Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari play buddies in the comedy “30 Minutes or Less,” but in real life, their backgrounds are about as different as could be.
Take work experience, for example. Most actors have to wait on tables or do other odd jobs to pay the bills while they chase what can be a very elusive career. Not Eisenberg.
“I started doing children’s theater when I was 8 and started working as a professional actor when I was 14, so I didn’t have to do any odd jobs,” Eisenberg says.
Ansari could have offered Eisenberg some menial-job tips.
Long before being cast as Tom Haverford on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” Aziz worked as a dishwasher and table-side cook in a Japanese restaurant.
They caught their acting bugs in different ways too.
Eisenberg’s mother worked as a party clown in New York and New Jersey, while Ansari took the stand-up comedy route while attending New York University.
“I always enjoyed telling stories, so when I heard about an open mic comedy night, it sounded like something I would enjoy,” Ansari says.
Both have comedy, but not much else, in common on their resumes.
Eisenberg made his screen debut in the TV series “Get Real” in 1999 and followed that with comedies like “Zombieland” and dramas like “The Education of Charlie Banks” and “The Social Network,” the film that earned him an Oscar nomination.
Ansari’s acting career is loaded with comedy, including “Reno 911,” “The Flight of the Conchords” and “Get Him to the Greek.” Plus, the South Carolina native continues to perform stand-up.
Somehow their differences turned into real comedic chemistry in “30 Minutes or Less.” They had a lot of freedom to improvise, and they ran with the opportunity.
“We were told that there were no bad ideas,” Ansari says.
The best example is a scene where they get into a fight. Their pugilistic skills are reminiscent of kittens pawing each other, and Eisenberg says that improvised clumsiness adds to the comedy.
Now that they’ve had three months filming together, they say they’d consider a sequel to “30 Minutes or Less.” That will have to wait, though. Ansari has another season of his NBC comedy, and Eisenberg is finishing the Woody Allen movie “Bop Decameron” in Italy and then will see his play “Asuncion” presented by New York’s Rattlestick Playwrights Theater.