Christopher Mintz-Plasse got his break in Superbad, and the concern was that it would be a one-off for the actor, but he’s become Hollywood’s go-to geeks. For his role in the remake of Fright Night he plays “Evil” Ed, the one-time best friend of Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin), who first warns him that his neighbor might be a vampire. We talked about this role, and his upcoming project The Hand Job. Check it out, minor spoilers follow…
How did you come to the role of Evil Ed in Fright Night?
They sent it to my agents, and they sent it over to me so I read it, when I first read it, it was a remake of a vampire film and it felt like something they done many times, and I’m not a big fan of remakes, so I was very skeptical at first, it was bloody, and funny and Craig Gilespie was the director and I’m a big fan of his, and Colin Farrell was attached. With Evil Ed they wanted me to read for it, and it was a very pivotal and important character, so I wanted to bring justice to that, and I hope I did.
Do you have a favorite vampire movie?
I haven’t thought about that. I’m not the biggest vampire guy. The Thing is my favorite horror movie of all time.
Which is a remake, so it’s good you like a remake.
Yeah, that remake is unbelievable. I haven’t seen the original Thing, so for me that was the original.
Maybe this film will be the original for a new generation.
That would be awesome.
With your character Evil Ed, did you talk about where the character’s name came from, did you make it up, because it’s never explained
It’s not really explained in the original either. Anton (Yelchin) and I figured it was a nickname that just worked with Ed, Anton’s Charlie Brewster called Ed “Evil” when they were growing up and it just stuck. And it makes sense for the movie because he turns evil. A little foreshadowing there.
I was thinking because he was kind of a D&D nerd it used to be Medieval Ed and got shortened.
(Laughs) I like that.
You have a lot of great lines, was that mostly from Marti Noxon?
As you’re known for your comedies, was there room for improv?
There wasn’t much. Everything moved in the script, so there wasn’t a lot of time to improv, but Craig let us play in the first couple scenes when I’m in the school, and I’m in the house with Anton, he let us improv here and there, and a bunch of stuff made the movie. David Tenant improv’d a lot too.
Do you have a favorite line that made the film?
There was one line I improv’d in my audition – months before we started shooting – that Craig loved and put in the movie. When we’re in the school I say something about tying my Stretch Armstrong around his balls for an hour so he can jerk off, and that made the movie.
With Evil Ed, how different do think it was on the page? Did you feel like you were following the script?
I felt like I was following the script, but with a different actor it could have been more like “I’m sad, I don’t have a best friend any more, boo.” It could have been hateful, but I wanted to bring a smarmy *sshole side to him, so people didn’t say “he’s a bitch.” I wanted people to say “I feel bad for him, but he’s going to make an awesome vampire because he’s got this dark side to him.” I tried to bring that.
Did you play it different once you turned into a vampire?
Completely. That was another thing that attracted me to it, it’s like I got to play two different roles in the movie. Evil Ed, when he’s human, he’s a big fan of sci-fi and vampires and nerdy things like that, so when he became a vampire it was like he was born to be one, it’s like the evil, hilarious *ssholish side came out and it was awesome.
The nice thing about this part for you is you get to kill for ten minutes, and then come back and kill for ten minutes.
It’s true (laughs).
Well, even before he turns, he seems like a kind of guy you’d want to be friends with because he’s such a great dick.
I agree, he’s an *sshole, but he’s a smart *sshole.
They pitched this to you, have you ever worried about playing too many nerds?
Not really because I do have a nerdy look to me, it’s not like I’m not aware of that. And every nerd I’ve played are completely different nerds, so I want to do the role justice, and I can’t deny working with Harold Ramis, and Craig Gillespie and David Wain and all these amazing directors.
Do you tend look at who’s directing before you make a decision?
Oh yeah, completely, that’s a big decision for me. I need to know they can get a good performance out of me, because they’re directing me.
You mentioned Harold Ramis, that must have been nice even if that film didn’t turn out as well as one might have hoped.
I know, it was a bummer. But it was blast, Harold Ramis would play acoustic guitar between every take, it was something beautiful to watch. Jack Black and Michael (Cera) again, I didn’t regret it one bit.
You’ve got The Hand Job coming up, are you shooting that now?
We finished that a couple weeks ago. It was a quick shoot, I was only on set for a week, everyone else was on for – like – three weeks. It was a very low budget indie, but it’s going to be hilarious.
Well, you and Aubrey Plaza and Bill Hader…
And Andy Sandberg, Donald Glover, Johnny Simmons, yeah.
What’s your part in that?
I play a character named Duffy who’s a douchebag kid from the 90’s who is best friends with Johnny Simmons. Johnny is in love with Aubrey but then I find out that Aubrey is trying to hook up with a lot of guys, so I try to hook up with her.
How was your sex scene?
It was good. Aubrey did a bunch of different things in it – I think it turned out very funny.
Between this and Superbad you’ve had a number of comic sex scenes, was there anything you applied from Superbad to this one?
No, it’s funny when I was on Superbad I was seventeen so I couldn’t actually be on top of her, so we had to shoot it in weird angles and different ways. So strange, so I didn’t apply any of that to The Hand Job.
You’ve also got the How to Train Your Dragon franchise and the upcoming Paranorman, how do you compare doing live action to voice acting?
It’s awesome, with the live action stuff it’s all been rated R, so I get to be raunchy and I try to make my peers laugh. Animation is for children, so I have to do a complete 180 and make kids laugh, which is very exciting – it’s fun to get to do both.
Do you ever find yourself doing R rated takes for the animated films?
There are sometimes when I’m ranting, when near the end of a take I’ll swear to make the directors and everyone else in the other room laugh, but I never do it on purpose because I know it won’t make the movie.
Fright Night opens August 19.