Interview: Charlyne Yi, Jake Johnson, and Nicholas Jasenovec from Paper Heart
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Charlyne Yi, Jake Johnson, and Nicholas Jasenovec at the 2009 Comic Con. We chatted about the movie, the filming schedule, how the movie changed Charlyne’s perspective on love, and more. Check it out below!
What have you guys thought of Comic Con?
Jake: It’s been a lot of fun. We just had our panel, which was a lot of fun, because we had a big dildo in it. So we got to do that game for a while.
Are you just here for today, then?
Charlyne: We were here since… yesterday?
Jake: Two days ago. This is our third day…So we’re getting the full Comic-Con experience. It’s my first time – it is wild!
Charlyne, what are people recognizing you from?
Charlyne: Um…I was going to make a joke, but I didn’t go with it. I guess Knocked Up. I don’t think anyone recognizes me from Paper Heart, because it’s not out yet.
Have they been making fun comments?
Charlyne: Just, “You’re that girl, right?” And I’m like, “What girl?” And they’re like, “The movie!” And I’m like, “Which movie?” And they don’t know what movie. Sometimes they go, “Superbad!” And I’m like, “No, I don’t think so.”
And Seth Rogen’s in this movie also.
Charlyne: Oh yeah, briefly.
Jake: For, like, a minute.
You’ve worked with him twice; what’s that been like?
Charlyne: Well, in the movie- I didn’t get to act with him really, but I got to act with other people. Then in this film, it’s more of an interview, so I wasn’t really acting with him, I was actually interviewing him for like an hour and a half, but then got widdled down.
Jake: And E.T.
Charlyne: Oh, E.T. ! Oh yeah, we did a stage version of E.T. that was like half an hour, where Jake played Elliot and I played E.T. and Seth played your older brother, Michael. That was really fun.
Jake: Seth is incredibly nice and we did a play and he was willing to come out, and he’s like shooting all these big movies, and came and like, rehearsed with us! He’s pretty awesome.
Charlyne: It was really, really fun.
What’s something about him that we might not know?
Charlyne: I don’t know!
Jake: He’s just- he’s a really nice person.
Charlyne: Yeah, he’s a great guy.
Jake: You probably can’t assume that, but he actually really is a nice guy.
Charlyne: I think it’s so funny- his laugh is like, really contagious, too. Especially being with him. He’s just a really good guy with a good heart. He just likes to have fun.
Jake: He doesn’t seem like he’s a huge movie star when you’re around him, which I always kinda found refreshing.
How many locations did you guys shoot at for Paper Heart?
Jake: You want to try to name them off? Starting with- well, first we did Toronto and Paris, then we left LA.
Charlyne: Las Vegas, Little Rock…
Jake: New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee-
Charlyne: Nashville. Atlanta…
Jake: Virginia, Atlanta, New York… We are missing some, I’m sure. Obviously our geography’s all crazy… We’re like, cities and states and then cities and states, but a lot. We did five weeks on the road in a van. It was basically, like, a band’s tour bus and we drove from New York to LA, shooting the documentary stuff and all the Charlyne and me stuff.
So was the full shooting five weeks, then?
Jake: It was about three months. When Michael [Cera] came in that was about two and a half weeks, and then they did the puppet stuff. Which was about a week and a half.
What’s it like working with Michael Cera?
Jake: I think it’s really great. Mike’s, you know, not only a really great improviser, but he’s a really great actor. And he’s one of those guys who’s just really present in the scenes. And he’s really fun to work with.
Charlyne: It was great to just work with friends. Like, Jake, Michael, Nic and I all knew each other so- I don’t know, I think we’re really lucky to be able to just hang out with friends and riff and goof around.
Jake: It felt like hanging out.. but with a crew. And our crew is only eleven people, so we became friends with everybody on crew. So the camera guys, the sound guys – we all knew each other, and we were all involved in the bits. So it almost felt like home videos. You know, weird home videos, but like if home videos were really organized.
Did that make it easier shooting? Knowing everybody?
Jake: I think so, for sure.
Charlyne: Yeah, definitely.
Jake: ‘Cause we would have long hours. We’d be driving in a van for ten hours and then have to shoot. And so, if you’re not with friends, that could get pretty lame. But if you are with friends, it just feels like this weird journey that you get to mess with each other the whole time.
Charlyne: And also, even when we did the more serious scenes, like the break-up scene, it was like really exciting. Like, “OK, now we’re going to do the break-up scene! OK, Let’s go!” I dunno. If we did it with, like, a big studio and intense actors, I think it’d be like, “Oh my God, we have to do the dramatic scene, the break-up. Ugh. OK, let’s go.”
Are you and Michael dating?
Charlyne: Nope, just friends.
There were rumors out there that you were – just wanted to clear that up.
Jake: We’ve heard that, on this day more than anything, we’ve also heard that she’s thirty-three years old-
Charlyne: I’m a cougar!
Jake: She’s a cougar…
Charlyne: And, um…I was married at some point, I guess.
Jake: And we are, in real life, brothers.
Nick: Brothers with different last names.
Jake: They’re like, “Jake Johnson: Nick Jasenovec’s real life brother!”
Charlyne: Well, I mean, you’re both handsome so how can you not be related?
Jake: Thank you!
What was the most difficult part of this film to do?
Jake: I think, for me, it was the travel. Like, when we shot the gun scene – there’s a scene where we’re like, shooting in the rain – that was in the morning. And then we had to get back in to the van, the eleven seater van, where Charlyne and I are shoulder to shoulder with the cooler soaking wet with mud on our shoes. And then we had to drive for, like, eight hours.
Charlyne: Everyone just reeked like wet dog.
Nick: The van smelled constantly.
Jake: So, I think the travel was the hardest.
That sounds great.
Jake: It wasn’t. Especially after the fifth day when you’re like, “Wow! The newness of this is over, now we are really living out of a van.
Charlyne: Yeah, and then sometimes you’d be so exhausted you’d got to the hotel and you’re like, “Great! It smells like sweet and sour sauce and cigarettes! This is comforting!”
Nick: We stayed in really crappy motels.
Charlyne: “I’m going to cover myself in this disgusting blanket!”
Jake: I think they just went on Orbitz and got the cheapest hotels. So in every city- like pull into Little Rock and one of them had, like, a broken lock and blood on the wall and dirty ladies underwear on the floor. And you’re just like, “Man, I gotta sleep here?”
Nick: Making movies is so glamorous.
Jake: That’s what happens when you make an independent movie.
Nick: I’m sure they went through same stuff on Transformers 2.
Where did the idea for this film come from?
Charlyne: Everyone looks at me. It was originally going to be a traditional documentary where- ‘Cause I was skeptical of love – of my own love, not anyone else’s love. And I think, you know, I was like, nineteen and dropped out of college and I hung out with older men, ’cause I was performing a lot. And so, I was just like, “Oh my God, what if I end up like them? All old and a man and single!” And I think, also, I remember turning on the TV and was like, “Oh, Elimidate. Maybe I could get some tips from this?.”
Jake: It’s actually true, she’s not making a joke.
Charlyne: And then, you know, it’s like, “Oh, they’re hitting it off! Oh, there’s two women in the Jacuzzi. Oh…they’re all making out. Oh, gross! Is that my future? Is that what young kids do?” So I think I was just like, I don’t like going out, really, like that. I like, you know, hanging inside and playing music and stuff like that. And I guess I was a bit worried about me finding someone – especially with the social crowd that I hung out with. And that kind of inspired the idea of making a documentary about love. And I came to Nick with that idea. And he, uh-
Nick: I’m gonna let you keep going.
Charlyne: He was hoping that because of my ‘unique perspective’ on love…
Nick: Started mocking my answers in previous interviews.
Charlyne: That maybe I would go on camera and fall in love as I was making the documentary, but we couldn’t guarantee that I would fall in love, or that I would want to be filmed dating someone – as that would happen. So he was like, “Oh! What if we made a fictional narrative and used the stories that you want to do that are real and incorporate some how.” So that kind of had to by me playing a character named Charlyne, that way it’s not, like, Charlyne in the interviews and then, like… What was that? Cassandra Yi?
Nick: Oh, Cassandra Di?
Charlyne: Cassandra Di in the narrative. Like, it’d be so abrupt and weird. I’d have to take on the persona of Charlyne Yi.
Did the movie change your perspective on love?
Charlyne: I think so! I think most definitely. I think the talking to the people – because they were real and even let us into their homes for, like, two hours, I think. And we would just talk to them. I think, you know, when people tell you stories – I couldn’t help but feel emotionally involved. I felt like – like I would get chills in the interview.
Jake: Everything with the documentary section of the movie is one hundred percent real. So we would go, we would just say, like, “This is a documentary about love, we’re not going to be, like, making fun of you.” And Charlyne would just ask them questions, and they would just open up. So, it was really nice hearing these real stories of people who’d been together for fifty years, forty years. And we would be in their favorite room, and they would be talking about what they liked about their relationship. So, I think all of us – I don’t think we realized how optimistic it was all going to be, but it was really nice to hear.
How did you find those people?
Jake: There’s a casting director that was two weeks ahead, right?
Nick: Yeah. This woman named Eileen Kennedy who’s done some real people casting in the past. So she did some work from LA and then went out on the same path we were on a couple weeks ahead of us, and would meet people, interview them, and then send videos to us. Every night we would watch ten or fifteen videos and then pick our subjects from there.
What were some of the conclusions about love that you guys have?
Charlyne: I think that it’s different for everyone. I don’t think anyone’s wrong or right. I think it’s what you want it to be, you know? I think some scientists are like, “Oh, kids don’t know what love is because they haven’t gone through hormones, or they’ve never had sex.” But I’m like, “Maybe it’s pure, because they’ve never done that, and they really, genuinely love each other.” Or, like, with the bikers, love to them is hanging out with their friends at the bar. And I think it’s different for everyone; I think no one’s right or wrong.
Jake: Which is kind of why we knew we had to script something, because, like, it’s all based on experience. So, in order for this girl going on this journey to understand what it really is, she would have to experience it. So, therefore, we would have to script that aspect of the storyline.
Charlyne: And even one of the couples that’d been together for over fifty years, they met when they think they were fourteen, got married around fifteen?
Charlyne: Seventeen? And when they were seeing each other, people were like, “Ah, it’s just puppy love; you don’t know what that is.” And then, they’ve been together for over fifty years now, and they work together and they hold hands. They work at this museum. And so that’s proof that, you know, you can’t judge someone by age and say they’re immature.
Interview By: Emma Loggins
– Paper Heart Official Site
– Paper Heart Gallery