The Lonely Island Dish On Bieber & 1D
Although many people might assume that the music star portrayed in the Lonely Island's new movie Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a parody of Justin Bieber, actor Andy Samberg tells Bustle that this isn't entirely the case. "Conner is no one person," says the actor, speaking of the character he plays in the film. He adds, though, that he understands people's hesitance to separate his trouble-making superstar from the "Sorry" singer. Says Samberg, "I think we’re getting a lot of Bieber comparison because of the movie title and because the marketing has really pushed it in that direction. But for us going in, we were not really looking at it that way, especially because he [Conner] is a rapper."
Conner isn't the only rapper in the movie, though. Hunter the Hungry, an up-and-coming hip hop star, is another character whose persona might seem familiar to fans of a certain Life of Pablo artist. Yet according to Samberg, any similarities Hunter shares with Kanye West are perfectly coincidental. "We didn’t even think about Hunter as Kanye that much, but I guess I could see that now that you say it," Samberg says. Interjects his co-star Jorma Taccone, "No, he’s a little more Tyler the Creator, and that camp."
Akiva Schaffer, meanwhile, says that some of the inspirations for Popstar 's characters didn't come from any one person. "The young skateboarder, kind of pop future, like anarchist, also even just young Eminem" all inspired some of the movie's characters, says Schaffer. "Like, the kind of rappers that just come out of the gate being like, 'My thing is I don’t give a f*ck, and that’s what you’re gonna know me as,' and then as they get popular, they try to hold onto that 'can’t give a f*ck,' but it’s very hard to hold onto that when you start becoming very rich and getting opportunities."
Adds Samberg, "It’s like the same as any successful punk band, where like, what you stand for is anarchy but then you get really successful."
Overall, Samberg says, both Conner and Hunter are "almagams of everyone in that sphere [in the music industry]." He adds that there are actually only two specific references to Bieber in the film; one involving an incident at the Anne Frank house and one involving a video of Conner drumming as a baby. He's far from the only A-list singer mentioned in the movie. "The wardrobe change is from Katy Perry," Schaeffer reveals, discussing one particularly memorable scene. "She does that wardrobe change onstage. And the way Andy talks when he talks quiet, we were trying to do Alicia Keys." Adds Samberg with a laugh, "Mixed with everyone we went to high school with in the Bay Area."
It's clear that the main characters draw characteristics from many sources. Even One Direction seems to have inspired the band in a way. Samberg mentions that the trio watched many music documentaries in preparation for the movie, including One Direction: This is Us. The star says that the doc helped make it clear why people become so obsessed with boy bands. "Everyone knows about One Direction," Samberg says. "And I would say, we were kind of in the camp of like, we didn’t really want to [know about them], but then we watched the One Direction documentary and we were like “Oh, they’re kind of charming. I kind of love them.”
There's a hilarious reference to 1D in the movie, too: in one scene, Conner's DJ sidekick (played by Taccone) appears onstage wearing a giant helmet in the style of deadmau5, and in an aside, Simon Cowell comments that he wishes he'd thought of the same helmet idea for Zayn Malik, saying, "We could have kept him in One Direction for years!"
All in all, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping pulls from many different figures to create a riotous parody of the music industry. But there are still plenty of music stars left to poke fun at, if The Lonely Island decided that Popstar is just the first of many movies to come from the trio. The guys laugh at the suggestion of another film, making jokes about how they could write a "seven-to-10 part movie series" à la J.K Rowling, but ultimately, "No, is the answer," says Taccone. Adds Samberg, "we never expect anything to work."
If Popstar is a success, though, and the trio gets proven wrong, then hopefully, more Lonely Island-made movies will be on the way soon.