'Five-Year Engagement's' Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller Explain Their Ongoing Food Fight, What Makes a Romantic Comedy Work (Video)
“One of our big pet peeves is how in a lot of romantic comedies it feels like two viable Hollywood actors have just been plunked together as a couple," says Segel, who also stars in Universal's film.
A conversation with co-writers Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller about The Five-Year Engagement, their new romantic comedy about a newly engaged couple (played by Segel and Emily Blunt) struggling to make it down the aisle, takes a lot of random turns, but seems to always lead back to one subject: food.
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The duo, who also wrote The Muppets together, reveal that their writing process begins with food.
“We order a lot of burritos,” Stoller, who also directed Five-Year Engagement, tells The Hollywood Reporter.
“And sandwiches,” adds Segel.
“Mainly burritos,” shoots back Stoller.
“We have a long-standing debate about burritos versus sandwiches,” explains Segel.
“Nick chooses burritos. I choose sandwiches. You weigh in at THR.com,” Segel jokes.
What their writing process actually involves is a long outlining process to make sure they have the plot really worked out. “Then, just because of our schedules, we often have to split the script up and write separately, and just hand the pages back and forth,” says Segel.
Segel also says that they do a re-write for each character once the actor is cast. “No one knows their own voice better than those actors. We can imagine, but they know better than we do,” he says.
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As was the case with Blunt, who plays Violet in Universal's comedy, which opens in theaters on April 27. The actress was able to give input about her character (who is also British) once she came on board.
In the film, San Francisco-based couple Tom and Violet get engaged and begin to plan a wedding, but then Violet gets a job offer in Michigan, so the couple moves. The wedding plans are delayed, and continue to be pushed back as the couple tries to build a new life in the wintery Midwest.
Segel and Stoller have nothing but praise for the actress, who recently starred in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and will also appear in Your Sister's Sister and the upcoming sci-fi thriller, Looper.
“She’s game. She’s like one of the guys,” says Segel. “She doesn’t need any kind of star treatment.” Segel and Blunt have been friends for years, which he says helps with their chemistry onscreen.
“It’s fun to watch her and Jason fight,” says Stoller, who points out that the best romantic comedies have couples that are fun to watch fight. “It’s fun to watch Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal fight, it’s fun to watch Diane Keaton and Woody Allen fight,” he adds.
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Segel says that because he’s friends with Blunt in real life, they have a shorthand and comfort level that other Hollywood stars may not have.
“You feel that on screen. It’s two people who have known each other,” Segel says. “One of our big pet peeves is how in a lot of romantic comedies it feels like two viable Hollywood actors have just been plunked together as a couple.”
“Where this is just one viable Hollywood actor, and also Jason,” jokes Stoller.
Watch THR’s interview with Stoller and Segel above.