I sat with Dave Franco to discuss his upcoming movie Nerve. In Nerve, two strangers (Dave Franco, Emma Roberts) become wrapped up in a viral internet game of Dare which gradually takes a sinister turn.
Vanessa: What intrigued you about this movie and this character?
Dave Franco: When I first read the script, I liked the fact that this character was something that I never played before. I had primarily been in comedies up until this point. So this role is a little more serious, the movie itself is more serious. It’s nice as an actor to switch it up a bit. I met with the directors, these were the guys who directed the documentary Catfish. I could immediately tell they were extremely smart and had great taste and would make the best version of this movie possible. I had high expectations for the movie and when I ultimately saw it for the first time, I was blown away by what these guys pulled off just in terms of the way it looks, the music, the way it is edited, all of the performances down to the smallest parts of the movie and it’s something that I am extremely proud of and I don’t say that about everything I’m in.
For research, did you read the novel prior to filming?
DF: We were told not necessarily to read the novel. We were going to do our own take on it and bring our own ideas to it.
How was like it working with Emma Roberts again?
DF: I love working with Emma. It was nice working with her in the past too because we could come into this feeling comfortable with each other right from the get-go which is very important for a movie like this where you have to believe our chemistry. She extremely smart and I really valued her opinion throughout the filming of this movie. I would check in with her a lot about my performance and she would give me honest answers and it gave me a lot of confidence.
Since you mentioned the importance of chemistry, what do you think makes a good scene-partner?
DF: Someone who is willing to play around and go off book and to not overthink the scene before going into it and just being opened to whatever is going to happen. What I love about Emma is that she really embraces the little awkward mistakes that might happen. For example, if there is a scene where I am supposed to be confidently walking towards her and a moment where I am suppose to look cool and if I accidentally tripped, she loved those moments because it felt real and unexpected.
There were a lot of stunts in the movie, some involving a motorcycle. Did you ride?
DF: I learned how to ride a motorcycle for the movie. I had two weeks to learn which isn’t very much time. I got to a point where I became really confident when it was an empty parking lot but a whole different story when you are on the streets of New York then it’s even scarier when they put Emma on the back of the bike because if I made a mistake, I’m taking both of us down. They didn’t let me ride the motorcycle in that one scene where I am blindfolded, but there are moments throughout the film where it really is me riding the bike with Emma in the back and I’m glad nothing happened. Looking back at it, I probably wouldn’t do it again.
What did you usually do during your downtime between filming?
DF: Filming in New York is incredible. Food is something I love more than anything and New York has some of the best food in the world. If I ever had an hour between setups, I would find one of my favorite spots in the city. I remember there was a few times where Emma and I would sneak away and get sushi during lunch.
DF: I’m different from my character in the sense that I am not a risk-taker. I am pretty boring in my everyday life which I really enjoy. I feel like I did it all, I went to USC and USC is a huge party school and I feel like I got that out of my system and at this point my idea of an exciting weekend is staying home with my cats and eating Sushi. I am similar to my character in the way that he doesn’t take himself too seriously, which I think it’s surprising for this type of character. I think people might anticipate my character to be really brooding or to never laugh at himself or make jokes or anything like that. I feel like that’s the archetype for a movie like this. The directors really encouraged me to bring some of my own personality to the role and it was fun because not every director is that collaborative and the whole experience was very collaborative and it felt like a team effort. Before every single scene the directors, Emma and myself would congregate and discuss how we can make the scene the best way possible.
If you aren’t much of a risk taker, have you played much truth or dare?
DF: I’ve played truth or dare growing up like anyone else but I think the craziest dares were always run from Point A to Point B naked. I think that’s the craziest dare. The craziest thing I have done, as of late, was learning how to ride a motorcycle for this movie. During this press tour, I’ve probably done things I wouldn’t have done otherwise. Like my character in the movie, we decided to go out and sing in public. So I went into the Apple store and belted out Backstreet Boys “I Want It That Way” which was horrifying.
So do you watch any reality shows?
DF: I hate to admit it but I did recently get sucked into the Bachelorette.
Do you think we would ever see a real life version of Nerve?
DF: Yeah, I think that’s what makes the movie so scary is that you can imagine this game existing any day now because how obsessed people are with social media and becoming instantly famous. That’s what I love about the movie compared to other young adult movies, like it seems like all the other ones are set in a dystopian world where reality is heightened a little bit. This movie is about real people doing real things and it’s scary.
So I take it you would be a Watcher versus a Player?
DF: Yeah, I would be a watcher.
DF: Definitely. It’s hard for me to say which one. I would be curious to see what others see me as. I’m trying to think which superhero movies have been made yet. I feel like all have them been portrayed at this point. When I was filming Now You See Me, people were mentioning Gambit but I can’t throw cards in every movie I’m doing. On top of that, I think Channing Tatum is playing Gambit and he would be a much better Gambit than I would be. I’m definitely open to being in one of those movies.
Before we wrap up, I thought we would end in a game of Never Have I Ever. Interested?
Never Have I ever injured myself by trying to impress a girl I was interested in?
DF: Um… let’s see honest answers.. I don’t think so.
Never Have I ever dined-and-dash?
DF: No I haven’t.
Never Have I ever tried to talk myself out of a ticket?
DF: Yeah I tried that before, subtly though.
Never Have I ever Stolen something.
DF: Yeah I have, I stole a Snickers bar one time. I think I might have returned it though because I felt bad.
Nerve hits theaters July 27th and is directed by Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost.