When Michael Cera and Kat Dennings arrived for their Dallas interview to promote “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” their new film directed by Peter Sollett (“Raising Victor Vargas”) about two teens who find romance when they spend a night together in New York trying to track down their favorite rock group, Dennings confessed that she was being bothered by an eye twitch.
“There’s something about the drugs here in Dallas,” Cera, who made a splash on television in “Arrested Development” and went on to big screen stardom in “Superbad” and “Juno,” joked. “They don’t warn you about that when you get into show business.”
But the two young stars quickly settled down to talk about their first picture together—though they’d met some time before. “Actually we met at [the premiere of] ‘Hot Fuzz,’ the Edgar Wright movie,” Dennings recalled. (Cera has inked to star in Wright’s upcoming adaptation of the “Scott Pilgrim” graphic novel.) “I told him I liked ‘Arrested Development,’ just like everybody else. And you were very nice about it. We just talked for awhile. And I gave you some gum. The rest is history.” Dennings was attracted to “Nick and Norah” not just by the script but, she said to Cera, because “you were attached, which was great.”
“I was excited when I found that I was attached, also,” Cera deadpanned. But, in a more serious vein, he added, “I thought it was well-written, and I was excited when I found out that Pete was going to direct…because he could bring a nice authenticity to it. Pete’s such a New Yorker. That’s what I found about watching ‘Victor Vargas,’ in how authentic a New York movie it is.”
The picture was made on location and at night, which made for an interesting shoot. “Just being there, walking around, added to the spirit of it,” Cera said. Dennings added, “We were really in the place [the characters] were supposed to be. You couldn’t do that on a soundstage.”
As to the actual process, Cera said, “it was very efficient, but it was relaxed and everyone was cool. New York crews are great. Great atmosphere.”
“Everyone staying up late together,” Dennings added, and Cera agreed: “You had to get on a weird schedule—sleep all day, work all night. I didn’t have any blinds, so my apartment was so bright during the day. But I didn’t mind. I think it got me into the right mindset.
“We rehearsed a lot with Pete and the other actors and blocked things out and went to the actual locations that we were going to be shooting at. And even when we weren’t rehearsing—I didn’t know too many people in New York, and I think we were all in kind of the same boat, we all spent time together.”
One of the other “characters” in the movie is Nick’s car, a yellow Yugo that people on the street mistake for a taxi. “There were actually three of them, and they had to search high and low to find them,” Cera remembered. “I think there was only one that could actually drive. The others were just for interior [shots].” Dennings added, “And they weren’t painted that [yellow]. They had to repaint them.”
Dennings was also asked about one of her scenes in the movie, when Norah and Nick finally get together and she gets aroused, a moment that reminded some of Meg Ryan’s famous sequence in “When Harry Met Sally.” “I wasn’t thinking of any movie while I was doing that…it wasn’t a homage to any other orgasm,” she replied. “It wasn’t about much of anything but ‘let’s get through this.’ Michael was there with me, and Pete was close by, and they made me feel really comfortable—as comfortable as you can feel having an orgasm on a soundstage, alone. I was trying to keep it short.”