definitely think is a bad guy. I think the only difference is, I guess for Batman it’s I don’t care what anyone things. For Spider-Man, it’s I really want people to think I’m a hero. In The Green Hornet, it’s like, “We’re villains!” So I guess they’re all shades of the same thing, eh?
Q: Did you want to have more of Britt and Kato in conflict than ended up in the movie?
EG: No, no, I’m very happy with it. When it came to this movie, there’s moments in the other movies we made, Superbad and Pineapple, where you’re really like, “Oh man, these guys, there’s a chasm and they’ve fallen apart. I want them to get back together.” We get into the emotion of it more and really wallow in it. This movie we wanted to be more of just a fun romp, so we didn’t want to spend a lot of time with the two people you love having together not together.
Q: Britt comments that Kato is so cool he can slow down time, so Britt knows that’s what happens in Kato-vision?
EG: I think what it is, is that Britt sees him move so quickly, and he says that one line, “When my heart starts pumping, it’s like time slows down.” So I don't think so. He’s just going off of what Kato said. I assume in Britt’s eyes, Kato’s just kicking the sh*t out of people in an amazing fashion.
Q: How detailed did you write the finale in The Daily Sentinel?
EG: I mean, we wrote a lot of detail in it but there were a lot of things that we didn’t write. These questions are almost impossible to answer on The Green Hornet because we wrote that they go up there, but we only wrote they go up there because our production designer was like, “If you build a million dollar set, you might as well destroy it.” So we were like all right, we should destroy The Daily Sentinel. The whole time we were writing, we were trying to get back to The Daily Sentinel. Michel wanted to cut the car in two in the elevator and Seth and I were like, “Well, they shoul drive around in the half car.” He was like, “They can’t do that.” So we found some YouTube videos of some people in the south who had done that so then we threw that in. Then the stunt guys were like, “What if we had the guy with the bazooka there and we smashed through the wall and then backed up.” We were like, “Okay, but as long as you’re shooting missiles at the same time.” So really everyone had a little dip into that.
Q: Was the interview scene with Lenore scripted or heavy improv?
EG: No, that was very much written. It was very long and mostly written. There were some nice improvs in there. There were a few good ones but it was an extremely lengthy scene at first so that we knew we’d have enough to cut it down and make it nice.
Q: Are you still working on Seth and Jay Vs. The Apocalypse?
EG: Yeah, we’re outlining it right now. We’re getting that going soon.
Q: What are your favorite aspects or clichés of the end of the world genres that you can play with?
EG: I mean, it’s very specific what we’re going for and it could change as we go along, but right now it’s like the apocalypse happens and it’s the Catholic one. Period. We’re still undecided but we’re pretty sure that the choice is strictly go with one version of the apocalypse and just stick to it. We think we’re going to stick with the Catholic apocalypse and just go with exactly what Catholics think would happen. What we just found so funny is it’s like the end of days occurs and then there’s the rapture. We’re just like what about all these other schmucks who get left behind? Initially it was just like imagine if the rapture happened, all of us Jewish writers would just be stuck here as the world went to hell. It’s not all Jews anymore but that was kind of the initial motivation. If the apocalypse happened, I would just be stuck on earth while hell comes to earth. That’s what some people are thinking is going to go down. And we’re not going to try to mock the Catholic interpretation of the Apocalypse. We’re just doing that one.
Q: I was thinking of all the Will Smith/Roland Emmerich type end of the world movies.
EG: We’re going with biblical apocalypse hardcore.
Q: But even with the character clichés, the wacky scientist, the screw-up who sacrifices himself for the greater good...
EG: In our movie they’re playing themselves. Seth Rogen is Seth Rogen.
Q: Did you write a movie without Seth?
EG: Yeah, me and Jay Baruchel wrote a movie called Goon being directed by Michael Dowse starring Sean William Scott, Liev Schrieber, Allison Pill and Eugene Levy. It’s a movie about a moronic guy who becomes a goon on a hockey team. They just filmed it up in Winnipeg. I went to the set for a little while. As a Canadian it’s really exciting.
Q: Jay is a part of your group, so is it a similar sense of humor as Seth?
EG: Oh, we’re very, very similar. The Apocalypse is going to be a great team-up though because he loves dark horror stuff like that. We don’t so we’ll be able to combine those two things.
Q: You and Seth were clearly screen junkies growing up. What movies did you own on VHS, back when that was rare?
EG: Spaceballs, Three Amigos, Terminator 2 until I wore it out and got another one and another one and another one. Young Guns. Really it was Spaceballs. I think Spaceballs is the greatest comedy ever.
That’s a bold statement, Mr. Goldberg.