Since his "Arrested Development" days, Michael Cera has pretty much played variations on the same character. He's virtually the same hesitant, adorably awkward teen in the short-lived Fox program, "Superbad" and "Juno."
His latest starring role, in Miguel Arteta's "Youth in Revolt," which premieres at TIFF Tuesday evening, seems like a rebuttal to the idea that Cera lacks range. He plays, as usual, a shy virginal kid lacking the guts to nail the girl he loves — but finally succeeds after developing a swinging alter ego named Francois.
Here, Cera gets to toy around in a manner that we've never seen him try before.
But good luck getting him to talk about it.
"I thought it would be a fun thing to play," Cera said in an interview on Monday, hardly elaborating on the significance of the performance. "I like working with directors I really trust. That's the only thing I consider. It's hard for a movie just to get made, sold, and have a good director attached. As an actor, it's all kinda out of your control."
Pressed to explain himself, he took a humble stance. "I don't like to think about career arc," he said. "That can get really boring. It feels like you're trying to control something you have no real control over — how people perceive you."
While Cera may not put a lot of thought into the kind of roles he takes on, something appears to be working. He recently finished up acting as the lead in Edgar Wright's "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," a studio action-comedy with major commercial potential that took 120 days to shoot.
Still, he continues to keep an open mind about his projects. The tiny Sundance mockumentary "Paper Heart," which followed his relationship to comedienne Charlene Yi, was an entirely different beast. "It made a million dollars and people saw it," Cera said. "That's pretty miraculous. Not a lot of people are able to do that."
Cera also supports even smaller productions, such as webisodes, since he produced the online series "Clark and Michael" for CBS Internet television. "If people can get their show sold to a website, that's great," he said. "Any way you can find money to make things is good. Do it."