'Superbad' trio ready for their close-ups

Posted: August 16, 2007

The revelations are coming fast and furious at Dave & Buster's, where, before a spread of nachos, guacamole and wings, actors Michael Cera, Jonah Hill and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, the gentlemen trio of Superbad, are musing about fame, ageism, the logistics of literary acquisitions, and the mind-blowing nature of one of the rare movie sequels to outclass its progenitor: Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.

"It's awesome," says the gangly, 19-year-old Cera. "The first one was incredible - it introduced the characters, it was hilarious - but Austin Powers 2, mind-blowing!"

In Superbad, which opens tomorrow and may well spawn its own sequel (it's going to be huge), Cera plays Evan, a high school senior heading to Dartmouth. The 23-year-old Hill plays Seth, Evan's pudgy, profane, porn-obsessed classmate and best pal. He didn't get into Dartmouth, and so the codependent duo has but one last summer to share.

And then there's dweeby, goofball Fogel - the bespectacled sidekick who scores a fake I.D. and thus gets the vital assignment of buying all the liquor for a party hosted by some hot girls. The heretofore unknown Mintz-Plasse plays Fogel, whose phony Hawaii driver's license reads "McLovin." No first name, just "McLovin."

The movie hasn't even opened, and already Mintz-Plasse, who's 18 but looks 12, is getting recognized.

"It's definitely 'McLovin,' " Hill says. "People, after the screenings we've been to, just go nuts. [They yell] 'McLovin!' "

"It's great, though - I love it," says Mintz-Plasse, who landed the part after four auditions. He'd never acted before.

"Well, he likes it now, but [wait] a few weeks after the movie's been out," Hill says.

"After Superbad," Mintz-Plasse notes, "I did a short with Curtis Armstrong, and he's known for Booger, from Revenge of the Nerds. And it seems, like, now he hates being called 'Booger.' You can see it in his face. Like, some guy called him 'Booger' . . . and the rest of the day he was pissed off."

"Are you anticipating that at all?" Cera wonders.

"I hope not," Mintz-Plasse says. "I look at him and think, 'Geez, I hope I'm not like that.' "

The R-rated Superbad, a crazed odyssey of booze, lust, thwarted sex and undying friendship, comes from writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Like their movie namesakes, they have been buddies since kid-dom. Rogen and Goldberg are cohorts of Judd Apatow, the comedy-meister behind The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up. Rogen was in those, and he plays a cop in Superbad.

Hill, who likewise had roles in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, talks about how he got to star as the teen version of Rogen.

"I'd known about [the Superbad script] for a couple of years, even during Virgin, because Seth and I are friends," Hill says. "Obviously, I would have been the right choice . . . but they thought I was too old.

"Finally, we were shooting Knocked Up, and we were outside of Seth's trailer - me, Seth and [actor] Bill Hader - and Judd had just looked at an audition session and . . . he couldn't find the right guy. He turned to me and he said, 'How young can you look?'

"And I said, 'I don't know - 17, 18.' And he goes, 'All right, go shave, go in Seth's trailer, and you two make a tape.' So we made a tape . . . Like, an hour later I was in Superbad. It was one of the greatest days of my life."

And so the Superbad threesome's cross-country publicity tour goes on. (They travel to Europe next month, to extol the virtues of Superbad in Paris and Madrid.)

"When people come up to you and say nice things, it's the loveliest thing, it just means that they're enjoying what you're trying hard to do," Hill observes. "But it's so strange when you can tell someone recognizes you . . . but they just kind of stare at you. Michael was saying it's like you're an object. Like a vase or something.

"I realized what it might be like to be, like, a really attractive woman, you know what I mean? Like a hot girl. It's like somebody's staring at a really attractive woman, like - I feel weird that you're staring at me, but you're not saying anything, or saying hello, even."

"This is as far as the relationship is going to go," Cera says. "But for some reason I can't escape it."

"Yeah," says Hill. "Exactly."

Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://go.philly.com/onmovies.

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