From “Scott Pilgrim” creator Bryan Lee O’Malley to comic and film creator Kevin Smith, there’s been no shortage of people heaping compliments on the film ahead of its release — no small achievement, given that many questioned whether the books’ kinetic, manga-influenced vibe could ever be properly translated to the big (or small) screen. But that’s exactly what happened, and now Michael Cera is set to play slacker hero Scott Pilgrim as he faces off against the evil ex-lovers of his new girlfriend, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
While the cast is a veritable who’s-who of young actors with serious cred in the geek scene, I managed to snag some time with one of the aforementioned evil exes as part of MTV’s Summer Movie Preview Week to get some thoughts on the film and what we’ve seen of it so far. No stranger to comic book movies, Brandon Routh previously played the least-indie superhero of them all, Superman, before suiting up as Todd Ingram, the smug bassist with vegan superpowers who squares off against Scott in one of the story’s biggest battles.
MTV NEWS: 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 “Scott Pilgrim” 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 some day. 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 of 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: It must have been interesting to know that the story you were reading wasn’t finished yet — in the comic, that is. The ending for the film is original to the film, from what we’ve heard, and the sixth volume isn’t out for a while yet. Was there some sense that you were treading new ground during the film?
ROUTH: Yeah, we had an ending for the film at that point, but I think the ending of the films is not quite the same ending as the book — or so I’ve heard. But we’ll find out when book six comes out. I’m eager to get that and see how it matches up with how the film ends.
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 wire work 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.
MTV: With all of these comics-related projects, has this sparked your interest with comics again? Are you starting to get that bug to pick up some issues now and then?
ROUTH: Honestly, I didn’t really read that many comics growing up. I read a little bit more now as I’ve been involved in different narrations of comics. I definitely have a great appreciation for the medium now, having worked with Platinum Studios, DC and Oni Press. They send me quite a few comics, so I’ve had the chance to look at different things and to read them. I actually did this comic book competition through Platinum in which people submit comics and then they publish one out for you. It was a really cool experience to see the creativity of people out there and the different ideas that can be used and put into comics and graphic novels. I love fiction and fantasy and those worlds so all the stuff is great.
“Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” hits theaters August 18. Let us know what you think in the comment section or on Twitter!