Movies + TV

Director Jesse Peretz on the Making of Our Idiot Brother and Why He Turned Paul Rudd into a Stoner

The director's ensemble comedy (in theaters today) stars Paul Rudd as a bumbling stoner who can't stay clean and Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, and Emily Mortimer as his put-upon sisters. Here, the onetime bass player for The Lemonheads gave us 60 Seconds to explain how the movie came together and his own favorite things in culture.

Your sister Evgenia was one of the movie's writers. So are you the idiot brother?
Each of the sisters is my sister more than I'm the idiot brother. Paul Rudd and I did this movie The Chateau 10 years ago, and I'd been looking to do something else with him. I love when he plays really good, nice guys whose goodness and niceness become his Achilles' heel.

How did you get such relaxed, natural performances from your cast?
A lot of people had worked together, were friendly. And the beauty of a lower-budget movie is that we couldn't afford to have trailers for all these people, and because they all really liked each other, they ended up hanging out all the time. Elizabeth and Rudd have done, like, four movies together, so this was the embodiment of their relationship—not that Elizabeth puts Rudd down, but there's a familiarity that lets them play both sides.


What made you want to direct?
I was in this student film at 15 as this kid who moves in next to a 30-year-old guy who finds out I'm a virgin and sends in one of his friends to deflower me. It was this incredible trauma of "Will I get an erection or won't I get an erection?" and the further worry of which would be worse. That was the last time I ever acted, but the experience made me psyched to conceptualize making movies.


Peretz's Cultural Diet:

The movies that made me want to direct
"Jules and Jim and Stranger Than Paradise."

The actors, living or dead, I'd most like to work with
"Charlotte Gainsbourg (alive) and Dirk Bogarde (dead)."

The last movie I recommended to a friend
"The eighties British black comedy Withnail and I."

Guilty pleasure
"Hardball with Chris Matthews."

Favorite clothes to wear
"Things that are blue and look like things I wore when I was 17 (minus the punk T-shirts with uncomfortably raised ink imaging)."

Most played artist on my iPod
"This past year, Willie Nelson. Really."

Albums I would bring to a desert island.
"Big Star, Radio City. Elvis Costello, Imperial Bedroom. Aretha Franklin, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You. Minor Threat, First 27"s. The Replacements, Let It Be."

Go-to karaoke song
Rick Springfield, "Jessie's Girl"

Cultural trend that needs to go away
"3D films. Fuck them."

Artist's work I'd like to own
"Loretta Lux."

Greatest building I've ever visited
"Chek Lap Kok Airport, Hong Kong."

Place everyone should visit during their lifetime
"Hanoi, Vietnam."

Last meal
"Spaghetti carbonara."

By Jesse Ashlock

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Photographs courtesy of The Weinstein Company
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