iersey Clemons is a star on the rise especially after her amazing performance in the ground-breaking film Dope. She now tries her hand at comedy in the hilarious film Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, the sequel to the 2014 film Neighbors. SFPL’s very own Arlene Danna caught up with the young actress for an exclusive interview.
Continue below to see what Kiersey had to say about working on Neighbors 2, sexism, crazy set stories and more .
I loved the movie, from beginning to end. I was laughing nonstop. During filming how hard was it not to laugh?
“It was hard at times to hold it together. We would just get everything out in between takes.”
One of the scenes that stood out to me was the scene where you guys are in the dorm getting high and Chloe’s character is hinting that she is a virgin and you blurt out…
“So you don’t eat a**?”
“That was one that was really hard to hold together, it was really funny. That was just a line that Nick [Stoller], Seth, or someone just yelled out like ‘say this’ so we just did different versions of that. It was really funny, that’s one of my favorite lines because it’s so like ‘whoa why would you say that’
The scene at the tailgate where all the girls lose it for Zac’s character Teddy I felt like your expressions, everything throughout that scene we’re the absolute best.
“I just felt like that’s what she would do, just like hump the air; a little dry hump, a little thrust. I just thought it was so funny that he was really into it, as he should be like he killed it. It was just so funny we were all excited for that day because more so just because the dancing which is so ridiculous and the whole [thing] where his ball sack comes out that whole thing was so funny.”
That wasn’t real was it?
“No, it was not his real ball sack that was not Zac Efron’s ball sack. It was like a fake set of balls which is even funnier, a fake scrotum like what’s happening, why? And like this poor guy, his double; Zac was going to shoot something else so his double did the close up of it. This poor guy is standing up there in front of all of these people like just dropping out this big ball sack and I’m like ‘I’m so sorry’. It was hilarious to see that though, it looks really real.”
How was it working on Neighbors 2 versus Dope? Dope did have comedic moments but it also had more serious notes in it?
“Right, I mean we had a lot more flexibility with Neighbors 2 because it’s a comedy so there’s so much improv and there are a lot of rewrites. Sometimes someone says something funny and it turns into a whole new scene that’s written the next day. With Dope we really had to stick to the storyline because there were so many political points we needed to hit them right. That’s why Rick wrote it so specific and that’s why he got so much praise for the movie because he was able to start discussions and talk about these controversial things without making you feel like he’s shoving his opinion down your throat. [Which] I think we do that in Neighbors which is cool in terms of like Feminism, girl power and just equality. So they’re very similar in that way but they are two completely different [movies]; one’s a dramedy and the other is a straight up farcical comedy.”
I loved the Feminist undertones of Neighbors 2. Your character in Dope didn’t conform to traditional gender roles and now in Neighbors 2 these girls set out to create a sorority because they want to be able to be themselves and party without having to deal with the sexism in Greek Life.
“I feel like with Neighbors 2 and Dope actually it was really scary to go into this world of Feminism because Feminism to different people means different things, people identify with it in different ways. The same thing with like vegan. Some people consider themselves vegan and their lifestyle isn’t vegan but their diet is. So with Feminism it’s kind of the same thing so I’ve kind of learned you don’t have to label yourself. It doesn’t matter, you’re never going to fill out a medical form where you have to check the box of what your diet is. We should really more than anything be focusing on the things where you do have to check a box. You know [for example] if you’re transitioning and you’re a transgender man or woman. I feel like right now we’re kind of focusing on very shallow things. Girls are mad because they can’t run around with their boobs out which I get you want to be able to post your nipples on Instagram like guys can. I totally understand that but why don’t we go back and let’s start with that fact that women can’t breastfeed in public because that’s the real issue. That’s the thing we actually need to focus on. So I try not to speak out too much about too much because then no one ever takes what you’re saying seriously because you’re always trying to make a political point. So it is really nice to be able to do movies where I can play characters that have the same point of view that I do and I can kind of say I support these things without actually saying it.
I get that. You get to do it in a way that’s not really serious and heavy because when things are delivered in a serious manner sometimes people aren’t as receptive.
Right. Also a lot of times as an entertainer [what you say can be misconstrued]; it just happened to Erykah Badu a couple of weeks ago when she went on a Twitter rant about the sexuality of young women and school dress codes and people didn’t like what she said. I think they would have been a lot more receptive to it if she would have said it in a song, but because it was a tweet you can pick at her words, and read it over and over again and, because it’s not a melody that you like, and she’s not saying it in a way that pleases you; you don’t even want to broaden your perspective.
It’s also that sometimes in 140 words you can’t get your point across.
“That’s the problem with a lot of my peers in the industry. I have friends that have been in Twitter feuds and this and that and I think that’s the problem. They’re really good people and they are very strong and the points that their making are really great it’s just that their wording wasn’t the best and that’s unfortunate that people can’t look past that; but I mean our society is not as accepting as we’re pretending we are. So unfortunately we have to be very careful, I don’t tweet that often for that reason.”
I loved at the end how you were the one to put a stop to the party and it kind of seems like Beth was kind of the middle ground between Shelby and Nora.
Yes, the middle man, she is for sure. She was from day one. There was a lot that changed about her throughout the making of the movie. We added different quirks and stuff, but for the most part that was the one thing that stuck was that she was the middle man and she kind of brought everyone back like ‘Wait, guys what are we doing?’ So it was fun to be able to play someone like that because I don’t feel I ever have. I feel like I’m always playing such a character, and character roles are cool; but she was kind of just a normal girl that happens to be hypersexual.
Do you have any crazy stories from the set?
“I will say that the tampon scene that was something that happened because Chloe and I were on our periods at the same time and we we’re like ‘Oh my god, we synced up because we’ve been together for weeks’. So we went to Nick and were like ‘Dude, how funny would it be if all the sorority girls periods synced up and like something crazy happened’ and he took that and ran with it. It was way more outrageous than we could have thought. When that tampon hits just splat, splat, splat; it was the most amazing [thing]. And I loved the point after with Zac. that’s also crazy because it’s funny [and] I know there are going to be guys in the audience watching that are thinking like Teddy ‘Eww that’s too far, that’s so f*cking gross’. Even right before this I was doing an interview and I was talking to someone and we were talking about the tampon scene. She enjoyed it but she was saying you know, ‘That’s a lot, oh my god’ and I’m thinking you have a period why are you so? The thing is we are able to watch movies and guys are jacking off into f*cking socks, but yet the most natural thing that can happen in the world that’s actually the reason we can reproduce we’re so afraid of. I understand blood makes people wheezy so I understand that, but you shouldn’t be afraid of a period. So I think it’s really cool that Nick Stoller a white 40 year-old male Jew knew that and was like we got to put that in there.”
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is in theaters now!
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