INT: Danny McBride
After awhile, when you do a handful of junkets and set visits and such, you tend to run into a lot of the same people. With all the flicks that Danny McBride has been making, he has become a regular that you interview quite a few times. Luckily, I’ve been a fan of his since ALL THE REAL GIRLS and I am not surprised to find him becoming as successful as he has. He is just very funny and kind of like that dude you hang out with while playing video games and such. And his work in TROPIC THUNDER, THE FOOT FIST WAY and PINEAPPLE EXPRESS has all been terrific. And once again, we were faced with him on the set of LAND OF THE LOST… he remembered almost everyone in the room. Like I said, he is a very down to earth and funny gent with a nice hint of sarcasm.
Do you have to come up with new things?
No, I'm just like, these guys'll be an easy audience [Laughing].
How do you keep all your stories straight?
We go through it. That's why Claire, my assistant, we have to all have the same lies, like we're coming up with a murder. We all agree on the same things.
What's the story with the tats?
Yeah, tattoos. There's this one, this one here. None of them are mine. They're all courtesy of Universal. My guy has a lot of respect for the red man which shows that he does by calling them ‘red men‘ [Laughing]. Yeah, and this is my character's mother. A lot of character development going into this.
Did you get to pick those yourself?
They gave me a choice of several naked women and I settled on this one. I thought this one was the most appeasing. We should have probably put her upside down though, should've been the other way.
Is this your real hair grown out?
This is, yeah. This is what I'm working with.
Talk about your character in the film?
Yeah, Will in the film… you know in the TV show he was obviously younger. He was a teenager and he was related to Holly and Marshall, which he's not in this. Our paths cross when Marshall and Holly are investigating these mysterious tachyon hits. They find me out in the desert. I own a gas station and a weird shitty amusement park that has one ride. Yeah, we all get swept away into the land of the lost. Now we keep hearing about a Sleestak sex scene…
You guys have seen BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN obviously. Very similar. It's very similar. A lot of punching.
Spits on his palm?
Yeah, hitting, yeah, it's disgusting.
Every one is raving about you guys and your reaction in this scene?
You have to pay 10 bucks to see that but I can tell you a little about them. They swell up here, like when they start getting turned on. This starts going big. You're in for something. It's a weird movie. There's rape jokes in it and sex, I don't know.
Is there going to be an unrated Land of the Lost?
I hope it makes it into the theater. We'll see.
How does the action compare to Tropic Thunder?
It's a whole different deal I guess. This has been a lot of looking at tennis balls and running away from dinosaurs. There were no dinosaurs in Tropic Thunder so that's different [Laughing]. Yeah, this has been… The Tropic stuff, because we were in the jungle and it's 120 degrees and everyone's sweaty and it smells like pig shit, it was really easy to get into the zone of running for your life. Where here you've got to use the old mind bone a little bit more to figure out how you would react to a T-Rex running over the top of you. Is it hard to be funny in that circumstance?
You know what it is… Will just takes everything up a notch that you just try to fall in line. The mood on the set has been so light for something that's been going on for so long, yeah, everyone just always seems to be in a good mood so it hasn't been too hard to stay in a jovial mood I guess.
Both you and Will like doing improv. Is there room for that when you're hitting specific marks and dealing with special effects?
Well, that was one of the things that initially attracted me to this was, Brad's take on it was he wanted to make a big movie with such a large scope with large special effects, and still try to keep the looseness of what Ferrell comedies usually are like. So that seemed interesting to me, to mess around with the improv and kind of keep that comedy and see how that plays when you have Rhythm and Hues, Academy Award winners making T-Rexes and weird lizards running all around you.
How do you work together? I can’t imagine that you could leave the camera running.
No, it's not like that. Its been cool because it just forces you to not be as lazy. Like if you did something that was really good in one take, if you want it to be in there… multiple cameras are hardly ever rolling unless it's like some sort of action or stunt. So it's not like in the scenes we're covering everyone for every riff. It just kind of makes you have to work at it more. Brad will tell you, I think this scene is just going to be this shot. So if you came up with something great in the second take, you have to figure out a way to make it work with what's happening in the fourth take so that it'll be there hopefully in the movie.
Was that similar to Tropic Thunder?
There were more… Ben [Stiller] always had multiple cameras rolling but it wasn't like the cameras were locked down. He would have multiple cameras going and they were each on like 50 feet of dolly tracks. That movie is up on its legs a lot.
Can you talk a little bit about the dynamic with Anna Friel?
Well, I've said before, it's really incredible. She's the first real live British person I've ever met. They don't just live in history books like I thought, so that's cool [Laughing]. It's kind of neat to have your eyes opened like that. It's really cool, it's real, just like the dinosaurs are. No, she's been awesome you know. I think Anna's background is like she comes from a really strong dramatic background, so it's cool to see her walk into something like this and how she just is easily able to just fall right into the deal and she's really funny. When I read the script, a lot revolves around that character because the world of the science and the theories kind of comes from… she balances Will out in a way and you really need that someone that was going to be able to sell this, like tachyon meters and these weird theories about Land of the Lost to make it seem like it's real. I don't know, it's weird. The British accent just legitimizes so many things you would not believe [Laughing].
You’ve been filming nonstop lately including doing a cameo in Jody’s film OBSERVE AND REPORT.
I was a crackhead, yup.
Were you a little hurt that you couldn't do more?
I was. That pained me. I wanted to really be there for Jody and be able to do more. I was going to originally play this role of this cop which had a much bigger role but it just didn't work out. It would've, but the potential strike, the SAG strike, their insurance wouldn't allow Jody's movie to go much later, so we just had to part. But Jody and I are getting to work on this TV show for HBO so we kissed and made up there and then we're just like, I'll see you in Wilmington, we'll meet up then.
What about the HBO show? Can you talk about that?
Yeah, after Will and Adam [McKay] saw THE FOOT FIST WAY and helped us get the deal with Paramount, with those guys, they asked if we had anything else we wanted to do. We really wanted to try to just get into TV but get into HBO specifically. We weren't interested in doing something that's like 24 episodes. We wanted to just do something smaller, something like “Extras” or “The Office“, British television where it's like six or seven episodes in a season and it can be its own unique story that doesn't have to turn into a formula. Those guys were really into that and HBO was into it so we shot a pilot last summer. HBO's picked it up and we're starting to write now and we'll shoot this fall. What's it called?
Right now it's called “Eastbound and Down“. I don't know if that'll be what it's called. We almost named it that as a joke because it's the theme song to SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT but I don't know if you can name a TV show after the theme song to Smokey and the Bandit.
Is it weird because as you said, especially with HBO, you have to wait a really long time? Did you ever feel like, this is never going to happen?
You know, it's one of those things where all these great shows they have are going off the air that we kind of felt, and it's Will Ferrell, why wouldn't they want to be in business with Will. So we shot the pilot and everyone over there seemed to really be into it, but then we waited… yeah, there was a really long period before we heard anything. And there was, in the midst of that, a lot of regime change, so we were hoping that we weren't going to get lost in the shuffle. No, they said they've been into it. We started writing right before the writer's strike and then that happened so that kinda killed everything. Then I was on this movie so that's the main reason it's been delayed for so long.
What's going on in the scene today? We know Anna's character is captured, you have to rescue her?
I think they're working on post rescue. This is like some essential parts of the movie but there's a pretty awesome fight scene that's happening right now. It might involve Will and a T-Rex, I don't know. Maybe it doesn't. Maybe it's a rock.
Did you do any training for fight scenes?
I haven’t. No, no training unfortunately which is probably a good thing because I would have hurt a lot of people. There’s been a lot of battling in this movie, yeah.
Is the kind of movie, and the kind of stage that you have a lot of friends calling and saying they want to stop by and visit?
I’ve had a bunch of friends, yeah, especially like friends who are like huge Sid and Marty Krofft fans. They instantly just gravitate towards them. Guys who are big fans of Bo Welch and they want to come in and see his trees that he’s made for the movie and stuff. I went to film school so these guys have very specific interests in the movie, yeah.
Was it weird working with the Kroffts?
Oh yeah, it’s been incredible. Those guys have been amazing. It’s cool to just come to work and just f*ckin’ make fun of Marty Kroft to his face and just joke around with him. He throws it back you. It’s like this is so surreal, hanging out with these guys. They’re incredible.
I’m assuming you watched the show growing up, were you a fan of it?
Yeah, yeah, I watched actually a lot of Sid & Marty Krofft stuff when I was a kid. My parents were really into it so that was just something that they kind of opened the door to me. It was weird though because I had watched a lot when I was a kid. Then when I started to grow older, I kind of had just forgotten about “Land of the Lost“. Then I think I saw a picture of a Sleestak somewhere and it unlocked all those ancient fears, like oh God, I remember being horrified of these things. So it was definitely a pretty trippy day the first day the Sleestaks worked, just walking onto a set, there’s like 30 of them just coming out and their little pinchers, walking all slow.
Do you get to hear the noise or are they going to do a lot of it in post?
They’re going to do a lot of it in post, yeah. Sometimes Brad’ll get on the microphone and do it while the scene’s going on. He’s a good Sleestak. He has a good Sleestak voice.
What’s Will’s deal? Holly and Marshall are science types. So Will’s deal is…
Well, Will’s deal is this. Look at this. This is his amusement park. This is the Devil’s Mystery Cave right here. Here’s my office. That’s my home, right there.
What’s the one ride?
It’s the Devil’s Mystery Cave. It’s like a shitty log flume ride almost [Laughing], where you’ve got to go through on a raft, very reminiscent of the TV show. In this area, you know, he talks about how this area’s known for the infamous legends of the lizard man, which you notice kind of vaguely looks like a Sleestak. So there’s kind of this hint to the mythology that maybe other things have passed through this area somehow.
So you’re trying to say that your character is the key?
He might be. A guy who owns a store like this [Laughing], he’s probably the dude who holds the key to the universe obviously. This is what Will’s really about. He’s trying to save up to open up his humongous casino… roller coasters and all kinds of crazy shit.
Where does that image appear in the movie?
There’s a miniature model that is inside the store.
That looks like the incinerator that we saw.
Yeah, so there’s all this kind of weird kind of tie back.
Is it possible he’s been there before?
You know, we’ll have to see [Laughing]. I don't know. Here’s when shit gets crazy on the ride. That’s us. There’s me. Look at that, you can see the denim shirt and everything. Look at that, there’s me again, screaming. That’s all the stuff you guys saw earlier.
I think we’ve cracked a code here.
Yeah, there’s something to be read in there, huh?
Were they designing a ride for Universal Studios?
Well, that’s what we’re imagining. Now that we’ve got the King Kong ride outta there [Laughing], we can put the Land of the Lost ride. Just makin’ moves, makin’ moves.
Did the fire affect production at all?
It didn’t, but everyone was really scared. I think half the people were scared that our sets were burned down. Like Daniel Lupi was afraid that we started it. So there was a lot of… everyone was very frightened but luckily we were okay. All the work that had gone into the sets, none of it was affected so that was good.
Were you shooting at the time?
We weren’t. It happened on a Sunday morning so no, we were supposed to go back the next day.
Is this the biggest project you’ve been involved with?
Yeah, I think this and Tropic probably are, yeah, the two biggest. They’re about this much bigger than The Foot Fist Way. Just a little bigger.
How has this summer been for you?
It’s actually been great. We went through - Vantage has been kind of crazy because they just got, I think the day after Foot Fist came out, they got folded into regular Paramount so everyone who should’ve been keeping an eye on what the movie’s doing were suddenly looking for new jobs, but they stuck with us. We open up in like, I think, 25 more cities this week and then we go next week. I don't know, the movie only cost $70 grand so it really only has to get about 10 more people into seats to make a return on it.
What’s the status on you and David Gordon Green’s, YOUR HIGHNESS?
We’re trying to make it not too big so we can make it as lame as we want to make it and keep it rated R and everything. We just really want to kind of do our take on, like a movie like KRULL or DRAGONSLAYER. We’re not really making fun of the genre but just making a movie like that that looks like that and feels like that and uses those old kind of special effects and just hit it. David I think is really great about covering, hitting tones like that. That’s what’s so amazing about PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, is it feels like an ‘80s action movie without making fun of an ‘80s action movie. He just embraces the tone on another level. I think it’d be funny for him to try to make his CLASH OF THE TITANS. It would just probably be the dumbest movie that’s ever been made.
You’d be Harry Hamlin, you‘d be the hero?
Yeah, yeah, I battle with a hula hoop. The Hoop of Doom is his weapon of choice, a big metal hula hoop.
And is MR. MACHINE something else you’re doing?
Yeah, yeah. We’re turning that into Universal next week. That’s just our take on one of those old Amblin films. It takes place in the mid ‘80s, follows around these science fair geeks that construct this robot that ends up getting a life of its own. It’s like a Short Circuit zombie movie kind of [Laughing]. That was something that we had written before any of this other stuff that happened, so we just went back and dug it out and started working on it, trying to reinvent it and people were interested in it. Now, David originally had no interest in directing it but now after where we’ve gotten this puppy, he kind of is a little more interested. Who knows? I don't know.
What are your next projects aside from the seventeen you are already working on?
I think that’s it. I’m working on a really cool iPhoto slideshow for my mom. That should be hitting theaters soon hopefully. Some YouTube, some webisodes. We’re working on some webisodes.
Are you into the geeky kinda stuff?
I’m mildly into graphic novels and comic books, but I’m reading Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman now. Bill Hader told me that I had to get into that, so I’m on book six now, the weirdest series. It’s pretty cool. I like it. I’m digging it. I’m surprised that no one’s tried to adapt that.
It’s been horrible, right? Oh, I own an Xbox and a Playstation and a Wii so all bases are covered.
Well, the last thing I was getting my knuckles wet with was Call of Duty but then the movie happened so I had to put my gun down. But now I’ve been rockin’ a little Grand Theft in my downtime so that’s been fun.
Not Guitar Hero?
You know, what I don’t like about those games is I have a skill set that only goes so far, so no matter how much I play it, I just can’t get past fuckin’ medium so it pisses me off.
Let me know what you think. Send questions and/or comments to JimmyO@JoBlo.com.
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