Interview: Emile Hirsch on 'The Girl Next Door'

Hirsch on his First Role in a Teen Comedy and Nudity

Emile Hirsch Girl Next Door
Emile Hirsch goes a little wild in "The Girl Next Door.". 20th Century Fox

The 2004 teen comedy The Girl Next Door introduced Emile Hirsch to audiences after starring turns in the independent films and The Mudge Boy. In fact, according to Hirsch it took some convincing to get him to consider taking a chance on a role in a teen comedy. It took some convincing to get him to consider the project. Speaking with About.com, Hirsch spoke talked about his uncertainty of doing The Girl Next Door, his thoughts on nudity, and his research of the porn industry.

Director Luke Greenfield said you were hesitant to take this role.

Yeah. I mean, before I said it I was like, "Well I don't really want to do a teen comedy." I was doing all these dramas and I was like, "Oh, I can't do a teen comedy." But the deciding factor for me was when I met Luke Greenfield, the director, because he was so driven, so passionate, so relentless, that I became completely convinced that he would make a great movie.

He said he wrote you a letter. What did it say?

It was telling me how passionate he was, like this is the thing, "This is not a teen comedy. I am determined to make this a great movie..." Then he dropped, "Ed Norton read the script too, and he was a little surprised when you wouldn't like [it]." It was just funny, like he was trying to scare me into taking the meeting so it was funny.

What you finally sat down with him, what convinced you to take the part?

He said so much stuff.

We literally sat down for four hours at Jerry's Deli. I just sat there and we ordered food and we talked about [everything from] the movie to Leonardo da Vinci to music. I just wanted to get to know him, because in an hour meeting sometimes it's too fast and someone might be nervous. But when you sit down with someone for four hours, you're going to get to know them a little bit, you know?

Did Luke try to make you watch any of the teen films he grew up on?

Yes. I had already seen Risky Business and it was always my wish that we surpass Risky Business. I was always like, "This has to be better than Risky Business. Let's make this better." I didn't want to re-do it, make it for the ages, I wanted it to be better than Risky Business. That was my goal from Day One.

Does it surpass Risky Business?

Oh yeah - in my opinion, a lot more. I watched Risky Business recently and I was just -- I don't know, I don't know why -- maybe it's because I'm competitive with it, I don't know, but for some reason I don't click with that movie.

Did you shoot a lot more of the strip club scene?

Yeah, there was some strip club stuff where the girl actually had her top off. But I guess it didn't make the final cut because I was told there's lines in the scene, and nobody got any of the jokes because they were all staring at the girls. It didn't get any laughs and it's these hilarious lines.

Were there a lot of hoops to jump through on the set because you were only 17 when the film was shot?

Yeah, when I got a lap dance, because I was 17, they had to put this massive pillow between me and the girl when she was, like, grinding me.

It was weird, yet pleasurable.

Were there other scenes they had to change as well, like the sex scene?

I was 18 when we shot that. I turned 18 during the movie. It was ironic because I could have done all the nudity in the movie, but because they scheduled that stuff first for some reason, I was 17 so they had to use a body-double. I would have gotten naked or whatever, but...

Is it every boy's fantasy to date a porn star?

I think we have a big problem in America if that's every boy's fantasy, but I'm sure it's crossed the minds of many a person.

Has this film changed your view of the sex industry?

No, it's kind of like what you see is what you get. Everything you imagine it is, it is. It's not like, "Well, it's actually like this..." It's like, "Well, it's like you thought it was."

And you went to a convention?

Well, I didn't go to a convention. They brought the convention to where we were. But it was a real convention, they just didn't have the fans there. The fans were, I guess extras, but they had all the real booths, all the real toys, all the real personnel who normally worked there. I mean there were these freaky deaky toys. There were all kinds of strange toys, you know, it was wild and neon lights and beautiful girls everywhere.

Elisha Cuthbert said you shot the sex scene in the limo separately. What was that like to do?

How does it feel to have sex by myself? You know, very much at home.

PAGE 2: Hirsch on Choosing Roles and 'The Lords of Dogtown'

How selective are you in choosing roles?

I'm pretty selective. I'm not like a prima donna or anything like that, but if I don't like something I'm not going to do it. It's hard to say. I don't want to be like, "Oh, I have good taste," because then I sound like an idiot. It's a little bit arrogant. Like, "Oh I have such good taste" I wouldn't want to say that, you know? I trust my instincts.

Had you shot The Mudge Boy before this?

Yeah, I shot it before, during the summer and then we shot this in January.

Being even younger during The Mudge Boy, it must have been much harder to do those scenes?

Yes. Me and Tom Guiry got along really well, we were like total buddies and stuff. We just kept a light feel on the set the whole time, we were making jokes the whole time. We had a blast on that movie [even] though it was a dark subject matter. Some of the harder scenes we only did [a few takes]. You could count the takes on three of my fingers, you know? So it was all acting at the end of the day.

Does the indie film scene attract you?

Absolutely. I mean, to me it's more about the script and the director than if it's a studio film or not. Because if it's a great script, you've got to go for it.

Are they hard to find?

They are, they're hard to find and I read a lot of scripts that I don't really like. But even the scripts I don't really like, sometimes they're still entertaining to read, you know?

You've got Imaginary Heroes coming up. What's that about?

It's about a guy who loses his brother and how his family deals with that. He was always kind of an outcast within the family and you're trying to figure out why he reacts so passively to his brother's death. And what ultimately unravels is this whole story between him and his brother - kind of a mystery.

How was it working with Sigourney Weaver?

Oh I love Sigourney, she's amazing. And Jeff Daniels rocks. They're both wonderful people who are truly fun to be around.

With all these young actors coming out, how difficult is it to differentiate yourself from this throng of Hollywood hopefuls?

Well, other than The Girl Next Door, everything else I've done is pretty serious so I think that right there, I haven't done only this type of thing. I did this to kind of explore a little bit and do something different, and I thought it would be fun. I think it's about doing good work and hopefully the work will speak for itself.

Who's your ideal director?

I want to work with Catherine Hardwicke on Lords of Dogtown. That's who I'm really looking forward to working with

When do you start shooting?

End of March.

Who do you play?

Jay Adams. He's a famous, famous skateboarder. One of the originals.

Is it based on the documentary?

It's based off of , yeah.

Do you skate?

I do. I've skated for years.

But the skating in this movie will be a lot more challenging than you're used to, right?

Yeah, I mean it will be challenging in a different way because it's a whole different style. Like now I can kick flip stairs and do ollies and grinds and boardslides and flip tricks, but now I'm going to have to learn how to do cutbacks and all kinds of ground-related tricks because back in the days of Dogtown, the ollie wasn't even invented.

That's the most basic skateboard trick these days -- they hadn't even invented it yet. It's an invention, it's like a discovery.

So you're not going to have a double just do your tricks for you?

Oh, you definitely have a double for me. I mean, Jay Adams is one of the greatest skateboards ever. But the fact that I skate, I'm probably 99% better than most actors.

Is Jay Adams an advisor?

I'm probably going to hang out him, yeah. He's an intense guy, I can't wait.