TIME movies

Neighbors Made Zac Efron Want to Do More Comedy

Film Title: Neighbors
Glen Wilson—Universal Pictures

Zac Efron, Seth Rogen and director Nicholas Stoller tell TIME why Neighbors was so much fun to make

When the comedy Neighbors — which stars Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne as Mac and Kelly Radner, a couple with a baby whose lives are upended when a rowdy fraternity led by Zac Efron’s Teddy Sanders moves next door — was originally conceived, Rogen and Efron’s characters were written as hate-filled rivals from minute one. But after hearing the two stars’ obvious chemistry at an early table read, it became clear that having them bond before developing their rift was essential. “We realized how much we would get along, and how funny we could be together,” Rogen, also a producer on the film, tells TIME. “Because of that, we extended the honeymoon period.”

In the film, which hits theaters May 9, the disparate lifestyles of the new parents and the fraternity lead to subterfuge and all-out war, including sexual schemes and violent booby traps all intended for maximum laughs. But first, Mac and Kelly see the last vestiges of their youth in the fraternity’s booze- and drug-fueled bashes, and integrate themselves into the perpetual party next door.

For Rogen, now is the time to deal with the issue of trying to sidestep adulthood — however unsuccessfully. “I’ve been the star of almost every movie I’ve had some hand in creating, and because of that, I’ve always made movies that focused on people [my] age,” says Rogen. “Now, I’m 32, I’m married, and a lot of my friends have kids or are having kids. So it only seemed natural to make a movie that embraced that.”

Neighbors marks an even greater turning point for Efron, with the 26-year-old heartthrob top-lining (along with Rogen) his first adult comedy, and also for the first time playing a villainous character. “Mostly I was just excited,” says Efron. “The caliber of work when you’re on set with [guys like this] is really smart and funny. You have to be ready for anything. The hardest part [for me] was finding some heart in this character, because he does a lot of really heinous things, and he’s nothing like me. This is the furthest character from myself that I’ve ever played.”

Hinging as it does on the chemistry between the two leads, the film found a bonding point in an early party scene where a wasted Mac and Teddy compare Batman impressions. The improvised scene sets the stage for the battle to come, making the film’s central feud not just a disagreement between neighbors, but the result of a perceived betrayal between two people who, if even for just a fleeting moment, cared about each other.

The scene evolved from a desire to find a funny way to depict the difference in age between the two. “We were trying to find slight variations [in our tastes],” says Efron, “small generational differences in things like video games.”

“We knew we wanted them to talk about the difference in their generations,” says director Nicholas Stoller. “I noticed Zac doing Batman impressions [on the set]. He does a really good Bane. So we were shooting the scene with all these jokes we’d written, but it felt forced. If they don’t bond in that scene, then the movie won’t work. One of them started talking about Batman, and I yelled from behind the monitor, ‘Just compare Batman impressions.’ I’m rarely sure that I got something until I’m cutting the movie, but [after that], I was like, that’s gonna be in the movie. That’s kinda magical.”

“It perfectly demonstrates the generational divide between the guys,” says Rogen, “but it also shows that if circumstances were different, they would really get along.”

For Efron, the set’s free-flowing nature was liberating, if not a bit stressful.

“In a film like this, in this genre, it’s instrumental to be able to be on your toes and stay in character,” says Efron. “Improvising with certain people brings out the best in you, and the advantage here was, these guys are incredible at it. It’s a challenge, because you don’t know what you’re going to say, so you literally just have to be. It’s freeing in a way. I had a blast.”

Now that he’s been seduced by the improvisational comedy bug, Neighbors could represent a turning point in Efron’s career: audiences are likely to wonder if he’ll join the likes of Rogen, Paul Rudd and more in becoming a staple of the modern comedy.

“I could see that happening, for sure,” says Efron. “I think it’s all [about] who you surround yourself with. I’m really lucky to be in a movie with these guys, and I would jump at the chance to do it again.”

TIME Television

Who’s Honoring Him Now: Comedians Commend Colbert on His Late Show Gig

ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" - Season Ten
Colbert and Jon Stewart on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" in 2012. Jeff Neira—ABC via Getty Images

Outpouring of comic love on Twitter

Today’s announcement that Stephen Colbert will replace David Letterman as host of The Late Show in 2015 was not really that big a surprise. Ever since Letterman announced his impending retirement last week, Colbert has been the agreed-upon frontrunner. But the quickness of the deal certainly was a shocker.

That no one else, it seems, was seriously considered for the job shows how controversy-free the choice was, as Colbert will take over for Letterman with the apparent full approval of the comedy community. Just yesterday, his friend and mentor Jon Stewart, himself once mentioned as a top candidate, took himself out of the running to endorse Colbert (although it now seems likely that Stewart knew about Colbert’s impending deal).

Stewart told Vulture that Colbert would be “amazing” as Letterman’s replacement, talking up his skills as a writer, actor, interviewer and improviser. “He’s wonderful in The Colbert Report, but he’s got gears he hasn’t even shown people yet,” said Stewart. “He would be remarkable.”

Stewart is far from alone in the comedy world in believing that Colbert will crush this opportunity, as many took to Twitter to offer congratulations and express their delight. Colbert’s soon-to-be competitor, Jimmy Fallon, showing how much less bitter the late night landscape is these days, tweeted:


It was a reference to their third network competitor at 11:30, Jimmy Kimmel, who himself tweeted:


Others in the comedy world sent simple messages of congratulations, including:

Judd Apatow


Craig Ferguson


Mindy Kaling


Olivia Munn


Andy Richter


John Hodgman


Jon Favreau


Wendi McLendon-Covey


Noël Wells


Billy Eichner


Meanwhile, some used the occasion to take comedic pot shots at others:

Funny Or Die


Frank Conniff


Laurie Kilmartin


Steve Martin, of course, just wanted to get paid.


Others expressed mixed feelings: delight at the prospect of the new show, but despair at the loss of the brilliant comedic character that made Colbert a star.

Paul F. Tompkins


Kristen Schaal


Michael Ian Black


Some comedians took the chance to reflect on what the news means for them:

Rob Delaney, who for some reason deleted his post, wrote:

@StephenAtHome I’m flattered but network will prob want you to have Hanks/Jolie/etc as first guest. Happy to come on the 1st week though?

Delaney followed that with a playful jab at Letterman’s sidekick.


Todd Barry


Ted Alexandro


Unsurprisingly, some took the chance to gloat about the timing regarding the recent #CancelColbert campaign, and the activist who launched it, Suey Park. While The Colbert Report will now end next year, this is clearly not what they had in mind.

Patton Oswalt


Kate Hendricks


Andy Daly (host of Comedy Central’s Review)


One Family Guy writer saw fit to point out the ridiculousness of our obsession with late night.

Julius Sharpe


Perhaps the most meaningful tweet, though, came from the man that Colbert will be replacing.

David Letterman

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser