For Going the Distance, Justin Long took on two new tasks: starring in a romantic comedy and acting alongside former girlfriend Drew Barrymore – while they both appeared in last year’s He’s Just Not That Into You, they didn’t have any scenes together. Long spoke with Metro about working with Drew, tackling improv and some of the more uncomfortable things he’s had to do to promote the movie.
How was working with Drew?
Oh, it was amazing. I hope we get to do it again. She’s just so smart and funny. I did another movie with her, but I didn’t get to have any scenes with her, so I was really excited. It’s daunting because she’s so accomplished, specifically within this genre of movies. This is really my first lead role in a romantic movie like this, and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner. She just makes everyone around her better.
Was there anything you were nervous about going into it with her?
I knew her very well, but when you don’t know somebody in a professional capacity like that, you don’t know what’s going to come out. You know, God forbid this person you thought you knew, you see them on set and they’re a diva or just not who you thought they were. And I’m proud to report that she was just lovely with everyone, no matter where they fit in the hierarchy of the Hollywood ladder. And that goes a long way. You don’t want to be working on a fun, lighthearted relationship study when there’s heaviness or diva-ness. It’s not very conducive to comedy, especially when there’s so much improvisation going on and you just want to feel good.
Were you at all daunted about the amount of improvisation in the movie?
I’m really comfortable with doing improv. I love doing it, and it’s something that I’ve been doing I think since I started, really.But being on a good movie like Dodgeball or The Break-Up where there’s a strong script already, it’s a lot easier than it is, say, doing it on a movie like Herbie or a movie where the script maybe isn’t so strong and you’re doing it out of necessity to make it good or even mediocre.
So I’ve been employing improv a lot on movies like that, where the script just wasn’t there and you do it to get it just to feel comfortable saying some of the words. But with Going the Distance, we were starting from a good place. We were starting from a strong script. And I would say about 50 per cent of the movie was improvised. The best time to do improv is when you don’t have to do it, when it’s not out of necessity to make the scene decent.
While promoting the movie, you and co-stars Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day appeared on WWE’s Monday Night Raw, right?
[Laughs] Yeah. In no way am I being self-deprecating when I say that was a disaster. It was just not the audience to be promoting a movie like that to. We were so out of place. It was just awkward. They’re all fired up to see guys pummeling each other, not to see three nerdy comedy guys do some bits. They played the trailer for this crowd and it just silenced them â€” and not in a good way.
So what do you do in a situation like that?
You just commit to it as best you can. We were in Los Angeles at the Staples Center, and the only time we really had the audience on our side was when we were praising the Lakers. And before that I think the majority of them were contemplating throwing things at us. There were a few homophobic remarks. I don’t want to generalize it, I know some wrestling fans. But it’s just not the audience.