- ELEVATION PICTURES
In Noah Baumbach's While We're Young, Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts star as childless filmmakers who fall in with a hipster couple played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried. Stiller's best friend Fletcher, a new dad, is portrayed by Adam Horovitz, who you more likely recognize from his day job as a Beastie Boy. He spoke from his home in New York.
How did you end up in this movie? Were you looking for acting work?
I was not, actually. I'm friends with the writer slash director and he asked me if I would do it. That was that.
You and your wife [Kathleen Hanna] don't have kids. What was it like playing the opposite of your situation?
I'm 40-something years old and certainly have had tonnes of friends and family members who have had kids. And the thing that Noah wrote about that people that have kids and people who don't have kids, and how if you don't then people who do kind of treat you in this weird way, is true. Not meaning to, but it's like you're not part of their club, the Real Person Club.
The movie is very much about what's cool in New York right now—Bushwick, vintage, DIY. What was cool in New York when you were 25 in the '80s?
I don't think that it's different from when I was 25, or when my Dad was 25. I think it's all just where you're at, really. I'm sure 22-year-olds are having a fantastic fuckin' time. I think every generation thinks their generation is the shit. In fact my friend Ada Calhoun is finishing a book about St. Marks Place in New York, which was the epicentre for punk rock. And her whole book [St. Marks is Dead] is about the history of St Marks Place since the 1600s, and the running theme throughout it is every generation thinks their generation is the shit.
One of the things the movie investigates is the idea of art: Stiller's character feels singular ownership over the work he creates, while Driver's character feels as long as it exists, he owns it and can do what he wants with it. Where do you sit in that spectrum?
Well I sit as a 48-year-old person, you know what I mean? It's all the same, but just the rules change here and there, that's all. People do things differently now. And I'm sure in 20 years people are going to be doing something different from then and those people now are gonna be like, 'No no no, that's not how you're supposed to do it.' If you're a filmmaker and you've been making films for years, yeah you use film, you don't shoot shit on your fuckin' iPad. You don't make a movie on your telephone. But if you can make a movie on your telephone you should do it! Save a lot of time and money.
Did you and Stiller have to work hard to get the old-friends dynamic?
You know, it's just two high-calibre actors. [laughs] I don't know, I had no idea what the fuck I was doing. I'm actually friends with Ben, so I've known him for awhile, so I guess it was easy to be friends. I kinda thought that's what it was going to be—hey these guys know each other, we'll hang out and it'll be fun. And then I'm sitting across the table from Ben Fuckin' Stiller and I'm supposed to be an actor now. It was stressful.
Interview conducted and edited by Tara Thorne