Arts Express: Rose Byrne Talks Neighbors

Among the assorted feats Rose Byrne was faced with in Nick Stoller’s testosterone laden guy movie, Neighbors, was not only playing a nerve wracked, perpetually lactating new mom, but holding her own as just about the only female star around in the film. Rose stopped by to describe just how she went about figuring all that out; getting persistently peeved while avoiding any shrewish spouse tendencies towards assigned matrimonial mate, Seth Rogen; and enjoying the scenery of the bare chested men around her.

Rose, what was it like for you to have to hold your own against all these males in this raunchy guy movie?

Byrne at the Australian Premiere of I Give It A Year in 2013.

RB: What was it like…She was this incredible character! But no, it was good. We didn’t want to make her the usual stock female character.

And what would that be?

RB: You know, the nagging wife in the corner! And instead, try to make her as irresponsible and as irreverent as the rest of the cast! So yeah.

And you didn’t need the protection of a man from any of these wacko males?

RB: Yeah. Which I think was fun, and a good thing to explore. Um, and hopefully funny to watch. And most importantly, I hope it’s amusing!

This movie is all about bad neighbors. So what kind of neighbor would you say you are, in the real world?

RB: I’m very quiet. And good!

What is the best part of the movie for you?

I loved the Abercrombie & Fitch scene. Finally somebody has put that in a movie. Like it’s such a ridiculous thing that happens, in real life!

You know, it’s already so absurd. So I though it was an excellent parody, with males standing outside bare chested. And very enjoyable to watch.

What about working with Nick Stoller?

RB: This is my second time. I did Get Him To The Greek with Nick Stoller. And he’s just a pleasure to work with.

He’s very collaborative. And he has a sense of calm about him. Most of the time!

And we just shot this very quickly. It was not a very big budget. But he’s very enthusiastic. Yep.

Was there any pranking against each other when you were making the movie?

RB: Nah. We had enough going on! We didn’t need anything else.

What can you say about your character, Kelly?

RB: Um, I’ve never played a character as wild as this. I mean, I did a part in Get Him To The Greek, as a pop star. And she was pretty outlandish.

But this is a bigger role, really. Whereas in the other project, I was more the straight man.

But I find comedy incredibly challenging. Yeah, I think it’s really overlooked, how hard it is.

In what way?

RB: I think it’s so difficult. And underrated. And people like Seth make it look effortless! And if you’re next to someone like that, it…really helps!

What about how you react when you’re told that your baby could have AIDS? Seth was kind of laughing behind you.

RB: Ha! That was pretty authentic! Yeah, that kind of happened in the moment. That was improvised!

What was the chemistry like between you and the guys?

RB: We had a good chemistry. I thought it was a very harmonious set. A lot of good stuff going on. Yeah.

Were there any scenes that seemed too funny to get through?

RB: It’s pretty funny, we were discussing whether to go over and talk to those frat boys. And a ridiculous conversation that we would have.

Or bring them a joint! But then tell them, keep it down, keep it down! And it just descended into, it just got too ridiculous!

And the Robert De Niro imitation that Dave Franco was doing, that was funny. We couldn’t stop laughing at that.

And he would get really tired of doing it. He’d say, I just need a few minutes, I need a few minutes! That was funny.

And then Jerrod doing those monologues from Pulp Fiction. That was quite a non sequitur right there! Yep.

Prairie Miller is a New York multimedia journalist online, in print and radio, who reviews movies and conducts in-depth interviews. She can also be heard on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network’s Arts Express.