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The Daily “Grind”: Thrashing with Mike Vogel and Jennifer Morrison

Casey La Scala fills his laid back road-trip-by-way-of-the-skate-park teen comedy Grind with so many celebrity cameos, there’s hardly room for his cast. But one look at the lovely Jennifer Morrison, who plays love interest for head skate rat Mike Vogel, and you’ll understand why La Scala made room. The two stars have bigger and better things on the horizon. He dies a truly horrible death in the upcoming Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. ‘I will just say that it’s unwatchable,’ said Vogel. ‘People get up to leave before my scene. Rest assured that I go down in style.’ She stars in Surviving Christmas, a holiday comedy headlined by Ben Affleck. Before they take over your local Cineplex, Vogel and Morrison put down their Atticus T-shirts and Simple Plan CDs and answer a few questions for filmcritic.com.

filmcritic.com: It’s been said that Grind director Casey La Scala was a skater in his youth. Be honest, does he have skills?

Jennifer Morrison: Oh yeah, absolutely. He was always on his skateboard.

Mike Vogel: With his dog.

Did he make it to the half-pipes at all?

MV: He did. He would push around the verve and the street course. He wasn’t doing anything crazy, but it’s not every day that you see your director whizzing by you, going down a quarter-pipe.

Tom Green’s another accomplished skater. Did he ever take over the set with his board tricks?

MV: Actually, he didn’t. Tom was only there for one day, and his scene was filmed inside of a skate shop. He came in just to do that part, which we were very grateful for. But I know that he’s tied in with the whole Birdhouse team, and all of Tony Hawk’s boys. He goes on tour with them quite often.

Who got more respect on the set, the legendary comedians making cameos or the legions of skate pros you guys had in the backgrounds of scenes?

JM: It was a combination of mutual respect going around. Everybody was bringing something different to the table, and everyone was in awe of each other’s talents. Guys like Randy Quaid and Tom Green made these huge appearances, and the cast and skaters were honored and excited to meet them. But at the same time, they all were impressed, amazed, and awed by what the pro skaters were doing. They’d be behind the monitors whenever we were doing scenes and would scream, ‘Oh my gosh, how do you guys do that?’

Okay, fess up. Who suffered the worst skate-related injury between takes?

MV: Actually, nobody got hurt. Everybody seems to want us to get hurt. (Laughs) Why is that?

JM: We came out of it unscathed. Vince Vieluf (who plays Matt in the film) screwed around a lot. His skateboard was flying in every direction at all times. He was a constant potential hazard. The only thing I can think of is when Joey (Kern) kind of fell.

MV: Joey scraped his hands up, and the stunt coordinator made it seem like he had lost both of his arms.

JM: The stunt coordinator came to my door and was all serious, saying, ‘I just want you to know, I just met with Joey. We’ve wrapped up his hands. We don’t want this to get out. Don’t tell anyone.’ He made this whole big deal out of it. And when we finally saw Joey, he had like one cut on his hand. It was like this big trauma, which was very funny. We were told not to make a big deal out of it. They didn’t want the executives to know that someone had gotten hurt.

But that stood out in the movie. There were no horrific wipeouts, and only a few guys fall.

MV: There are a couple of spots … where we fall a few times. A lot of people love watching skate videos just to see the ‘Falls’ section. Personally, they’re my favorite part of the videos, too.

JM: But when you’re in the world of the pros, it’s not that they don’t ever fall, but it’s not like watching amateurs who are trying to learn to skate, where they’re falling constantly.

Is pro skating still a boy’s club?

JM: Absolutely not. There’s a whole crew of girls right now with such talent, including my stunt double Lauren Perkins…

MV: Who’s 13 years old.

JM: Yeah. And every person you bring her name up to, they’re like, ‘Dude, she’s sick.’ There are a pack of girls who are between the age of 13 and 15 that are completely redefining the sport for women right now.

Mike, was it more difficult to master the half-pipe tricks, or the film’s four-man dance routine?

MV: Oh, definitely the dance routine. We are the whitest kids the world has ever known. We practiced that several weekend in a row, and Vince was conveniently absent during a couple of practices. So Vince shows up with his two left feet, and it took forever to get him in sync with the rest of us. But yeah, it’s hokey and we make complete fools of ourselves, but that’s the point.

Along those lines, what was more embarrassing, wearing the Sheriff Bean costume or singing a Poison tune out loud?

MV: Dude, the Sheriff Bean suit, for sure. Poison rocks!

JM: He was mortified in the Bean suit. It was so funny. And he was sweating. It was so hot with all of the light blaring on him.

MV: And once again, Poison rocks!

You know, if they become popular again, the blame will be placed on your shoulders. Who picked that song to sing?

MV: That was Casey. It was either going to be Poison’s ‘Nothing But a Good Time’ or Foreigner’s ‘Hot Blooded.’ Two solid choices.

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