Rose Byrne is in the midst of May madness. On Friday, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising comes out in theaters across the U.S. Both joyously silly and surprisingly on-the-nose, the film is a follow up to Nicholas Stoller’s 2014 comedy Neighbors. The entire cast is reunited, from Byrne and Seth Rogan, who star as Kelly and Mac Radner, suburban spouses coming to terms with parenthood; to Zac Efron as former fraternity bro extraordinaire Teddy Saunders; Ike Barinholtz and Carla Gallo as Mac and Kelly’s misguided best friends; and Lisa Kudrow as the publicity-conscious university dean. Even Elise and Zoey Vargas, who played Mac and Kelly’s baby daughter Stella in the first film, have reprised their role. Two years ago the Radners entered into a prank-filled rivalry with a neighboring fraternity, while this time their enemy is a little more relatable: a sorority created by a group of young women (Chloë Grace Moretz, Kiersey Clemons, and Beanie Fieldstein) who just want to party on their own terms.
If that isn’t enough, next week Byrne will celebrate the release of X-Men: Apocalypse, another blockbuster sequel with an impressive ensemble cast. “X-Men is more the emotional and intelligent end of the superhero spectrum for my taste,” she comments over the phone. “They always bring something operatic to the pictures.”
Raised in a suburb of Sydney, Australia, and currently based in New York, Byrne grew up watching the British sitcom Fawlty Towers with her family. “John Cleese was one of my acting idols,” she recalls. At 13, she made her film debut in Dallas Doll (1994). In her early 20s, she dropped out of university in Sydney to work on her second film, Two Hands (2009), with Heath Ledger.
Recent roles in Get Him to the Greek (2010), Bridesmaids (2011), Spy (2015), and the Broadway play You Can’t Take It With You (2014) have cemented Byrne’s status as a comedian, but she is by no means a one-note actor. Over the course of her career, she’s worked with noted directors such as Sofia Coppola, Peter Weir, George Lucas, Danny Boyle, Paul Feig, and Derek Cianfrance, and held her own against seasoned thespians like her Damages co-star Glenn Close.
“I think comedy is very hard,” says Byrne. “It’s very scientific getting the beats of it. Comedy and drama are challenging in different ways, but they come from the same place,” she continues. “The stakes are very high when something’s funny and the stakes also have to be high for something to be dramatic.”
Read the interview here.