Gary Thompson | Christopher Mintz-Plasse: Another Booger?

Posted: August 17, 2007

THE UPROARIOUS comedy "Superbad" has a character with a name so indelible it's likely to be linked to the actor forever.

Newcomer Christopher Mintz-Plasse plays a teen who comes to be known as "McLovin," the name that appears on his ridiculous fake I.D.

"Right now, I'm really excited about it," said Mintz-Plasse, who recently stopped in Philly with co-stars Michael Cera and Jonah Hill to promote the comedy.

"I don't know what I'm going to think later, but I guess I'll worry about that when the time comes. I just did a short film with Booger, from 'Revenge of the Nerds.' I don't know how old he is now - in his 50s? 40s? I'm sure back in the day he loved it, but as I said, I just did a short film with him and on the first day somebody said, 'Oh look, it's Booger from 'Revenge of the Nerds,' and for the rest of the day he was pissed off."

As it happens, the name "McLovin" is key to the minimalist plot of "Superbad," which follows three dorky teens as they attempt to obtain liquor for a high-status party.

The film is part of producer Judd Apatow's growing empire of movie comedy, and it has the hallmarks of his brand: There are no big-name stars, but the actors are chosen through a meticulous screening process designed to match performers who have good natural chemistry.

One beneficiary was Cera, star of the erstwhile "Arrested Development." The show was a hit with critics, but not with Evan Goldberg, the "Superbad" screenwriter who based Cera's character on his own experiences as a teen. Cera had to audition 10 times for "Superbad," and won the role over the misgivings of Goldberg.

"He walked up to me, right after I got the part, and said, 'I have to tell you, I tuned into 'Arrested Development' one time and I didn't like it, and I didn't like it especially because of you. In fact, I stopped watching it because I didn't like you so much.' And it wasn't the character. He didn't like me. He didn't like Michael Cera."

That turned out to be a lot less important than how Cera got along with Hill, a member of the Apatow posse (he appeared in "Knocked Up" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin"). Comic chemistry is paramount in Apatow's movies, and Hill had it with Cera.

It's a rapport that, more often than not, comes from hours of hard work, and the capabilities of new filmmaking technologies.

Hill said comedies, especially those that use heavy improvisation, are starting to take advantage of the limitless camera time offered by digital photography.

"I did a take in 'Superbad' that ran over 50 minutes long. I like to have a lot of options. I'm always very hard on myself and I always think I could be funnier. That's a big advantage to shooting digital - you give the director millions of options to choose from."

Hill is now writing his own screenplay for Apatow, a comedy called "Middle Child" about an only child who copes with sibling rivalry when his parents adopt. *

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