Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari make us nervous. We can't keep our mouths shut before they enter the room at the Fontainebleau, but once they're in there, we get shy. The two actors are visiting Miami to promote their upcoming movie, 30 Minutes or Less, which is due out this August. After they leave the interview, the two are whisked off to Lincoln Road to hand out slices of pie at Pizza Rustica. You see, Eisenberg's character in the film is a pizza delivery guy turned bank robber, forced to break the law against his own will, of course.
Eisenberg arrives to the roundtable interview first. He's friendly and shakes our hands, commenting on the room's ocean view. Ansari follows and immediately starts off with the comedy, performing a mock interview with his costar.
Pretending to write on the pad in front of him, he asks, "So, Jesse, uh... What was it like doing a film like The Social Network and then coming and doing a more comedic role like you had in 30 Minutes or Less?" Eisenberg answers seriously, "Well, actually, you know for me, it wasn't that different, 'cause my character has a bomb strapped to him, so he's in a drama."
Ansari responds, deadpan, "OK." We're nervous, but they're funny, so we laugh. He continues with the act: "What was it like working with Aziz Ansari?" Eisenberg pretends to write on his Fontainebleau notepad. "Why are you writing your answers?" Ansari jokes. "I was writing my questions down to ask you -- seems weird that you had to write your answers."
Their new film was directed by Ruben Fleischer, who worked with Eisenberg on the dark comedy Zombieland. In 30 Minutes or Less, a pizza delivery guy (Eisenberg) is accosted by two goofy thugs sporting gorilla masks and wielding a flame thrower, played by the very funny Danny McBride and Nick Swardson.
They, as Eisenberg mentioned, strap a bomb to his chest and force him to rob a bank. He enlists the help of his best friend (Ansari), a third-grade history teacher. It's an action movie, it's a comedy, and it's a buddy film.
Eisenberg says the fun part of the movie is how these two normal dudes with mundane lives figure out how to rob a bank. "They buy ski masks, they buy toy guns, 'cause they can't get real guns, and spray-paint them black to look real, buy 5-hour Energy drinks to maintain their stamina." The actor was even able to do some dangerous driving in a big chase scene.
Fleischer wanted to use fewer computer effects, so, according to Eisenberg, he "put me and Aziz in this car and filled the road with 25 stunt drivers, and so we could do anything we wanted, weaving in and out, and the stunt drivers had to react to us." He says it was a unique situation "being able to drive recklessly and not worry. I guess it's basically like drunk driving."
Ansari responds, "That'd be a safer drunk driving. Everyone else on the road is a stunt driver, then it's safe to drink and drive."
Both Ansari and Swardson are comedians. We ask Eisenberg if there are perks or downfalls to working with funny guys. He says, "I felt that was advantageous for me because my character is going through a very intense situation and yet I know that the movie is a comedy. I didn't feel the burden of having to be very funny; I could be true to my character's situation and plight." He added, "Because Aziz is so funny and creative that I felt like if I'm in a scene with him, I could take it seriously and the scene would still be funny."
Ansari believes comedies "live or die by the chemistry of the actors." He says, "What you see in the film, I think, is a variation of our real life back and forth." Eisenberg seems sincere and thoughtful, saying, "Aziz is the greatest stand-up comedian." To which Ansari responds, "Not the greatest, but I'm OK." Clearly, Eisenberg's earnest nature balances Ansari's easy humor.
Asked what advice he'd give someone on making it in Hollywood, Ansari says, "I think if you go in with the goal of 'making it in Hollywood,' that seems silly to me." He likes doing stand-up, so he did it. "I think if you get in with the attitude of 'I want to make great work,' then you will hopefully get to do better things. But if you go in with, like, 'I wanna be famous and get free shoes!' Then, like, I hate you as a human being and don't want to talk to you."
They're both gracious as they leave the room, taking fan photos with the interviewers without judgment. Like a social genius, Eisenberg even remembers our names.
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As the pair walks through the lobby, people do double-takes, their eyes widening, their fingers pointing. The sight of two famous actors strolling casually on their way to serve their fans pizza is exactly why it's worth every penny to stay at the Fontainebleau.