INT: Dane Cook
Ready or not, Dane Cook is coming to a theater near you. The superstar
comedian, no longer content to merely rule the standup world, has
now set his sights on
Cook stopped by Le Meriden Hotel in
Your director said that you sent them a videotaped audition in order to get the part. What was that experience like?
It was like auditioning for American Idol or something like that. Actors will tell you, when somebody says, Will you go on tape? its kind of the kiss of death. It normally is just a slow, painful death, because you really want to be able to meet the producers and talk about your take on the character. When you get a tape, you never know if the persons got a baby in their arms, or whats going on in their life. So rarely does that seem to work in your favor.
I did it, I went on tape. I was down in
I did these few takes where I had to stop it, and I finally got the
take I wanted. But truly, I had a real epiphany when I read the
script. I was already pacing. I was already reading the lines out
loud. You always hear about if its the right part, it just starts
to take a hold of you. And I knew this guy. Im an optimistic,
kind of encouraging, upbeat, glass is half-full person, and yet I
understood this deviant, lascivious side of this person. I kinda
drew from a few people that Id met in my travels, and spun the
wheel, sent the tape and got the call. You did it. You did it,
kid. Youre in the flick. Youre heading to
For a guy who does a lot of improv, what was it like working from a script? Did you always stick to the script?
For the most part about 95% of the time. Its the writer and the directors vision, and youre a piece of their puzzle. Its the polar opposite of comedy, where youre in such control writer, director, producer, sometimes bouncer. And youre stepping in...the other 5% were scenes with Kevin. Theres a scene after weve just come back from one of our dirty deeds, and we just started improvising together in the car. Kevin was so open and available to that and really encouraged it. I remember I was punching the seat and I was just trying to really get myself in a place where, honestly, you could do that and feel embarrassed in front of certain actors, who would look at you and be like, Whats going on here?
But, Kevin was like, Do that. Do that, man. I said this one line: Oh, did you see her face? And when we did it again, he was like You gotta say that again. And we really started improvising. I was like, Im in a dramatic scene and were improvising about having just murdered this couple. Do it was being able to take the best of what I knew how to do comedically, and the best of working with somebody iconic like Kevin Costner, who you just trust and you know hes not going to let you down, and then the material, which was solid. We were like, We cant miss. It just felt right. And I know its the kind of scene that people will be able to watch and feel moved, in some way, by it.
At one point during Mr. Brooks, William Hurts character remarks about you, If he were charming and funny, I still wouldnt like him. Was that always in the script, or was it improvised?
Williams line was always in there. It was interesting, because people who do know me when I brought a few of my closest friends to see an early screening of the movie, one of my best friends, who knows me and knows my comedy people know that I have a good time on stage. I love my life and I love my job. And he turned to me, right around that part, and he goes, I fucking hate you. I really do It was like the best compliment I have ever received. I was like, All right, then I did something right. That line just happened to be in the script.
When you first pondered making the leap to movies, did you think that you would be playing a character this dark?
I did do a short
film about five years earlier called Spiral, which I would say is on
par, as far as darkness. Its something Id written and
produced. It was just
it served two purposes. One, I guess on a
selfish or promotional level, it was like, Let me show people
what I can do. Let me show people that its more than just stand
up comedy. The only way Im going to have that is to do it
myself because nobody trusts that I can do it. So theres that.
But then theres that creative side. Its like, Ive done
stand up for 17 years and I need to explore other things, whether it
be doing a voiceover for this other movie Im doing or talking
about doing this theater project coming up. I just want to be able
to challenge myself and do things that are away from
is safe for me. I can perform in front of 20,000 people at
What has it been like to enjoy such a meteoric rise to fame?
I was in
I dont push. I guess thats kind of my thing. I just dont push. I always have stand-up. I always have a way to make a few shekels. Im not in need. So, I just wait for stuff that makes me go, Shit, thats kinda creepy. Thats kinda like weird. Thats scary. And, I think, on a personal level who knew with stand-up comedy that I would be able to do that? I had a gut; I hoped that this vehicle would lead me to everything. Maybe I could bash down the doors and do all kinds of stuff. But, thats up to the movie gods and for the audience to go, Yeah, wed like to see you do that. When I started getting the nod from my fans, and then some scripts that were actually appealing came in, I was like, Im not going to push. Im going to go with the flow. If this is what Im meant to do now, Im going to do it for the rest of my life.
If not, Ill create something somewhere behind the scenes. Wherever Im meant to be, Im going to just eat it up. And I enjoy the hell out of it. Im not going to lie to you. I love my job and I love the art of comedy, but I love doing these movies. I really hope that I get to do a lot more.
What was it like having William Hurt around, playing Kevin Costners imaginary friend?
You cant ignore William Hurt. Hes William fucking Hurt. Ive pretty much done this, even around comedians, but I like to keep it light on a set and I like to have a good time. Im not a method person, even though I like to research. Eddie Murphy once said, about Beverly Hills Cop, It all has to be on the script first, and then I can improvise and go from the spine here. I didnt know how to approach William Hurt. I didnt know what his take was, so I just waited. We did that first scene in the boardroom together where hes sitting at the end of the table and I was feeling him, but I couldnt.
I was trying to get myself into that zone, and I finally figured it out. I was like, Oh, okay, this is what I need to do. Once I got into this rhythm, I lost William Hurt. I think Pacino once said about Chris ODonnell, when they finished Scent of a Woman: I never saw you, but I felt that you were great. I started doing this thing where I didnt feel William Hurt. And then he walked up to me, on the second day of shooting, just off-screen. It was kind of weird because I was so used to not having him in my life, or my periphery. And I just remember that he said something very encouraging. He said something like, I shouldnt say this to you right now because were doing this, but youre doing really great. I just went home and called my whole family and said, William Hurt just told me Im doing really great, and he really meant it.
There was that scene in the car, where he leans in between Kevin and I, and I didnt expect him to do that. I just had to do my thing, but I could feel him. Hes got the force. I feel like he could flick me out of a scene if he wanted to. He could just omit you from a scene. And Kevins got that same way. And even Demi. These are the elite. Im a confident guy and I knew why they were bringing me in and I knew I could hang, but I also knew that I was going to experience things with them, since Im new to that level, that I was just going to have to shut the fuck up and really listen and learn, and I did that every day. It was the best course on acting that you could ever, ever ask for.
Did you ever think about who you might choose, if you were looking around for someone to murder? Maybe a heckler?
I love hecklers because hecklers remind you that youre a comedian. Ive always said that, even though they throw off the whole tempo and the rhythm, and sometimes cut right into the middle of a bit. Being an anti-cynical type person, in the back of my brain Im like, This guys yelling out because Im a fucking stand up comic. This is what I do, and its the coolest thing ever. So no, I wouldnt go after hecklers. Id go after some club owner that treated me like a douche bag. Id definitely take on some of those guys, if I could be Mr. Baffert, aka Mr. Smith, for a day.
Whats next for you?
Im getting ready to do another film with Lionsgate. Its kind of a dark comedy, called Bachelor Number Two. Were going to start filming that in July, so were casting it now. Its appealing because its like a Bad Santa. Its a comedy, but Im playing a real prick who seems to have no emotional attachment to anything, so its just a different side of my comedy. Whereas Good Luck Chuck has a lot of physicality and charisma, this is a guy whose name is Tank and hes got to roll over everybody. Theres no filter. Its almost like how you would treat a heckler, on any given night. Anybody who he experiences in his life, hes just going to go for the weak point. If youve got a cleft lip, hes going to be like, Youve got some shit on your lip. Youre in trouble with this guy. So I look forward to getting into the challenge of playing somebody unlike me.
Any plans to go back to stand up?
Always. Ill do stand up tonight, if I can. Stand up comedy is my baby.
Questions? Comments? Manifestos? Send them to me at email@example.com.
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