BEVERLY HILLS — Veteran video director Samuel Bayer no longer considers "Wake Me Up When September Ends" his crowning achievement.
"I'm gonna say that the greatest Green Day video that's ever been done has been shot and I have it," Bayer revealed Wednesday, and he wasn't referring to "September" (see " 'Teen Spirit' Director Calls Green Day Clip His Career Highlight"). "A lot people say that 'Jesus of Suburbia' is their favorite song, and maybe this is the conversation that destroys my relationship with Green Day [for talking about it in advance], but talk to the guys about it because it is the most powerful ... wow, I feel weird saying this stuff. It's a cool video. It's done. Yes there is a 'Jesus of Suburbia' video."
MTV News took Bayer's suggestion, and although Green Day were hesitant to reveal a lot of details, the band basically seconded his notion.
"It's the new 'Thriller,' " singer Billie Joe Armstrong said jokingly — kind of. " 'Jesus of Suburbia' is really a long song, so already it's quite a task. You can't think of it as making a video, but a short film, and that's what Sam did. There's dialogue. It follows the story of the song more so than the other videos from American Idiot."
As with "September," which stars Evan Rachel Wood and Jamie Bell, Bayer cast an up-and-coming actor to lead the video. Lou Taylor Pucci from recent indie releases "Thumbsucker" and "The Chumscrubber" (which coincidentally also stars Bell) plays the title character in "Jesus of Suburbia."
"It's more verbatim to the storyline of the record, but within it, it shows more of what we [Green Day] would see or think about than just a fantasy video," bassist Mike Dirnt explained.
"It has different feels to it, like the song has different tempos and intensities, and Sam pulled it off," drummer Tre Cool added.
Bayer's cut of the video is 14 minutes, although he also cut a music-only nine-minute version. The band is now deciding how exactly to present it.
"It's a monster, so it's going to take a little more time [to reach viewers] than the short videos," Armstrong said.
More than a year ago, when Green Day were first accepting treatments from directors for "American Idiot," Bayer stood out for looking past the first single and talking about the entire album. He's since directed all of American Idiot's videos, including the award-winning "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (see "Green Day Clean Up, Kelly Clarkson Gets Wet, 50 Rips Into Fat Joe At VMAs").
"It showed us he was emotionally invested in the record," Dirnt said.
"We didn't know if we wanted to switch directors from song to song, it just worked so well with Sam, it just seemed like he was really progressive with his ideas," Armstrong added. "There is a thread with all the videos, as with the album. They don't look alike, but there's something that ties them all together. We did the same with Mark Kohr on Dookie. We like loyalty with video directors."
As for "Jesus of Suburbia" the song, Armstrong considers it the biggest musical achievement of Green Day's career.
"It broke every rule people thought Green Day were supposed to be," he said. "Lyrically, it's everything about my past, but at the same time, written on the outside as well. That song is like purging everything, throwing it out."
For more on American Idiot, check out the feature "Anatomy of a Punk Opera."