About Alex, which recently premiered at Tribeca Film Festival, is not a comedy, but stars Max Greenfield and Jason Ritter somehow make it feel like one. The dark drama centers around Alex (Ritter), a 30-something man who tries to commit suicide and in turn reunites all his college friends as he recovers. When we sat down with Greenfield and Ritter, they revealed how they formed their dynamic on set with their costars, the amount of improv on set, and their most embarrassing '90s moments and outfits. And for you New Girl fans, Greenfield also dishes how Josh is a "f*cking assh*le" version of Schmidt.Source: The Bedford Falls Company
POPSUGAR: Though About Alex is a dark and dramatic movie, it also has a lot of comedy. Did that balance of emotional and comedic moments come naturally for you two?
Jason Ritter: Yeah, I think so. It's happened in my life, too. It's in our nature to balance and right ourselves when we go too far one way. Some of the hardest I've ever laughed in my entire life has been during some of the most tragic times, because it's a release. We knew at a certain point that this was a very heavy movie and we all got really into the reality of what had happened, and once we had that, it felt like we had tied a rope to a tree and we could just lean as far the other way as we wanted to and knowing that it would never uproot the tree.
PS: The dynamic between the cast, and you two in particular, was fantastic. Was there any ad-libbing off each other?
JR: There were some. For the most part it was all scripted but no, there were a lot of buttons put on scenes and also different introductions and a lot of playing around in between. But there was a lot of it that was pretty written out.
Max Greenfield: Yeah, I felt it was a difficult movie to fully embrace the improv end, just because there was usually so many people in the scenes. Unless you were in a two shot, then you're doing coverage of all these different people and it gets dicey when you have one camera and you're going between everybody and then all of a sudden one person starts improv-ing. When we cut that together, it's not going to make sense.Source: The Bedford Falls Company
PS: Max, you're known for improv-ing a lot on New Girl, putting your own spin on Schmidt-isms, but this character, Josh, could not be more different than Schmidt. He hates pop culture, he hates technology, and he hates himself.
MG: Yeah, that's right. It was very interesting going into this thing and being like, "Look, I'm going to try and play certain elements the same way [as Schmidt], but just completely take any of the charm out. But then we watched it last night and I can't believe some of the jokes played as well as they did, because I was not trying to go for laughs. It was more like, "I wanna be a f*cking assh*le in this movie and I don't want to apologize for it." And yet still, it worked.
PS: The story was very realistic in what happens when you graduate from college and you drift apart from friends. Did that resonate with you when you first read the script?
JR: Absolutely. That was one of the things that I responded to in the script, was that it seemed very real. No one's at fault, but your 20s are a time where you graduate high school and you go to college, and there's not that infrastructure anymore. All of a sudden, it's just real life.
MG: And just the pressure on you to go and accomplish so quickly.
JR: And all of a sudden, everyone's treading water. And you're like, "I'm all right, but I don't know if I can lift you up." We're all looking for land somewhere.
MG: But then you get to your 30s and you then look back at that period and you go, "I do regret that moment." Because when that stuff settles in and you realize what that was, and it's like, how much did I take for granted? How many things do I regret during that period? You hope that you got through it as unscathed as possible.Source: The Bedford Falls Company
PS: Did you two have any noteworthy embarrassing experiences from the late '90s or early 2000s?
MG: Mostly outfits.
PS: Paint me a picture of an outfit you're embarrassed of.
PS: Yeah. Parachute pants?
MG: Well sure, early '90s. There were some parachute pants in the early '90s, but then there was a strong transition. I grew up in New York but I definitely thought I was from Seattle. I thought I was a member of Nirvana — actually, I'm sorry, Pearl Jam. Nirvana was too scary for me. I was so scared of them, I was like, they're talking about sh*t that's like crazy. There's like a dead baby on their album cover. Not for me. Pearl Jam's cool.
JR: They're like high-fiving on the cover; they're cool.
PS: What about you, Jason? Do you have any embarrassing moments or outfits?
JR: I have so many embarrassing moments from that period of time. But speaking of clothes, I remember that I had like a self-imposed uniform that I wore every day. You're 14 and you're like, "This is what I'm going to wear for the rest of my life." It was Converse One Stars, which is what Kurt Cobain wore. I wore black shorts that were just above my knee because that way I didn't have to change into shorts for PE, just stay in the shorts all day and get five extra minutes. A Nirvana shirt — a different Nirvana shirt everyday.
PS: He was OK with Nirvana. He's more badass than you.
MG: I was like, "I don't understand what In Utero means, but it's freaking me out."
JR: And like a blue button-down shirt. I had a couple blue button-downs, and I think it was the same pair of black shorts and I'd just swap out my five Nirvana shirts or whatever. I was like, "I'm going to wear a Nirvana shirt every day for the rest of my life."
PS: Unrelated, there is a very memorable dance scene with you two.
JR: We're pretty good dancers.
PS: What kind of music will you jam out to and dance to, no matter where you are?
JR: You know what really gets me moving? I'm embarrassed to say it and I can't tell you any specific songs, because I don't know any of them, but like, dubstep. It makes me turn into a robot, and I love it.
MG: I usually move immediately to either — it's very odd mix — social distortion punk rock, where I'm just like, "I can do it alone!" I would just do that, but I like to do it in big groups where it's disturbing to other people. Or Beyoncé.
PS: What's your favorite Beyoncé song from the new album?
MG: I don't know yet. I've been so busy I haven't had a chance to sit down and listen to that thing properly. But I will.