The tagline for “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World,” Edgar Wright’s upcoming adaptation of the hit indie comic book series created by Bryan Lee O’Malley, is “An epic of epic epicness.”
That should tell you a lot about the tongue-in-cheek tone channeled by the “Shaun of the Dead” filmmaker for the tale of a slacker musician forced to battle his girlfriend’s seven evil ex-lovers to win her affection.
Packed full of wild effects and nostalgia-inducing references to the video games, indie music and cult movies that occupy places of honor in geek culture, “Scott Pilgrim” features an all-star cast of young actors — many of whom are no strangers to the subject matter. As Scott Pilgrim, Michael Cera squares off against everything from demonic goth girls to a superpowered vegan rock star, helped along by a musical score that features contributions by Beck, Metric and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, among other notables.
Given all of that, it’s no surprise “Scott Pilgrim” is one of the summer’s most anticipated films for geeks of all interests — including actor Brandon Routh, who plays the aforementioned vegan rock star, Todd Ingram. After playing one of the least-indie superheroes in the world, Superman, we had to ask where the “Scott Pilgrim” experience ranks and what we can expect when the film hits theaters August 18.
MTV: When we spoke during Comic-Con last year, nothing had been seen of “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” at that point. The whole project was a mystery. A year later, we’ve seen the trailer and what you look like in it, and we’ve even heard some early reviews. What have you seen of it so far?
Brandon Routh: I haven’t seen the movie yet. I’ve seen the trailer and I did some additional dialogue recording the other day. A few weeks ago, Edgar showed me a few other marketing pieces that they are going to use too. I’ve seen my scene in bits and pieces, because you know when you do the ADR you get to see some of it — but not as shiny and beautiful as it will be.
MTV: Last time we spoke, you weren’t sure how some of the effects in your scenes were going to look, because there was so much post-production involved. Now that you’ve had a chance to see some of those bits and pieces, what do you think? Does it live up to expectations?
Routh: It’s very, very sweet. I didn’t even know I was going to have the glowing white eyes, or how crazy it would all look. So that was shocking and cool — but not just in its graphics. It’s such a hard movie to explain. It’s very impactful — because you feel every punch. The motions and the action are so punctuated that I think it’s going to be very visual. You’re going to feel a lot, and the crowd will probably react to so many things — more so than in other films.
MTV: Music plays such a big part in this film — probably just as much as the action — but especially in your scenes. Did you walk away from the project with some bass skills? I know you spent some time practicing up with Michael Cera and the rest of the cast …
Routh: Well, I had a couple of great teachers. Even though what you’re hearing in the movie is my replication, my mimicking, I had to work hard to get my fingers and hands to work that fast. I haven’t played the bass much since I left, but I do retain those skills and I’m looking forward to playing in a band someday. I don’t have enough friends who are musicians, so I haven’t had a jam session with anyone yet.
MTV: When you do eventually get to see the film, what’s the scene you’re most looking forward to seeing with all of the effects and such?
Routh: The whole bass battle is pretty sweet. I’m playing when we’re facing off against each other like two gunslingers. They had big wind-blowers moving these cups around and creating this tornado of activity around us. It’s very over-the-top but works so well in this movie.
MTV: Like you mentioned, so much of the story is over-the-top — in the best way possible. What was your first reaction when you read the synopsis for your character, with all the vegan superpowers and rock-star moments?
Routh: Yeah, that’s exactly it — it’s completely ridiculous, but awesome in its ridiculousness. Bryan Lee O’Malley has created such a novel concept in mixing all these different genres and making a really fun, cool and very readable comic book. I don’t even know if it’s technically a “comic book,” because it’s something different than a comic book. But I was told that Edgar wanted to meet with me, so I got a couple copies of the comic and read it. I was kind of enthralled and read them all pretty quickly. I was really eager to jump into this guy’s shoes and have fun with it.
MTV: What about your scenes with Michael Cera — how did that dynamic play out when you were filming together? Were you both flying around on wires for most of the time? Jamming together?
Routh: Thankfully, there wasn’t a lot of wirework for me. But Michael is a really great guy, very sincere, very funny and very talented — and one of the nicest people that I’ve met in this industry. When we came into rehearsals to rehearse our respective bass parts for the duel, I’d heard Michael played bass. So he comes in and plays his part and then he says, “What are you playing?” Well, I was stumbling through my part, but he just says, “Oh, this?” and just plays it flat-out with no practice. In the movie, I’m supposed to play bass better than he does, but in real life it’s the opposite — so that was a funny thing that bonded us.
MTV: This is just your latest in a series of comic book movie roles. How does Todd Ingram stack up against your “Dead of Night” and “Superman Returns” roles? What niche does this character fill for you? They’re all very different movies, despite all of them being based on comics.
Routh: Well, I’ve got the superhero, so I can check that off the list. With “Dead of Night,” it’s more of a film-noir, detective comic. That one also fills the requirement for a zombie/monster movie. [“Scott Pilgrim”] is just crazy. I mean, it’s not anime — but it’s a crazy, far-out villain. And of course, I get to play a villain for once — a crazy villain. So there’s that. They’re all very, very different characters and they all have very unique and distinct outfits as well. That’s one thing that marks a lot of comics — they all have different outfits, hairstyles and everything that makes them who they are. So it’s fun to be able to step into all these different characters that have already been established in a written and drawn form. To become them is a really neat opportunity I’ve had the ability to do three times now.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.”