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Paul - Joe Lo Truglio interview

Joe Lo Truglio

Interview by Rob Carnevale

JOE Lo Truglio talks about joining the ensemble cast of sci-fi action comedy Paul and getting to stand in for Seth Rogen at times as the CGI alien at the centre of the story.

He also talks about filming on location in New Mexico, being a sci-fi fan himself and playing a naked wine maker in one of his next movies.

Q. Did you have to do a lot of research to play a comic book fan?
Jo Lo Truglio: I am a fan-boy by nature. When I was 13 I was a big Stephen King fan and sci-fi fan and horror movie fan and so I quickly embraced the world that Simon and Nick created. It was a thrill to work with them. I had been fans of theirs since Shaun of the Dead, so it was terrific to work with them for two and a half months. And O’Reilly, my character, is a fan-boy – he’s a fan-boy with a badge. He’s a real cop’s worst nightmare. I think O’Reilly became an FBI agent because he watched Lethal Weapon and thought it looked cool to be able to run around with a gun. I don’t think he has any grasp of the reality of the job.

Q. I gather everyone got along really well?
Joe Lo Truglio: We did. I think we all have very similar senses of humour. It felt very safe going into an environment where you knew that these guys had created such great movies and great comedy. So, we felt safe and able to play around a bit. We all kind of went to a rodeo as well, which was fun. But I’d worked with Bill [Hader] and Greg [Mottola] before, and they’d known Kristen. It was like two families meeting: the British comedy family and the American comedy family came together and had this wonderful comedy reunion.

Q. Was there any culture clash?
Joe Lo Truglio: No, not really. We learned how to make a really good cup of tea! But I don’t think there was a culture clash really. If anything, because of the type of films that Simon, Nick and Edgar [Wright] make, which reference pop culture so much, it was actually helpful because these were all movies that we had seen as well. They were paying homage.

Q. Didn’t you also stand in for Paul sometimes? How was it switching back and forth between the alien and the cop chasing him?
Joe Lo Truglio: It was very easy I just stood up! And then I got back down on my knees when I had to be Paul. It was fun. I had the opportunity to work with Simon and Nick even more closely for two and a half months because Seth [Rogen, the voice of Paul] wasn’t on set, so I was filling in. And then O’Reilly was fun to be silly with and play more of a physical comedy.

Q. Were you channelling Seth Rogen as Paul?
Joe Lo Truglio: Yes, Seth had recorded all the scenes before we went to New Mexico, and so they would have his video on set. So, before a scene I’d take a look at what he was doing physically. So, Simon, Nick and Kristen had the correct reaction to what Seth would be doing once they put him in there, if that makes sense. I then just tried to do a really fun laugh.


Q. And what was it like working with a character who often wasn’t there because he’s CGI – when you weren’t standing in for him and had to act ‘alongside’ him?
Joe Lo Truglio: It was challenging. In the comic book shop, for the spaceman balls scene, I was essentially staring at the air, or what would have been me if I wasn’t playing the agent. It’s a lot of eye acting. And every shot that Paul was in, we’d do one round with me just for the actors to get the scene, and then they’d bring in a lighting puppet to see how the light fell, and then another stand with a tennis ball for eye-line, and then they’d take everything out and just shoot a ghost plate.

So, for every shot with Paul in the movie we’d do it four or five times like I’ve just described. It was very tedious but fun for me because I’d never been in a movie like that before, which had so many effects and was full of action. It was thrilling to see that whole process happen. If the alien didn’t work in this movie, there’d be no movie and I think it succeeds very well – that you have some empathy with this alien and see how it interacts with these humans.

Q. What was it like being out in the middle of nowhere for so long?
Joe Lo Truglio: Well, the geography of the place was beautiful. I love New Mexico and I love the South West. But I didn’t find any crazy right wing nuts where we were at all. I haven’t spent a lot of time in those areas. Everyone there was very nice. But the weather could be kind of crazy. We had a lightning meter that told us how far away the lightning was, so that was kind of exciting. It was like: “The lightning is coming! The lightning is coming!” We were in Santa Fe for the whole summer of 2009.

Q. As a fan-boy, how was getting to work with Sigourney Weaver?
Joe Lo Truglio: Oh, I was giddy with excitement. It was awesome. I did eventually calm down in her presence but at first we were all like 13 again. But with Sigourney, she’s so warm and ingratiating that any awkwardness is nipped in the bud pretty quickly. It was all ridiculous. I was being a stand-in alien…

Q. Are you expecting any kind of backlash from angry Christians?
Joe Lo Truglio: I don’t necessarily think those people would go and see a movie like this. I hope they do because it’s a funny movie and it’s not about that issue. It’s nice to have issues like that in big comedies because they handle it very well. You’re right, there is a criticism on both ends of the argument but I don’t think it’s too mean-spirited.

Q. What’s next for you?
Joe Lo Truglio: I have just recently wrapped on a movie called Wanderlust with Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston, which will be coming out in October, where I play a nudist wine maker at this hippie commune. They play a married couple who are going out to Atlanta and they stay over at a bed and breakfast, which happens to be a hippie commune, so they decide to stay for a little bit. And I play a nudist wine maker. That was the biggest project I’ve done since Paul.

Read our review of Paul

Read our interview with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost