LRM had the chance to speak to three of five Lizards (of Broken Lizard, creators of Super Troopers and Beerfest) recently, discussing weed, Potfest, lost subplots and film projects, their dream “Exstonedables,” Colorado, and who they would want to play in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Kevin Heffernan — Mac, Foster, and Farva respectively — three of the writers and stars of Super Troopers 2, sat down with me in their hotel in Denver before the Denver premiere of their first, long-awaited sequel. Though writer/director/actor Jay Chandrasekhar and writer/actor Erik Stolhanske were the only members of Broke Lizard not in attendance, we got right down to business as soon as the men arrived from their flight.
Super Troopers 2 is playing nationwide in theaters today! 4/20.
LRM: Welcome gentlemen, jetlagged?
Kevin Heffernan: Yeah, we just got here.
LRM: From DIA?
LRM: Our wonderful, wonderful airport.
Paul Soter: When I lived here we had Stapleton.
LRM: I know Steve went to boarding school here. Paul, you used to live here too?
Steve Lemme: Two years, graduated in Colorado Springs. I would fly to Denver Stapleton, and then I actually used to request a longer layover before we flew to Colorado Springs because I liked listening to my Sony Walkman and people watching. It was the first time I really discovered people watching.
Soter: My wife sent me a photo. She saw a Sony Walkman being sold at a store. Saying, “This is coming back. The cassette Walkman is coming back.”
Soter: I have a box of cassettes somewhere. I like it.
LRM: I blame Star-Lord.
Soter: Yeah. Exactly. That’s probably what it is. It’s probably Guardians of the Galaxy.
LRM: This brings me to one of my questions. Kevin, You were in Agent Carter…
Heffernan: I was, yeah.
Soter: He got the shit kicked out of him. Because he mouthed off-
Lemme: Because he mouthed off to Agent Carter.
LRM: Is there a role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe any of you would want to play?
Heffernan: Oh, there’s got to be.
Lemme: I hear Captain America is up for grabs.
LRM: Yeah? Captain America?I see it.
Soter: You know, he’s Chris Evans?
LRM: I see it! I see it.
Lemme: Maybe Nightcrawler from X-Men, I’m more of an Alan Cumming, I guess.
Soter: I fancy myself sort of a She-Hulk, you know?
Heffernan: She-Hulk? Never seen that in the X-Men.
Lemme: Kevin’s son has a crush on She-Hulk.
Soter: Does he, now?
Heffernan: He used to, yeah.
Soter: I thought she was just from the old timeline. Is she still around?
Heffernan: She-Hulk? Yeah, yeah, sure.
Lemme: She-Hulking around.
Heffernan: Yeah, She-Hulking around and around.
Lemme: She got around now cause she’ll be Hulking.
LRM: I’d watch it. While you’re here, will you guys be enjoying any of our local delicacies?
Lemme: You mean the Rocky Mountain Oysters, is that still a thing?
LRM: Yeah, that too. I do that a little too often.
Lemme: Do people get stoned and eat a ton of Rocky Mountain oysters?
LRM: I don’t think I can answer that question.
Soter: It could be like a specialty, like … smoking lounge and just Rocky Mountain oysters restaurant
LRM: Oh, I’m writing that down.
Soter: You can have that one, you can have that one. Yeah. I mean, it’s just pretty much everywhere we go people are always shoving product into our hands and our pockets. I mean you go back to your closet at home and you’re like finding grass that people snuck in your pants while you were meet … But Colorado, it takes up to another level. It’s kind of become a legal tender around here, isn’t it?
Soter: I mean it’s what…
LRM: Two years? Two to three years?
Soter: It’s what you give it.
Lemme: I mean we spend a lot of time in Denver, I was … Paul’s from here, I went to school in Colorado Springs. Kevin and I have done a lot of live shows and there was a marked changed in the vibe of Denver when weed got legalized.
Lemme: If you … Denver used to be, you know, Denver. Then it became kind of like the Wild West or like a new version of Austin, Texas. Cool place to visit.
LRM: Is that one of the reasons, your history in Colorado, why Beerfest is partially set here?
LRM: Your guys’ brewery was in Colorado?
Soter: Yeah, it was set in Colorado, yeah. But did we set it? It was always scripted that way, right?
Heffernan: Yeah. Yeah.
Soter: Okay. So we just like these guys to be good Colorado boys.
Heffernan: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I do–
Lemme: Truthfully, I mean we shot in Albuquerque.
LRM: Yeah. You don’t actually shoot in Colorado.
Lemme: I think we wanted to match the city to where we were and so … yeah we went Colorado.
Soter: Why is there no production in Colorado? Is there just no incentive?
LRM: We don’t have a good tax credit.
Heffernan: It’s too bad.
Soter: Beautiful state.
Heffernan: Sure. Never had a shoot?
Lemme: Shooting those Westerns, we could shoot a Western out here.
LRM: Hateful Eight was shot out here.
Soter: It was?
LRM: Even though that was set in Wyoming. But it was shot here. Yeah, the biggest use of the tax credit.
Soter: Where … Where were they?
LRM: I think by Telluride.
LRM: Just outside.
Soter: I love … I was telling these guys. I love that movie.
Lemme: And I love Telluride. Telluride’s great. Great city, when we’re in it.
LRM: So I read that you guys went through 37 drafts of Super Troopers 2?
Soter: Sounds about right.
LRM: Are there any giant plot points you’ve ever had to leave on the ground for either Super Troopers movie? Like an entirely different plot that was thrown out?
Soter: There was a whole sub-plot of Steve’s character that we removed from the second movie just because we had to cut 20 pages. But it was … we all looked at it and kind of went around and around. It was like, “Agh! We could shave some jokes out of everything, or just pull Mac’s sub-plot and save it for, hopefully, a Super Troopers 3.” So the upside is we’re well on our way for … you’re already written. You can phone it in for the rest of the way. ‘Cause Super Troopers 3, you’re all squared away.
Lemme: That’s not the way I operate. I’mma write jokes for everybody.
Heffernan: We’ve cut characters and things like that. I think once we’d settled on the plot for this thing … ’cause we cracked it before we started writing the script. So we just stayed with that plot.
Lemme: There’s always stuff. Like I just … literally at this moment, I’m thinking that we had a plot where we uncover a whole stash of elderly porn.
Soter: Oh, elder porn!
Lemme: Elder porn.
Soter: It was … yeah, yeah.
Lemme: Something that was being smuggled across state lines.
Heffernan: Oh, yeah.
Soter: Filthy Gilfs was one of the names of the magazines.
Soter: There was another. There were two magazine names. Yeah …
Lemme: There’s always stuff like that. That just doesn’t … you’re like, “I don’t know if it’s working.”
LRM: Is there a movie project that you guys just haven’t been able to get off the ground that you can talk about?
Soter: There are multiples. We’ve been developing stuff over the last 12, 15 years. And a lot of stuff that got developed but just never got greenlit. So beyond the hopes of being able to just either shoot another Super Troopers or shoot a Beerfest … There are other scripts that we’d love to…
Lemme: We had one based on a skit, a stage sketch that we did back in college in New York City that is kind of a bigger budget. We’ve come close to it. It’s about Socrates and Plato and Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. Ancient Greek comedy we’ve been wanting to do for a long time.
Heffernan: Sort of the sandal pic. That’s what they call it.
Soter: But it’s just one of those ones that’s always been just out of reach. And somewhat of, too … just the scale of it, because it was the Olympics. So you have gigantic scenes, and you had monsters and you had gods. But I feel like now, you could do so many things digitally. It’s amazing what people will do. Just a dude on his computer can do. So I think … I’ve got my fingers crossed, that’s now a movie that you could make for a lot less than we always thought than we could make it in the past. We’re not too old to play college students and gods, right?
Lemme: No. Right, right. We look good, don’t we?
LRM: Looking great!
Lemme: Thank you.
LRM: Speaking of Beerfest 2, would that still be Potfest? Or has the idea evolved into something else?
Heffernan: That is the big question, isn’t it?
LRM: I heard you guys are working on it.
Lemme: It seems like now more than ever it would be fun to do that since the cannabis culture is changing so rapidly, y’know you could have kind of an all-star, The Expendables of weed come together for a project.
Soter: “The Exstonedables?” That’s true, it went from being a joke to a thing that people started calling us about, to a thing that we were like… Oh, I guess we should do it. But we’ve gone back and forth and back and forth, but I feel like now what we hear when people come up and ask us about for a Beerfest sequel it tends to be about Potfest.
LRM: Did it start as just a joke? It wasn’t like, “We’re gonna go do this?”
Heffernan: Well yeah. We had Willie Nelson, we ended the movie with Willie Nelson and … That was the joke! But then it got legs, then it got legs.
Lemme: People took it seriously.
LRM: I always wonder about that with some of those teasers at the end of comedies.
Heffernan: It was never the intention.
Lemme: But Willie wants to do it, and Snoop Dogg already agreed to do it.
LRM: Really? So who is the rest of your Expendables dream cast? Or Exstonedables, or whatever.
Lemme: We’d want to go Cheech and Chong, ideally. And then, Bill Clinton and Michael Phelps. You know, your ‘Seth Rogens’ of the world.
LRM: Kevin Smith?
Lemme: Sure, and Martha Stewart.
LRM: Martha Stewart! Friends with Snoop.
Soter: Jim Breuer, good stoned guy.
LRM: I have a question about making stoner movies in general. Is that just your guys’ sense of humor, or do you set out to like … Super Troopers, growing up in high school and stuff, was very much stoner movie. You’re chugging the syrup, you do the meow game, and everything. Drink your liter of cola. Do you set out to make a stoner movie? Or is it more of just your guys’ sense of humor?
Lemme: I don’t think we did, no.
Heffernan: It’s definitely our sense of humor. I think our sense of humor lends itself well to the stoner thing. Whether it’s like quotable things, and also having a mixture of different kinds of comedy like high brow, low brow, physical comedy, wordplay, I think that that lends itself well to stoner comedies.
Lemme: Any comedy really, if it’s good it’s stoner material. Like Dumb and Dumber, I loved watching when I was really stoned. Our movies, we just happen to sometimes put weed into it and then it becomes a quote-on-quote stoner film. But we never set out to corner that market.
Heffernan: We didn’t set out to corner that market
Lemme: The opening scene of Super Troopers was based on a true story, but we loved the story, and it happens to have drugs in it. So I guess we just kind of led with that foot, and have never looked back.
LRM: You don’t see it very often, under writing credits, but you guys put your name together as Broken Lizard? I know you guys started this comedy group, but what kind of led to the decision to use that? Just to many names to list on the poster or?
Heffernan: Yeah, I think a little bit of that. And also, we try not to be in a situation where a guy is taking credit for what they wrote. Jokes that they wrote specifically, or whatever. It is a collective kind of writing thing, so that kind of enforces that idea I think.
Soter: Yeah, we want the audience to think of everything, more or less, that we do being done by the group. And for us, our biggest heroes were Monty Python, so it was like, let’s put that name out in front.
LRM: Steve and Kevin, I hear you guys both do a podcast together. Do jokes from that often make their way into your scripts? Any kind of banter in that end up making it into scripts?
Heffernan: Yeah, definitely man. It’s funny because a podcast allows us to kind of relive funny things that happen to us, and I feel like there are times when we recount stories and we think about it and kind of scroll it away. And we all have files, that we’re going to use for future projects and stuff like that.
Lemme: And we also have the Lizards on all the time. Who’s been on more, you or Jay?
Soter: I think I’ve been on four times, four or five times.
Lemme: And we have the group Broken Lizard on a couple times. Truthfully, at Broken Lizard we draw our material from everywhere. Whether or not we are sitting down to actually write, or we’re hanging out late night, not even thinking about the script and just riffing back and forth. So, wherever it happens is where we get it.
LRM: Are substances ever a part of the actual writing process, then? Get stoned and write something, or does that hurt your writing?
Lemme: It’s funny because we obviously have smoked quite a bit of pot in our lives, but we kind of come from different time where people didn’t really talk about it. Now, with the cannabis culture everyone is always asking that question and they want to take pictures of you smoking.
LRM: Well, we won’t do that. Not today.
Soter: I think people make the assumption that we get high all the time or whatever. For us, it was a strategic thing for brainstorming or some joke-writing, and we all smoked plenty of grass. Now that it is legalized in so many places, we’re approached by people who are like: “Of course you guys must be high all the time high, right now let me get you high and let’s go get high” and it’s a little bit like “Yeah, no we are actually also like middle-aged dudes too, just trying to function.”
Lemme: It’s never been mandatory, you know? I would actually say the majority of our meetings, if you looked at all of them, have not been while we’re smoking weed because you have to be coherent to think about certain aspects of filmmaking and screenwriting. Our general sessions, sure, we’ll get high and we’ll work for about an hour out of the five that we’re hanging out, if that.
LRM: What’s the main difference between doing IndieGoGo for funding versus like Fox Searchlight paying for it? Do you have more freedom?
Soter: Yeah, we ended up only getting a few creative notes from the studio, which makes things easy. It allowed us to write the movie the way we wrote the first one, which was decisions dictated by what made us laugh. But also, you feel like you’re part of this gigantic team because we had people come on from the start and it felt then like this really cool, interactive process where we could open up the curtain … Fans came to set, we gave fans an update on creatively what was going on, and editing and stuff like that.
Heffernan: It’s really hard, the connections with the fans.
Soter: Yeah. The difficult part is, you put in all those perks and then you’ve got to fulfill them, and that can be really labor intensive. But for us, it made the difference between not making the movie and making the movie so it’s amazing.
LRM: So preferably, if you could make it, you’d rather have the studio do it than do Indiegogo again?
Soter: Well, things move quicker when the studio just writes you a check, and you’re like, “Okay, let’s go!” As opposed to this was honestly a very long, long process.
LRM: Why Super Troopers now? I’ve read some of the press stuff that you guys wanted to explore other characters in the meantime, but there was a main reason why 2018, or you guys started in 2016, is the time that you bring back Super Troopers guys?
Heffernan: We’ve been trying to do it for a while, so I don’t think it was pinpointed in terms of time, but even before we did the Indiegogo campaign which was 2015, we had been trying to get funding for it and trying to get the studio to do it. On and off writing it. I think it all just came together at this point. But it seemed like there was an appetite, surely our fans wanted us to revisit, so I think that was the impetus for…
Lemme: We would’ve done it sooner if we could have, but I think the studio and financiers had all kind of felt that the fans had moved on. And that was the nice thing about the Indiegogo campaign, was that it actually showed them that they were still there. And it also gave us the money to make the movie.
LRM: I haven’t seen the movie yet–
Heffernan: It’s great, it’s great!
LRM: It’s great? You mean it lives up to the original? It’s not Anchorman 2 or Zoolander 2? That’s always the worry.
Heffernan: No, that’s the nice thing, is that we’ve done, whatever, fifteen, sixteen, screenings now in the last three weeks and they’re all fantastic and people love it. It’s way better than if it was the other way around.
LRM: Looking forward to seeing it after this.
Lemme: You’ll like it.
LRM: Well, thanks guys!
Soter: Thank you!
Lemme: Thanks, appreciate it.
Heffernan: Good meeting you!
LRM: Good seeing you! Obviously been a fan for a very long time.
And that was that. Now, go see the movie! At a later Q&A, the Lizards made it clear the future projects we discussed can only happen if you see Super Troopers 2 this opening weekend. So, go now!
Super Troopers 2 is currently in theaters.