Mod Sun wasn’t planning to act in Good Mourning, the stoner comedy he co-wrote with best friend Machine Gun Kelly. The pair decided they would co-direct, but Mod thought it would be easier for him to stay behind the camera, while Kelly (credited as Colson Baker) starred as London Clash. But during table reads, Mod kept taking the part of Dylan, a friend and roommate of London’s, until he got too close to the character. And so Mod — a pop-punk musician used to performing only onstage — learned to direct with his head submerged in a bowl of cereal.
See, early in the film, after consoling London over what he thinks is a breakup text from his girlfriend, Dylan falls asleep in a bowl of Froot Loops. As London and his other friends (played by possible wife Megan Fox and IRL friend Pete Davidson) plot to get London’s girlfriend back, and smoke a ton of weed in the process, Dylan spends much of the film zonked out in his cereal. Mod, who’s “super-meticulous about details and continuity,” would dunk his head back into the cereal for every take in which the kitchen was visible, glancing at a well-angled monitor to direct. “Totally could have gotten away with not doing that!” he says.
Chalk it up to Mod’s commitment to his first major film. (Kelly has an acting résumé with credits including Beyond the Lights, Bird Box, and The King of Staten Island.) Also a testament to Mod’s commitment? Getting his fiancée, Avril Lavigne, involved in the project for a cameo as herself. (His character thinks Lavigne wrote “Sk8er Boi” about him.) Mod spoke to Vulture about working with Lavigne on Good Mourning, along with the “real life” inspiration behind the movie and his new music.
Where did the idea for this movie’s premise come from?
Not to sound cliché at all, it’s all completely real life. Right at the start of the pandemic, Kellz and Megan Fox had just started talking and were pursuing the idea of a relationship. She had to leave town to go shoot a movie overseas in some wild destination that had, like, no cell-phone service. She had basically sent him this text message that was very ominous, and he interpreted it as a breakup text and then couldn’t get ahold of her for three weeks. So he’s going through this, and me being a good best friend, I’m like, “We need to do something to keep your mind off this.” He’s like, “Why not turn this into a movie?” And I’m like, “For sure, let’s turn it into a movie!” And so we spent a month, every single day, like 15-, 16-hour days, writing this script. At this time, Kellz was living in a house with five of his best friends, so the whole thematics of asking for relationship advice from your closest friends, who all live with you, that’s all real. The whole text-message thing, it’s all real. And we did our best to stay as close to the truth as possible.
You’re saying it’s all real, so how much weed was involved in the creation of this movie?
Serious pounds and pounds and pounds. At this point in my weed-smoking endeavors, I was smoking an ounce a day, and next thing, me and Kellz, we were at like two ounces a day. There wasn’t a moment — we also come to find that we think we’re funnier when we’re high. Imagine that.
You both co-directed, but Kelly stayed in front of the camera a lot more, while you were behind it. What was that like for you?
I got to witness the magic unfold. I got to learn how to be a great director, which is to create a space where everyone feels no judgment and they won’t be embarrassed to try something. What I learned most is that the script just gets you to set — and I’ll go by this for the rest of my life. Once you’re on set, you’re trying to capture magic, and the magic happens when people feel comfortable enough to do whatever the moment is telling them to do. All the greatest parts in the movie were completely off script.
How long did it take to do Dylan’s hair on set?
Yo, you know what, that was nothing compared to having to cover up Machine Gun Kelly’s tattoos every day. That was the real job. This poor guy would have to show up an hour and a half before I even had to get there. Dylan’s hair, probably that was a good 30 minutes each day to get it to stand up like that, but we finally got it down to a science. I had to sleep sitting up completely, so I could keep it in that, so I didn’t have to redo it every day.
The first time I heard about this movie, I saw the cast list, I saw Megan Fox is in it, and I was like, Oh, that’s awesome. And then I was like, Damn, I wonder if they tried to get Avril into this.
Did it take much convincing to get her involved?
It’s so funny, ’cause the whole idea was to be like, Is she ever gonna show up? Our goal is to have, like, a cheering section, Oh my God, she did show up! That’s amazing! We wrote this bit before me and her were even dating. Which is so crazy — like, so much of this movie was the art imitating life. We wrote the part because of the joke, we thought it was so funny and so culturally appropriate right now, and we ended up waiting till the point where we could actually get her in it. And it took a little convincing. She’s like, “I don’t even kiss people in my music videos.” She was just down for the cause, man. She was like, “Anything to support your art, Mod. I got you.”
Was it just one take with her?
Hell, no, I made sure we did like 30 takes of that! I was like, “We didn’t get the kiss right, let’s do it again!”
Is “Sk8er Boi” your favorite Avril song?
“Sk8er Boi” and the song “What the Hell.” Both are my favorites. We’re on tour together, and I get to watch her perform it every night, and it’s just, like, she is the greatest voice of our generation. It’s such a treat being on tour with the person you love. It’s kind of like a honeymoon for us.
A lot of your music can be dark or angry or intense, but you’re one of the funnier characters in the movie. What was it like showing that other side of yourself?
Life and music can be two totally different monsters, right? In real life, I’m much more goofy and funny than I am serious. It may be a lot easier to make a movie about the end of the world right now — like Don’t Look Up, right? Whereas we were like, We wanna make the world laugh right now, any way we can. And we have this deep love for stoner comedies. I think it was quite natural for us to get in front of the camera and be idiots.
You put out a new song earlier this year, and it’s a lighter one. What can we expect after Internet Killed the Rockstar?
I choose to make music that represents what I’m currently going through. So this next album has more of a bright sound to it, and it’s definitely got more love songs than it does heartbreak songs. There’s a growth in what I’m talking about thematically. If I’m to look at my last album, I’m not really sure I can just point to one song and be like, “This is a positive song.” This next song I’m about to release is a self-empowerment song, and I’m very excited to put that out into the world. In alternative music or pop punk, it’s a lot of sadness and depression. I’m about to give the world a very, very optimistic, light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel type of song.
It also sounds like you’re not planning for this to be your last movie.
The human mind can be a motherfucker. Until you achieve something, it almost might seem impossible. Being able to write a script and have it actually become a movie just made me believe that this shit can be done. Me and Kellz have bounced around a couple of ideas, and I have an idea for another film and I’m gonna pursue it. I think that timing is always perfect. So when it’s the right time to do it and to pursue another script, it’s definitely going to happen.