From the celebrated team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the duo behind outrageous comedy hits including This is the End and Neighbors, Lionsgate new film’ Long Shot, a story that mixes romantic comedy with politics and even Boys II Men, hits theaters this Friday. Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) is a gifted and free-spirited journalist with an affinity for trouble. Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) is one of the most influential women in the world. Smart, sophisticated, and accomplished, she’s a powerhouse diplomat with a talent for…well, mostly everything. The two have nothing in common, except that she was his babysitter and childhood crush. When Fred unexpectedly reconnects with Charlotte, he charms her with his self-deprecating humor and his memories of her youthful idealism. As she prepares to make a run for the Presidency, Charlotte hires Fred as her speechwriter, much to the dismay of her trusted advisors. A fish out of water on Charlotte’s elite team, Fred is unprepared for her glamorous lifestyle in the limelight. However, sparks fly as their unmistakable chemistry leads to a round-the-world romance and a series of unexpected and dangerous incidents.
We had a chance to chat with Director Jonathan Levine about the film and his creative choices. Check it out!
The Knockturnal: I laughed the whole way through it. There are a lot of pop references, elements. There’s Game of Thrones. There’s Marvel. Did those stay the same throughout production? Did you have to shift with the tide? How did that work out?
Jonathan Levine: No. It’s interesting, like, with every reference…so much of comedy is just referencing things and it’s just because, it’s just so funny. It’s a common thing you share with the audience. No, with every version of a reference we probably have ten different things that we’ve tried and didn’t do, or… a lot of them end up getting cut out. But, it is always the most funny type of joke and we have writers on set who are always coming up with more and more references. So, like, when he’s wearing that suit in Sweden, for example, that’s a great place to generate, just, 100 different jokes about how silly he looks that are references. And but no it was really fun in this movie because we got to reference stuff that meant something to me as a young person like Beverly Hills 90210, and Boys II Men and stuff like that, it was like old pop culture stuff. Like, nostalgic stuff. Really, really felt fun for me as a consumer of pop culture to be able to harken back to that time.
The Knockturnal: I have the ask the question about Boys II Men. Was that always an element here? How did that even come about?
Jonathan Levine: No, we never… on the night before, at the end, we were lucky enough to get Miley Cyrus to come so it’s like, you never start with like, the dream person. You just say, like, a band comes and you know, a super awesome band, like, in all caps. That’s probably how it would read in the script. And then you just start kinda, you start with your first choices and you see if you can get them and we knew we wanted it to be a band that meant something to them when they were younger. Like I said, so much of this is about remembering who your old self is and so we didn’t know we could get the best band from that era, and they were absolutely amazing. So exciting.
The Knockturnal: This film to me looked a little different than others in terms of lighting, in terms of using natural light..
Jonathan Levine: Oh thank you! All right! Let’s get into some substance!
The Knockturnal: Yeah, no, I wanted to talk about that.
Jonathan Levine: I mean it was really important to me to make a movie that didn’t look or feel like a comedy. You know I think what was so exciting to me about this movie was that it had scope, that it was an original story, and that it had this kind of fairy tale element that would allow me to do more cinematic stuff then you normally get in a studio comedy. I find that so many of them look very similar. So for us, we hired a cinematographer and a production designer who weren’t associated with comedy who could really make it feel like this beautiful but grounded environment and then I was to do more things with the camera than I have in previous comedies. That was really exciting to me. I’m so glad you noticed that.
The Knockturnal: Oh gosh. Thank you, for doing that. It did come across to me as something very unique. Different look. Unique look.
Jonathan Levine: Yeah I mean it’s like the movies we really wanted it to be like were movies that we grew up with that looked, they didn’t look like comedies, you know. Like, Pretty Woman and When Harry Met Sally and Cameron Crowe movies. They don’t look like comedies. They look like, you know, beautiful versions of real life. So that was what we were going for.
The Knockturnal: Thank you so much for your time. It was great to speak with you.
Jonathan Levine: Yeah! Thank you! I like this necklace. That’s dope.