Get Him to the Greek: Director Stoller on his Sequel to Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Nicholas Stoller is the writer-director of “Get Him to the Greek,” starring Jonah Hill and Russell Brand. The film, which is a spin-off of Stoller’s 2008 hit “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” is being released June 4 by Universal.

When Stoller approached Jonah Hill and Russell Brand about partnering for another project, he found both men very receptive to the idea. Stoller recalls: “After Sarah Marshall, I had a meeting with Russell and pitched him this idea. Then I pitched Jonah the idea, and they both thought it’d be fun to work on a movie together.”

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Continuing the Story

For the filmmaker, Hill’s character proved to be more of a challenge to write than his comedy sidekick. Stoller explains: “Jonah’s part in Forgetting Sarah Marshall was very much a broad character, so broad it would have been hard to sustain a whole movie. It wouldn’t have made sense to have him play the same character.” Stoller decided to craft Aaron as a young record company executive who had three days to wrangle a rock icon from London to Los Angeles.

“We wanted to get across that when you imagine hanging out with a rock star, it seems exciting and thrilling,” explains Stoller. “You get to stay up all night and party. We wanted to capture the idea that it just never ends. And Aaron has a great time. Next morning, you wake up and start partying again. There is no end to it. It’s a triangle where it gets more fun, more fun, more fun, then it hits an out-of-control moment, and then it starts to plummet down toward Earth.”

Explains Stoller: “In the intervening years since we saw Aldous in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, he has fallen off the wagon and is a drunk disaster. And to everyone who has an issue with that, I would say that Star Trek reinvented its entire universe in the last film.” He laughs: “They have 50 years of people memorizing every detail of the Star Trek universe. So, I don’t feel too bad about it.”

Improv and Diddy

“We always shoot the script,” Stoller explains. “But we then do improv off of that. Rodney and I write lines and throw the actors lines and suggestions.”

Sean “Diddy” Combs also joins the cast. “Sean has never worked with our process,” Stoller says, “which is very specific. At the beginning, we would tell him, ‘Don’t worry about the script; just do this line.’ Jonah would work with him while we were shooting, and it worked great. Sean was very much a perfectionist. I would be satisfied with a take and he would say, ‘No, I want to do one more.’ He was

always right.”

Changing Locales

From his inception of the film, Stoller wanted to open up the adventure geographically. The major constant for Aaron and Aldous as they travel is the endless partying in countless clubs and hotel rooms. But it wasn’t enough to shoot in real clubs in distant locations; the team wanted every costume to have the look and feel of each locale. Commends Stoller: “Leesa Evans, our costume designer, did an amazing job establishing a look in each city.”