Justin Long

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Justin Long

Those Mac vs. PC commercials might be history, but Justin Long has parlayed his cool-geek image into bigger things, including the lead in the romantic comedy Going the Distance alongside sometime girlfriend Drew Barrymore. TIME spoke to Long about recession romance and beating up on John Hodgman.

Going the Distance deals with two broke lovers dealing with a long distance relationship. Is this the first recession rom-com?
It seems perfectly timed, sadly. And it's something that we were very aware of. We even added some things in reshoots to accentuate that point, like the fact that I wasn't able to come out over the holidays since the ticket prices were too expensive.

Was it like, let's shoot some depression scenes, the Dow is dropping again?
No, it wasn't that calculated. It was just the reality of two people that age and in that professional climate in general.

Did you fly Southwest to get into struggling lover character?
I was going to shoot a scene for Distance where I was sandwiched in between passengers on Southwest. But they didn't have time to do it.

Do celebrities get extra pretzels on Southwest?
Wait, I thought it was just because I was insanely charming and likable. But yes, every once in a while I'll ask for them. Especially when I fly with Kevin Smith. He gets all the pretzels he wants.

Should we start a Facebook campaign to get you and John Hodgman back on the Mac commercials?
I wouldn't be opposed to it, if for no other reason than I really miss hanging out with him.

Do you feel obliged to let him win arguments after kicking him around for four years?
In fact, he's far smarter and funnier than I could ever hope to be. The PC Guy got to do all the fun underdog stuff. And he wore all the outfits. The big choice I had to make was when to take my hands out of my pockets and how to roll my eyes.

Are there outtakes where he wins?
They have them. I keep trying to get my hands on them. We would shoot four to six a day. Most of them didn't air. They probably aired about 15 percent of them. I remember we shot one with Zach Galifianakis where he played a drunk Santa Claus. I hope they compile the best ones they didn't use. And I hope they use outtakes — There are some bizarre and funny ones I'd love to see.

I need you to settle a bet. Did you really do the audible book for Judy Bloom's Then Again Maybe I Won't?
I did that years ago. I started out doing a bunch of voiceover stuff. I did a Stephen King book on tape. It's the way I stayed afloat in New York before doing television and movies. And I loved it. No vanity. Just roll out of bed and do it.

That Judy Bloom stuff is pretty racy
Yeah. I hadn't read it before. There was this one line, and it just sneaks up on you, about masturbating and touching yourself. It came out of nowhere. And I remember it took me a number of takes to get through it. I thought someone was pulling a really elaborate prank. This was long before Punk'd.

And now you simulate touching yourself onscreen in Going the Distance.
How proud my parents would be.

Did you ever think you were getting Punk'd again?
Unfortunately, I was always well aware that was my reality. I was actually getting paid that day. It was my job. I had no delusions to the contrary. And that is one of the few things I have done that I would really rather my parents not see.

You get busted in a compromising position on a table in this movie. Has that ever happened?
Never that bad. Maybe I'm too careful. But I have been in some precarious situations.

You know there's going to be a follow up question to that.
Is there any way there could not be?