If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Anneliese van der Pol, who was one of the stars in Disney's Channel's "That's So Raven", was also the latest Jason Friedberg/Aaron Seltzer parody "Vampire Sucks". van der Pol opens up to Movieweb.com about what it was like working with the "so-called" filmmakers in this interview:
"As Vampires Suck continues to enjoy success, quite a few people have begun to question the actual existence of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, as they notoriously don't do interviews or appear anywhere in the press. Can you confirm that they actually exist?
Anneliese van der Pol: I am here to confirm that they do exist. And that they are fabulous. That is so funny, though. They aren't big on publicity. Which sucks for actors. But it's probably great for them. I think a lot of it has to do with them not wanting to spoil anything. If jokes come out too soon, obviously they wont be funny in the theater. They want to make sure everything is fresh and new. They are two guys in their late thirties who are still frat boys. They met in college. And they are best friends. They are wonderful, talented guys who write really funny scripts. I think they are very weary of their jokes getting out too soon. They don't want people talking about the movie before it even comes out.
It's interesting that you mention that, because a lot of people knew Vampires Suck had been leaked to the Internet torrent sites a couple of months before its official theatrical release. Yet it still came out and did really well, and it was still fresh...
Anneliese van der Pol: Yeah, we got really lucky. We did really well our first weekend, and Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer would have probably been really excited about our success...I mean...They probably are really excited about our success...That really sucks when that happens. The internet, and Google, and everything that goes along with that is awesome for some things, but not so awesome for other things. Because everything gets leaked nowadays.
You guys obviously knew that it was out there floating around. Was there ever a worry about how it might do when it actually opened? The people that make these films such big hits when they are in the theater are the same crowd that like nothing better to do than bootleg a movie months before its release.
Anneliese van der Pol: Absolutely. That stuff is out of your control, but you do worry. I was talking to Mike Mayhall and Jun Hee Lee, my two co-stars whom I share most of my scenes with. We'd heard rumors that the entire movie was on-line. Which, we of course found out later, that it wasn't. Yeah, we worry. Its good to have buzz. But you worry that no one is going to go see it. This was my first experience with that, too be honest.
What is the working relationship like between these two guys on set? Do they direct individual scenes, are they constantly collaborating, and do they ever argue over how a particular joke may play out?
Anneliese van der Pol: That is a good question. To be honest, there were no outbursts. They really do work well together. They are both very...Shy is probably not the right word. But they are both very introverted, and quiet and serious. They write such funny stuff, but they are pretty serious about their filmmaking. I would say that Aaron Seltzer is more on set with the actors. Jason Friedberg is behind the cameras making sure the shots look good. Aaron is directing Jason to make sure the actors look good. They work really well together. It's important on a comedy to have a fun loving set. They are really nice, and good to each other. They have been friends for a long, long time. You can really tell. They are both hands on, but if one was more hands on, it would probably be Aaron.
How much freedom as an actress do you have on one of their sets? Are you able to bring your own jokes into the film? Or do they have a set script that you are to abide by at all times?
Anneliese van der Pol: Its mostly about following the script. Which I am really used to, because that's the way it worked on That's So Raven. It was on the Disney Channel. You really can't veer from the script. That was the same with this movie. They have set jokes that they have to have in there. If there was any adlibbing? For me, it was just the changing of curse words, to be perfectly honest. I think I used every curse word in the book. Which was exciting for me. If anybody is a master at improvisation, it would be Ken Jeong. He is hilarious. He would just go off on tangents forever. He would go off and do his own writing. They let him do his own thing. But Aaron and Jason are pretty serious. If you veer once, they will let you veer once. But you must get right back on script. And yeah, they want their dialogue in pretty exact. Which I think they are right and smart about. They ended up with a pretty solid movie.
Tell me more about working with Ken Jeong. He seems to be in everything at the moment, and he has a pretty dry sense of humor. You can never quite tell if he's joking or not when you interact with him on a personal level.
Anneliese van der Pol: That's funny, because I feel like I'm that way too. I am pretty sarcastic, and pretty dry. If anyone would be able to get that, luckily, I think it would be me. Because I'm that way with my sisters a lot. To be honest, Ken Jeong is the nicest man. And off set, he's just not jokey like that. He's really not. He's really interested in other people, and other people's lives, and what they have to say. I unfortunately didn't get to have any scenes with him in the movie. But I do know what you're talking about. I saw him act like that on many occasions. With other people. He would joke, and there would be an awkward moment of silence until the other person realized he was spoofing them.
It has to be kind of hard when you have that same dry sense of humor. Maybe you guys cancel each other out.
Anneliese van der Pol: That's funny. I think it does cancel each other out. What are you going to do? Sometimes, I wish I had scenes with Ken Jeong. I could have experienced that with him. But we didn't. (Laughs)
If I'm not mistaken, you are spoofing Oscar-nominated actress Anna Kendrick in Vampires Suck. Was it important for you to study her for this role? Or did you think that wasn't important in terms of what this movie had set out to do?
Anneliese van der Pol: The more I thought about it, the more I realized how unimportant that actually was. When I went in to audition for it, I auditioned for the role of Bella. She's Becca in our movie. Then later, they asked me to come back and audition for the Anna Kendrick role. At this point, this was all within a twenty-four hour time period. So I didn't get a chance to see Twilight. So, instead of imitating her, I was imitating all of the girls in all the movies that played the bitchy best friend. The friend that pretends to be her friend, but isn't. Because she has a secret motive. I think that is just imitating a lot of these types of characters, rather than just the character in the Twilight movies. I was imitating the sidekick. The bitchy sidekick. The high school girl who is jealous of the main girl, basically. If anything, I imitated...Anna Kendrick has an interesting speech pattern when she talks. I think I imitated that a little bit. But I had quite a few scenes that weren't in the original Twilight movies, so I didn't even have anything to go off of."
"Exactly. Now, I want to go back to these spoof movies, and the team of Aaron and Jason. They do resonate so deeply with the youth of today. Young kids and early teens devour their movies. But the adults? They just don't get it. It's obtrusive. They don't like them. They don't think they're funny at all. They don't want to watch them. Do you believe that makes it the new Punk rock of the Millennial generation?
Anneliese van der Pol: Yes. Speaking as an adult, to be perfectly honest, when I read the script, I found some of it funny. But most of it, I said, "My God, this doesn't seem funny! Is this really going to work? How is this going to play on screen? And what sort of actor do they have to get to do that?" I understand that adult-kids thing. This is a genre and a taste. It really is a spoof movie. They are not just making fun of things. You have to have that sense of humor. I can understand not getting it at first. My parents weren't fans, and they hadn't seen any of the Twilight movies. I made them watch it, just so they would understand my movie. They saw Vampires Suck, and they were excited that I was in it. But they just didn't get it. It's definitely for a younger audience. Even younger than me.
When you were on set, if you or any of the other actors didn't find something funny, did it ever matter? Or were you forced to push through certain jokes that weren't exactly to your taste in service of what you were trying to accomplish with Vampire's Suck?
Anneliese van der Pol: Oh, yeah. There was a lot of, "Is this funny?" There was a lot of insecurity amongst the actors that would go on. We would do it a couple of ways. Sometimes you would have to stop and ask, "Is this funny? Am I doing it funny? Is there another way I could do this?" With Ken Jeong? Everything he does is funny. But sometimes you are stuck, wondering if you are saying the line funny, or if its just not funny, and its not your fault. Sometimes, its not supposed to be 'laugh out loud' funny. It's just a comment or an aside. They are very complimentary, Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. They are also very encouraging. Which is refreshing. You are constantly smiling on set. That is about all you can ask for."