Broken Lizard‘s Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Erik Stolhanske, Steve Lemme, and Paul Soter as well as Emmanuelle Chriqui and Brian Cox hit the red carpet to discuss their time working on the highly anticipated Super Troopers 2, the overwhelming fandom for the series, and their writers’ room.
Every once in a while a film comes along that doesn’t whoo the critics, doesn’t make all that much money, and isn’t beloved by all. It’s the kind of movie that you might catch once in a while when flipping through the channels or maybe you overhear someone mentioning it at a party. It’s a movie that, well, isn’t for everyone. One of those movies is Broken Lizard’s Super Troopers. Released in 2001, it was a mediocre hit among ordinary fans and critics but an absolute smash with comedy fans nationwide. And while some may call it a cult classic, for the fans of Super Troopers and Broken Lizard’s other underrated gems like Club Dread and Beerfest, it is much more than that.
After raking in $2 million in seed money in less than 26 hours, it seemed that Broken Lizard knew what the fans wanted. Producer Richard Perello confirmed that Super Troopers 2 then became “the number one Indiegogo crowdfunded film” and the “number two of any crowdfunding film on any platform.” It didn’t take long after that for the Broken Lizard gang to start rousing everyone from the first film to return. From Brian Cox to Lynda Carter, most of the cast from the first film returned to sequel, picking up right where they left off. So after nearly a decade in developmental hell, it appeared that the cinema gods granted Broken Lizard their wish to make the sequel to their cult classic. The Knockturnal had the opportunity to talk with Broken Lizard as well as Brian Cox and Emmanuelle Chriqui about the film, their close-knit relationships, and the cult status of the film. Check out what they had to say below.
Butt of the Joke
A writer’s room can be a grueling process that takes every bit of soul and heart out of you. It can be a stressful experience, one that points out just how funny, smart, or insightful one can write. But that never seemed to be the case for Broken Lizard, who had been working together since their college days at Colgate University. So it didn’t seem like it was much work to the guys at all.
Erik Stolhanske (who plays Rabbit) said, “we just did what came naturally to us. We were trying to write jokes that made the five of us laugh.” It appeared as though they picked up right where they left, with Stolhanske explaining, “we wrote it in one style in the first movie, and so we wanted to write it in the same style in the second movie. So it felt very similar, of the same style in creating, the first one to the second one.” “The approach was still the same once we got started, which was just making each other laugh.” said Steve Lemme who plays Mac. The actor went on to explain, “it was nothing mean spirited. There were a lot of drafts of the script—35 … maybe 37 drafts of the script. Just keep adding jokes. Smart jokes.”
When asked whether Kevin Heffernan (Favra) felt the same way about the mean-spirited jokes, Lemme said, “He’s just sort of the office asshole and everybody’s like, “Oh, yeah we got a guy like that in the office.” In this one he’s just a series of one-liners. It has the overall appearance that the character is starting to go insane. He’s losing touch with reality.” Heffernan seemed to love it, noting, “every time a stupid line came up that we wrote, they gave it to me. And so I got to say all the stupid shit in this movie, which is a blast.” Heffernan went on to reiterate Lemme’s view of Farva, explaining “it’s definitely true that everyone says they have their own Farva in their office. I get that. But I like to point out that, that’s not me in real life. It’s just a character that I’m playing.” Let’s just hope that his fans know that.
When a Studio Says No, Fans Always Say Yes
Studios are often picky about the films they finance. Sure, trash like The Emoji Movie and The Last Airbender might make their way through somehow, but for the most part, studios err on the side of caution with the millions they give to make what is essentially mass consumable art. And that is particularly true when it comes to a franchise that is ten years too late and past the retention rate of average movie-goers. But that never seemed to stop Broken Lizard.
“studios are unsure about R-rated. They’re like “it’s gotta be R-rated, it’s gotta be PG-13, “said director and star Jay Chandrasekhar (who plays Thorny). The filmmaker went on to explain that, “it lurches back and forth based on what the last movie that did well is.” But it seemed that Chandrasekhar realized how much he owed to the fans, noting, “if we didn’t crowdfund the movie we wouldn’t be here. If the audience said no, that would’ve been the end of it.” Heffernan, keenly aware of the ever-changing paradigms of the internet and crowdfunding, cautioned, “moving forward, we would love to do this process again but I don’t know if it’s going to exist in a few years. It’s such an ever changing world of financing and the way that it works with crowdfunding.”
Working with the Boys
Working with the same people over the years can have its upsides. For one, it can make for almost telepathic communication—the person already knows what you’re going to say. They’ve been around you for so long that they know how your mind ticks. But for every pro there’s a con to being around people who have known each other for nearly thirty years. They have their own inside jokes, they can be curt and uninviting. But that never appears to be the case for Broken Lizard, who happily collaborate with others. Perhaps that’s why the award-winning actor and thespian Brian Cox returned as the sorely, crass-mouthed Captain O’Hagan.
“It’s great fun. It’s always great fun to work with them. I mean, they’re great guys. And it’s like watching your kids who you sent away to school suddenly come back as grown men. Because they were boys when I worked with them before, and they’re now middle-aged men,” said Cox. The esteemed actor continued to shower his co-stars with adoration, saying, “I have great admiration for them, as artists and as writers and as directors and as performers. And they’ve just got smarter and smarter and smarter. I’m a big fan.”
But the close-knit group is more than willing to open its graces to newcomers like Emmanuelle Chriqui, who plays the sultry Genevieve Aubois. “When Jay [Chandrasekhar] called me to possibly come and do this film and play Genevieve, my knee-jerk reaction was, ‘Jay, this is broad comedy. I don’t do broad comedy.’ He was like, ‘Are you talking your way out of this?’ I’m like, ‘No, I’m really not. I just don’t know that I’m your girl.'” But it appeared that Chandrasekhar charmed her into the film, when she finally said, “Fuck it. I’m going to go and play with these guys.” The actress went on to praise working with the group, saying, “I’m so grateful that Jay thought of me for it, and that I got to go play in the Broken Lizard sandbox.” And if the Broken Lizard creed goes by anything, it’s that they always call people back for seconds. Let’s hope we see that for the talented Chriqui.
Super Troopers 2 hits theaters April 20 nationwide.