In anticipation of his three films scheduled for release later this year—the mescaline fueled coming-of-age comedy Crystal Fairy, the psychological thriller Magic Magic, and the apocalyptic bro-medy This Is the End—not to mention the long-awaited fourth season of Arrested Development set to premiere on Netflix in May, we asked Michael Cera to interview the most generous, interesting man he could think of: Himself.
MICHAEL: [re: framed portrait of Cera hanging on wall] Oh wow.
Did a fan do that? Or…
No, it’s one of mine.
Wow. Why did you decide to paint yourself?
Couldn’t think of a more interesting subject.
Well said. Well…
Yes, right, but I was just using “well” in that instance to sort of shift gears and go into the interview.
Let me start by asking you, what type of interviewee do you consider yourself to be?
[Seemingly endless pause.]
Move off of the fucking subject.
How do you react to fans who approach you in the street?
I try to find out a little bit about their lives. What they do for a living, when was their last horrifying moment of self-realization, do they enjoy the films of Masaki Kobayashi, is Takeru Kobayashi their favorite competitive eater, if “no,” who is their favorite competitive eater, etc.
Ever make friends that way?
No, I make all my friends online these days like any other decent human being.
Is it true you’ve written a one-man show entitled Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Pierce?
Yes but I bailed on it after David gave his notes. He wanted to make it a broad comedy and personally I don’t believe broads belong in comedies.
Now I notice you’re grabbing handfuls of tortilla chips from that bowl there and crushing them in your hand as we speak. Do you consider yourself foul-tempered?
I like to think I am in control. I chose the chips because I’m told they don’t feel pain.
Let’s hope not! I’m addicted to those things.
How rude of me, I didn’t offer you any. Here you go.
[Holds out bowl of beige dust.]
Thanks but I’m trying not to breathe in any saturated fats. When did you know you wanted to be an actor?
I didn’t choose it, it chose me.
When did it choose you?
Some time in my fourth year of ceaseless auditioning. It must have finally heard me asking it to choose me.
Fascinating. Were there any other fields you’d considered going into?
When I was 8 years old I thought I’d become a gardener.
Why a gardener?
I always wanted to work with my hands, use them in my craft, and in a way I suppose I’ve stayed true to that ambition.
How do you mean?
Juggling scenes, etc. Waving scenes…
But do you ever regret not experiencing the verdant joy of working with the soil and being connected to the earth?
In Year One there’s a scene where I stand in mud.
I understand that you’ve been involved in an on-again / off-again relationship for the past five years?
That’s a typo—it should just say “off-again relationship.”
Do you think you could expand on that a little?
We just like to keep it casual. No commitments, correspondence, etc.
What’s she like?
[Seemingly endless pause.]
She has a great neck. I always tell her she ought to live out in Great Neck. She never laughs, I think she might have bizarre English or something. Can I offer you anything, by the way? Sun-dried tomato sandwich? Forty minute aromatherapy massage?
How long have you kept a masseuse on staff?
Ever since I tried her sun-dried tomato sandwiches. She does tend to have a slightly grease-thumbed rub going on as of late, sometimes I wish like hell she’d stop reaching into the jar with her bare hands. I mean I’ve heard all the stories of disgusting in-house-masseuse habits but really. I mean can we locate a paper-towel lady please… I hired you to increase my blood flow not trigger my gag reflex!!!
[With a mighty squeeze, Cera dramatically explodes the apple in his hand, leaving a brilliant puff of pinkish mist in its absence.]
I’ve always admired your body type, sort of a Ray Romano / Rudolph Giuliani hybrid. What do you do to maintain it?
I always keep a pack or gang of personal trainers on set with me, wherever I go. You have them to thank for what you’re presently having the good fortune to behold. They’re terrific guys, they eat lead and shit bullets. It’s the reason I asked them to stop using the toilet in my trailer.
And you just sort of say to them, “Look guys, you’re the best in the biz, every single one of you is here for a reason, I know in my heart you won’t let me down, let’s make me look like I’m a fan of dairy”?
I tell them what I tell my barber, “Make it look like I’m not trying.”
And it seems he knew exactly what you meant. It’s funny, such a fine-line between “I’m not trying” and “Have I just forgotten how to care?”
Finest line I ever knew.