Interview: Your Highness star Danny McBride!

Danny McBride first caught our attention in David Gordon Green’s heartbreaking drama ALL THE REAL GIRLS. As “Bust-ass”, he gives a raw and honest performance, that soon lead him to comedy… really funny comedy. From the hilariously irreverent FOOT FIST WAY to his most recent work in PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, TROPIC THUNDER and of course, his HBO series, “Eastbound & Down”, he is always exciting to watch. And now, you can check out Mr. McBride in YOUR HIGHNESS, a film he co-wrote with Ben Best, which is also directed by Green.

This wild and wicked send up of fantasy adventure films and stoner comedies has a surprising mix of crude humor and heart, which made for a pleasant surprise. Your Highness is exactly what you’d expect, and it’s a great way to spend an hour and a half with a smile on your face. Thanks in part to Danny’s in-your-face approach to humor. Put it this way, if you think a Minotaur with a large, erect penis is funny, you will be entertained.

JoBlo.com recently had the pleasure to chat with Danny. It is always nice to have the chance to talk to Danny. The fact is this is an incredibly funny guy who also happens to be pretty easy-going when it comes to having a successful Hollywood career. The two of us talked about BEASTMASTER, stoner comedy, bizarre humor and Minotaur dick. Suffice it to say, it was a damn entertaining conversation.YOUR HIGHNESS opens this Friday at a theatre near you.

Danny McBride

Why do you think there has been a resurgence of “stoner comedies”?

I don’t know. I think, even with this film, I think it was easy to label this a “stoner comedy” because it was coming from the guy that made PINEAPPLE EXPRESS. But to us, we never really approached it as a stoner film. I’m not saying that you wouldn’t enjoy the movie if you were stoned but to us it was always – with a stoner movie it tends to only appeal to people who are stoned and with this, we were really just wanting to appeal to someone who likes a fantasy film or adventure as well. For this, we were really hoping to expand that. There is definitely stoner humor in here as that’s a vice of my character in the film, but we didn’t really want to just make a film that was geared toward dudes smoking weed and eating pot brownies.

The mix of that humor in this world with monsters and wizards is just bizarre as hell…

Yeah, it’s super bizarre. David and I just made this for the twelve-year-old versions of ourselves. This is the kind of shit we’d watch through a scrambled cable signal at midnight when our parents were sleeping, you know. It’s just a movie that has tits and ass, and has blood and swords, and f*cking terrible, raunchy, crazy humor.

Like staying up late and watching PERILS OF GWENDOLINE IN THE LAND OF YIK YAK…

Yes. This is what we are trying to do here. [Laughing] We almost wanted to just shoot the movie, just have a blurred cable scrambled signal the whole time, everyone in the theatre has to move to see the tits.

[Laughing] Nice. And of course, what about this cast man? You’ve got Natalie Portman who just won an Oscar, and she is living in this world, that’s insane!

It’s really nuts. And to us, David and I wouldn’t have been interested in making the movie if it hadn’t been able to lock down guys like James [Franco] and Natalie because to us it was like, this movie only works if it’s not filled with comediennes. It needs to be presented as if it were a real deal fantasy movie and cast with guys like Damian Lewis, Charles Dance and Toby Jones. In your typical comedy, those would all be prime roles for comediennes to come in and do their deal and get out, but to us, it was important to cast this with real actors and talented people that normally wouldn’t be in movies like this so that the world feels like its legit. The comedy comes from the fact that my character does not belong in this story at all. [Laughing]

You really don’t see this kind of comedy anymore.

Yeah, you don’t, and for David and I it’s like making a genre mixer of comedy and fantasy. Is that something that audiences are going to flock to see? Who the f*ck knows. I have no clue. I mean, this was a risky ass move, but for David and I, we had come to a place in our careers where somebody was actually gonna trust us with a film, and we didn’t have any interest in making something safe or making something that was a sure bet. We were like, we’ve been let into this party, let’s f*ck this place up, let’s do something that no one else is doing right now. Let’s try and do something that is just nuts, and at the end of the day, sink or swim, we did it.

It’s interesting to see you both doing something like this, as opposed to the earlier films like ALL THE REAL GIRLS.

I think it was one of those deal where - I love those films and those were some of my best experiences working on stuff like that. But I think at the time, we were working on independent film and those are the types of stories that you can tell on small budgets. I think that as the budgets get a little bit bigger, the type of storytelling gets a little bit bigger. Just as much as I appreciate a movie like All The Real Girls or GEORGE WASHINGTON, I also appreciate f*cking BEASTMASTER . To us it doesn’t really feel like that odd of an evolution, but I can totally see why it would seem like an odd evolution.

It is surprising for me - especially looking back at when you did Pineapple - David also had SNOW ANGELS come out around the same time. And then you have something even further off like this. Is it always a continuation or do you see yourself (and David) returning to films of that nature?

I think it is always a continuation. David has said this before, and I totally agree, it’s like as an audience member, I always think of every movie in that aspect. I still really can’t picture that I’m doing this, so I always still imagine that I am the fifteen-year-old kid who is buying his movie ticket. I always approach things from that angle, like what do I want to go see, what do I want to do, and I never want to see the same movie over and over and over again, it’s always different movies. And I think in my career it is the same way, doing something like UP IN THE AIR with (Jason) Reitman and something like this with David, it’s always a totally different environment, it’s a totally different working experience. Just as much as the audience doesn’t want to see the same movie over and over, you don’t want to work doing the same movie over and over again. So tackling visual effects and men in suits and sword fighting, it’s something that neither of us had really f*cked with before so it seemed like it was a worthy challenge to take on.

And giant penis beast…!

Huge penis beast! [Laughing]

One of those should be in every single film.

Yeah, I think so, it should be a mandate.

It started with WATCHMEN, but maybe that wasn’t big enough.

Dicks are back dude, dicks are back. Since the Roman times, and now finally, people have evolved and dicks are back. [Laughing]

Can you talk about the challenges to taking on a production this size in regards to the action-set-pieces and special effects? What was the biggest challenge for you?

The trickiest part about this was – and I also wrote this – we were given a comedy budget for this film. And to us, that wasn’t big enough for what we wanted to do. This movie needed to feel like it had scope and it needed to feel big in order for the comedy to work for us, so we stretched that budget as thin as we possibly could. That was one reason why we chose Belfast in Northern Ireland; the landscape was so beautiful there that anything exterior suddenly had that grand scope and had this big feel to it. So we basically had to stretch this budget as far as we possibly could to put everything on the screen. So when something would happen, like it would rain, we’d lose a f*cking day of shooting. It wasn’t like we had endless pockets where we could just tack another day onto the shoot, we were already overextended. So whenever we ran into any of those obstacles - what that would mean is - that night, me and David would have to go back home and re-write the script and figure out where we could take a day of shooting from somewhere else in the script out. This was a tricky one, because not only are you working your ass off in the day, but constantly at nighttime, you are doing damage control. You are all like, ‘Okay, we’re behind about half a day now, also, how can we take a half a day out later on?’ We never stopped writing the script and I haven’t worked on anything where that’s been the case so that was the hardest part. But it was cool because you were just living the movie, every day you are in the trenches.

Did you try and stick with the script or was there a lot of improv on set?

No, we improv’d with it definitely, that was really important to us. We really wanted to make sure that we didn’t get this opportunity to make this kind of movie, and then suddenly we stop doing what we feel makes our comedy work. To us, the most important part in the script writing was really making sure that the story and the structure and the characters that all those things rang true. And we never beat ourselves up over the punchlines because the ways we work, we always toss that stuff off and always try to find ways to top ourselves with every scene. Even if it was a five-headed serpent biting down on us, there would always be different things we were yelling at that creature or different ways to approach that. There is a certain level of playing within the lines because you are shooting something that’s going to be finished in another stage. But we just tried to take all that stuff into accountability and try and figure out how can we have as much fun and be as loose with this without f*cking ourselves over when we are having to create this creature in post.

You mentioned BEASTMASTER, but did you look at the classics like EXCALIBUR and films like that?

It was a mix of all of them, I can remember the very opening of Excalibur was an influence on this film, those riders coming out of the forest at nighttime, but then we got into the tits and the ass and the sex of it. That was definitely the stuff that was coming more from BEASTMASTER. We were basically like, anything that would give us boners when we were children, let’s figure out how to reference it here as adults.

It seems as if this would be prime for a sequel, did you ever think about that?

I think with every film you just hope that someone lets you make a movie again, that’s kind of how we approach it. I f*cking love all these people that we made this movie with, from our production designer to Natalie, to James, to David, I love ‘em. So if we had the opportunity to work together and do this again, I would do it in a heartbeat. But I’m also not an idiot, that would all depend on whether people show up on the opening day or not, that’s kind of out of my hands. But if people did like this movie, I would jump back into this in a heartbeat.

Source: JoBlo.com



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