Recently, I was down at Comic-Con and immediately following the screening of The Pineapple Express (review to followe) there was a Q&A session, moderated by Judd Apatow, featuring cast members Seth Rogen, James Franco, Danny McBride, Amber Heard, as well as co-writer Evan Goldberg and director David Gordon Green.

One of the first stories about the film’s production they shared was that originally, Seth and Evan had written the part of Saul to be played by Rogen. It wasn’t until they went to James Franco, who indicated that he wanted to play that part, that Rogen took the role of the straight man. Apatow joked that he told Franco they had written the part specifically for him, just to stoke his ego and get him on board with the film. After all, James Franco may be the most widely known actor in the crew, what with the Spider Man movies and all.
Seth also talked about his newfound Hollywood big shot status. First of all, there is a nice little dig at Jeff Goldblum somewhere in the film, and Seth related that he bumps into Goldblum all the time at one particular sushi restaurant. Jeff fawns on him, telling him what a big fan he is, and Seth just can’t get up the nerve to tell him there’s a big middle finger with his name on it in his new flick. He said, “Meg Ryan thought it was hysterical that we talked about her bush in Knocked Up, so I hope Jeff enjoys it too. But he could kick my ass. He’s a big guy.”

He also told us that one day on his way to the office, he was listening to Huey Lewis and the News, which prompted him to suggest getting him to write a title song. The people at Sony’s music division immediately said, “oh yeah, we can make that happen!” In the ensuing meeting, they told Lewis that all they needed in the song were the words “Pineapple Express.” Without even thinking or looking up, Huey said “How did we get in this mess? Pineapple Express.” I wouldn’t say Huey’s flying back to the top of the charts with this song, but it’s nice to know the kind of clout these boys can pull.

Seth described his favorite scenes in this film as comparable to those in Superbad. He said, “Nothing is as funny to me as a man telling another man his feelings have been hurt.” It was also revealed that the reason Saul wears a headband throughout the 2nd half of the film was because of an injury that he got on set by running into a tree branch. The headband became a way to cover up the gash left by a bolt securing a pad to the tree.

At one point, some one in the audience stood up and called out David Gordon Green for abandoning his independent, auteur filmmaking style for the broad comedy of a big studio picture. What could this mean about the future of independent film? Green conceded that independent film is having a tough time getting distributed these days, but maintained that he’s always wanted to make every type of film. The movies he’s already made are special to him, but there’s more to cinema than downer movies about relationships. Apatow quickly chimed in and said, “David outclasses us. But we have a mutual friend in Danny McBride, and David’s agent told me that he had been looking to make a comedy for a long time, and we thought this would be a good chance.”

When a handful of people stood up and left during the Q&A, Judd ribbed them by saying “Oh, what, have you guys got a very important Lord of the Rings panel to attend? Is there a screening of Heavy Metal going on somewhere?” This got half a laugh from the audience who weren’t sure whether to be amused or offended. What a bunch of nerds.

Some one finally addressed the giant elephant in the room by asking if there was any actual marijuana smoked on the set of this movie. Seth quickly announced, to the dismay of the audience that no, there was not. “Making a movie is really fucking hard, and if you’re stoned the whole time, your movie is going to be dumb.” I’m sure they were able to wait until the end of the day to smoke a bowl.

These guys are really good at mobilizing their audience. They’re keenly aware of the fact that the people who watch their movies feel like they are one of them. Their genuine nature and honesty seemed to really make the people in the crowd feel like the trip down to San Diego was worth it.