Producer Todd (“The Hangover”) Phillips’s “Project X” takes the high school party movie to new heights of onscreen debauchery – think one part “Risky Business,” one part Michael Bay-style explosions – and that’s because the off-screen debauchery wasn’t far behind.
The “found footage” film’s cast of promising young newcomers – Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, Jonathan Daniel Brown, Kirby Bliss Blanton and Alexis Knapp – reveal to PopcornBiz that most of them weren’t epic ragers in real life, but they got a taste of just how far a party can go on the high-energy set where the extras kept things jumping even when the cameras weren’t rolling.
Blanton: I didn’t go to that many crazy parties when I was in high school, actually. I came out here [to Hollywood] when I was in like ninth grade, but most of the parties I went to in high school – I mean, there was definitely the beer pong, the flip cups, so I know that that all actually happens. As for the dog tied to the balloons and all the other stuff, I think that was a play on the fact that these things can go so far so quickly.
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Cooper: I only have one I can really think of. When I was 12, my brother and sister are a lot older than I am, and they had this crazy party and my friend's mom dropped me off in the minivan and there were cars all the way down, and she was like, 'Is it okay if I leave you here?' It was the craziest party and I was drinking beers at 12. That was fun. It was a good one, but I was never a huge partier.
Brown: I was a complete a**hole in high school. I definitely had a phase at one point where I wanted to be ghetto. I had both my ears pierced and thought it was cool and stuff, but I wouldn't say that I was like my character in high school. I was more like Thomas's character. I was a bit of a p***y. I didn't really want to have a party, and my friend was crazy, like, 'You're such a p***y. Come on, we're having a party!'
Mann: I can remember one time in high school I had a party at the house and the next day I was vigorously cleaning the whole house and the first thing my mom said when she walked in was, 'Did you have a party,' because the house was so clean.
Knapp: I do recall a New Year’s Eve when I might have been 18, back in North Carolina… my friend’s snake got loose. I made everyone stop and look for the snake – because I love snakes and use to have a lot of snakes, but now I just have one – so that was crazy because then the cops showed up and we were all underage and running around. I hid in an abandoned cottage for an hour until the cops left. That was pretty crazy.
Mann: My average party was 'Dreamcast' and popcorn. And tears. I didn't go to a lot of parties, and when I did it was never that awesome.
Brown: I think that they cast us because we aren't party people, per se. I feel like if you cast the three guys who always just were the sickest ragers in high school the movie would just be a douchebag factory.
Mann: I think the reason this movie was made is because it's a party that no one has ever seen before, or it's not really like anything... It definitely felt like a party. The on-set DJ would play even between takes and extras would be dancing even when the cameras weren't rolling. So in that case, the energy was always through the roof, but it was hard to play the scenes where I had to be stressed out and worried about my dad calling.
Blanton: Whenever you have 300 extras on a set its crazy, but we had the AD saying. 'Who wants to smoke the fake reefer?' So they were very excited to pretend to be partying. We would go home tired at the end of the shoot and they would be like, 'Where are you going?' And we’re like 'We’re going home to bed!'
Knapp: They got very into it.
Blanton: One girl started peeing. She squatted on the ground. It was funny because there were only a couple of toilets for us to use and there were like 200 extras so this girl was like, 'Whatever,' and started peeing and then a camera came over and started filming. They asked her to sign a waver and she didn’t care because it was a pay upgrade, but now that she knows it’s in the movie she is embarrassed. She’s a friend of one of my friends that was doing extra work on the film.
Knapp: Project X is as real as it gets!