'Superbad' Buddies Thrive on Put-Downs

You can tell how much Superbad stars Michael Cera and Jonah Hill love each other by how much they hate on each other.

In Hollywood, no matter how grueling the working relationship or how much bad blood has been spilled or how many screaming matches broke out on set, everyone always pretends to be best buddies when it comes time to release the movie. The horror stories leak out later -- after the box office receipts are collected.

So when two young actors spend the afternoon relentlessly taunting each other throughout a miniature golf game and trading brutal insults over french fries and nachos afterward, it's a safe bet they truly like each other.

That's just how guys are.

"Every girlfriend I've ever had has said when she's hung around with me and my friends from high school, 'If I didn't know you guys, I would assume you all hated each other, because I can't believe how you talk to each other,' " says Hill, the heavy-set, heavy talker of the duo.

That's how Hill and Cera are with each other. Consider this exchange when the two were discussing their promotional tour:

Hill: "They just did a piece on me on Nightline."

Cera: "I thought it was To Catch a Predator, right?"

When the Superbad actors and filmmakers were signing posters for each other recently, Hill said almost every scribbled note was riddled with profane put-downs.

"And these are now my best friends in the world because of this whole crazy experience," Hill says. "I guess that's our way of saying, 'Hey, I love you. I'm proud of you.' "

"I don't know why that is," adds Cera, who says he and Hill have never fought.

"Is that what they call fear of intimacy?" Hill asks.

Cera bobs his head, as if that seems right. "I have that," he says cheerfully, as if it's a baseball card to be traded. "I have that fear!"

There is an older-brother feeling about Hill, 24, as he hangs around with Cera, 19, who has the skinny frame of someone who could suffer serious damage if the playful barbs ever did turn into a brawl.

In Superbad, opening today, they play characters similar to their real-life personalities: Hill is a loudmouth high school senior, and Cera is his sensitive, soft-spoken best friend. Both are unlucky in love and hope to score some beer (and score with some girls) before their adolescence officially ends.

The actors have built strong credits in their young careers, but Superbad is the film poised to establish them as stars. Cera was Jason Bateman's perennially baffled son George Michael Bluth on Fox's decadent family cult hit Arrested Development, and Hill has appeared in small roles in I (Heart) Huckabees, Click and Knocked Up.

Superbad was produced by Judd Apatow, who made The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, and Seth Rogen (not coincidentally, the star of Knocked Up) wrote the screenplay with his friend Evan Goldberg.

In the story, an Odyssean journey ensues as the boys engage in various ploys around town to round up some kind of alcoholic beverage to bring to the year's last cool party.

The film is unapologetically raunchy but surprisingly sweet-natured as it tests the bonds of their friendship. The question of whether the girls who invited them to the party did so simply because of their genuine personalities transforms the teenage beer run into an existential crisis.

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