Rapid Round: Rose Byrne Talks About Her Own Neighbor From Hell and Oiling Up Zac Efron

Chuck Zlotnick/Universal Pictures
'Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising'

The Australian star of 'Neighbors 2' reveals her very own annoying neighbor story: "He thought I was planning and plotting things."

Rose Byrne knows a thing or two about nightmare neighbors.

When she was younger, she says, “I did have a guy that was a very paranoid stoner. And he would think I was making noise all the time and write these weird letters that were very nonsensical. That was annoying because I really didn’t make much noise — and he thought I was planning and plotting things, and he was just really high.”

Byrne, 36  who stars as Seth Rogen’s wife in Neighbors 2, the sequel to the 2014 comedy that earned $150 million domestically  has gone from drama (The Place Beyond the Pines) to superheroes (X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Apocalypse) to comedy. She’s also gone from her native Australia to living in Brooklyn, N.Y., with her partner, Vinyl star Bobby Cannavale. With Neighbors 2 out in theaters May 20 and X-Men: Apocalypse out May 27, she’s busier than ever.

What are your neighbors like today?
I love my neighbors. It’s such a boring answer, but we have these beautiful neighbors that I’m really friendly with. I went to her baby shower this weekend. We have dinner together. They’re lovely.

Theres a moment in the film when you oil Zac Efron with grease from a meat grill. What was shooting that scene like?
It was disgusting because it was a real piece of meat, and it was all seasoned and baby oil was injected into it. It was also really hard to get off: I couldn’t get it off my hands. Poor Zac was sticky, gross, oiled all afternoon. That whole sequence, we didn’t have much time for. It was shot in three days. That was the toughest moment. The weather was terrible at times, and it was stressful. We were running out of time, not hitting the right spots and dressed up in these crazy outfits.

Were there any jokes that didnt make the final cut?
Oh, there were loads. Comedy is such a science. Often people think something is really funny on the day, and then it doesn’t work. I’ve learned to not hang onto things too much.

What was the funniest joke?
The bit when Seth’s teaching Zac how to boil water. (Laughs.) It’s so stupid, but hilarious.

Who taught you to cook in real life?
I really didn’t start cooking until my 30s. [In] my 20s, I don’t know what I was eating, but I certainly wasn’t cooking it. I’m not a good cook. I would never try and teach somebody.

What was your first job?
I worked at a bakery in the suburb I grew up in [in] Sydney, called Bakers Delight. I was 13, I reckon.

What’s the biggest misconception about Australians?
That we all know each other. That we ride to school in a kangaroo. And that we grew up with dangerous animals.

Did you? Are there any you’re afraid of?
Sharks. I’ve definitely been to beaches where you have to get out because there’s a shark or something like that.

Do you prefer roles like this with your native Australian accent?
No. I thought it would serve the character in this because it makes her a little more with the association that Australians being wilder and being less likely to respond to authority. She’s slightly aggressive and unhinged at times.

You keep your personal life very private. How do you manage that?
I’m generally a private person. It’s increasingly hard. People love to talk about your personal life more than the work, often, and that’s kind of irritating, too.

At the end of the film, you give advice to the sorority sisters. Whats the best advice youve heard?
I really like [a well-known piece of] advice from Bette Davis. She’s talking about how young actors can make it in Hollywood. Her advice was, “Take Fountain.” That’s actually really good advice. It’s an incredible street. There’s rarely that much traffic, and it gets you right across Hollywood.

What question do you most hate being asked?
“Why are people so surprised that women are funny?” I would like to not be asked that. It’s so rude and so boring. It’s like, "Oh, my God! That is such a boring question. Can you not come up with something else out of all the things we can talk about?" It’s so old and tired.

Are there any male roles you wish you could have played?
Walter White [from Breaking Bad] would be pretty fun. It’d be different.

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