We were invited to the set of the Columbia Pictures film in Los Angeles, where the story takes place, and producer Neal Moritz gave us a tour of where the movie was being filmed in Culver City. We saw a few sets as well as Rogen in a fight scene with his sidekick Kato, played by Jay Chou.
We were first taken to The Daily Sentinel. At one time, the offices were beautiful with high rise ceilings, sheet glass windows and marble floors; however, we saw the aftermath of what the building looked like from a showdown with Kato, Britt Reid and the villains of the film.
"I just can’t believe we destroyed it like this," Moritz said as we walked through a clutter of papers, shell casings, and distressed furniture. As we sifted our way through papers, debris, bullet casings and random objects on the floor, the producer explained to us what happens.
"Ultimately, in the third act it becomes the main set piece. There’s an incredible car chase that goes through the office of the newspaper. Reid and Kato are trying to download something. The Black Beauty comes screeching across this big marble lobby and they’re being pursued by the bad guys. They run straight into a glass elevator. Half the car is in half the car is out. The elevator starts going up and it hits the third floor. The car literally gets cut in half. They crash through the entire Sentinel media being pursued by the bad guys to try to get into Reid’s office."
It’s no wonder why the set looked so amazingly real. It was actually damaged by explosives.
"None of this was set dressing. All of this was done for real. The half car which we built came through here at an incredible speed and just took all this stuff out. We shot off real missiles," Moritz said.
Next up, we got to see the Black Beauty riddled with bullet holes on top of a printing press. Moritz told us that Kato and Britt are trying to get into a building prior to the scene mentioned above and they’re surrounded by the bad guys. They jump through the walls and land on the top of the printing press. There’s a huge martial arts fight with Kato and the villains while Britt is trying to get away. What was cool about the printing press was that it was borrowed from the Los Angeles Times and the paper in the machine actually moved. Kato falls through the paper while it’s moving in the fight scene.
"It’s a very difficult thing to do – to have the real place where we’re shooting it, shooting it here up high and then putting our actors in it as well. So we shoot a lot of it 2nd unit and then our 1st unit comes in. Coordinating all of it together is very difficult," Moritz admitted.
There were 25 Black Beauty’s made for the film and about 23 of them were destroyed. We were lucky enough to get to see one in perfect condition as well.
"We took the original from the show which is the ’66 Chrysler Imperial. We have kept the look, but have updated it technologically wise," Moritz said.
The car has missiles in the front and there are flame throwers. In addition there are Gatling guns and on the back the trunk pops up and machine guns came out. The doors open via remote control and the headlights [director] Michel Gondry designed would actually cause you to faint, according to Moritz.
"We put in the most powerful bulbs that you could ever find. During this whole chase we follow the headlights quite a bit. It’s just a really unique look. The look of the movie is probably very different than from what people will expect. When we hired Michel to do this movie, it wasn’t the most obvious choice but I think that’s what is lending really a freshness to this genre."
While there are lethal weapons on the car, there are also some that are not meant to kill. "It’s not a movie with a heavy body count and a lot of people getting killed," Moritz said. "The key to the Green Hornet is he comes up with the idea of instead being a good guy pretending to be a good guy, he’s going to be a good guy pretending to be a villain," he continued.
Britt chose the Black Beauty because of his father . He owned quite an extensive car collection and it was his favorite. His father was being driven in the Black Beauty because he felt it was the strongest car he had. Moritz told us his father was paranoid and wouldn’t reveal why, but said there would be things that play out in the movie and the audience will realize why he was so fearful.
We then got to check out Kato’s workshop. Kato worked for Britt’s dad when he was alive, but Britt has no idea he exists in the beginning of the film because he was living a bachelor fast-paced lifestyle and didn’t acknowledge the people who worked for his dad. Moritz explained how Reid and Kato finally meet.
"The day after his father dies every morning there’s a cup of coffee delivered to Britt Reid next to his bed. Every morning that is the thing he looks forward to the most. He doesn’t have that much going on in his life and he really looks forward to that cup of coffee. The day after his father dies he wakes up. He goes to drink the coffee and it’s the worst coffee he’s ever tasted. He can’t believe on the worst day of his life–his father’s death–somebody made [that coffee]. So he marches across this huge lawn into the big mansion and starts screaming at everyone. ‘Where’s the guy who makes my coffee?’ What he learns is he himself has fired everyone who has worked for his father and that’s why his coffee isn’t there. He tracks down this Kato character. Kato makes him this cup of coffee and says, ‘Kato tell me your story.’ That’s how their relationship starts. What he finds from there is that Kato is an expert at working on his father’s cars and was never appreciated by his father just like Britt feels he was never appreciated by his father either so this becomes his workshop where he takes his father’s favorite car and turns it into the Black Beauty."
The workshop was very clean and organized. It looked brand new and like nobody had worked in it before.
After we saw the sets, we were taken to a room where we watched a few clips from the film. Rogen came over to greet us and briefly talked about what we were about to see.
Moritz told us, "It’s an action comedy, but it’s played real. You’ve never seen Seth play anything like this before. It’s played real, but it’s very funny. It’s not broad humor by any means. The key to this movie is the relationship between Britt Reid and Kato. It just feels completely fresh and original."
We then see Reid and Kato sitting in the guest house on the couch talking. Reid is trying to convince his friend to become his sidekick.
Britt Reid: When you think about it Kato, what is the one insanely stupid thing that every superhero has in common?
Kato: A Cape?
Reid: No. It’s that everybody knows they’re the good guy – the hero. So all the bad guy has to do is start capping some innocent people and the good guy has to do whatever he says.
Reid: Yeah, capping. Killing. It’s in every movie. It’s in every comic book. It’s so dumb. But if the villain thought the hero was also a villain he couldn’t do that. That’s what we’ll do differently. We’ll be heroes, but we’ll pose as criminals.
Kato: Good idea. Then the police and the bad guys will both try to kill us. Are you ready to die?
Reid: Honestly, it’s not dying that we should be afraid of. It’s never having lived in the first place.
Kato: Okay, I’ll need a car.
Reid: Yes we do.
Kato: With its own weapons. But no tights.
Reid: Take my hand and I want you to come with me on this adventure.
Kato: I’ll go with you, but I don’t want to touch you.
Reid: You don’t have to take my hand, but you have to come with me on this adventure. Let’s roll Kato.
Near the end of the day we were taken to the guest house set where Britt and Kato have a heated argument which turns into an all out brawl.
The friendship between the two starts off really great, but it eventually begins to fall apart because Kato has had enough of Britt treating him like he’s nothing more than his sidekick and he’s tired of Britt getting credit for everything. The two have it out and in the process destroy the house.
The set was modeled after a real Bel Air house which is located near the Playboy Mansion. They shot some footage there, but because so much destruction happens to the house during this fight, the exterior and interior of the mansion was built and that was the set we were on.
Inside looked like a total bachelor pad. There was a foosball table and some workout equipment. Above the couch were posters of women – one in a skimpy bikini, the other covered in chocolate. There was a mirror on the ceiling and a full bar with any kind of alcohol you wanted.
Rogen saw me checking out the décor and said to me, "Some things never change." We both laughed.
In addition there was a Lone Ranger poster on the back wall which is obviously paying homage to the relationship with the Green Hornet (Check out the interview with Seth Rogen below to see more about what he has to say about that).
The scene itself was quick, but took a while to set up because of the physicality the stunt man goes through in the fight. We first saw Rogen and Chou arguing in front of the back wall that had a window directly behind Rogen.
"Now I’m going to hurt you," Kato says as Britt is on the ground wrapped up in the throw rug from the living room floor.
Rogen stands up and Chou pretends to kick him in the stomach. Rogen flies back unharmed. The stunt double now comes in and on the first take, the guy really goes through the back window as Chou pushes him. The entire shot only took about a minute to do, but it was very cool and exciting to see.
Besides hanging out on the sets all day, we also talked with Rogen, co-writer Evan Goldberg, Christoph Waltz and Gondry. You can check out those interviews by clicking ‘Next’ below!