The Buddy System
By Dustin Fitzharris
In the new bromance Humpday, Ben (Mark Duplass) and Andrew (Joshua Leonard) reunite after a decade apart only to face the sad reality that their lives have gone in directions different than the ones they once dreamed of. In an attempt to reclaim their rebellious college days, the straight buddies decide to enter 'Humpday,' a porno film festival, and beat the competition by shooting themselves getting it on. But are they 'up' for the challenge?
Recently we caught up with the stars of the film just as they were getting out of bed -- but not together. Leonard was up all night working on a new film and Duplass was trying to get his 18-month-old daughter to adjust to a new sleeping schedule.
As our chat began, Duplass, who may still have been in a haze from the restless night before, grew giddy upon hearing Leonard's groggy voice.
'Good morning, Joshie,' Duplass cooed.
And with that, we knew it was time to talk sex.
Out: If this was not a film, but 'real life,' could you have sex with your male best friend for the sake of making art?
Joshua Leonard: (long pause) I'd sure give it go.
Mark Duplass: I don't know. I've got to be honest. There is a logistical element that Josh and I discuss in the film of just being able to physically perform. Josh was really my first romantic male kiss.
Josh, was this the first time you kissed another man?
Leonard: I always got jealous of girls because they grew up kissing their best friends and that was something I never did. Not a whole lot of straight guys I knew could hang out and have that period of experimentation where, like girls, they are teaching themselves to kiss on each other. I grew up in a conservative area. Maybe it's something that happens more often with kids growing up in the city.
What three words would you use to describe Humpday?
Duplass: Dude on dude.
Leonard: Makes you cry.
Duplass: That's actually a good description because there are tears of joy, but more importantly there are squirming, painful tears watching these two dudes go through what they go through in this movie.
There was a lot of improvisation in the movie. How much of the script was actually written?
Duplass: There was no written dialogue. We shot each scene from an outline and knew where we wanted to get to. We shot the entire film sequentially so that we could build upon the existing happenings.
It must have taken hours to film each scene without any script.
Duplass: We shot everything in less than 10 days. If you don't have actors who are as incredible as Josh and me, it can go very long. Of course I'm being facetious, but scenes did go pretty quickly. We knew exactly what we wanted to do when we showed up, and we'd usually do just two or three takes.
Mark, when the director, Lynn Shelton (We Go Way Back and Effortless Brilliance), called and asked if you'd be interested in doing this film, what was your first reaction?
Duplass: Who am I going to get to fuck? Lynn and I knew we wanted to make a movie together, so I was super psyched. I didn't have any reservations about the nature of the material or what it would entail doing physically. It sounded like an exciting idea that had potential to be great, but on some level it worried me because it had the potential to be terrible. I knew we had to do it right or it was going to fucking suck.
Josh, what were your first thoughts when you were approached?
Leonard: I got this email from Mark that said, 'Do you want to play my friend in a film?' He knew I was a fan of his, so right away I responded, 'Sure.' Then he told me the concept.
And then what?
Leonard: If it had been anybody else on the planet calling, I would've been really worried that I was jumping into a farce situation. But knowing Mark and the films he makes -- which are about people with three dimensions with bruises and scars just trying to get through the world -- I was really fascinated with taking this concept and trying to make it into something human.