Andy Samberg on CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER, Sundance and Lana Del Rey

It was by all accounts a momentous occasion. Harvey Weinstein loitered in the hallway. Seth Rogen politely acknowledged some overzealous fans with his trademark chuckle. Shailene Woodley, with a gaggle of girlfriends in tow, waited patiently out in the cold to be let inside. The stars were aligned for the world premiere of CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER on Friday evening at the Sundance Film Festival’s 1,270-seat Eccles Theater.

Directed by Lee Toland Krieger (THE VICIOUS KIND, Sundance ’09), the film follows Celeste (Rashida Jones, who co-wrote the screenplay), a branding exec, and Jesse (Andy Samberg), an unemployed artist who, after a life-long friendship and six years of marriage, decide to split and see other people. Both parties, however, struggle to close the book on their storied past and start new, separate chapters in life.

With the exception of the tepidly received HOT ROD, Saturday Night Live cast member Samberg, who made a name for himself with SNL viral shorts like “Lazy Sunday,” “Dick in a Box,” and “I Just Had Sex,” has been mostly relegated to bit parts or cameos in feature films like I LOVE YOU, MAN and FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS. The character of Jesse, a gregarious slacker coping with heartbreak, is Samberg’s first dramatic role, marking a huge step forward in the TV funnyman’s acting career.

Sundance Channel caught up with Samberg at the cast dinner to chat about his first meaty movie role.

Have you ever been to Sundance?
It’s my first time in a movie at Sundance. I’ve been here before as a spectator.

What’s it like to have your film premiere at Sundance in front of one thousand-plus people?
I went to film school and I’ve always been really into independent film, and Sundance especially. It really felt great. I was really happy.

And this is your first big, dramatic role as an actor.
It definitely is, yeah. I was worried about it going in cause I had never done it before and I didn’t know if I’d suck or if I’d like it. But I feel pretty happy with it, Lee [the director] took such great care of me, and the script was awesome, so I felt protected by that. If there’s more material and people I want to work with, I’d definitely be into doing it more.

Did you meet Rashida while making I LOVE YOU, MAN together?
We met when I was writing on the MTV Movie Awards when Fallon hosted back in 2005, so we’ve been buddies for a while. But her and Will [McCormack] wrote the script and she sent it to me as a writer just asking what I thought of it, and I said I loved it and if she ever wanted me to be in it, I’d love to do it. It came and went, and was going to happen and then wasn’t, and I asked my agent to ask her agent—cause they’re both at UTA—what was up with CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER because I’d still love to do it, and it’s one of the only scripts I really liked.

Were you a bit apprehensive getting back into film acting after HOT ROD’s performance? It was met with mixed reviews but seemed to find a strong following on DVD.
So did BILLY MADISON, and that’s my favorite movie of all-time. I have no regrets. It reached the people that like that kind of humor, and there are some jokes in that that I will forever be proud of. Well, I was a little bit nervous because you don’t know what it’s like until you do it, and I just wanted to make sure the next time I did it, it was something I felt passionate about. And this movie and the one I did with Adam Sandler [DONNY’S BOY] that’s out this summer I’m really proud of. I saw a cut and I really liked it.

A starring role alongside an SNL legend.
He’s my hero!

Speaking of SNL, Lana Del Rey has received a lot of flack for her recent performance. Did you see any hints of that coming during dress rehearsals?
Oh… That’s… None of my business!

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