Maybe you’ve already heard, but Jay Baruchel is on the cusp of stardom. The lanky comedy actor, best known for small-yet-memorable roles in movies like Knocked Up and Tropic Thunder, has four new films—in many of which his name appears above the title—coming out in the span of just four months, ensuring total Jay Baruchel saturation. The first, She’s Out of My League, which opens nationwide today, is a romantic comedy in the Judd Apatow vein of lovable-underdogs-and-the-hot-underwritten-ladies-who-love-them. After that, he stars in the 3-D animated epic How To Train Your Dragon (opening March 26th), the Toronto Film Fest standout The Trotsky (May 14th), and the Disney live-action adaptation of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (July 16th). In anticipation of his painfully obvious career trajectory, the media is in full Baruchel star-watch. Journalists have filed breathless predictions like “This is Jay Baruchel’s big moment!” and “O.K., so it’s practically official: Jay Baruchel is a movie star now.” And who can blame them? There hasn’t been a stuttering, underweight, self-effacing everyman so perfectly poised to become comedy’s next Great White Hope since Michael Cera. Which means, of course, that in exactly a year from now, we’ll all be talking about how much we hate Jay Baruchel. What a sell-out prick! Am I right or what? Who’s with me?
I called Baruchel as he was finishing a seven-day press tour, which he described as “daunting.” When I asked if the experience had taught him to hate all journalists (a thinly-veiled way of asking, “Should we even bother doing this interview?”), he insisted that it hadn’t. “I’m smart enough to know that my stress is just a function of being a hermit,” he said, with his patented nervous staccato laugh. “With the exception of going to Burger King or the gas station for smokes, pretty much everything is out of my comfort zone.”
Eric Spitznagel: Are you ready for comedy superstardom, followed closely by the inevitable backlash and outright hostility from the same fans who claimed to love you unconditionally just yesterday?
Jay Baruchel: (Laughs.) No and yes, respectively. I’m prepared for the insults and people crapping on me. But if there’s any semblance of stardom to go along with it, I won’t be able to deal.
Allow me to be the first to say, “You’re not nearly as funny as you were five minutes ago when you were doing more or less the same shtick.”
I appreciate your honesty, confusing as it is.
Do you read everything that’s written about you?
I’m slowly conditioning myself to read less and less of it. There’s a bunch of nice, positive stuff written about me, but there’s also a shitload of people who just despise me, and most of them are anti-Semites.
Really? What does your ethnicity have to do with the quality of your movies?
I don’t know. But whenever somebody’s writing something negative about me, more often than not they drop the J-bomb. And it’s always said negatively, never positively. I don’t see how calling somebody a Jew could be meant as an insult. But it’s always like “He’s a stupid Jew.”
You’re talking about your reviews in the New York Times, right?
(Laughs.) Yeah, exactly.
It’s so tiresome. Every Times review, it’s always like, “It was an O.K. movie… except for all the goddamn Jews.”
(Laughs.) That would be on the kinder end of the spectrum. But actually, no, I’m talking about the Internet.
There are anti-Semites on the Web? Where?
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Internet is the last refuge of bigots and morons. I guess I get what I ask for if I waste my time reading blogs.
From what I know about the plot of She’s Out Of My League, it’s a risky formula. It’s basically about a lovable underdog who beds a hot chick. Are movie audiences ready for that?
(Laughs.) I don’t know. We’re definitely taking some chances. We’re pushing the boundaries. Have you seen the NC-17 trailer yet? I’m fucking goat corpses. Yeah, it’s a real Dogme 95 kind of movie. But I have faith that people are willing to take a chance on us, if for no other reason than that they’ll be able to watch