On “Arrested Development,” Michael Cera endearingly stumbled his way into our hearts. In “Juno,” his awkward pauses and longing glances made orange Tic Tac-loving Paulie Bleeker one of the most lovable father-figures ever committed to film. In “Superbad,” it was similarly his uncomfortable body language and uneasy smiles that made so many moviegoers look at him and remember themselves in high school.
Now Cera is bringing the art of the awkward pause to “Youth in Revolt,” a long-awaited comedy that co-stars the likes of Steve Buscemi, Fred Willard, Ray Liotta and Justin Long. And on the eve of the film’s release, we spoke to Cera about pretending to pleasure himself, putting George Clooney out of business and his scandalous tendency to run afoul of the law.
MTV: Michael, we’ve been looking forward to a “Youth in Revolt” movie for a long time. In fact, you were involved with this script even before “Superbad” and “Juno,” correct?
Michael Cera: Well yeah, it was around and I was trying to get attached to it. I loved the book [which was published in the mid-’90s], so I wanted to be a part of it. So yeah, I’d say it is a [passion project]; it’s something I’ve cared about a lot.
MTV: Why did this movie speak to you?
Cera: I just loved the novel. When you have a novel that’s really unique in its sensibility, sense of humor and tone — and there happens to be this character in it that you are able to play because you’re around that age and you relate to it — yeah, it just felt like something I wanted to be a part of.
MTV: In the film you play not only dorky Nick Twisp, but also his split-personality badass Francois Dillinger . Is this a peek into the future of swaggering, cigarette-smoking tough guys that we’ll see Michael Cera play?
Cera: I don’t know. [Laughs.] I don’t have any plans to do that. it depends, I guess, on what comes along.
MTV: Some directors might see Francois and think you’d be perfect for the next George Clooney-esque con-man movie role.
Cera: I don’t know; I hope not. I don’t want to put [Clooney] out of business.
MTV: Early in the film, we see Nick establishing himself as an unlucky-in-love virgin by lying in his bed at night and getting it on … with himself. Michael, was that an awkward scene to shoot?
Cera: I wouldn’t say [it was] fun; it wasn’t fun lying there. I have no memories of it at all. I remember[dubbing in the “oohs” and “aahs”] for it — that was awkward.
MTV: Throughout the movie, Nick and Francois have conversations. How tough was it to shoot those scenes where you’d later be inserted as the other character?
Cera: It was tricky, but it was really fun to do it. You’d do a bunch of bad takes, where it didn’t feel like it matched up at all, or it didn’t feel like you were talking to someone else and the timing won’t work. But then you’d get one that clicked and it would feel really real. And it was really cool to see it come together.
MTV: One of the key moments in the film is Nick’s big act of revolution: to get himself a badass reputation and be reunited with his girlfriend, he creates a car accident that ends up destroying a store and getting the police on his tail. Michael, what’s the most rebellious thing you’ve ever done?
Cera: I’ve done a lot of stuff I’m really ashamed of.
Cera: Yeah. And I’d rather not elaborate on that.
MTV: Are you reformed now? Or do you plan on continuing your illegal activities?
Cera: I don’t plan to. But if there’s a situation where that has to happen, I’m not going to not do it just because “the law” is saying I can’t.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Youth In Revolt.”
For young Hollywood news, fashion and “Twilight” updates around the clock, visit HollywoodCrush.MTV.com.