Home > Men fashion > Mike Birbiglia And Gillian Jacobs’ New Movie Has Them Pondering Success And Tom Cruise

Mike Birbiglia And Gillian Jacobs’ New Movie Has Them Pondering Success And Tom Cruise

Mike Windle by way of Getty Images

The standout movie at South by Southwest final week was “Don’t Think Twice,” Mike Birbilgia’s directorial comply with-as much as 2012’s “Sleepwalk with Me.” Birbiglia returns to the mercurial stand-up comedy scene, casting himself and 5 different performers — Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Kate Micucci, Tami Sagher and Chris Gethard — as a gifted however stagnant New York improvisation troupe. When the tight-knit sextet loses the lease on their house theater and one member lands a gig on a “Saturday Night Live” analogue, they need to cope with the seismic shifts that uproot their makeshift household. 

“Don’t Think Twice” begins as amusing riot, nevertheless it steadily morphs right into a bittersweet and surprisingly poignant rumination on maneuvering by means of life’s unlikely paths. The day after the film’s euphoric premiere in Austin, The Huffington Post sat down with Birbilgia and Jacobs to speak about success, Lena Dunham’s affect on the venture and the way Nicolas Cage might probably be envious of Tom Cruise. 

Last night time’s premiere was rapturous. You have to be so completely satisfied. 

Mike Birbiglia: Oh, my God, I drank a lot final night time. I awakened with such a headache. Now I’m paying the worth. I really feel asleep by, like, P a.m. or one thing, however I have my 10-month-previous child right here, and my spouse. But I really feel nice. The response was so emotional. The second the movie ended, the six of us have been backstage actually simply crying. It’s borderline embarrassing.

Was it straightforward to determine which six individuals would play these elements?

MB: No, it took a very long time. I was sort of casting it in my thoughts over the course of writing it, which is like 18 months of rewriting and rewriting. I went by means of 10 or 15 drafts. Tami and Chris and I improvise collectively so much, so I had a way that they might play these elements, assuming that the financiers who got here in didn’t bump them out indirectly. That was all the time on the desk, and I must say to these guys, “Someone may tackle this undertaking and say we will’t finance this individual or this individual.”

Because they need greater stars?

MB: Yeah, and I can battle that, however I don’t know if I’ll win. And I did battle it and I did win, so I was fortunate. It felt like an actual group of individuals as a result of we’re actual buddies. And then with Gillian, Lena Dunham, who’s a good friend of the venture, learn the script and stated, “You ought to actually attempt to get Gillian Jacobs,” and I watched all of Gillian’s stuff and thought she was sensible. But I’d by no means seen her play something like this half. Lena was like, “Gillian Jacobs can do something.” She put herself on tape and her boyfriend filmed her performing some scenes, and I was blown away. My spouse and I watched it 10 or 12 occasions. 

Speaking of Lena Dunham, the thank-you record that rolls on the finish of the credit is very large and has a lot star energy. Jimmy Kimmel, simply to call one.

MB: Yeah! It’s humorous you level out Jimmy Kimmel. Two years in the past, I keep in mind being at his home. He’s been actually supportive of my profession, and he loves “Sleepwalk with Me.” He all the time needs to speak about “Sleepwalk with Me.” So he asks, “So what’s the subsequent film?” I go, “It’s new. I’m scripting this film a few group of associates and one in every of them will get forged on ‘SNL’ and the remainder of them don’t, and it’s about what occurs when you must work out what to do when life doesn’t go as you deliberate it.” He goes, “I fucking love that concept.” And it was an actual vote of confidence from a grasp, the place I realized I was heading in the right direction. It wasn’t like, “OK, cool,” you realize what I imply? It wasn’t like, “Yeah, hold going with that.” It was like a snap, like, “I get that. I get precisely what you’re doing. You ought to do this.”


How a lot of the film is scripted? I think about it have to be exhausting to script improv.

MB: It is. The efficiency improv is each scripted … [to Gillian Jacobs, who’s strolling throughout the room after leaving one other interview] Are you in?

Gillian Jacobs: I’ve been absorbed into this.

Absorb us.

GJ: [Laughs] Hi!

Are you additionally in hangover land at this time?

GJ: I don’t drink, so no, I’m simply hungry. [Jacobs proceeds to eat soup.]

MB: [Laughs] “I’m simply hungry.” The efficiency improv is a mix of scripted improv and actual improv. Everyone got here to city two weeks early and we did intensive improv workshops with Liz Allen, who’s a guru of improv. But simply to guard individuals’s expertise of the film, I don’t wish to say that this was improv[is]ed or that wasn’t. If I had my druthers, there wouldn’t be film trailers, or they’d be very obscure.

GJ: Kind of like they was, within the ‘70s. Have you ever seen these trailers the place you’re like, “I do not know what this film is about”? It’s simply random strains.

So, the precise reverse of most trailers at this time. Gillian, despite the fact that you’re new to the improv expertise, I really feel like this character is way extra aligned with you as a person than your work on, say, “Community” or “Girls” or “Love.”

GJ: I don’t assume you’re flawed. [Birbiglia laughs.] And it’s fascinating as a result of Mike has stated that Lena advised I do that half and he watched my work and stated, “I’ve by no means seen her do one thing like this,” and I equally felt like, as an actor, I had not been given an opportunity to play an element near myself. I felt for a very long time that everybody I performed has been very distant from me and I can relate to them in several methods and thru core emotional wants in my very own life, however I felt like Sam was a lot nearer to me as an individual. Even my brokers who got here final night time have been simply so excited to get to see me in an element like that.

MB: They have been so blown away.

GJ: Yeah, it was very nice since you need to, as an actor, assume, “Oh, I can play something.” But each from time to time, you need to play one thing that’s somewhat nearer to residence, so it was a enjoyable expertise for me.

By now, you guys have discovered categorical success. You each have large followings, however I’m positive there are nonetheless moments the place you are feeling inferior. We all do. So do you continue to end up Googling your extra profitable friends, like your character within the film?

MB: Absolutely.

Is that one thing you possibly can ever let go of?

MB: I assume in my lowest moments I’ve Googled my enemies. I don’t assume I’ve executed it just lately. I don’t assume I’ve carried out it within the final six months that I recall. But positive, it’s occurred.

GJ: It’s fascinating as a result of there’s a practice within the theater the place you’re not alleged to learn evaluations and that you simply don’t acknowledge them to your forged mates or on the theater. I keep in mind when I first began “Community” I was horrified that folks would even point out our scores as a result of that, to me, felt like, “Oh, you don’t speak about that. What if any person doesn’t like to speak concerning the enterprise finish of it? You shouldn’t point out that on set.” And over time, I loosened up about that.

That’s particularly fascinating for “Community,” which was all the time one step away from the chopping block.

GJ: Oh yeah, our scores have been all the time tanking! Because what if meaning you’re in such a nasty headspace you can’t be within the scene?

MB: Oh, positive. That’s so fascinating.

GJ: So I type of acquired away from that theater background, however just lately I’ve felt like, you recognize what, there’s one thing worthwhile to that. I’m going to do the work, I’m going to belief the director and my collaborators, and I’m going to know my very own opinion of it, and I’m going to go away it at that. I’ve been actually making an attempt to step away from partaking an excellent cope with that stuff. But I assume it’s fascinating, too — [to Birbiglia] I don’t know in the event you really feel this manner, however at totally different factors in your profession, you are feeling such as you’re dropping out to the identical individual, and that individual shifts like each 5 years.

MB: Yep.

GJ: It sort of modifications, after which you might have the second the place you understand, “Oh, anyone feels that method about me.”

MB: It’s unbelievable.

GJ: It’s arduous to look again and understand, “Oh, I’m working now.” I used to not work, however I’m working persistently.

MB: I assume Gillian and I each have this odd expertise the place, when individuals ask us, “You guys are profitable, how do you are feeling about enjoying these characters who’re unsuccessful,” we’re like, “We’re profitable?” We are immediately. That’s how this enterprise is. I really feel like I won’t achieve success tomorrow or subsequent yr or in 5 years from now, and that’s okay, truly. I speak about it to my spouse on a regular basis. And typically we speak about how we’ll get a home within the nation and name it a day. We’ll write books or one thing. It’s less than you.

GJ: But additionally, the work of life is turning into a greater individual so that you’re OK with that.

And, in fact, you don’t understand how you’ll reply if that second truly hits, however do you assume you’d have stated that when “Sleepwalk with Me” got here out, Mike?

MB: Since “Sleepwalk” got here out, so many individuals — a pair hundred individuals — have come as much as me and stated, “I turned a slapstick comedian due to ‘Sleepwalk with Me.’” To them, I was like, “Oh, that’s nice.” And in my thoughts, I’m like, “That’s not what the film’s about.” The film is about discovering your voice as a human being. And yeah, I hope that works out for you, but when it doesn’t, that’s OK. I hope that permits you to get to who you’re as an individual as a result of that’s what Mike Pandamiglio, the thinly veiled Mike Birbiglia character in “Sleepwalk with Me,” did. Stand-up turned the best way he understood himself. This film is type of a solution to that, like, “Guys, we don’t all need to have the identical dream. We don’t all have to realize the identical brass ring.” And it’s actually inconceivable that we might, and the one that does get the brass ring, it’s in all probability greater than she or he bargained for and it’s in all probability not what they thought it was going to be.

Do you guys know individuals who have gotten that brass ring and …

MB: Yes! I’ll reply that instantly. Yes!

GJ: You know, you see individuals grapple with success in several methods, and a few individuals have an innate potential to deal with it, and different individuals, it actually can spin them round. I assume you’ve acquired to only give attention to being a greater individual daily in your life. You are specializing in what you should work on separate out of your profession and your craft — simply you as an individual. I really feel like when I have that on the forefront of my thoughts, I’m feeling happier about life, as a result of I really feel like I’m making progress as an individual. When it’s all about my profession and what I don’t have and what I didn’t get and what didn’t do in addition to I thought it will, then that’s only a bottomless gap inside your self.

MB: I heard this story on a podcast about this screenwriter who wrote a bunch of Nic Cage films and “Beautiful Girls.” On this Brian Koppelman podcast referred to as “The Moment,” he advised this story about being with Nic Cage within the ‘90s, in his trailer in Arizona for a film. The trailer was greater than the screenwriter’s condominium in New York. This is after “Leaving Las Vegas” — I assume he’d gained the Oscar. It was a yr after, they usually’re watching a TV business and Tom Cruise comes on and he goes, “How am I not Tom Cruise?” And you simply go, “Oh.”

GJ: You have an Oscar!

MB: And in fact, throughout city, Tom Cruise goes, “How come I’m not Nic Cage?”

Is he?

MB: At that time? At that second in time?

GJ: Do you understand how lots of Tom Cruise’s co-stars have gained Oscars for films reverse Tom Cruise?

MB: A lot, proper? Probably Paul Newman for “The Color of Money.”

GJ: A lot. You’d be shocked on the quantity. It’s a ton.

[We checked: In addition to Newman, Dustin Hoffman gained for “Rain Man” and Cuba Gooding Jr. gained for “Jerry Maguire.” Co-stars who have been nominated when Cruise wasn’t embrace Jack Nicholson (“A Few Good Men”), Holly Hunter (“The Firm”), Ken Watanabe (“The Last Samurai”) and Jamie Foxx (“Collateral”).]

MB: I’m positive, and I’m a hardcore Tom Cruise fan.

GJ: He’s unimaginable.

MB: He’s unimaginable. I really feel like actors respect Tom Cruise, in some methods, greater than non-actors respect Tom Cruise since you understand that lots of people will dismiss him typically. Snarky individuals might be like, “He’s simply enjoying himself,” or no matter. It’s like, “OK, you then do it. You make ‘Jerry Maguire.’ You be that half. Good luck with that.” I couldn’t do it.

GJ: I might do it.

MB: I’ll identify you 500 actors who’re actually good actors who couldn’t do it.

GJ: Geraldine Maguire. It’s very totally different. [Birbiglia laughs]

“You had me at hiya” would have an entire totally different which means.

MB: “You had me helloooooo.”

GJ: “Helloooooo.”

Mike, your character’s condominium is borderline unlivable as a result of he is so underemployed. Have you guys lived someplace as dangerous as his place?

GJ: Oh, worse.

MB: Yeah, worse. Much worse.

How a lot worse?

MB: I don’t understand how they name it an condo.

GJ: I slept on a chair that folded out right into a mattress for over a yr.

MB: Like a futon sort of factor? Like a physique-measurement futon?

GJ: But the mattress was smaller than a single mattress.

MB: So you’re principally in a medical gurney.

GJ: Yes! It was like a gurney low to the bottom. That’s what I slept on. And every thing in there was simply issues that had been left by the earlier tenants, so I had a stool and I had a bookshelf.

MB: And I lived on an air mattress in Queens for 2 years. I couldn’t afford dressers for my garments.

GJ: Yeah, I had my garments on a bookshelf.

MB: I say in my present, “Thank God for Jokes,” “In New York, whenever you’re broke, every little thing’s low to the bottom.” You roll off your air mattress, seize your pants from the ground, you prepare dinner noodles on a scorching plate, one falls out of your mouth, you’re like, “It’s not that dangerous.”

“Don’t Think Twice” is presently in search of a distribution deal, however Birbiglia talked about on the SXSW premiere that he’d wish to tour to advertise the film this summer time. This interview has been edited and condensed. 

Also on HuffPost

Best SXSW Movies Of 2016


South By Southwest SXSW Mike Birbiglia Gillian Jacobs Movies


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