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Director Nima Nourizadeh broke down the plot of the dark comedy for us, and told us a little bit about what to expect from Eisenberg and Stewart in the movie. (Hint: action! Romance! Adventure!) But to start things off, let’s meet our stars.
This is Mike. “He’s got this life that seems pretty kind of lame to most people if they would see it from the outside, but he seems super content,” Nourizadeh said. “He doesn’t have a lot of responsibilities in life, he’s just been going out with this girl Phoebe.”
Eisenberg wore a wig for this role, an accessory that Nourizadeh said helped him slip into the part. “You look at Jesse and he’s got like long hair and he’s just like a stoner, slacker guy…As soon as that wig’s on his head you just had a much more slower, low-key vibe about him.”
“His main motivation in the movie really right now at the beginning anyways is to propose to her. He’s in love with her, that’s his life, he wants to propose to her.”
Stewart’s hair, too, was a big part of bringing her character to life. “We dyed her hair like orangey-red, and that made her look so different. So there’s a kind of slightly scruffy look to her but she still looks so amazing,” Nourizadeh said. “When you watch the movie, you know, you’ll see like Kristen playing the character that you wouldn’t expect her to necessarily. I think she’s funny. There’s stuff that when you watch the movie, you go, ’Ah, that’s a good one. I’ve never seen her like that!'”
Nourizadeh also offered some clarity on the plot of the movie. Eisenberg’s character, Mike, is planning to propose to Phoebe (Stewart). But when he goes to take her out of town, he starts having severe panic attacks. Soon, it’s revealed that Mike is a sort of sleeper agent, and the government is trying to eliminate him. Uh-oh. How will these two stoners in love, who Nourizadeh says are “not, like, super in touch with what’s going on necessarily,” outsmart the forces that are trying to take them down?
The director stressed that “American Ultra” is a genre buster, crossing conventions left and right. There’s action, adventure, comedy and love. (Yes, prepare to see Stewart and Eisenberg kick some ass.)
“You start with this kind of like sweet love story,” Nourizadeh said. “I don’t want to turn people off with that, but what’s really unique about this movie is the fact that it’s like this kind of crazy action-comedy, but really at the core there is this like romance and there’s this love story where all he wants to do is to propose to her. Really if you look at it, the action that comes into play is basically the stuff that’s softening it. It’s like the hurdles that you have to like overcome.
“His world just gets turned upside down and he starts to realize who he actually is. For a lot of the movie, he’s just like unaware of what’s going on, why these people are trying to kill him, and he soon finds out. It’s just this weird sort of entertaining, well-rounded, totally unique movie, I think where you know you’ll be laughing one minute, you’ll be hopefully quite shocked at some of the action that we did. It’s violent, it’s graphic, it’s funny, it’s silly at times, you know it’s just got so many things going on that its hard to actually define really.”