Justin Bartha Talks Holy Rollers, Hangover 2

Published: June 10th 2010
in Culture » Movies

Justin Bartha goes 'frum' in "Holy Rollers"
Pic: First Independent Pictures
"Holy Rollers" poster
Pic: First Independent Pictures
"The Hangover" poster featuring Justin Bartha
Pic: Warner Bros.

When Justin Bartha received the Holy Rollers script from pal Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland), he was interested in the movie right off the bat. Not only did he remember hearing about Hasidic drug dealers in the New York press back in the late '90s, but Bartha also saw the movie as a perfect opportunity to work in a character-driven film.


“These are the types of movies, these little character-based films, that I have always aspired to be in and be a part of,” shares Bartha. "So to get a chance to do it was a lot of fun.”


Bartha and Eisenberg were looking for a project they could both get involved with and Holy Rollers – opening in Toronto and Montreal on June 18 – just happened to be that film. “Anything that [Eisenberg] sends me I take a look at, he has great taste,” says Bartha. “And he thought it would be good to make it and both of us could take on and shape it into something that was a very interesting character study. We kind of just went for it.”


In the film Bartha plays Yosef, a drug dealer from a Hasidic New York family. As a character, Yosef is as far as you can get from his quirky role in the National Treasure movies. To prepare for the part, Bartha – who is Jewish – spent as much time as possible observing Hasidic neighbourhoods.


It also helped that he once lived above a Hasidic family in a Los Angeles duplex. “They were fairly similar to the family that I’m a part of in Holy Rollers. They were a bit of a tumultuous family so it would keep me awake at night and I couldn’t help but eavesdrop sometimes,” he admits.


Bartha has been in some pretty high-budget films, including Jerry Bruckheimer’s National Treasure and last summer's hit comedy The Hangover. While the 31-year-old says the main differences between a blockbuster studio movie and an indie film are time and budget (Holy Rollers was made in just over 18 days), there were definitely advantages to being in an independent movie like Holy Rollers. “These types of stories aren’t told in bigger movies so it’s a great chance to just do something more personal,” shares Bartha.


He hopes Holy Rollers makes audiences think. “I hope they are interested in the characters,” he says. “It’s very much a character piece and hopefully Jesse and I did our jobs enough so people do really get involved with what these characters are going through and the choices that they make through each other and how that affects them.”


The young actor is best known for his role opposite Nicolas Cage in National Treasure – at least to moviegoers under the age of 18. He says a third installment of the family action movie is already in the works.


“Jerry Bruckheimer, the producer of those, and Jon Turteltaub are not gonna make a movie until they think they have a really great script and everyone back,” reveals Bartha.


For fans 18 and older, Bartha is probably best known for his co-starring role in the Golden Globe-winning comedy The Hangover.


“The main guys and Todd Phillips, the director – they’re so talented and they are such a pleasure to work with. so my favourite part of that movie is just getting to work with all of those great people,” shares the actor.


He says he would love to see Mike Tyson return for the second movie. “He’s such a sweet guy, he’s great to have around. No one screws with you when you have Mike Tyson around,” jokes Bartha.


The actor has quite the elaborate list of people (and creatures) he’d like to see make appearances in The Hangover 2. “Will Smith, the creatures in Avatar, Barack Obama, all of the Twilight vampires and werewolf kids, Elvis – anyone really popular that gets people to watch movies,” he says.

Related articles: (Justin Bartha, Holy Rollers, The Hangover, Hangover 2, National Treasure 3)
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