The iconic popularity of those incessant "I'm a Mac, and I'm a PC" television ads have been part blessing, part curse for actor Justin Long. While they have certainly offered an entirely new level of exposure, they've also tended to overshadow Long's scene-stealing work in movies like Live Free or Die Hard and Zack and Miri Make a Porno. You also have to wonder how many times he gets approached by Mac nerds asking him to explain what the heck that spinning color wheel means?
Long's latest role in He's Just Not That Into You may well be the most demanding part of his career. Instead of playing the comic relief, his character Alex is pretty far removed from the roles of Long's past.
We sat down with Long recently at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles to discuss his transition from jokester to romantic leading man.
ReelzChannel: Have you read the book He's Just Not That Into You?
Long: No. [Laughs] I'm not that firm a believer in any sort of rules or outlines when you're talking about something as ambiguous and case-by-case as relationships.
I think there's definitely something to be said for them. There are people who can definitely benefit from them and people who are not seeing the obvious. But a lot of this stuff just seems self-explanatory to me. I think that's the role that your friends should provide, if it comes to that.
RC: The movie does a good job of showing a number of examples of the crazy things we all do in relationships.
Long: I know. I found some truth in all these storylines. There wasn't one that I wasn't able to relate to. And that's a testament to the writing, as well. I knew of the book and, just by its very nature, it seems like it's a difficult book to adapt, just the format of it. So Marc [Silverstein] and Abby [Kohn] more or less worked from scratch. The fact that they were able to create nine engaging storylines is really something.
RC: Your character undergoes the biggest change of all the characters in the movie.
Long: Yeah, I was able to equally identify with both the beginning and the end of that character. I think by the end he's found his bliss. There was a time in my life where I found mine and I knew what that felt like. I've also known what it was like to be a bit more detached emotionally and guarded, which breeds cynicism. It also enables you to be very rational and realistic when it comes to giving advice to your friends. And that's the function that he provides throughout most of the movie. So it wasn't difficult to figure that guy out.
RC: Alex is a very different character than we usually see from you.
Long: They had been more interested in me for the Conor role. When I read the script, Alex was somebody that I don't often get the opportunity to play. I kind of threw it out there and [producer Nancy Juvonen] was receptive to the idea of me playing that character. That was a huge part of my decision. I identified with that guy and it's not something that people see me do. It was a no-brainer.
RC: You don't get many chances to be funny as Alex.
Long: No. As much as I love playing those characters, and as much as I'm physically suited to those characters, it was nice to be able to do something a bit more assertive and, maybe, a bit more grown up. He's a bit more flawed, too. There was some really good writing with that character.