South by Southwest has a storied tradition of launching studio comedies into the box-office stratosphere—from “Knocked Up” to “Bridesmaids,” “Trainwreck” and “Spy.” On Saturday night, SXSW 2019 most likely found the next underdog hit to add to this esteemed class.
“Long Shot” is the story of a secretary of state, Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), who plans to launch a presidential campaign, but she needs a speechwriter to show off her less serious side. Rather than choosing someone experienced, she hires the boy that she used to babysit (Seth Rogen), who until recently had worked as an investigative journalist at a Brooklyn newspaper. “Long Shot” plays like “Veep” and had a baby with “Notting Hill,” and it quickly won over the Austin crowd. That’s encouraging news for Lionsgate, the studio distributing “Long Shot,” which will release the movie into theaters on May 3.
At the premiere, Rogen–who has a long history with SXSW that also includes “Neighbors” and “The Disaster Artist”–had a surprise in store for the audience. But first, the Q&A started with an unusual confession.
“I don’t want to talk,” said the film’s director Jonathan Levine. “I’m too drunk.”
“I don’t know why I have a mic,” Theron chimed in a few minutes later. “I’m drunk too!”
The role is a departure for Theron, who easily keeps up with Rogen’s comedic punches. “I usually die in my movies or kill people in my movies or get assaulted,” said Theron, who also produced the picture with Rogen. “This is not my wheelhouse, but I’ve been like a sincere fan of Seth Rogen’s. I’ve watched everything that he’s touched and never in a million years did I ever think I would be in a movie with him, so I’m hashtag blessed.”
She was drawn to the idea of doing something completely new. “I’m always looking to do different things, because I get bored,” Theron said. “And this was challenging for me. I had a horrible fear that I’d be in a Seth Rogen movie and be the girl that stands there. Everyone involved in this gave me their word they would create a character that meant something. And they fucking kept their word.”
The night ended with Rogen introducing Boyz II Men, the R&B band that makes an appearance in the film, for a live performance. They sang two of their biggest ’90s hits, “Motownphilly” and “I’ll Make Love You,” while throwing roses out to the crowd. Theron and Rogen danced onstage the entire time, more proof that SXSW is unlike any other film festival out there.