“The Book of Mormon,” the audacious and outrageously funny musical about two mismatched young Mormon missionaries who get assigned to (gasp!) Uganda with hysterical results, has already swept Broadway with nine Tony Awards. This week, it opens in Los Angeles with a brand new West Coast cast. The geniuses behind the smash hit are “South Park’s” Matt Stone and Trey Parker, who wrote the catchy songs with “Avenue Q”s Robert Lopez. After a preview show Saturday night at the Pantages Theatre, Stone and Parker sat down to talk about their plans to make a movie version, joked about who might star in it, and why they think Mormons have actually embraced the show.
Here are 11 things we learned from the press conference.
“The Book of Mormon” is headed for the big screen… eventually.
Matt Stone: I think we want to do a movie someday.
Trey Parker: We don’t have any [immediate plans for the movie version]. When we first started working on it seven years ago, we kind of toyed with the idea of it being a Broadway show or being a movie and obviously since Matt and I knew how to make a movie, we were like, “Let’s just make a movie, since we can do that pretty quickly.” But we stuck with it and after we saw our first few workshops with an audience, we thought, “No, this’ll be cool as a show.” As we were doing scenes, of course I was always visualizing it as a movie, because that’s what I do. So I don’t think it’ll be a really difficult thing. But it would be a pretty different animal when we’re done with it. We don’t talk about it or think about it too much right now. But it’s very possible, it would just take a lot of effort. We wouldn’t want to just do this on film. We’d have to really rethink it.
The movie version might star… Justin Bieber?
Parker: Who’s my dream cast? Justin Bieber for [the lead role of hotshot young missionary] Elder Price. [This drew an enormous laugh from the press.]
Stone: We’d definitely go younger than the stage cast because the camera gets so close.
The African warlord in the film (who’s called Butt F**king Naked”) was nearly called Joseph Kony.
Stone: Really, he was based on Joseph Kony and we thought of just calling him Kony but now after the Kony 2012 thing, we’re so glad we didn’t do that, because that would change the context of it. But the warlords there do have very colorful names. We figured, “What’s better than ‘Butt Naked?’ ‘Butt F–king Naked!'”
Mormons love the show!
Stone: I think the main reason Mormons like the show [is that we stayed away from polygamy]. They’re just so sick of that lazy joke. It just doesn’t apply to mainstream Mormons anymore.
Parker: And we wanted Mormons to buy tickets and take out ads in Playbill. [There are actually ads from the Mormon church in the Playbill program.] We seriously, honestly talked about doing it ourselves about a year and a half ago: “If you want to know more about the Mormon church, visit your local temple.” And then we were like, “Naw, let’s not do it.” And then they did it and it’s great. There’s three ads. One says, “You’ve seen the play, now read the book,” which I think is awesome. The only thing I don’t like is the one that says, “The book is better,” and I disagree. Definitely Act Two of ours is much, much better.
Mitt Romney hasn’t seen it yet
Parker: He’s been invited and he says he’ll see it “when he has time.”
They’re taking credit for the election, either way.
Parker: If Romney gets elected, it’s because of us. And if he doesn’t get elected, it’s because of us.
But don’t look for any Romney jokes in “Book of Mormon.”
Parker (On why they hasn’t updated the show): Our show is much bigger and more important than the president.
Is George Lucas going to sue because Darth Vader and Yoda show up at one point?
Parker: It’s shockingly similar to “South Park.” It’s all about being able to justify it as parody.
Stone: It’s obvious George Lucas wasn’t involved. That’s the important thing.
Get ready for … “Orgazmo,” the musical!
Parker: The original idea [for their hilarious but underperforming live-action 1997 film, about a Mormon missionary, played by Parker, who accidently becomes a porn star/superhero] was that was supposed to be a musical and that just seemed too crazy. Now I wish, looking back, we’d done it. It wouldn’t have hurt the box office.
As one reporter noted: I hear they turn movies into musicals now.
Parker: True. “Orgazmo,” on stage!
Is there an Oscar in their future?
When asked if they’re holding back one original song for the Oscar for the eventual movie version of “Book of Mormon,” Parker replied, “Yeah, one crappy song. It’s in here somewhere,” and Stone added, “We’ll find it.
After 20 years of “South Park,” they don’t consider themselves edgy anymore.
Parker: I remember seeing a little old lady [at “Book of Mormon”] with gray hair and thinking, “Ooh, what’s she going to think?” And then I realized, “That lady’s [only] like 20 years older than me.”
Stone: It’s sad, man.
Parker: We’re in our 40s now. But we’re still young guys in our 20s being rebels!