“It really walks that balance between being ridiculous and entertaining and also being about human beings that you can care about,” Joseph Gordon-Levitt told The Hollywood Reporter at The Night Before‘s Los Angeles premiere Wednesday night.
The actor described the film as he joined Tom Rothman and James Franco on the red carpet for a powwow. A crowd of screaming fans decked out in ugly Christmas and Hanukkah sweaters demanded selfies with the stars as both laughter and tears overtook the audience at The Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown L.A.
The film stars Gordon-Levitt as a 33-year-old trying to hold onto the Christmas tradition he has with his two best friends, played by Seth Rogen and Anthony Mackie. “My character is suffering through a loss, and that is something that I’ve been through in my life,” Gordon-Levitt told THR. “I always said to Seth and Jon Levine when they first started talking to me about this project, I was like, ‘We should do this movie. It’s going to be great. It should be funny, but if we’re going to do a Christmas movie, it’s got to have a heart to it, and they totally agreed. I think Levine really pulled it off.”
How did director Levine handle the ensemble cast that included Tracy Morgan, Lizzy Caplan, Mindy Kaling, Jillian Bell, Lorraine Toussaint, Michael Shannon and Miley Cyrus? “I sort of treated it like being the host at a party, and you want to sit people next to each other who will get along well, and you want everyone to have a good time and feel loose, but you also need to get through the meal,” Levine told THR.
The Miley Cyrus cameo, in which she belts out her hit song “Wrecking Ball” with Gordon-Levitt, came after the film was underway. “We knew we wanted an artist to play at this big party, and we had heard she really liked Seth and the guys. We asked her to do it. We wrote all that stuff into the script,” Levine told THR.
It wasn’t just Cyrus’ admiration of Rogen that got her the gig though; it may have been Levine’s admiration for the former Disney star, who tells Gordon-Levitt’s character to call her “Hannah” in the movie. Said Levine: “I loved that Bangerz album, and I love her new album, and directing her was really easy. She’s a child star; she knows what she’s doing. Directing her and Joe in scenes, they were both like, ‘Yeah, we got it. We grew up doing this.’ ”
With holiday cheer and a celebration of the comedy in the air at the premiere, is there something else to celebrate? Will Rogen be doing anything for The Interview‘s first anniversary? He may be spending it with Franco, Rogen told THR: “We actually start shooting a movie [The Disaster Artist] that [Franco’s] directing in two weeks, so we’ll probably be filming. We’ll rewatch it maybe.”
As Gordon-Levitt related to some of the serious elements of the film, Rogen had completely different flashbacks. “The idea that there’s our high school weed dealer, that is very much inspired from my real life because sometimes I do go back home to Vancouver, especially … not so much anymore, but after I had left for a few years, there is that thing where you’re like, ‘Who do you buy weed off of?’ ” the actor joked to THR. He added: “And now that I’m not in high school anymore, I would have to keep in touch with our high school weed dealers, and there was a story where one time we got snowed out over the Christmas break, and we had to go meet our weed dealer in the snow storm in the middle of our high school football field.”
Will Rogen reunite with Gordon-Levitt, Mackie or anyone else from the film again? Joked Caplan: “We did the North Korea movie and now a Christmas movie, so I guess some kind of ballet-dancer movie would be a natural third in the trilogy.”
The film premiere was followed by a private afterparty hosted by Rogen. Other guests of the night included James Marsden, LL Cool J, Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Cory Hardrict.