Photograph by Scott Garfield
Got a minute? John Hamburg—the writer, director, and producer of I Love You, Man (in theaters March 20)—opens up about the state of bromance and the care that goes into simulating projectile vomiting.
Q: The movie revolves around the relationship that develops between Paul Rudd's and Jason Segel's characters. Have you had a same-sex crush?
A: Yeah. I can't reveal who it is—it would be too uncomfortable. That's part of where the inspiration comes from. We all need friends in our lives that we develop a crush on, but unlike dating, there are no rules. Do you wait two days to call? Do you Twitter a guy you just met? I've also witnessed man crushes. On my first movie, Safe Men, Sam Rockwell and Steve Zahn had a total bromance. At the time, there was no word for it. They loved each other—as friends. They totally would have taken Vespa rides together.
Q: I Love You, Man has the vibe—and cast—of a Judd Apatow film. Was this movie inspired by his?
A: Judd is a friend of mine, and I directed three episodes of his TV show, Undeclared. I've loved his movies, but I looked back to one of my idols, James L. Brooks, who combined laugh-out-loud humor with real characters. Broadcast News—that had a lot of influence on me.
Q: At one point, Paul Rudd projectile-vomits on Jon Favreau. How did you make it look so convincing?
A: We wrapped the scene in a green screen, and there was a projectile-vomiting machine next to Paul Rudd—so it looked like it was coming out of his mouth. It was an elaborate and complicated process. It was helpful to have Favreau on the set that day—not only because it was fun to see him get five cans of Italian wedding soup thrown up on his face but because he had spent the last year doing green-screen work on Iron Man. I wanted serious projection. I watched some YouTube videos of people projectile vomiting. It's pretty intense when it happens.
Q: How did Paul feel about the scene?
A: Paul, Jason, and I had lunch to talk about the movie before filming, and Paul had one serious request: "I actually want to throw up on the actor—for real. I'll take some kind of medicine or something." Of course, during that meeting I said, "Absolutely, Paul." But there was no chance we were going to let him drink ipecac. Ryan Wenzel