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MOVIES: Riding the Mustache with the Cast of 'Super Troopers 2'

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After 16 years, Super Troopers 2 is finally hitting cinema screens this weekend, thanks in no small part to an Indiegogo campaign that reached its goal a mere 26 hours after launch. Indeed, the fans were still clamoring for the further adventures of Thorny, Farva and the rest of the gang, and they were willing to pony up the cash to prove it.

In the weeks leading up to the film, the Broken Lizard gang embarked on a cross-country tour to reward their backers with early screenings of the film. A few days into the tour, we caught up with the guys during a stop in Phoenix, Arizona, where Super Troopers 2 played to a thunderous ovation the night before.

We're at a time now where comedy sequels - particularly ones that release long after the original film - can be a scary proposition. We've seen things like Anchorman 2, Dumb and Dumber To and Zoolander 2, and they all kind of sucked. Were you guys cognizant of that when writing the script for Super Troopers 2, making sure you didn't fall into the same trap?

Kevin Heffernan: We very much were, and it was a lot of pressure - you don't want to screw up the first one. The idea was to not retread as many jokes, and try to have fresh new things, and I think that was in the front of our minds as we were going.

Paul Soter: We're losing sleep over it now. I think we all feel really good about the movie, but that's still the thing we don't wanna get hit with when the movie comes out. Because what it does, is it kind of tarnishes the first one, and that would be terrible. So yeah, I feel good about it, but I don't know that I'm relaxed.

Kevin Heffernan: But the reaction has been great so far.

Nearly every film you've done together has a romantic subplot, and each time it's a different member of the group going down that road. Are you guys romantics at heart?

Steve Lemme: If it can make us cry, it's going in the movie.

Kevin Heffernan: Softies.

Paul Soter: We're all sensitive fellas. But also, we'd hate for our audience to only be made up of guys, so we want to make sure there's something in it for everyone.

Kevin Heffernan: It's also fun to work with good actresses. We're just dudes in a room writing this script, but then you get to work with people like Marisa Coughlan or Brittany Daniel or Emmanuelle Chriqui. They're all great, and they're great people, so it's just great to get to hang out with them. And I think that's something we always have in our mind, that we need to have somebody like that in each movie.

Steve Lemme: We're aware that, oftentimes in these movies, the romantic plotline can be the dull part of the movie. And I think it's because sometimes they're a little color-by-numbers, where it's just "the girl's gonna fall for the guy, and then they hook up." So we try to be creative - we don't really want to do it unless there's something funny about it.

Something I've noticed while revisiting the other Broken Lizard films, is that Steve is kind of the "cultural chameleon" of the group. In every film, you're playing something different - you transform yourself.

Kevin Heffernan: He's our De Niro.

Steve Lemme: Yeah, I got to play Juan Castillo (in Club Dread), which was fun, because I was making a movie in a Speedo the entire time, which I find to be a sign of success. Beerfest was more like taking one for the team. We permed my hair...

Erik Stolhanske: You loved that look.

Steve Lemme: And then I had male pattern baldness. We looked at Sean Penn in Carlito's Way, and we were like "that's who this character's gonna be." So yeah, permed the hair, and then every day they would shave three inches of male pattern baldness.

Paul Soter: And it looked good until the weekend, when you didn't have somebody giving you this shave. Because sometimes we'd go three days, so then you'd have three days of hair growth just [on your forehead]. That was the only time when I was like "I don't wanna go near this guy."

Steve Lemme: I had a five o'clock shadow on my head. There was this one time in the hotel, I got in the elevator, and I had just worked out, so my afro was already wilting.

[group laughs]

Steve Lemme: And it was the Embassy Suites, where they had free margaritas every day, from like four o'clock to seven o'clock. And these two meatheads with their margaritas got into the elevator with me, and they were on either side of me, and I could just feel them looking at my head and looking at each other, and looking back at my head and looking back at each other.

To their credit, they almost made it the entire way. They got off the elevator on the floor below me. The doors opened, they got off, then the doors were shutting and right at the last second, they turned to each other and burst out laughing. So that was great.

Paul Soter: Let's say we get to do Potfest [the long rumored Beerfest sequel]. How much further - what would his hair loss situation be?

Kevin Heffernan: He may just be bald, like Moby.

Steve Lemme: I'd gladly do it. Finkelstein changed my life. I tapped into this thing, it's like being true to yourself. Don't put on airs for other people.

Paul Soter: The lessons of Finkelstein. You could write a coffee table book.

Erik Stolhanske: Our movies are really lessons to live by.

Paul Soter: I've got my eleven-year-old son learning all those lessons, and I'm petrified about what's going to happen.

You guys always write as a team, but how does that manifest in terms of dividing up the work? Are you all just sitting around a table with laptops, hammering out jokes?

Erik Stolhanske: It's a lot of this kind of stuff, a lot of riffing.

Steve Lemme: For earlier drafts, we'll just have general sessions, where everybody's writing down a ton of ideas, and then each guy goes off and writes fifteen pages. The next pass, everybody gives their notes, and then each guy's responsible for doing their own section. Then you get to the third draft, and the point man - who we call "the bitch" - he has to take over that job, because now everything has to become uniform and weave together. And that person stays the point man.

Erik Stolhanske: Which is the worst job in Hollywood.

Steve Lemme: It's terrible, because you're writing the script, and you're still writing new jokes that you haven't pitched to the guys - because that's just what you do when you're writing a script. It's incredibly hard work, and then you go in and four fucking assholes will just rip your stuff apart.

Erik Stolhanske: "What's this? This wasn't in the original thing. What's this?"

Paul Soter: And even your role in the room during riff sessions... Imagine a room full of guys all cracking jokes, trying to make each other laugh, and you're just like "uh huh, uh huh" and trying to make sure you get it all down.

Steve: It's the worst job. The worst job in Hollywood.

Previously, you spoke about trying to get funding for the film, and how the studio didn't necessarily believe there was still an audience for Super Troopers. Did you guys ever feel any trepidation, like "maybe they're right," or did you always believe the fans were still there?

Erik Stolhanske: We're still terrified.

Paul Soter: Yeah, we still don't know. Talk to us on the Monday after the movie opens.

[group laughs]

Paul Soter: It's hard, because for all these years we've been going out and people would say "when are you gonna make Super Troopers 2?" It felt to us like, clearly people are clamoring, but you don't know if they're representative of a big demographic or not.

Kevin Heffernan: Our reps have always said to us that we're more famous outside of the industry than in the industry. Studios try to quantify your success, and they do it in certain ways - one of the metrics is box office opening weekend, and we've never had that. We have this very hard to pin down thing, where we'll go to a college town and everyone goes crazy, but then you go to a supermarket in LA and no one knows who you are. So we've always had that, where we felt like the fans were out there - we've just gotta let the people who make the decisions know our fans are out there. That's why crowdfunding was so perfect for us.

Paul Soter: Just in general, the benefit of the internet. Things are so different, things have changes so fast from the time we made Beerfest, the last studio movie that we made. The idea that you can release a trailer or release material and immediately get back a metric? I mean, there's a lot of scary shit with what's happening on Facebook and what people can do with data, but from our point of view, that's like the best thing that could've happened to us.

Obviously, with the crowdfunding, but even moreso after that. When we could put material out, like put a picture of the slate from day one on Facebook, and have like 5 million people "like" it within 48 hours - that mechanism didn't exist when we were making movies before, so it's really been helpful to get that attitude changed. The decision makers in Hollywood are people that don't want to lose their fucking job, so they have to have that ability to quantify, so they can justify the decisions that they make. Fortunately,  I think this has made it easier for people to feel secure in getting behind us, in terms of Hollywood.

Well, I think we're out of time, but I wish you guys a ton of success, and we'll definitely be there on opening weekend. 

Kevin Heffernan: Thanks man.

Paul Soter: Yeah, just bring two hundred of your best friends and we'll be all set.

Super Troopers 2 hits theaters everywhere on Friday, April 20th.

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