'Neighbors' baby was played by Andy Serkis, filmmakers joke

The Seth Rogen-Zac Efron movie opens Friday.
By Karen Butler  |  May 6, 2014 at 10:50 AM
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NEW YORK, May 6 (UPI) -- The creative brains behind Neighbors joked that the adorable baby featured in their raunchy, new big-screen comedy was actually played by Andy Serkis, the performance-capture artist famous for imbuing animated characters with human qualities in The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, King Kong and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Director Nicholas Stoller and producer Evan Goldberg riffed about the casting at a press conference last weekend after UPI asked them how they found the girl -- who plays Seth Rogen's and Rose Byrne's infant daughter Stella in the film -- then convinced her real-life parents to allow her to appear in some pretty outrageous situations.

"She's a visual effect. It's a $10 million baby," Stoller deadpanned.

"It was Andy Serkis," interjected Goldberg, who was sitting beside Stoller. "That's what we should have done. That's the big reveal -- Stella IS Andy Serkis!"

"He did a lot of [acting like a baby,] covered in [motion-capture] dots," the director quipped, before answering the question more seriously. "It was very lucky that we found her. There were two of them. Their names are Zoey and Elise [Vargas.] As you direct more movies and get more work, you are able to be more blunt with people. I went into the trailer and I said to the parents, I was like, 'Just so you know, in this film ...' And the dad said, 'The baby eats a condom; we're fine with it.' And because we are essentially telling, I think, and maybe something is wrong with my brain, but a sweet story, I think the parents understood that. They understood what we were going for."

Co-starring Jerrod Carmichael, Zac Efron, Dave Franco, Lisa Kudrow and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Neighbors opens nationwide Friday. It is about a married couple who wage war on the college fraternity brothers who set up house next door and wreak havoc on the neighborhood with their non-stop partying.

Goldberg and Rogen previously collaborated on This is the End, Pineapple Express, Knocked Up and Superbad. Stoller's film credits include Muppets Most Wanted, The Five-Year Engagement, The Muppets, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek.

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