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When Goat premiered at Sundance earlier this year, audiences quickly praised its brutal look at fraternity hazing and the way young men express their masculinity in those situations. The film, in theaters September 23, stars Ben Schnetzer as a college student who pledges a frat after dealing with the trauma of a brutal beating. Schnetzer’s character, Brad, tries to reclaim his power and his manhood by undergoing intense hazing rituals by the frat brothers, which include his actual brother Brett (Nick Jonas).
The movie is unflinching and often hard to watch, a reminder that it’s easy for people to get carried away by the group mentality. It raises real questions about what it means to be manly and asks the audience to consider the implications of this long-held tradition. We spoke with Schnetzer, who also currently appears in Oliver Stone’s Snowden, about finding his inner fraternity brother, why men want to haze each other and what sorts of conversations he hopes Goat will start.
Goat is a very difficult watch. What was the hardest part of actually making it?
It was a pretty taxing shoot throughout. Certain scenes were demanding for different reasons. The hazing sequences definitely had their challenges logistically, but also physically and emotionally. I think one of the toughest things about the content and the conflict of the film is Brad, the character I play, struggling with this sense of compromised masculinity he feels he’s thrust upon his as a result of being victimized. Feeling emasculated can be very humiliating. That was a very difficult thing to deal with sometimes, and it’s something that snuck up on me because it’s something I didn’t really expect. There was something about feeling humiliated at certain times throughout shooting, and that was always the toughest thing to deal with. Those were the days where I was like, “I want to go home.” There were a lot of adventures shooting this one.
Before you made the film how much had you thought about fraternities and hazing and the way that’s part of our culture?
I hadn’t really thought a whole lot about it. I didn’t go to a traditional college in the States—I went to a drama conservatory in London. I didn’t have a fraternity-like experience. I mean, I grew up with an older brother and a lot of male cousins and we were very physical with each other. We were very rambunctious when we were kids. But I never thought much—nor did I have reason to think much—about institutionalized hazing. But I think there’s a reason young men are drawn to it.
Rites of passage have been part of many different societies for a long time and I think there’s good reason for that. Once you start playing with those power dynamics and you take away consequences and you mix alcohol into the equation, that’s when things can get a little dangerous. The pack mentality can be a really dangerous thing, especially for young men. So I certainly spent more time thinking about fraternities and hazing while shooting this film than I ever had before.
Ben Schnetzer tells TheWrap the college hazing drama was an obstacle course behind the scenes.
The subject matter of “Goat” — a week of drunken college hazing and humiliation — is no laughing matter.
But star Ben Schnetzer says lot of funny things happened while he worked on the Paramount indie, which opens in theaters this weekend.
In the film, Schnetzer’s older brother is played by Nick Jonas, an established member of the frat who coaches his younger sibling through a barrage of booze and gross feats assigned to so-called “goat” pledges.
It is the pop star’s most serious film to date. But Schnetzer said Jonas’ legions of fans didn’t exactly leave him alone to focus on the role.
“You would see girls hiding behind cars, literally hiding behind trees with their cell phones out,” Schnetzer told TheWrap.
Directed by Andrew Neel, “Goat” also features young actors Gus Halper, Danny Flaherty and Jake Picking. There is a cameo by James Franco — who also produced.
“Goat,” a new drama film, centers on intense fraternity hazing rituals. Star Nick Jonas (of the musical Jonas Brothers) tells TODAY’s Billy Bush that hazing culture is so private and protected that real-life fraternity pledges may not even know when they’re being hazed. His co-star Ben Schnetzer says that some of the film’s cast found it emotionally challenging to portray bullying on-screen.
In the world of Phi Sigma Mu, the violent, toxic fraternity that Andrew Neel’s new film GOAT examines, a “goat” is a new recruit, a target of abuse and humiliation. GOAT pulls no punches in depicting the horrors of hazing, but for a film written by the director of Pineapple Express, it’s a surprisingly subtle dissection of the fragility of masculinity. After being beaten, robbed, and humiliated in the summer before college, Brad, played by Ben Schnetzer, is determined to prove he’s not a “pussy” (the insult most commonly lobbed by the film’s bro clique), and attempts to join his brother Brett, played by Nick Jonas, in Phi Sigma Mu. The results are startling. We caught up with Jonas and Schnetzer earlier this week to talk about shooting some of the movie’s more disturbing scenes, violence on campus, and what it means to be a man.
What attracted you guys both to GOAT?
Did you both aim to play the characters that you ended up playing or were you torn between Brett and Brad?
The hazing scenes themselves are really visceral and horrible. How did you guys prepare for that on a physical and emotional level?
Do you feel like you learned a lot making this film about masculinity?