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SXSW: Sara Paxton On Performing Air Sex in Front of a Live Audience and Going "Full Blown 'Lincoln'" For 'The Bounceback'

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire March 13, 2013 at 1:34PM

You'd be hard pressed to find a more balls-to-the-wall comedic performance at SXSW this year than Sara Paxton's scene-stealing turn in the breakup/makeup romantic comedy "The Bounceback."
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"Oh yeah, I went full blown 'Lincoln.' It’s funny because nobody would recognize me like after work when we went to a bar to have drinks."

You don a lot of tattoos in the movie. How long did that take to put on?

It’s funny because the way that they do it is just like how you do it as a kid. Like you peel off the thing and put it in water, but they were super strong stick. So we’d put them on like that and they would last five days, so we’d redo them every five days. But yeah, I’d be walking around Austin with this sleeve and I’d be at Whole Foods, and some girl would come up and say “I like your tats.” And I’m like “thank you?” I didn’t know what to say because then I’d be that douchebag who’s like “oh, no, they’re fake, I’m doing them for a movie. I’m an actress” So I just went with it.

Talk about method.

Oh yeah, I went full blown “Lincoln.” It’s funny because nobody would recognize me like after work when we went to a bar to have drinks. They’d be like “hi, oh you.” Because they would take my hair out and I wouldn’t have the crazy makeup so no one would notice me.

Air sex, have you ever heard of it before?

I actually thought that I had invented air sex. Because in our first meeting I said “So, air sex. Because you know, I do the air hump.” And they were like “what is that?” And sometimes when I get really excited and like something I’ll do this little air hump. [Paxton gets up and starts humping the air...] You can’t see what I’m doing but I’m gyrating in a sexual way, like a Muppet character. [She sits back down.] And they said “no, we’ve never heard of that, but air sex is real.” So I started looking up YouTube videos at home and I was just like this is ridiculous, oh my god. I just thought it was so funny. I got to sit in on the audition process for the Jeff character, played by Zach Cregger. And so I read for a bunch of different dudes and he didn’t understand the air sex. I could see why you would think it might not work, but I was really sold and into it. I was pumped about it

Did you choreograph that small dick routine before getting up on stage at the Alamo Drafthouse?

No we had to choreograph beforehand. We shot that the last week with a live audience filled with people we didn’t know but also crew members. So by the end we were all BFFs so I felt a little more comfortable. But throughout the filming Bryan would be like “so are you guys coming up for ideas for air sex? Is it coming to you, you got this right?” And I’m like “oh my god, three weeks away.” And then the night before I had a panic attack I thought “I can’t do this, my ideas aren’t funny,” and I called Bryan and I was like “we have to go over some stuff, come over.” And he came over to the hotel room and it was us in the room with the furniture moved and corny music on my laptop just spit-balling ideas, trying to come up with the funniest thing. So he helped me a lot. It was a group effort of us just tossing  ideas back and forth, but by the end of it when I was getting up there, I knew what I was doing. I had the routine all figured out in my head.

So were you happy with it?

(Laughs) I guess. It was really embarrassing to do the routine, because the first time you do it everyone’s laughing. Then the second time they’re still kind of laughing. By the 18th time I’m doing it, no one is laughing. Or there would be sometimes where Bryan would need sound, so he’d be like “audience, fake laugh.” So I’m doing all of this stuff to a room full of strangers.

If you can do that, you can do anything though right?

(Laughs) Right, I’ve conquered all of my fears.

Do you feel like you’re at a new stage in your career, veering off into more comedic territory?

I hope so. It feels really cool to have two movies in the festival that I feel I’ve done something really different in. Something that I feel people haven’t seen so much. So, I hope so. I love doing comedy and I hope that people see this movie.


This article is related to: Sara Paxton, Love & Air Sex, South By Southwest Film Conference and Festival (SXSW), Interviews