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Exclusive pre-show interview with Jonah Hill and Spike Jonze

Tonight marked Karlie Kloss's acting debut as she joined Elle Fanning in Opening Ceremony's Spike Jonze and Jonah Hill written play – get the exclusive here

Tonight in New York, Spike Jonze and Jonah Hill staged their first play, entitled 100% Lost Cotton, at the Metropolitan Opera House. A humorous comment on the fashion industry, the one-act play also functioned as New York brand Opening Ceremony's SS15 runway show, and featured famous faces such as Karlie Kloss, Elle Fanning and Rashida Jones. Read an exclusive interview – included in the play's program – between Jonze, Hill and Opening Ceremony co-founder Humberto Leon below, and check out a post-show interview and our show report here.

Spike Jonze and Jonah Hill are two of this generation’s most influential voices in cinema. Jonze, who got his start creating skateboarding and music videos, has gone from downtown visionary to canonical writer and director, winning the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his film, her. Hill, who made us laugh with his roles in Judd Apatow comedies, has since moved us to tears with poignant performances in The Wolf of Wall Street and Moneyball. Their latest project, 100% Lost Cotton, co-written by the pair and directed by Jonze, marks the first time either helms a theatrical production. A week before rehearsals began the duo chatted with Opening Ceremony’s Humberto Leon to discuss stage debuts, the transition from cinema to theatre, and the unadulterated fun of working with friends.

Humberto Leon: Hey, playwrights!

Jonah Hill: So, this interview is for our [show program]?

Spike Jonze: This is for our [program], since playwrights have [programs].

Jonah Hill: So sick! That’s the one thing I asked for.

Spike Jonze: That is the one thing Jonah wanted. He said, “If we do this, the only thing I want is a [program].” We’re official.

Humberto Leon: Let’s talk about how this began. How did the project get going?

Spike Jonze: It came up in Humberto’s living room four or five months ago. He was telling me about Kenzo’s Fall/Winter 2014 show. He watched 15 David Lynch films over the course of two weeks. It inspired him to get into David Lynch’s mentality, and then he designed a whole line of clothes as if he were actually David Lynch, and he got the actual David Lynch to design the set and music of the Kenzo show.

Jonah Hill: Oh, that’s so cool.

Spike Jonze: So I said, “I want to do a fashion show for you. What if we did a one-act play as your show?”

Humberto Leon: Then I kept pushing. I asked, “Where would the play take place?” Spike said, “It would take place at the Met.”

Spike Jonze: That was one of the first ideas I had. Before I even knew what the story was, I just wanted it to take place at the Metropolitan Opera House.

Jonah Hill: I told my grandma what I’m working on. I was like, “I’m writing a play with my friend.” She said, “That’s so nice.” And I said, “Yeah, it’s at the Metropolitan Opera House.” She was like, “What the fuck?!”

Spike Jonze: It’s insane; it’s at the Met. The funny thing... My brother [Sam Spiegel] is doing the music, and when we were kids, he sang in the children’s choir for the Metropolitan Opera. And then, I did the video for Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You,” and we got to perform at the Met during the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards.

Jonah Hill: That was the Torrance community dance theatre.

Spike Jonze: Hell yeah! It’s a group. Actually, it’s the Torrance Community Dance Group. It’s not dance theatre. Please get that right, Jonah!

Jonah Hill: My bad, my bad, my bad.

Spike Jonze: And I went to high school a block away from there, too, on 63rd Street. It really does feel just like the Drake song – I’m going home.

Jonah Hill: Yeah, and you started from the bottom.

Spike Jonze: That’s right.

Humberto Leon: What did you think, Jonah, when Spike first came to you with this idea?

Jonah Hill: Spike and I have been friends a long time...

Spike Jonze: We were connected through Jason Schwartzman. It’s funny, because Jonah, I know you through Jason and I know Humberto through him, as well.

“Humberto, it would be so great if the play was so horrible that you decided not to do it because it would embarrass your fashion line. [Laughs] And then all that’s left of it is this interview.” – Jonah Hill

Jonah Hill: For those of you who are reading this – Jason has a lot of friends. He happens to be the nicest person on Earth.

Spike Jonze: He is. Maybe we should dedicate this play to Jason, since he was the one who brought us all together.

Jonah Hill: Great. We can give him a flower at the end of the show or something.

Spike Jonze: Well, in the [program] we’ll just say, “Let’s take a moment to dedicate this play to Jason Schwartzman.” Okay?

Jonah Hill: Okay, great idea.

Spike Jonze: We just did it, so now keep going.

Jonah Hill: But back to your question, Humberto. My first response was, “That sounds great.” I like Opening Ceremony, I know Humberto, and I live near the store in New York. I couldn’t end up being in it, but we had been talking about it and I really wanted to write with Spike. It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had.

Spike Jonze: That was really fun doing it with you. And now we’re actual playwrights together!

Jonah Hill: It’s been so cool to see it evolve. A dude’s head literally got chopped off in the first incarnation. Now, it’s this really emotional play about two people.

Elle Fanning & Dree Hemingway play models in 100% #LostCotton 👯 "You can't go around in the fashion world asking who people are."

Spike Jonze: Hopefully it’s emotional. And Jonah, you’re a really good writer.

Jonah Hill: So are you. Like an amazing one. If only there was some public way the world could acknowledge how talented of a writer you are. Essentially, the one thing that I want to say about any of this is that we talk about how all of this shit – we used to do for fun. Like, we used to just do it, and this is the first time in a long time that I’ve felt we were doing a project for the fun of it – to make something together with cool people.

Spike Jonze: That’s what the plot is about – and that’s what the [Opening Ceremony] collection is about. When things were more simple and you did things just for fun with your friends. [Laughs] How did that happen?! You’re going to come out on Sunday for it?

Jonah Hill: Fuck yeah. I got a tux.

Spike Jonze: It’s like a Broadway premiere!

Jonah Hill: I know! And I feel like I’m going to read this interview and cringe because I’ve been overly sincere. But I am so excited. I’ll share one story that was funny that I was telling my friend recently. We did a table read in LA. Spike and I read the two main characters, Humberto and Brian, and someone was asking me how it went, and I said, “I think it went really well. But, Spike and I were reading the main characters, so we suck, but we’re going to have real actors playing the parts.” And my friend said, “I don’t think you’re listening to what you’re saying.”

Spike Jonze: We were so deep in the headspace of being playwrights.

Jonah Hill: And I was like, “Yo, it’s so shitty because Spike and I were playing the two guys,” so it wasn’t good, you know?

Humberto Leon: I was telling Spike when I saw the table reading that it was so cool to see this thing kind of come to life. It felt like there was heart and soul.

Jonah Hill: It must be super surreal for you, Humberto. What’s it like to read and watch a play in which you are a character?

Humberto Leon: It’s funny – I’m probably as sentimental as he is, but there are so many parts that are exaggerated versions of me. It’s kind of like the evil me.

Spike Jonze: You fantasize of being that much of a maniac.

Humberto Leon: Has this process made you guys want to write or direct other plays?

Spike Jonze: I’d love to do a musical one day – a theatre musical. This is my first time ever doing theatre, so it’s a little bit of just getting my feet wet.

Humberto Leon: And Jonah, you’d want to write more plays?

Jonah Hill: Oh my god! Now I want to write all the time. This is the first play I’ve written, but actually, I studied playwriting in the two semesters I was at college at New School. So I literally haven’t written a one-act play since I was 18.

Humberto Leon: What would you guys say is the difference between writing a play and writing a movie?

Spike Jonze: I talked to Matt Weiner right when we started. He created Mad Men, and also happens to be an amazing playwright. I asked him what the difference is in writing for the screen versus for theatre. One was there’s no close-ups in theatre, so everything has to play from farther away, as if it were in a head-to-toe shot. Blocking becomes very important. And monologues work really well in theatre. The other thing he said was that, sometimes, if you want the audience to hear something important, you have to say it twice. So I told Jonah that was basically all we had!

Jonah Hill: Coming from an actor’s perspective, what I love in theatre is, you can have a 20-minute scene of two people talking. With film, aesthetically, you would probably go for more locations and visuals. The urgency to quickly edit and move to different things feels less necessary. Wouldn’t you say, Spike?

Spike Jonze: I think that’s true. I can’t tell yet. Next week, we’re going to start rehearsing. I’m so curious what that’s like, because normally at this point, I’d be like, “What dialogue should we cut? How do we shorten this thing?” But maybe that’s just a filmmaker’s paranoia.

Jonah Hill: Humberto, it would be so great if the play was so horrible that you decided not to do it because it would embarrass your fashion line. [Laughs] And then all that’s left of it is this interview.

It's @karliekloss' acting debut 🌟💫 "Karlie's been around forever. She's in her late, early twenties." – @dreelouise in 100% #LostCotton

Check out Opening Ceremony's SS15 collection below: