Michael Cera doesn’t own a smartphone: ‘I think it’s getting very lonely’

Michael Cera is only 35 years old, but it feels like he’s been famous forever, and it also feels like he’s permanently stuck at 18 years old, especially with his babyface. Cera plays Allan, the discontinued doll, in the Barbie movie. Allan was introduced as Ken’s male friend, but it turned out that no one wanted Ken to have friends. Ken was solely dedicated to being Barbie’s boyfriend. I kind of love that Greta Gerwig included Allan and Midge, who was also discontinued – Midge (played by Emerald Fennell) was supposed to be Barbie’s knocked-up friend, and I guess the Barbie mythology is that Midge and Allan were married. Boring! But Michael Cera isn’t boring – he’s just Canadian, and his Canadianness is felt throughout this Guardian interview. Some highlights:

Why Allan was discontinued: “Somewhat of a marginalised figure. It turned out people didn’t need to go deeper into Ken’s world.” An Allan doll, which the actor bought on eBay, sat in the hair and makeup room, as inspiration and “a sort of mascot, until after shooting, when I took him home”, says Cera. “I definitely wanted to have my own Allan.” He has a broken sandal, says Cera, with a touch of sadness, “but it doesn’t matter – he’s like 60 years old or something”.

He loved working on ‘Barbie’: “I was desperate to be a part of it.” Gerwig, who co-wrote as well as directed, had “her stamp all over every single part of it”, Cera says. He loved going on to the sets – Barbieland on a massive scale. “I would stand there and marvel, and never got tired of looking around and finding new little details. It was one of the most stunning things I’ve ever seen.”

His thoughts on artificial intelligence (AI). Cera says he asked an AI service recently if we were living in a simulation and its reply was: ‘It’s totally likely that you are.’”

He likes to hear recommendations from friends, not an algorithm. “I think that things are a little too optimised. Even with parenting” – he has a young son – “you have a million questions when you have a new baby and you look online, and there’s always some highly optimised answer about whatever problem you’re having.” He prefers the idea of muddling through, working it out for himself “and not trying to do everything perfectly, and have everything become this sort of homogenised version. I kind of miss when things were a little sloppier.”

He does not own a smartphone. Google Maps? “That’s the thing everybody always asks. I just figure it out ahead of time.” Sometimes he draws a map. Social media? He doesn’t do it. Endless photos? He bought himself a camera while his wife was pregnant and taught himself how to use it, “and now I love that as a hobby”. What about when he has a spare 30 seconds and desperately needs to save himself from agonising boredom? “I don’t know. Sometimes I’ll just be bored.” He laughs, as if it’s no big deal. It gives him space to process things, he says. Checking email? He has a computer at home for that, “and I waste a lot of time playing chess. It’s completely got its tentacles in my brain, but at least I leave it at home.”

He doesn’t feel judgmental towards phone-addicted people: “I feel sorry for my son, I feel sorry for the world. I think it’s getting very lonely.” Sometimes he will look around the subway and “do a head count of how many people are looking at their phones and it makes me feel lonely. Even being with friends or with family, you’re with someone you love and haven’t seen in a while, and they’re with their phone. It’s like they left the room. I think it bums a lot of people out, honestly. I feel the loneliness creeping in….That’s the triumph of the Apple corporation. It has done a good job of making people feel they can’t exist without its product.”

Getting famous from ‘Arrested Development’ & Juno: “That was sort of overwhelming. I didn’t know how to handle walking down the street. Fame makes you very uncomfortable in your own skin, and makes you paranoid and weird. There were lots of great things about it, and I met a lot of amazing people, but there’s a lot of bad energies, too, ones that I was not equipped to handle.”

His wife: He and his wife, Nadine, met in a bar in Paris, where she was studying and he was promoting Arrested Development. “We trip out about that all the time. It’s completely unlikely that we would ever meet.” She didn’t know who Cera was. “She thought I was Swedish, until we spoke. I didn’t know if she would speak English, and if we would even have a chance to talk, and it was very lucky that she did because we wouldn’t have a son, we wouldn’t have a relationship.”

[From The Guardian]

Imagine meeting Michal Cera in a bar and not knowing who he is! I wonder if he had any game at all – he has never seemed like a guy with any game. Maybe that was nice though? I mean, it worked! I like that he talked about how Gerwig created real sets and didn’t just leave everything to CGI. I also appreciate that, and it must have been so cool to be on that amazing set and be able to look at all of the craftsmanship and detail that went into everything. I also have a love/hate relationship with smartphones, and I totally understand why someone would opt out or just use an old-school flip-phone. It’s insane how much phones have just completely changed society in less than twenty years.

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Embed from Getty Images

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Getty.

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40 Responses to “Michael Cera doesn’t own a smartphone: ‘I think it’s getting very lonely’”

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  1. Lisa says:

    he’s great as Alan. I only got my first smart phone in case I was in danger in some way.

    • BeanieBean says:

      I didn’t get a cell phone at all until 2013 & got an iPhone 5. It’s a handy tool, but like most people who remember life before cell phones, I’m not on it 24/7 & I tend to figure things out for myself.
      Then again, I have a friend who texted me recently about a necklace her son found on the trail at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. She’d called two different numbers & didn’t get an answer & wanted to know if I knew how to contact their Lost & Found? How the heck would I know? I’d worked for the NPS in Hawaii, sure, but not at that park. Plus–and this is the kicker–her son is a man in his 30s with a wife (2nd wife) and 16yo daughter. He used to be a welder & is now studying to be a nurse. It’s way past time for him to do his own problem solving!!!! Which is what I wanted to say in my reply, but I decided to go about my day as planned then reply later. I had so many responses to this running through my head! Like, the time to take care of it would have been when they were still in Hawaii, not wait until they got home to Washington! And then ask your mom!!! Like, as you drive out of the park & past the entry kiosk! Or stop in at the visitor’s center! Argghhh!!! In the end, my reply was a shrug emoji. Should have added an eye roll emoji, but restrained myself.

  2. Rainbow says:

    I am from Greece and if I saw him at a bar he would look somewhat familiar but I wouldn’t recognise him either.
    He seems like a nice a guy.
    I get what he says. I am around his age and sometimes I wish we would go back to 2000s, pre iphone/instagram era.

  3. Suzanne says:

    Oh, I can’t wait to see this movie. I’m Canadian too and I laughed at Michael Cera not having a smart phone. I don’t have one either – I have an old flip top phone that I only carry around in case of emergencies. My older brother makes me show it at family gatherings so his grandkids can see what phones look like in the olden days. LOL.

    • BeanieBean says:

      Ha! I still have my iPhone 5! I’ve upgrade to couple of times & now have a 5SE, but when I recently traveled through SEA-TAC & showed my ticket on my phone to the check-in agent, she marveled at my cute little phone! Cracked me up!

  4. Digital Unicorn says:

    I saw Barbie yesterday and loved it – he was great as Allan, who has his own amazing scene in it.

    • BeanieBean says:

      I saw it yesterday too & loved everything about it! From opening through closing, I swear I had a smile on my face the whole time!! Perfection!!

    • ML says:

      He did an awesome job as Allan! I love the fact that Allan is no Ken, too—that was such a funny scene.

  5. Thinking says:

    I think the applications on the phone are more of a problem than the phone itself.

    I’m a little addicted to Instagram. If I was wiser and took that off my phone, I likely wouldn’t be staring at my phone all the time.

  6. Twin Falls says:

    I don’t know how I would survive without google maps. The part of my brain that could hold directions has atrophied.

    • lisa says:

      I was trying to explain to my friend’s kid how we used to just basically drive off into the distance hoping it would work out. my friend job after college was a substitute teacher and I went someplace different every day and they would give me directions like turn at a cemetery or not as far as the train tracks.

    • Snuffles says:

      If it wasn’t for satellite maps, I wouldn’t be able to figure out how to get anywhere. And I would be too distracted driving with a paper map and would probably get in an accident.

      • BeanieBean says:

        Mmm, well, I’m more map-oriented than maybe most people, as I use them for work. You can exercise that muscle, learn to think things through. Review the map ahead of time–paper map or google map. Know which roads are running N/S, which E/W, which major thoroughfare you should encounter first, know that the mountains will be to your right–as you drive, are you seeing them there? That sort of thing. Watch your odometer for mileage, know when you’ve got an upcoming turn. And so on.
        Then again, I’ve been out & about with people who have zero sense of direction. That’s something in the brain & no amount of exercise will change that. I find that fascinating, particularly as it comes so easily to me.

      • Sass says:

        @beaniebean my husband is like that too. I’ll admit I could in the past (it’s part of archaeology major requirements) but I’ve become lazy. But my husband is a walking GPS I swear! We were in Italy this summer and our phones weren’t working so anytime we had WiFi he would look at our intended destination, put it to memory and off we went. It was truly baffling as he can’t remember anything else 🤣

  7. HeyKay says:

    I agree with a lot of his thoughts.
    I don’t own a smart phone either, a have a basic flip in case of car emergency, I rarely use it.
    I’m fine with being quiet or bored in waiting rooms or where ever.

    I don’t remember an Alan, I do remember Midge.

    • BeanieBean says:

      I didn’t remember Allen either, & my Midge wasn’t pregnant. I didn’t bother with a Ken doll, I didn’t see the fun in dressing him up. Just had my Barbies & Midge, can’t really remember if I had Skipper or not. Probably not, I don’t think she had the really great outfits that Barbie had.

      • Ceej says:

        I had a non-pregnant midge too! She was the closest thing to my skin colour but they let me down with the hair quality. Had Skipper, Stacey and the youngest sister as well… Kelly I think. Lots of Kelly dolls. Best set was a European holiday with all 4 sisters in coordinating outfits. Sometimes I miss Barbies. Got to live out any job I wanted or dream playing in my own basement! (With only the tiny downside of lasting psychological damage believing straight blonde hair and blue eyes is the definition of beauty)

        Got a Babysitting Skipper doll who came with blond triplets she was looking after… but never a word on whose kids they were supposed to be 😂 Maybe they shouldn’t have discontinued Midge.

  8. Nicegirl says:

    Allan!! 💕

  9. Ariel says:

    I would 100% pay to fly to Los Angeles to take a movie studio tour if it included the Barbie Land set. The detail is amazing.
    And he made a fantastic Allan.

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      You know that will come as well – esp given how popular the movie it. The set designer(s) should get all the awards they did am amazing job with Barbie land. The Zara collection that basically mimick’s Barbie’s outfits in the movie has already sold out.

      Poor Margot and America – they were both amazing but Gosling stole the movie with his portrayal of Ken.

      • Bettyrose says:

        Isn’t he Canadian? Actors from the Commonwealth are the major players in this Barbenheimer showdown. ETA: I just realized you mean the actress America. I haven’t seen the movie but I did see that she’s in it.

    • BeanieBean says:

      Yes!! A trip to Barbieland would be way better than all that princess stuff in Disneyland!

  10. Bettyrose says:

    Yesterday I used my smartphone to pay train fare, scan my movie tickets, reorder a needed item while killing time between activities, track my steps, keep in touch with family, read the news, listen to an audiobook, and play wordle. And the tiny thing weighs practically nothing. I don’t get the idea that life is more liberating without this tiny pocket miracle. I do agree that social media is increasingly a scourge, though. I only use FB and primarily to keep in touch with family and friends, but during the pandemic I got hooked on comments sections, which is such a mistake. I’m actively deleting news and entertainment channels, returning to news apps without comment sections.

    • BeanieBean says:

      I watched that bit of video that had Serena’s reaction to Messi’s goal. Next to her are Kim K & her son (not sure which one). Serena is reacting to having seen Messi’s goal, something she experienced directly by watching it. Kim’s son is looking at his phone as he’s filming Messi’s goal, and reacted from that. Not real life, not real time, but through his phone. I think there’s a specific & real difference in experiencing life through your phone that is detrimental to human life. It’s unfortunate.

  11. Bcgirl says:

    Got my first cell phone at 52, in 2022.
    Broke down cause I wanted to try Tinder.

    • May says:

      I didn’t get my first cell phone until 2010: and, it was only because an elderly relative was in and out of the hospital and I wanted to be able to be reached by phone easily. I’m still not attached to my phone. There are times when I’m not in the same room, or even zip code, as my phone. I will also often turn it off at night. t’s funny when people get frustrated nowadays if they try to call you and you don’t answer!

      “Imagine meeting Michal Cera in a bar and not knowing who he is!”. Okay, I am clearly in the minority but I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard of this guy before. The name doesn’t even ring a bell! 🤷‍♀️

      • clarabelle says:

        Well, Arrested Development was a pretty big hit (maybe more so the 2nd time) and that’s where I know him from. But he does have a low-key every-guy kind of countenance and I can easily believe he’s frequently not recognized. Sounds like that’s a blessing to him.

    • Agreatreckoning says:

      Mid 50’s. Finally got a smart phone in May. We’re physical m

      ap people. Have to say when we traveled to a different state-the lady gave us great directions on the smart phone. It took me weeks to recognize and utilize that the smart phone did more things. I’m still a bit indifferent to the smart phone. Love the picture taking qualities.

      Lol @ the meeting Micheal Cera in a bar comment. It’s true. He looks like a number of people I’ve encountered.

      • bcgirl says:

        Wow, there’s more of us!
        Me too, and I find that I call it “my camera” 😂

  12. Thinking says:

    I think a smartphone is helpful in a lot of instances. But I do miss not being dependent on it and being reachable at all times.

    • Bettyrose says:

      IDK if I miss it. I prefer to communicate in writing and never make calls. Even though a smart phone means I’m always available, it also means I never need to make calls to communicate or get information. That said, I actually wouldn’t consider it safe not to have one at this point because what would you even
      do if your car breaks down or you’re lost? Pay phones don’t exist and gas stations/ convenience stores aren’t even staffed to assist with more than the most basic transactions now.

  13. CruzMom says:

    Ahhh…this genuinely tempts me to ditch my iphone. I’m not active on social media (had it only to announce wedding and babies, but dropped it once the kiddos didn’t like it, and never looked back). COVID made the iPhone way more problematic professionally too. I’m a lawyer, and I never (no exceptions) gave out my personal number until COVID came along, and then I had no choice. Don’t get me started on my attempts to get a landline installed. But anyway, clients quickly started abusing the privilege and call and text from 7 am to midnight (!!!). I really should just downgrade. I only use my phone to read celeb gossip and buy things that I want on the fly, each of which can (and probably should) wait until I’m in front of a computer.

    On an aside, Barbie was SO flippin’ good!! Michael Cera’s Allen was *chef’s kiss*.

  14. Sass says:

    Oh my god, this no smartphone thing is a topic we’ve discussed before here. Is this the only interesting thing about him? Because it’s the only thing I ever hear about him anymore.

    To recap our previous comment section about this: good for him that he doesn’t have one, wouldn’t we all love to be able to eschew them, he’s able to do so because he has an assistant that makes it possible.

  15. tealily says:

    I remember around the time Superbad came out everyone being like “oh, that a**hole!” but I guess either that wasn’t true or he’s grown up a lot since then. I think it’s done him well to step away a bit and have a pretty normal life. He sounds like a nice guy. Like, a real one.

  16. Just Chelle says:

    His episode of (the) Hot Ones is one of my absolute favorites. He seems so NORMAL and down to earth (and funny!). My brother (RIP 💔) worked in the industry for 30 years – he said Melissa McCarthy and Michael Cera were two of the nicest, most genuine actors he’d ever worked with.

  17. ginger says:

    “When they learn to build that wall OUT instead of just UP, nobody will be able to leave!!!” Cera’s delivery of his lines was so hilariously casually anxious. Nobody could have played the part better than him. And now I’m an Allan fan.

  18. Suzanne says:

    I’m 49, only have a landline that I use to make medical appointments. Prefer to communicate in writing. Don’t have any friends. Does anyone know how you can make friends online? By email? I want to have deep and meaningful conversations about what I call ‘life and the whole darn thing’!