Last week, I flew to Los Angeles to take in a screening of the new comedy Sex Tape and interview the film’s stars, Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel. It was an intimate roundtable Q&A with myself and seven other bloggers, and the pair had us laughing the entire time. Our chat was funny, relaxed, and very candid!
Our group had been discussing diet and exercise before Diaz and Segel arrived, which led to the first topic being fitness. Surely, these high-profile celebs would have some advice?
“The shame is that there’s no mystery – as it turns out, it’s just eating healthy and exercising. That’s such a bummer!” lamented Jason Segel. One of the bloggers chimed in that she had been getting flack because she’s more into creampuffs and chocolate than health food, but Cameron Diaz had her back. “I don’t see anything wrong with it, as long as you do a little bit, rather than only [Junk],” she told us. “Everyone thinks that discipline means deprivation, but discipline actually lets you have everything you want. If you can discipline yourself to take just a little bit, you can have more of what you want over here and over here, instead of being like, ‘I’m taking ALL of this!’ and then the rest of everything else you feel like you can’t have.” Before the Q&A ended, someone said they wanted to compare guns with Diaz and she looked very confused before realizing that the blogger was referring to Diaz’s famously toned arms. “I was like, I don’t carry guns on me!”, Diaz laughed.
With all this talk about exercise, one of the panel asked what was more nerve-wracking: Singing on screen, or doing nude scenes.
“Singing’s terrifying,” said Segel. “To be honest, I know there’s an image of what a Hollywood actor body should look like, but the reality is that people are all built differently, so I’ve always appreciated seeing regular people doing their job. But you really don’t want to hear an average singer! You can really hear a bad note. That’s the one thing about music that I really do appreciate over almost any other art form – even with a painting, there’s something subjective as to whether you like it or not, but you can HEAR a wrong note. You can’t get up on stage just try to play guitar, you know what I mean? You can try acting and you can try entertainment, but you can’t just get up there with an instrument you’ve never played.”
This brought me to a question I’d had since screening the movie. “How did you guys get comfortable with each other having to do all of the love scenes for this movie – how do you break the ice for that?” I asked.
“They’re just silly – we’re making a comedy,” Diaz replied, at which point a writer said in a stage whisper, “But you’re naked!”
“We’re not actually naked.” (Another blogger: We saw your bum!) “Well, that’s my bum! Everybody’s seen my bum!” said Diaz. “I mean, I wear teeny tiny bikini pants – all you’re missing is the whole crack together. If I’m wearing a bikini you see the bottom half of the crack, but if I put on a pair of jeans shorts, you see the top part of the crack; this time you see [the whole crack].”
“Continuous crack!” Segel laughed.
“I mean, it’s just my butt,” Diaz shrugged.
“When we were shooting the movie, we were wearing these modesty garments, so from the front it actually looks like a bikini,” Segel explained. “It’s no more risque than a bikini. But then the back is exposed – which I think would be a great new fashion trend!” to which Diaz added, “I think Rihanna already did it.”
Sex Tape shows both stars pretzeled together in a series of awkwardly hilarious sex scenes, so our group wanted to know how they came up with some of the more ridiculous positions. Were they coming up with those on the fly?
“We were,” said Segel. “It was [Diaz and I], Jake Kasdan our director – and I hadn’t thought of it until now, but our prop guy (“Big Jimmy”) deserves a lot of credit. It was sort of the four of us, really throwing everything we could at the wall and see what stuck.”
And with regards to filming love scenes on a film set, Diaz confirmed that it was not an intimate experience. “No, it’s not at all. The only stuff that was really like the ‘Sex’ stuff that we did was the college [scenes], where we were simulating sex. Like the library in the WIDE open with all these extras around us – it’s ridiculous! You know, we get it’s ridiculous what we’re doing! Not really sexy. It’s more like a locker room vibe, like high fives – and for me, the hardest part was trying not to laugh while I was doing it. Trying to get through the whole take without laughing.”
“What’s the funniest thing that happened while you were filming?” I asked them.
“We had a really really good time. I think the funniest thing that turned into the worst thing, potentially, was a pretty elaborate dog chase in the movie,” replied Segel. “And we showed up on set and there was going to be a real action-packed sequence. And it was the sweetest, friendliest dog! We ended up making him scarier looking with some special stuff.”
“And him acting like he was terrified,” Diaz noted, motioning to Segel. “That’s a puppet he’s working with, and he’s just making it look really ferocious.”
“When you see the unedited footage, it just looked like Jay, my character, is a total wimp, because I’m like terrified running from the sweetest dog!” Segel laughed.
And when he wasn’t pretending to be terrified of dog puppets, Segel was busy writing the screenplay with Kate Angelo and Nicholas Stoller. He spoke to the process of writing and the importance of playing to your cast’s strengths.
“The thing that I’ve come to realize after doing this for quite a while now is that you really need your scripts to be sound enough that when you show up on the set, if nothing new happens, it’s good, and it’s ready to go. But what you hope when you hire someone like Cameron who is so dynamic and fast on her feet and funny and smart – what you realize is Cameron is more familiar with what Cameron is good at than anyone else in the whole world. Every actor knows how they say something funny, or how THEY could word it funniest for themselves, you know? They know their moves better than the writer or director even could know their particular moves, so we’ve always had a mentality of – and you have to hire the right people – but if you know how to do it funnier, we say go, do it funnier.”
Diaz elaborated on this process further: “As well, we do find things that are fun – the dynamic and chemistry and also, we film in sections; scenes every day. And oftentimes we’ll film the end of the movie towards the beginning of filming, and sometimes you’ll be shooting something where you’ve already filmed what comes after it, so you have to remember what you did already, what it’s gonna line up with, so sometimes you have to step up to to that, sometimes you have to tone down. You already have the next piece that comes before it, so you’re connecting the tissue as you go. So sometimes you’re like, ‘Oh man, the scene that comes after this, we really killed it on that so now we have to step it up.’ Or we have an opportunity to make that scene funnier by finding something in this scene.”
One of the bloggers in attendance wondered if working with Angelo gave Segel and Stoller a new perspective on writing female character, to which he responded: “Nick and I have always said this: We’re like the least macho male writers in Hollywood. It’s always really important to Nick and I to serve our females characters really well and not to objectify any of our characters – you know, when we were writing for Emily Blunt on The Five Year Engagement, we tried to make her a full rich character – Forgetting Sarah Marshall too, we tried to make sure that Kristen Bell had her scene where she got to say, ‘No! F–k you! You need to get off the couch!’ So it’s always been really important to us. But I think having it be a female-driven script was really exciting because like you were saying, it’s really easy to fall into the pitfall of this becoming objectifying.”
Sex Tape is the pair’s second outing with director Jake Kasdan, who worked with them previously on Bad Teacher. When asked if Kasdan’s directorial style was any different this time around, Diaz deadpanned, “He was on heroin. He was nodding out a lot.” Segel mimicked what us journalists would be thinking after hearing her joke, pretending to write notes frantically and whispering, “He was on heroin! Write that down!” Once we stopped laughing, they continued more seriously.
“I’ve known Jake since I was 17 years old – since Freak and Geeks, he directed quite a few of those episodes, and was an executive producer as well; and so we’ve worked together A LOT throughout the years,” Segel told us. “But on this, we were in various states of undress with Jake Kasdan standing over us with a camera and this look on his face – and him just going, [Pulls a really creepy face] ‘Faster!’ It was a very awkward experience.”
“He’s very happy about the way we describe him,” Diaz laughed. “He wasn’t doing it like that exactly. He was more like ‘Eeeehhhh, I dunno!’”
“So, ‘Faster, faster’ is worse than heroin?” laughed Segel.
Kasdan can’t be too sore about the drug jokes, though: One of the key scenes in Sex Tape is when Diaz’s character, sweet mommy blogger Annie, find herself doing cocaine with her boss in a last-ditch attempt to distract him while her husband Jay attempts to erase their errant sex tape on the head honcho’s iPad before it can be discovered. One of the bloggers complimented Diaz on her skills as a comedienne handling the dark material.
“Yeah, it was a lot of fun, I was totally acting!” Diaz laughed, explaining where she got her inspiration: “I have no idea where…I’ve seen it on TV before, I’ve seen other people act it, and I’ve been at parties where people were doing cocaine…”
The reason Annie’s wayward boss ends up with the couple’s sex tape on his iPad is because of their personal device syncing their files in the cloud with everyone sharing their account. But do the stars rely on “The cloud” in real life?
“I’m fully immersed in technology – I love it so much,” said Segel, telling us how he can open his garage door remotely using his phone. (Diaz told us that she thinks this is dangerous, and worries that someone might wait in front of his garage for it to open so they can steal all of his camping gear.)
He also explained how the cloud became such a crucial plot device for Sex Tape: “I love it because right when I got the script, maybe three years ago, it was right at the time when everything was transferring to the cloud. They were like limiting the storage on your iPhone and saying, ‘It’s alright, you can just store everything on the cloud, it’s no problem’. And there actually was a lady on our crew named Jess, who worked in props, who asked the question that I had never even thought of where she said, ‘What the f–k is the cloud?’ and I thought, ‘You’re right!’ You know, it’s right in front of you and you have all your stuff there, but you never ask the question, ‘Where is it? What is it? Who’s the boss of the cloud?’”
“And why call it the cloud?” wondered Diaz. “The cloud is something that pours all this content all over the country – why would you want to put your most prized information up into the cloud?”
Segel also noted that in the original script, it was a physical sex tape that got stolen, but he decided it would make the script much more timely to move it into the cloud instead. (And really, who makes VHS tapes anymore?)
But despite the drawbacks of the cloud, Diaz and Segel are both big Apple fans.
“Apple is a great product. I LOVE what I am capable of doing with my Apple,” Diaz told us. “I’m sure it has a LOT more applications and a lot more possibilities what I get away with actually doing before it shuts down on me and hates me is really amazing.”
“I love Apple so much,” concurred Segel. “I’ve used Apple since I was like 6 years old or something. I had the original 2GS – my first computer. I had the Classic 2 also. I love Apple – I just think they’re so cool.”
So do the cast think that this movie will inspire copycat sex tapes?
“I think what will happen as opposed to the actual making of a sex tape – which may happen for some couples, but I think that you will get back in your car with your date, or your husband or wife, and as you’re driving home, have a laugh about some of the funny things hat are in it. And then there will be a slightly awkward pause where you drive in silence for minute, and then the real discussion will start, like, ‘We haven’t had as much sex as we used to,’ and I think that’s really good function of the movie, is to start a conversation: Hey, maybe there’s something to that, what they were talking about there.”
The actors also touched on how important it was for Annie to be the one who initiates the filming of the sex tape. “We liked that a lot,” said Diaz. “You know, because at the end of it, it’s like, ‘Why would you guys do this’? You would assume in this sort of sexist world that we live in, ‘Well, she must have been pushed into it, because no woman really wants to have sex!’ You know what I mean? And the fact that she was the one who was like, ‘Let’s just go and do this,’ it was her idea. I think [it] lets women own what they already own, which is they have their desires and needs and their healthy way of thinking about sex and things they desire.”
Segel added, “Of course, of course I wanna make the sex tape. You know what I mean? If we’re gonna be real about it. It would feel like a different thing, it would feel like Jay pressuring Annie into making this sex tape. The reality [is] that both of these people really want to be having sex with each other. They’re both sitting separately thinking ‘We should have more sex’ and no one doing anything about it.”
“Also, when we go on this chase, for her to want to get that back – the onus is on her, too. She participated in it,” said Diaz. “Jay didn’t erase it like he said that he was going to, [but] she can’t blame him for her having made it. Her participation in it is on her. That’s also a good message for women, to not blame men – to own up [to] what it is that they wanna participate in.” One of the bloggers said that the message to her sounded like it was OK for women to be honest about what they want and not feel pressure to be “The prude”, to which Diaz agreed: “Exactly.”
So, will this movie cause Joy of Sex book sales to go up since the book serves as the catalyst for Annie and Jay’s steamy video?
“That’s such a funny book because it’s just about what you should eat first before you, like, start to fondle on one another,” Diaz told us. “It’s my kinda book! I love food!”
Sex Tape hits theaters today, July 18th!