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INT: Rob Schneider

Apr. 7, 2006by:

I have to admit that I possess a certain admiration for Rob Schneider – not for his acting, but for his perseverance. No matter how much of a critical drubbing the guy receives every time he comes out with a new film, he keeps coming back for more (and Adam Sandler keeps giving him work). Depending on your point of view, the man is symbolic of everything that’s right – or wrong – with America . Call me an optimist, but I choose to believe the former. God bless America and God bless Rob Schneider.

Rob was in Tempe , Arizona a few weeks ago to talk about his latest project, THE BENCHWARMERS. Check it out.

Rob Schneider

You get to play the straight man in this film. Is that the reason why you were attracted to the project?

Well Adam just wanted me to play myself; he said, “Come on no one has ever seen that.” He would actually come on the set and say, “No, no, no. Come on, just be yourself.” “All right, all right.” I have tendency to be want to be goofy and Adam and I…Adam realized kind of early on that I’m playing him. He never said that but I sort of realized, “Okay I get it,” and he had this idea when we were on Saturday Night Live.

I think it was from meeting him and Spade and Farley and he always had this idea, and then we were in Hawaii, at a restaurant waiting for a table, believe it or not. I was waiting for a table, waiting to sit at his table and we were just kind of looking at each other and we both love baseball, so I just kind of like…and I am pretty limber so I just get my Juan Marichal pitch to him and the stretch and everything and he said, “Wow, you know what? You’ve got to do this movie.” And then he came back and wanted me to do it.

This premise needs to be handled somewhat sensitively. Where is the line that keeps a grown man beating kids funny and not inappropriate?

You know, I never knew the line, to be honest with you. Adam would come up to me and say, “Listen, when you go over to the first and second base, take the second baseman and throw him to the ground,” and it’s Sean Salisbury’s kid and Sean said, “Just do it!” And I was like okay and so I went and I just crashed into him and I just grabbed him and threw him down and Adam said, “You got to really throw him to the ground.” And I said, “All right,” and I threw him to the ground and he said, “All right, we got it.” I felt terrible.

But it was…there is a fine line there and that is kind of the thing about it was when I was concerned originally when they were doing the script I said…you know it works if they are really kind of selfish, mean-spirited kids and if they come round at the end…so it kind of works. But you’re right, though; there is that concern. When I was throwing the ball at these little kids – I mean it’s little kids you’re throwing the ball at. But they are about my size. After a while I went, “All right, let them take it.” But I didn’t hit them. I was pretty careful.

Your director claims you’re a natural born athlete.

I wouldn’t say natural born. I trained for 3 months before the movie. You didn’t see the (shots) where I didn’t hit well. I got to do batting practice with the Giants with Scott Lope who throws at 85 miles an hour. Eventually you can catch up if you know what you are doing. But if he tried to throw a curve ball at me, ugh…in the majors you’ve got to be able to hit and change and adjust in less than one thirteenth of a second between a 90 mile an hour fast ball an a 80 mile an hour curve ball, and different locations.

What are the challenges for you to find the comedy that works for you?

All I can do is trust my instincts. I felt like this was a funny idea and this (character) is really nice. David Spade…something about him in this movie, he was more himself than in any other movie. I’m more myself in this movie. Jon Heder, I don’t know who is he but he was not Napoleon Dynamite in this and he is just kind of like a simple funny guy. So it was really kind of…everybody was relaxed. As soon as Spade put the wig on he was really comfortable. Jon Lovitz was funny. There was comfort level and everybody kind of knew and felt comfortable with each other. You don’t always have that so that felt good. David came up with a lot of funny stuff in every scene. I think it is the funniest thing I think he has ever done.

This movie is very pro-little people. Was that important to you?

Well, yeah. I mean I am not the biggest guy…I mean I got to play out with these major leaguers and it was like, “My god they are huge these guys.” But I never considered myself small because I come from…like the Pilipino side of my family, they are all, you know…

Small?

Well midgets, frankly. You know I always felt…I mean maybe it is self-denial but I never felt small until I was like a senior in high school…but it never bothered me…I mean I worked with Danny de Vito when he hosted Saturday Night Live and that is the biggest small person you’ve ever seen. He doesn’t carry himself that way at all. And he just doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder about it. He is such a great guy.

You and Roger Ebert have had your run-ins.

He has got it in for me. You know why, because I went out publicly and said something about him and when he was on Howard Stern I called him and I said, “You’re just mad at me cause girls liked funny guys in high school and you weren’t funny, and you probably didn’t get laid until you were like 30,” and he admitted it. He admitted it, “Well it was 1960, the morals were different,” and I said, “Morals had nothing to do with it man.”

So anyway he admitted it, basically, that he didn’t get laid until he was 30, and then I wrote a letter…I mean I wrote something to Howard and Howard read it on the air. So he has got a thing about me. His last review of my movie was just an emotional…I mean the woman who was the editor for his newspaper used to go out with one of my best friends in Chicago and she said, “Oh yeah that was just an emotional reaction.”

So do you take it personally when you get a Razzy award?

No, I don’t. I went on the Tonight show and talked about it and I said…like Jay and I had some fun with it cause he said like, “Well who calls you when you get nominated for a Razzy? And I’m like, “Steven Segal. And Stallone calls him.”

Were you tempted to attend the ceremony, like Halle Berry did?

I was tempted to go if I could have done it. I was thinking about it and I told my brother who works with me, I said if I can get there I will, but I just had these karate lessons that I’m doing now and with this…the guy who taught Bruce Lee how to do nun chucks. So he is teaching me how to do a soap on a rope for the same thing for my next movie Big Stan, which I am directing.

I’m in good company, though. I was nominated along with Tom Cruise and Adam Sandler and I forget…the Rock. So those are all pretty good company. I had some other jokes that were pretty good…one thing I said on Tonight Show, I said, “Well you know anybody can be in a lousy movie but to be in the worst movie of the year, I mean so many things have to fall in your favour. You have to have a script that is terrible, you have to have a director that’s awful, some lousy actors and still it could just be a miserable movie. I remember half way through this movie thinking, ‘Hmmm, if we keep this up we might have a complete piece of crap on our hands.’”

Where were the Deuce fans this summer?

I don’t know. It was just one of those things where like I think there was too much advertising and it was too dumbed down. I also think that the movie was edited…too much was cut out of it (and) after a while the story just became a joke since some of the story was taken out. So it is nice the next couple of films are not going to be studio pictures, which is really nice cause I’m just going to edit it and do exactly what I want with it.

Including the one you are directing?

Yeah, the one I’m directing is not a studio picture we don’t even have domestic distribution for it and I don’t want it. It is called Big Stan, it is written by Josh Lieb you know one of the last good years from the Harvard Lampoon ‘93, ‘94, I mean I used to keep track of these guys cause like they were coming out of school and really I don’t know any good guys who’ve come out of there since then.

What made you want to direct?

I got tired of the filter between the director and what I’d written and worked on to get through…so that was part of the problem in the last couple of…I like being collaborative but at the same time someone has got to make a decision. So I wanted to direct it. I love working with the actors and to be honest I’ve worked with the actors on all the other movies so I was like, I want to work with them directly and just do it and just make a little film. I mean, the only problem with making a small independent film is you’re making a small independent film. So it is like, what everyone decides to eat that day depends on when you shoot the next day, so we have to be really kind of careful, money-wise.

So are you going to direct Hard R also?

I am going to direct part of it. That is a sketch movie that I am going to do, which is fun. But there is a Hard R series of movies that I am going to make and that is the first one, (which) is a sketch movie kind of like Groove Tube…Bill Murray wants to be involved and I am going to try and get the Wayans brothers to do it. And Matt Sellman.

For European Gigolo you talked about how liberating it was to just do a straight R movie without worrying about being PG…

Yeah, it ended up not being as liberating [laughs].

But now you’re back in PG-13 territory.

You know it's funny, but we kind of…it is not like we are aiming for kids but there is…Adam Sandler has that kind of teenage boy angst down. I mean he really does. And the stuff is like…one of our favorite movies when we were kids was Caddy Shack, so this seems to me like a Caddy Shack-ish movie. It’s got more jokes per minute then any of his, any of Adam’s other movies and he was really hands on in it. So yeah, I don’t mind it.

Are Jon and David really that much worse at baseball or were they holding back?

You know, Jon is a pretty decent athlete. He is just lacking desire and ability and talent. [laughs] No he is actually pretty good. He had a broken leg and he was hitting the ball well. Literally he broke his leg in this other picture. But he’s okay now…he’s young enough to recover. He’ll be all right. David is pretty decent and you know he’s competitive. To make it in this business there’s got to be this competitive edge you have and he does have it.

Do you think we’ll ever see Deuce Bigelow: Time Whore? Cause that sounds like the best idea yet.

You know, we should have done Time Whore last time. Some people really like European Gigolo…I wish it could have been a big hit but it’s kind of good cause it got me to do an independent film. If that was a giant hit I would still be stuck in the studio system.

So we hear you busted a toe and you got yelled at by your director.

He did yell at me. He said, “Don’t use a real hardball.” But I was having trouble throwing it over the plate cause it was a sponge ball and I said, “Just give me the hard ball and I will throw it over the plate,” and I threw it right down the plate…and he nailed it right off my foot. I did break my toe but I wasn’t going to stop after that, so I’m fine, I’m fine perfectly fine.

Questions? Comments? Manifestos? Send them to me at thomasleupp@joblo.com.

Source: JoBlo.com

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