‘Youth in Revolt’ Interview: Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday on Bad Guys vs. Good Guys

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CHICAGO – “Youth in Revolt,” which hit the street on DVD on June 15, 2010, has about broken even since its theatrical debut on Jan. 8, 2010 with $18.3 million in global box-office earnings on a $18 million production budget. The film stars Michael Cera in a two-faced role along with newcomer Portia Doubleday.

“Youth in Revolt” also stars Ray Liotta, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Long, Fred Willard, Steve Buscemi, Jean Smart, Erik Knudsen, Adhir Kalyan, Ari Graynor, Rooney Mara, Jade Fusco, Lise Lacasse and M. Emmet Walsh from director Miguel Arteta and writer Gustin Nash based on the novel by C.D. Payne. HollywoodChicago.com teamed up with MovieRetriever to interview the Cera/Doubleday duo.

Michael Cera in Youth in Revolt
Michael Cera in “Youth in Revolt”.
Image credit: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

MovieRetriever: Have you seen the film with an audience?

Michael Cera: Yeah. Twice.

MovieRetriever: Is there anything that plays differently than you would have expected? Any bigger laughs or smaller laughs?

Cera: Every screening’s different… where the laughs are placed and how big they are. But, um, no big surprises.

MovieRetriever: Nothing that you find hilarious that doesn’t seem to register?

Cera: Some things get buried under laughter, which is interesting. I don’t think anything falls flat that I ever expected to get a big laugh.

MovieRetriever: When a movie’s delayed a couple times, does that frustrate you or do you have to let release dates and that kind of stuff go?

Cera: I don’t know anything about it, so it’s not that frustrating. It would be frustrating if they delayed it more. Then I’d get worried. I think they’ve just been strategically placing it or I could be being naive. (Laughs.) If they all of a sudden just put it out on DVD, then I’d be worried. (Laughs.) I have no idea about placement of movie releases or what decisions are based on, so…

MovieRetriever: When you do a movie, do you look at marketing, trailers and stuff that happens after you’re done?

Cera: Yeah. They sent us the trailer. But it’s a whole different world.

HollywoodChicago.com: Do you think girls or guys ultimately like the bad guy or the good guy?

Cera: The bad guy’s kind of more fun to watch. Personally, I feel that way.

Portia Doubleday: I think a combination of both. I think girls can be a little obsessed with bad boys. They’re unpredictable.

HollywoodChicago.com: Then would Nick [Michael Cera’s character] be considered an ideal guy for a lot of girls in their teens since he is both?

Doubleday: Yeah. I suppose. In personal situations I’ve been in, I think sometimes the badass qualities are a front. Though they may be attractive in the beginning, when you get to know someone and who they are that ends up being what you’re attracted to. I think girls are attracted to the initial game playing. It’s something they can’t have and it’s something unpredictable. It drives us nuts. (Laughs.)

HollywoodChicago.com: Are you either one of those guys?

Cera: No. I don’t think so. I think I’m my own person.

MovieRetriever: You know there are a lot of bad teenage rom-coms out there. How would you tell people that this one is different? How can you sell this as not just another teen rom-com?

Michael Cera (right) and Portia Doubleday (left) in Youth in Revolt
Michael Cera (right) and Portia Doubleday (left) in “Youth in Revolt”.
Image credit: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Cera: It’s tough. I think it’s a hard thing to sell. I don’t know how you would sell this movie.

Doubleday: I think it’s just word of mouth. Once people see it, they’re going to be in for something they’re not expecting. In the first trailer, they didn’t show any of the quirky characters. In the second trailer, there are more pieces of it. I think it’s surprising when you meet all of these characters. Each one brings a different kind of weird thing to the plot that adds to it and makes it different from regular movies.

HollywoodChicago.com: I felt like there were things in the movie that were deliberately not cliche. You have a French alter ego who doesn’t speak French.

Cera: Right. Yes. Miguel [Arteta] always goes the less-predictable route.

MovieRetriever: How’s Miguel different from other directors?

Cera: He plays everything really small. This movie, I think, could have been a lot broader in a lot of ways. He does a really good job of keeping everything contained and underplaying the joke. I prefer that when watching a movie. He likes things to be surprising, too, and confusing. He’s not afraid of that, which is also really nice.

MovieRetriever: What’s his production style like?

Cera: He’s open to whatever you want to do.

MovieRetriever: Did he allow you a lot of input into your character?

Doubleday: Yeah. I was scared. It’s a really complex character (especially when you read the book). I mean, it’s really inspiring when you read the book, but she’s complex. It’s hard to be likable, manipulative, distant, aloof and in touch. There’s a lot of things to play. Miguel was just on it. I felt like he was always talking with his actors and on their level.

He was really warm and approachable, which made it like you were really working together and really wanted to make it the best it could be. He’d give rehearsal time and not even really talk about what we were doing. He’d just talk about anything and get into it and try things out. I don’t have any directors to compare it to, but now I’m really scared because he seems to be…

Cera: …a special guy.

Doubleday: He is really special and super talented. He doesn’t have any kind of ego that represents his characteristics.

MovieRetriever: What was the most challenging part of the production (i.e. either a specific day or a general character issue)?

Doubleday: For me, it was kind of getting accustomed to working. (Laughs.)

MovieRetriever: You have a unique situation with it being your debut.

Cera: It was pretty smooth.

Doubleday: Not betraying the book.

Cera: Yeah.

Youth in Revolt with Michael Cera
Image credit: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Doubleday: It has a huge following. There’s a little bit of pressure added with people who are obsessed with the book and expect it to be at the level that it’s at, which is difficult.

HollywoodChicago.com: Is this a role you had wanted for a while?

Cera: Yeah. I had been sent the script when I was 16 and they sent the book with it. I read the book and got really obsessed with it. I was always asking what was going on with the movie and it didn’t get going for a long time. It’s one of those movies that kind of sat around. It was with Lionsgate for a while and then they sold it.

HollywoodChicago.com: …and you were the first attached.

Cera: Yeah. Finally.

MovieRetriever: How did you get the role, Portia?

Doubleday: I auditioned for it. I met Michael. I did a test with him and I got a call from Miguel who said: “We’re going to Michigan.” My heart stopped.

MovieRetriever: Where did you guys shoot in Michigan?

Cera: Royal Oak.

MovieRetriever: It’s where I grew up. Birmingham.

Cera: No way. I know Birmingham. Our production office was in Birmingham. There’s a diner.

MovieRetriever: Coney Island?

Cera: No, not the 24-hour place. There’s a Tim Horton’s. Right by the Tim Horton’s.

MovieRetriever: Did you like my hometown?

Doubleday: Yeah. Loved it.

Cera: Loved it, man. I loved Royal Oak. Beautiful. I was just there. Miguel’s shooting in Ann Arbor right now and I went to visit him.

MovieRetriever: You have a lot of experience already, Michael. What does Portia bring to this role that other actresses wouldn’t have?

Cera: She really embodied the character. It really felt like Sheeni felt in the book. Nobody else did. It was kind of an obvious choice to make.

HollywoodChicago.com: Do you think teens ever really take love that far?

Michael Cera (right) and Portia Doubleday (left) in Youth in Revolt
Michael Cera (right) and Portia Doubleday (left) in “Youth in Revolt”.
Image credit: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Cera: Some people do. Some maniacs.

MovieRetriever: Do you have a “crazy thing done for love” story you want to share?

Cera: I broke some kid’s legs. It was her younger brother. Just to send a message. (Laughs.)

MovieRetriever: What was the message?

Cera: Don’t make me angry. I have a really bad temper. I’ll hurt the people that you love.

MovieRetriever: That’s an interesting message.

Cera: Scared the hell out of her.

HollywoodChicago.com: Being that you’re you, I can’t tell if you’re joking right now.

Cera: I can’t say. (Laughs.)

HollywoodChicago.com: Why has nerdy or geeky become chic lately?

Cera: I don’t know. I think since the John Hughes movies, people have liked that kind of underdog role. It’s kind of an easy thing for people to like.

MovieRetriever: Do either of you know what’s next?

Cera: I don’t.

MovieRetriever: I ask every year: Any progress on the “Arrested Development” movie?

Cera: I think it’s going to happen next year. Next summer.

MovieRetriever: Have you seen a script?

Cera: No. There’s no script yet.

Transcribed by Brian Tallerico. Interviews by Adam Fendelman and Brian Tallerico. Read our highly rated “Youth in Revolt” DVD review here.

HollywoodChicago.com editor-in-chief and publisher Adam Fendelman


© 2010 Adam Fendelman, HollywoodChicago.com LLC

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