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


. After years of minor parts in forgettable films like MYSTERY MEN
and TORQUE, Cook got his very own starring vehicle alongside Jessica
Simpson in last year’s EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH. Undaunted by that
film’s underwhelming performance, Cook returns with a vengeance
this week with the thriller MR.
. It’s Cook’s first dramatic role in a major
release. Will the legions of fans that enjoy his comedy be willing
to embrace him as a serious actor? Since I’ve never really met any
actual fans of Cook’s comedy, I honestly couldn’t tell you.

Cook stopped by Le Meriden Hotel in

Beverly Hills

to talk about his experience working alongside Kevin Costner and
William Hurt in MR. BROOKS. Check it out.


director said that you sent them a videotaped audition in order to
get the part. What was that experience like?

was like auditioning for American Idol or something like that.
Actors will tell you, when somebody says, “Will you go on tape?”
it’s 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 person’s got a baby in their arms, or
what’s 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

New Mexico

, where we were filming Employee of the Month, and I literally ran
between scenes cause I had this one day to do it. I set up the
camera and I had one of my good friends read the lines. He was
awful, too. He’s not an actor at all. I would actually…I kept
stopping because I had to tell him how to act. I’d be like, “Say
this: “I’m gonna kill you.’” But he’d be like [stilted
delivery] “I’m going to kill you.” Acting is reacting, and
I’m like, “God, you suck!”

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 it’s the right part, it just starts
to take a hold of you. And I knew this guy. I’m 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 I’d met in my travels, and spun the
wheel, sent the tape and got the call. “You did it. You did it,
kid. You’re in the flick. You’re heading to


.” So…

a guy who does a lot of improv, what was it like working from a
script? Did you always stick to the script?

the most part – about 95% of the time. It’s the writer and the
director’s vision, and you’re a piece of their puzzle. It’s
the polar opposite of comedy, where you’re in such control –
writer, director, producer, sometimes bouncer. And you’re stepping
in…the other 5% were scenes with Kevin. There’s a scene after
we’ve 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,
“What’s going on here?”

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, “I’m in a dramatic scene and we’re
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 he’s not going to let you down, and
then the material, which was solid. We were like, “We can’t
miss.” It just felt right. And I know it’s the kind of scene
that people will be able to watch and feel moved, in some way, by

At one point during Mr. Brooks, William Hurt’s character remarks about
you, “If he were charming and funny, I still wouldn’t like
him.” Was that always in the script, or was it improvised?

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. It’s something I’d 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 it’s more than just stand
up comedy.” The only way I’m going to have that is to do it
myself because nobody trusts that I can do it. So there’s that.
But then there’s that creative side. It’s like, I’ve done
stand up for 17 years and I need to explore other things, whether it
be doing a voiceover for this other movie I’m 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…now, comedy
is safe for me. I can perform in front of 20,000 people at



and I’m like, “I know how to do this. This is what I do.” I
want to be a little scared.

has it been like to enjoy such a meteoric rise to fame?

I was in


, I had this thing where all of my comedic friends were going to

New York

. I said, “I’m not going to

New York

.” They were like, “You gotta go!” I was like, “I’m not
going to go to

New York


New York

calls me, until I have a purpose to go there.” That is how I do
everything. Everything. I don’t just say, “I need to do a
comedy.” I had other comedic scripts come along before Employee of
the Month; I had other TV shows, that I just felt wasn’t authentic, or it didn’t
pump my nads. You know what movie that’s from? Anybody? Breakfast
Club? Ok.

don’t push. I guess that’s kind of my thing. I just don’t
push. I always have stand-up. I always have a way to make a few
shekels. I’m not in need. So, I just wait for stuff that makes me
go, “Shit, that’s kinda creepy. That’s kinda like weird.
That’s 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, that’s up to
the movie gods and for the audience to go, “Yeah, we’d 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,
“I’m not going to push. I’m going to go with the flow. If this
is what I’m meant to do now, I’m going to do it for the rest of
my life.

not, I’ll create something somewhere behind the scenes. Wherever
I’m meant to be, I’m going to just eat it up.” And I enjoy the
hell out of it. I’m 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.

was it like having William Hurt around, playing Kevin Costner’s
imaginary friend?

can’t ignore William
. He’s William fucking Hurt. I’ve 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. I’m 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 didn’t know how to
approach William Hurt. I didn’t know what his take was, so I just
waited. We did that first scene in the boardroom together – where
he’s sitting at the end of the table – and I was feeling him,
but I couldn’t.

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 O’Donnell, 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 didn’t 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 shouldn’t say this to
you right now because we’re doing this, but you’re doing really
great.” I just went home and called my whole family and said,
“William Hurt just told me I’m doing really great, and he really
meant it.”

was that scene in the car, where he leans in between Kevin and I,
and I didn’t expect him to do that. I just had to do my thing, but
I could feel him. He’s 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 Kevin’s got that same way. And even Demi. These are the
elite. I’m 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 I’m 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 you’re a comedian. I’ve 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 I’m like,
“This guy’s yelling out because I’m a fucking stand up comic.
This is what I do, and it’s the coolest thing ever.” So no, I
wouldn’t go after hecklers. I’d go after some club owner that
treated me like a douche bag. I’d definitely take on some of those
guys, if I could be Mr. Baffert, aka Mr. Smith, for a day.

What’s next for you?

I’m getting
ready to do another film with Lionsgate. It’s kind of a dark
comedy, called Bachelor Number Two. We’re going to start filming
that in July, so we’re casting it now. It’s appealing because
it’s like a Bad Santa. It’s a comedy, but I’m playing a real
prick who seems to have no emotional attachment to anything, so
it’s 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 he’s got to roll over everybody. There’s no filter.
It’s almost like how you would treat a heckler, on any given
night. Anybody who he experiences in his life, he’s just going to
go for the weak point. If you’ve got a cleft lip, he’s going to
be like, “You’ve got some shit on your lip.” You’re 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. I’ll
do stand up tonight, if I can. Stand up comedy is my baby.

Comments? Manifestos? Send them to me at [email protected]