January 21, 2008
By Oscar Pascual
Although the brilliant television series lasted only 18 episodes, Freaks and Geeks reunion Q&A moderator Patton Oswalt put it best during the introduction of the panel. “It’s like the best 18-hour indie film ever made,” said Oswalt.
The cast of the short-lived but ultimately satisfying series were then welcomed by the fervent cheers from a packed audience of maladjusted souls who could relate with the show. The accurate depiction of the awkward social atmosphere known as high school rang true for those caught in the middle, who weren’t sports athletes but weren’t exactly GATE students either.
Oswalt then began the round of questions himself, which revealed that the effectiveness of the show’s emotion was due to its true sincerity in that the show was entirely autobiographical from experiences creator Paul Feig, his writers and cast went through. Feig explained that he had everyone write down all their most humiliating high school moments, no matter how emotionally scarring, and manifested the best (or worst) events on screen. “Everything on the show were incidents that all happened,” said Feig.
Actor Linda Cardellini, who played main Freak Lindsay Weir, galvanized this fact, explaining when she would act certain scenes she felt were so incredulous that she couldn’t believe they actually happened. “I would see the sadness in Paul’s eyes and realize it was the truth,” she said, which gave way to the sympathetic groans and laughter of the audience.
Some of the painful yet hilarious moments from the show were then connected to the contributors. Feig once purchased an atrociously tacky leisure suit much like the powder blue “Parisian Night Suit” that John Francis Daley’s character, Sam Weir, bought to impress Cindy Sanders. Actor Samm Levine provided insight on his Geek character Neil Schweiber’s passion for ventriloquism, which was modeled after Judd Apatow’s child dream of stand-up comedy. “I didn’t want to be good at it, because Judd wasn’t good [at stand-up],” said Levine.
After fielding questions from the audience, the panel suggested what could have been if the series had continued. Apparently Martin Starr’s Geek character Bill Haverchuck could have fallen to the jock dark side by joining the basketball team and leaving his former geek friends behind. There was a possibility Lindsay would have come back home from the Grateful Dead show pregnant, to the fury of her parents. Levine said he wanted to push for his character Neil to lose his virginity before the other geeks, leading to him constantly rubbing it in, but Feig interjected in spite of Levine by saying, “The show could’ve gone for eight more years and I’d still have Neil be a virgin.”
The cast then went on to reveal behind-the-scenes drama such as Cardellini fearing the end of her life after doctors told her she had a mass on her pancreas from a snowboarding accident, which fueled the emotion for her tears during a scene when Lindsay’s friend Millie buries her dead dog. Actor Busy Philipps then told a story of her feud with actor James Franco, which erupted when Franco shoved her to the ground while filming a scene. Don’t worry, they’re friends now. The absent Franco texted her before the show saying how he wanted to be there, but couldn’t due to conflicts with production of the new Harvey Milk biopic.
The absence of Franco sparked the question of where the other cast and crew members were. The show served as a stepping stone for the recent successes of actor/writer Seth Rogen and writer/director Judd Apatow. Levine informed us that Rogen is on the set of Kevin Smith’s upcoming film, Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Afterwards, Starr told us what Apatow is up to.
“He’s off somewhere counting 250 million dollars. He does it every week,” said Starr.