It took only two scenes in Knocked Up for Charlyne Yi to become an instantly recognizable movie personality. Even for those who have never seen the name surely remember the face: A stoned, giggly brunette, squinting through her glasses, asking a pregnant Katherine Heigl if she ever gets mad that her baby steals her food.
She was a hilarious supporting player back then, and now Yi is back — a little less stoned and even more likable — opposite Michael Cera in the trippy docu-romance Paper Heart, opening August 7. A quirky audience favorite at this year's Sundance Film Festival, Paper Heart begins as a purported documentary, following Yi — a stand-up comedian by trade — as she hits the road, questioning people's beliefs about true love. But her life quickly comes to parallel her art, as she develops a crush for Cera and their relationship emerges as an integral piece of the movie.
Ever since its debut, speculation has swirled: How much of "Paper Hearts" was staged? How much was real? Are Yi and Cera a real couple (the celebrity rumor mill says they just recently broke up)? The L Magazine put these pressing questions to Yi herself.
The L: Your film premiered at Sundance way back in January; what has it been like to live with this movie for the better part of a year?
Charlyne Yi: I'm in the middle of the press tour now, and it's a little daunting. I almost feel on the verge of a nervous breakdown — hearing my own voice for 12 hours straight, giving the same answers. I almost wish I could change my answer each time, just to spice things up.
I've actually been living with this film since February of 2008, and then we re-edited the film after Sundance this February, so it's like we never left it. It's exciting, though, because we have no idea where the future of this film is headed. Originally, we thought the film would go straight to DVD, maybe showing at two theaters, like most independents. But then from there, we made it into Sundance, and Overture picked it up, and now suddenly we're going from two to sixty theaters. It's pretty exciting.
The L: I've actually started reading several online rumors about you and Michael Cera being romantically connected. True?
CY: I think that's sort of weird. He had the same thing with Ellen Page, with Juno, because there was that romance on the screen. But no, we're just friends. To see "Charlyne and Michael" printed places, and then to see us in the movie, it makes things even more confusing and weird. People literally don't believe me when I say it's not true. But then, I've also read things online that said I was a cougar and 33 years old. Michael sent that one to me, which was hilarious: Carlyne's a 33-year-old cougar. So there's obviously a lot of BS out there.