It’s hard to think of Christopher Mintz-Plasse and not associate him with McLovin, his truly iconic role in Superbad. But the young actor is trying to change that – or at least broaden audiences’ frame of reference – with roles on an upcoming sitcom, and more immediately, in Kick-Ass 2, where his superhero hanger-on from the first film transforms into a ruthless villain named the Motherf****r, who’s equal to the title character. It remains to be seen how successful Mintz-Plasse is in the role, but speaking to Movies.com during some downtime at “The Kick-Ass Experience” in San Diego during Comic-Con, he revealed the volume of effort me made to tap into the character’s wounded, dark motivations.
Movies.com: How has your Comic-Con experience been this year thus far? You already appeared on a panel for Kick-Ass 2, correct?
Christopher Mintz-Plasse: We were here four years ago for the first Kick-Ass, and it was interesting – we had our own hour-long panel. We showed extended clips from the movie, actual scenes, and we got to do a Q&A with the crowd, which I loved doing. For this one, we shared a panel with Riddick, so we could only do it for 30 minutes. So we didn’t get to take any questions from the audience, which bummed me out. And we only showed like a four- or five-minute trailer. We didn’t release any clips. But we showed that trailer, and it looked great – and people seemed to like it.
Movies.com: The panel for the first film was a real stand-out at Comic-Con.
Mintz-Plasse: It was, right? People were crazy for it – gave it a standing ovation and stuff. It was insane. That was a highlight, yeah.
Movies.com: Given the excitement that people had for the first film, how ready were you to jump back in and explore this world further?
Mintz-Plasse: I wasn’t very ready at all. Because four years later, you never think a sequel is going to get made – I didn’t think it was going to happen. So I wasn’t prepared to bring Chris D’Amico back at all, but then Matthew called me and told me that it was going to happen, and I still didn’t believe him. But then I got this script and I was like, holy s**t – this is amazing. This is crazy. My character is absolutely nuts in this, and he goes to a very dark place. So it was a complete 180 from the first character, and I hired an acting coach and worked together for a month before [shooting]. She was with me on set every day to bring me to that dark place, and I think we did a great job creating a character.
Movies.com: It sounds like this is your first excursion as an actor into that kind of darkness. How easy was that to let go of at the end of the day?
Mintz-Plasse: It’s fun taking yourself to a dark place, because I hadn’t done it before. And when you take yourself to a dark place, you’re not the friendliest guy to be around. You kind of let it take over, because you have to – you have to put yourself in their shoes. But at the time I was shooting a TV show in L.A., and then I was doing Kick-Ass, so I would do two weeks in L.A. and immediately after one of the episodes I would fly to London, get right off the plane, go straight to set, learn the fight scenes, learn everything and then go straight into filming – which was really hard to do. Because sit-com acting is loud, you’re doing it in front of a live audience and you’re trying to bring the energy up, so to jump straight from that to The Motherf****r, who’s dark and evil, was very hard. But like I said, my acting coach was there, and she really helped me out. So yeah, it was a challenge, but it was fun.
Movies.com: You’re a slim guy, but obviously you have to be an imposing presence to some extent. How much physical training did you want to go through, or have to go through for this role?
Mintz-Plasse: I definitely worked out a little bit. I didn’t have much time because like I said I was doing the TV show, so I’d try to go to the gym in between some of the episodes and when I got to London. But I didn’t have the time that Aaron did; Aaron had months to become just the most beautiful human being on Earth. He looks so ripped in the movie. I didn’t have time to do that, sadly.
Movies.com: What’s the biggest action-oriented stuff that you get to do in this?
Mintz-Plasse: It’s definitely the third act because it’s almost like two separate movies, my arc and then Hit-Girl and Kick-Ass’, and it keeps building until the third act when we meet up, and I have my group. Hit-Girl fights Mother Russia, which is insane, and Aaron and I have a big fight at the end that looks great.
Movies.com: Jeff was talking about Jim’s decision to recuse himself from promoting the film, and the reaction to that by the public seems to underscore the infrequency with which we see public figures change their minds. But even though people thought it was maybe hypocritical, he clearly seemed proud of the movie.
Mintz-Plasse: No, he sent that tweet, congrats to everyone on the movie, everyone did a great job, and it was very nice of him. But the man’s got his values and he’s got his opinions, and I think people should respect it, as I do. I respect people who stick to their guns—
Movies.com: So to speak.
Mintz-Plasse: Yeah, so to speak. [Laughs] It is a bummer that he’s not here; he is a very funny, charming guy, and he would bring such good publicity to the movie. And he would be so funny at the panel. But it is what it is.
Movies.com: Whether or not you agree with his decision, do you feel like this film starts the conversation that brought him to his epiphany? Or is it just fun wish fulfillment?
Mintz-Plasse: No. I mean, Jim, in the movie, he uses a gun, but it’s empty – he doesn’t actually fire it, ever. But I don’t think it provokes any of that thought. It’s such a broad, action, fun popcorn movie, I don’t think anyone’s going to go in there and start thinking about all of the tragic events that we’ve dealt with this past year. I don’t think it’s going to bring anything up.
Movies.com: How important is it for you as an actor to work on projects that explore social ideas or have larger things to say?
Mintz-Plasse: I’m just lucky to make movies that I’d like to go see, and surround myself with such talented people. But I don’t know – Kick-Ass 2 would be a movie that I would love to go see in theaters, and I don’t think of it like "I’ve got to do this because there’s a hidden message in there." I just kind of do it because I want to keep making great movies.
Movies.com: You seem pretty comfortable about the fact people will associate you with McLovin, but there was probably a time when that was tiresome.
Mintz-Plasse: Definitely, right when Superbad came out, there was like two patterns. It was like, holy f**k, people know who I am now, and people are going to recognize me and want pictures and that was a panic attack in its own world because I’d never dealt with that before. And all of my fans are supersweet and super nice, but it’s alarming if one day you’re nobody and suddenly people care. So there’s that, and then a year after I got used to that, it was like, oh f**k, that McLovin role – I’m going to be getting that. And it is what it is – if it wasn’t for that role, I wouldn’t be sitting here with you right now promoting this movie, or be in this movie, so I’m very grateful for that. But I’ve dealt with two kinds of people – there are the very sweet fans that come up and want a picture, and then there are like the asshole guys that put their arm around my head and s**t, so I’ve got to deal with that kind of stuff as well. Like it’s a "they’re the same age as me so they think they know me" kind of thing.
Movies.com: It seems like the guys like you in these movies are so close to the age of the audiences who watch them, which probably creates that familiarity. Does that make you want to want to do other kinds of movies?
Mintz-Plasse: I’m lucky that Seth and Evan keep putting me in movies. They got me Superbad, they wrote Townies and are in it, so they put me in that, and so they put me in This Is the End. But yeah, I think the best thing in the world is working with your friends, it really is. Like I said, you can’t be funny if you’re not comfortable. And Dave Franco is one of my closest friends and we’ve done our third movie together, and I just want to keep stirring it up with those kind of people and be comfortable and making movies.