After this weekend’s shockingly huge haul for “Neighbors,” his Seth Rogen/Zac Efron frat comedy, director Nicholas Stoller can probably do anything that he wants to next. So when we sat down with the director in New York recently, we couldn’t help but pick his brain as to what projects would follow this very funny film—including his upcoming comedy with Rogen and Kevin Hart, the possibility of a third Muppets movie for Disney, and another film in the same universe as “Get Him to the Greek” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” (Stoller also reveals how “Neighbors” is connected to these movies).
The first thing we touched upon was the Muppets movies, since Stoller co-wrote both 2011’s “The Muppets” and this year’s oddly underappreciated “Muppets Most Wanted” (both for director James Bobin and Disney). Stoller seems as perplexed as we were as to why the new Muppets movie didn’t do more. “I love that movie and I think it turned out great. I don’t know why it didn’t do better,” Stoller confessed. “Bobin and I wanted to do ‘The Great Muppet Caper‘—like a crazy farce movie. I think we accomplished what we set out to do. It was upsetting that it didn’t open better but it will live on forever, hopefully, on DVD and in libraries. “
The future of the franchise, as least as it’s connected to Stoller, seems very much in question. When we asked about the possibility of a third movie, Stoller had no clue. “I’m not sure. I’d love to work on more of them. I love working on Muppet movies,” he said. When we asked him if he had already started coming up with ideas for the third one, though, he said he had. “One of the ideas, which might be too sophisticated, was to do a hardcore wedding movie. Really make it about the wedding,” Stoller said. “And the other version would to be to pick up after they have a new show, like ‘The Muppet Show,’ and one of the Muppets becomes way more famous than the other ones and how that ricochets throughout the group.” Stoller paused, quickly flush with happiness after talking about the Muppets for just a few minutes. Finally, he said: “I could think of Muppet movies all day.”
At some point, there was talk of spinning off the Sergio Roma character, played by Sean Combs in Stoller’s “Get Him to the Greek,” a movie whose cult classic status has been cemented by nearly constant airings on pay cable (“There’s HBO East and there’s HBO ‘Get Him to the Greek,'” Stoller joked), but the director says that is no longer the case. “I think I’ve told my Aldous Snow story,” Stoller said, before adding: “Although there’s a piece of music from ‘Greek’ in ‘Neighbors’ as a little Easter egg.” What’s the Easter egg, you ask? Well Stoller explained: “There’s a song after Jonah pitches the idea to get Aldous and Diddy says, ‘That’s not a game changer, this is a game changer’ and plays a song called ‘Fuck This Shit Up.’ And I put that in as the frat is blasting music and annoying them.”
But on the plate currently is a buddy comedy with Rogen and Hart that was written by Stoller’s “Undeclared” confederate (and “The Five-Year Engagement” producer) Rodney Rothman that just sounds amazing. But we’ll let Stoller explain. “There’s a movie for Seth and Kevin Hart that I’d love to do that’s a hysterical script about the first white cop/black cop pairing in history. It takes place in 1949 in an incredibly racist, anti-Semitic world and they have to infiltrate the jazz scene and bust jazz musicians for weed,” Stoller explained. And its ambition is pretty daunting, even to Stoller. “I’m a little nervous because there are no real period comedies, I guess ‘Anchorman‘ is the closest…”
When we marveled that a studio would get behind something as weird as this, Stoller said that they’re actually very much on board and supportive. “The studio [Paramount] loves it because it’s really funny. Not to be like this but the trailer would be really funny. You’d see the trailer and understand what it is.”
And when Stoller talked about the movie, he became noticeably animated, explaining the different tones contained within the film. “I like to stretch myself with each movie and this is an action movie, there’s a Baz Luhrmann aspect because I want the jazz to be like rap because if it was jazz it would just bore the shit out of the audience, there’s a violent, revenge Quentin Tarantino aspect to it, there’s whatever I do … It’s insane. I’m so excited.”
Until then, you can see “Neighbors” in theatres now.