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The A.V. Club Interview Alan Tudyk

9 October 2011 Leave a comment

Interview

Alan Tudyk

by Sam Adams September 30, 2011

Fans of Joss Whedon’s work need no introduction to Alan Tudyk, the toy-dinosaur-collecting, endlessly loveable pilot of Firefly’s spaceship Serenity, and the terrifying rogue Alpha on Dollhouse. Non-Whedon fans may still know him as Dodgeball’s Steve The Pirate; or the naked, tripping mourner in Frank Oz’s Death At A Funeral; or John Turturro’s gun-toting, computer-hacking, flamboyantly gay assistant in the third Transformers movie; or Katherine Heigl’s boss in Knocked Up, who insinuatingly urges her to “tighten” post-pregnancy. Unusually perceptive viewers may also recognize the face beneath the CGI skin of I, Robot’s deceptive robot Sonny. As the YouTube collections of his funniest moments testify, Tudyk has made a big impression in a lot of small parts, although it’s unclear whether fans always connect the dots.

Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil might change that. As half of the titular pair, Tudyk plays second fiddle for once, rather than third or fourth. Essentially The Texas Chain Saw Massacre shot from the point of a view of a misunderstood Leatherface, Eli Craig’s Tucker & Dale is a knowing twist on the killer-redneck genre. Tudyk and Tyler Labine’s guileless yahoos are the victims, mistaken by a group of anxious college-kid campers for murderous mountain men. As the kids’ attempts at counterattack end in bloody miscalculation, the stakes and the body count continue to rise; it’s a slasher movie in which the villains have clumsy feet and excruciatingly poor timing. While gearing up for his role on the new series Suburgatory, Tudyk talked to The A.V. Club about underplaying Tucker & Dale’s gonzo comedy, the difference between working with Joss Whedon and Michael Bay, and why he’d like a do-over on Knocked Up.

The A.V. Club: You’re shooting right now?

Alan Tudyk: Yeah, I’m shooting Suburgatory. Today, I didn’t work; I just went in for a spray tan. I’m overly spray-tanned for this role. Which is a little new, having a ginger aura. Usually, it’s more of the pale thing happening, and now I’m this—I don’t even know the color to call it. It’s like the color of an old moccasin or a fried wonton if you fried it in chorizo grease.

AVC: Mentally flipping through clips of your performances, I don’t recall a lot of pigment. Do you tan?

AT: I can tan. I get tannish. It’s not really tan, it’s tannish. That kind of color. I was at the beach for a long time, and for a while, I was really into paddle tennis. For a while, I was going out for like four hours, three times a week, and I got tan then. My hair turned blonde and I got tan. I have to really devote myself.

AVC: Paddle tennis is a surprisingly punishing sport.

AT: Yeah, my God. I miss it. I live on a beach in Beachwood Canyon.

AVC: You grew up in Plano, Texas?

AT: Yeah.

AVC: And the screenwriters are from Southern California. Did you push your Tucker & Dale character toward a more informed view of the South?

AT: When Tyler and I first got together and started working on the role, one of the first nights when I got to Calgary, we started talking about accents, and he was like, “Look, guys, I’m from Canada, I don’t know this accent.” Tucker & Dale are from West Virginia. We looked on YouTube, and there are a lot of examples of people with accents from that part of the world. It’s similar to a Texas accent, but there are differences. We started working, and I said, “You know what, man? I can already tell you what’s going to happen, because I did this with Doc Potter in 3:10 To Yuma, from Virginia also. I start off with the Virginia accent, and then really quickly it just turns Texan. I’m a professional, and I know it’s going to happen. I’m just going to be Texan, so let’s just do it!” [Laughs.] So he followed me, and every once in a while, he’d be like, “How do I say this word? And how do I say this word?” and I’d give it to him. It’s just a Texan accent. It’s how I talk when I’m back home with certain cousins.

AVC: The accent really comes back when you spend time at home.

AT: Yeah, it’s amazing, man. I had to say, for Suburgatory, the other day [Texan accent] “propane.” I had a hell of a time saying propane without a Texan accent. Like “pro-paiiiin.”

AVC: [Quoting a frequent King Of The Hill refrain.] “Propane and propane accessories.”

AT: Exactly, and that didn’t help, you know? Like really. Get driven home by Dale.

AVC: It’s a pretty high-concept film, but compared to some of the character parts you’ve done, it’s surprisingly underplayed. It’s not real over-the-top redneck.

AT: That was from the very beginning. I told Eli I wanted it to be done as real as possible. The stakes are high, in a real way. That way, it can be really funny. The realer it is, the funnier it will be. After the guy attacks Tyler and falls on his spear and the guy jumps in the wood-chipper and then we come inside, we have that scene and Tyler’s like, “What happened to you?” It’s like [Texan accent], “Well, let me tell you what I just saw! I’ll tell you what happened! Oh my God!” You’re trying to hold onto reality, like, “What the fuck just happened?” And then it becomes very serious, like they’re going to go to jail for a long time, and the thought was, “If we can keep it there, then when the cop does show up, then it’s funny.”

AVC: The early scene where the college kids stop at the convenience store is pure Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The guy behind the counter really fits that kind of creepy Deliverance template. There’s just enough that you can see how the kids might get the wrong idea. 

AT: Yeah, that guy was funny. He actually introduced himself with that Deliverance thing going on to Tyler and me that day. Like, “Hi, nice to meet you.” [Slowly.] “Hi, how are you?” He had that slow speech. Like, “Wow, this guy—they really found a master of drawls. He’s okay.” He was an odd guy.

AVC: The character of Dutch in Transformers: Dark Of The Moon seems like a case where you were given the outline, but there was a lot of room for you to fill in the details. Is that right?

AT: Definitely, with that role. Michael Bay encourages improv and does a lot of rewriting in the moment. When you show up on set, he’s like, “This doesn’t make sense. What are we saying here? We need to do this, this, and this. How are we going to say it?” He can rewrite the scene right there. I think the reason I got the role was the audition scene. It’s right at the beginning, where Agent Simmons, [John] Turturro, says, “What’ve you got for me today?” and I say [in accent], “Well, you have a lunch this afternoon with Hugo Chávez, you’re doing Larry King later, you’re doing this and that, and a book signing.” And I did that scene, it’s very short. A couple of lines. He’s like, “Okay, now improv it.”

So you just fill the whole fucking thing in, because it’s just a list, and you can say anything whatsoever. “You have lunch with Hugo Chávez, but he’s insisting on Applebee’s. I told him about your history with this, and he doesn’t care. I have half the restaurant, and that waiter won’t be there, they’ve assured me. Also, you are seeing Larry King later, which I think is interesting because I think he’s dead, I’m fairly sure. Last time, I saw a very melted candle. Very hot day at the wax museum.” You just keep going and going: “I think Hugo Chávez looks like Javier Bardem, but just as if his eyes were pinched as he was a child, like he was a bad boy and they’d pinch him in the face: ‘Stop talking, you bad boy!’ and then they crossed just like that. You know, Javier Bardem looks like a sexy Easter Island statue.” Just bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. And then they went “Great! You’ve got the role.”

Then when you go on set, the bullshit begins again, and you just come up with lines and stuff. The more you have to offer—at least in that situation, every movie is different—but in that situation, the more you have to offer, the more you’re going to be in the movie. If you don’t have anything to offer, you got nothing to say. There’s plenty of other stuff to put in the movie, as you can tell, they’re long, these movies, and you just get cut out. If you’ve got something to play with, he encourages it.

AVC: There was a similar process to getting cast in Knocked Up, right? Where it was a matter of improvising that character.

AT: Yeah, I’d like to do that one over again, though.

AVC: You would? It’s a pretty popular scene.

AT: I was tired. I was just home from England. I didn’t know anything about Kristen Wiig, except when we were in the scene, I was like, “Oh my God, she is amazing.” I’m experiencing what a lot of people who love Kristen Wiig have experienced in the past if they’ve done it by watching Saturday Night Live. I’m in the room with her going, “Who is this woman? She’s fucking awesome!” I showed up, and they’re like, “Do what you did in the audition.” I was like, “I don’t remember it.” I honestly had no recollection of it, because I went to the audition at like 9 a.m., left the audition, went to the airport, got on a plane, shot Death At A Funeral, then came home and the next day shot that [scene]. I was bad, anyway. This is my way of saying I want to play with Kristen Wiig another time.

AVC: We will pass on that message.

AT: But not in a sexual way, so if she has a boyfriend, that would be rude.

AVC: How different is it working with Joss Whedon? He’s such a precise writer, it seems like there would be a lot less leeway.

AT: It’s not the same working with Joss. He has a very specific vision, and there’s no improv-ing on his stuff. Which is funny. When I did Dollhouse—his last TV show, and I think probably the last TV thing he’ll ever do. Why work for Fox? He doesn’t have to do that anymore. He can just take it straight to the Internet, like he did with Dr. Horrible[’s Sing-Along Blog]. He had agreed to do the TV show before he did Dr. Horrible, and Dr. Horrible was this great experience which changed how he saw a product could be brought to market. He could do it his way, he could do it with the people he wanted, it didn’t have to have people telling him what to do. Then he did the TV show. When I was on Dollhouse, I got to improv a line. I did it just in rehearsal of the scene, the scene ended, and I said one line, and I forget what it was. The guy, we were about to get into a fight and he calls me something, I don’t even remember what. “Did you just call me a blah-blah-blah?” Whatever it was. And he said, “Oh, let’s put that in.” And I said, “Whoa, no way! Are you serious? I cannot believe I’m getting my own line in a Joss Whedon thing.” Joss was there, and he goes, “Really? Oh. I’ve relaxed.” And he meant it like he was surprised to hear me say that. “Really? I don’t feel the same way about that anymore.” He’s into that, I guess, now. When we did Firefly, when we did Serenity, there wasn’t a lot of improv-ing. When Tim Minear directed, he was the executive producer, with him, there was improv-ing. When Tim wrote a script, he encouraged it. Joss has a very specific view. He’s a very specific writer.

AVC: The Alpha reveal on Dollhouse was stunningly effective. You played such a nice, goofy character on Firefly, and were introduced on Dollhouse as this paranoid nerd, and then all of a sudden the sleeves come off, and you’ve got these intimidating biceps we’ve never seen. It’s like Whedon took advantage of the fact that fans would know you from another project, and deliberately played against that. 

AT: Yeah, it was great. He didn’t let on that he wanted me to do that. He said he got the idea for me to play it after, because he does these Shakespeare readings at his house, where you go over to his house and do a reading of Cleopatra. I got to see Morena Baccarin play Cleopatra, she was wonderful. I don’t know what I did. Oh, I was in Cleopatra.

AVC: He said you did Caesar.

AT: Yeah, that’s right, I did Caesar. And he said after that, he was like, “Yep.” Really? [Laughs.] Wow. He told me about it at a party. We’re at Nathan Fillion’s house, we’re playing Pictionary, and on the break from playing, we were in the kitchen, and I was like, “Hey, tell me about the show. What’s going on?” And then he told me about the role. And I was like, “That sounds awesome! Who’s playing that?” Truly, I wouldn’t have even thought that he would have picked me. It wasn’t, “So who’s playing that? Would you ever consider…” It was really a hoot. And he asked me to do it. It was really great.

AVC: That’s in a way why it was so effective, the fact that you didn’t even think of yourself for that character.

AT: Right! Exactly. [Laughs.] “Alan Tudyk’s playing Alpha.” I’m Alan Tudyk! What the fuck?

AVC: At school, you did Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw, but most of what you’ve done professionally has had a comic element, or been outright comedy. Alpha might be the most dramatic, certainly the scariest thing you’ve done. 

AT: Yeah, that was great.

AVC: Do you want to do more of that? Are you happier doing comedy? 

AT: I don’t know. I learned from doing Alpha that I like doing comedy. Not because I hated playing the menacing guy, but because I relished playing Stephen Kepler, who was the guy Alpha introduces himself as before he turns. When I was Stephen Kepler, the agoraphobic architect who made the Dollhouse, who gets kidnapped by the former FBI agents. While I was doing that, I had endless ideas: “Why don’t we do this? Oh, can I do this? What about this? What about this? What about this?” I just naturally leaned toward that, and I was having a blast on set and joking with people—fun times. Then when I was doing Alpha the killer, I was quiet, I was sitting by myself, I had to concentrate to make sure I knew what I was—it was a whole different focus. I just enjoy the hell out of myself when I’m playing an idiot. [Laughs.] I have a lot of those tendencies. I’d love to play another bad guy, but Alpha was such an awesome bad guy, it would have to be really cool.

AVC: In terms of not having that looseness, what was the I, Robot experience like for you? There’s a huge technical component to performance-capture that’s omnipresent.

AT: I wish I had that performance on film.

AVC: Do you mean the original performance, before they turned you into a robot?

AT: Yes, before they did the digitalization. I was there for six months, and I saw it when we were looping it and doing all the ADR, and then they rendered it frame by frame onto all of my facial muscles. I don’t envy those who did it. It was such a great role to get to play. It’s like Pinocchio, the wooden boy who wants to be real; it’s the robot who has feelings, and is like, “What happens when I die? What does it mean?” He starts by having to kill his father, now he’s lying; he’s done all these things he wasn’t supposed to do, and has to be killed. It was this great, tragic, beautiful, big-hearted character. I loved it. I loved playing that role.

AVC: Is it hard to do that when you’re wearing a green leotard?

AT: Yeah, wearing a green suit all day long. That wasn’t my favorite. There was a silver one that I liked a lot, but I didn’t get to wear that one as often. It looked very cool. But I was very green most of the time. It’s an odd process. It’s like you paint a painting, and I go, “Great! I’m going to do a painting of that painting.” And then I show the painting of your painting to the world. And that’s how everybody knows your painting. The people who painted my painting are very good painters, but still, there is something lost in the translation. That’s why, only for my personal reasons, I would love to see it again, because it was a while ago now, and I really loved it.

AVC: As an actor, you aren’t choosing takes, you aren’t editing it together, you aren’t really in control of how your performance comes out. But normally, at least they can’t put in things you didn’t do. That isn’t the case when they’re redrawing your entire face. 

AT: Exactly. There was a learning process, there was a learning curve, for both of us. For myself and for the digital team. Early on, there was a moment when one of the guys pulled me aside and said “Can we have you for a couple of minutes?” Like, “Sure, what do you need?” “We just want to get some surprise faces, just a menu that we can work from, just to put in.” “Okay, cool. Like, surprise like I just won the lottery? Or surprise like my girlfriend’s pregnant and I just lost my job and I don’t know how I’m going to raise my kid? Because both of those are surprise.” “Well, I just meant surprise.” I said, “Yeah, I don’t think we need any just-surprise faces. Why don’t we stick to any faces I do in the scene? Those ones. If there’s surprise, that’s the one.” “Ah, I didn’t even think about that!” You wouldn’t, I guess. It was a learning process.

AVC: It depends on the people who are doing it, too. A lot of character animators think of themselves as actors. Certainly the great ones do.

AT: Yeah, it was interesting. We were watching a little of it together, and I would have to point out—it just becomes that they’re perceiving my performance and this is their version of it, and then it gets perceived again, so that it just becomes diluted. Diluted, but at the same time enhanced, because if you just had a dude running around in a green fucking Spandex suit, you’d be like, “I don’t think he’s a robot, I’m not buying this.” [Laughs.] It doesn’t seem that intimidating as a force. So it’s a trade-off.

AVC: You’re playing Stephen Douglas in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. How much debating is there in the movie?

AT: Not much. [Laughs.] Really, a third of it. They get around to some vampires at some point. There’s not much debating. It’s more a reason to hat-tip what ends up happening, because it’s more about other things ultimately, I guess. That’s what they told me. I was like, “What? I thought… I’m not sure about this.” I come in and out of the movie. I’m his political foil, as he was historically. Whenever Lincoln needs a political foil, I just show back up on the scene. In the beginning, he takes my fiancée [Mary Todd] from me, he steals her away, which is what happened. I’m always sort of this foil who’s lurking until I die. Which is in the book, so it’s not really a spoiler. It’s going to be really interesting. Timur [Bekmambetov] is an amazing director. I’m very interested to see it. I just went with it, whatever. I think if you saw Night Watch, he has so many things happening at once. Very innovative, creepy, bizarre, scary, hysterical stuff happening all at once. I’m more in the buffoonery part of it. I serve that function for Timur, wearing a silly wig. The wig and the clothes I wear, I just look like a buffoon.

AVC: Which is where you’re comfortable, as you said.

AT: [Laughs.] Which is where I’m comfortable—playing a jackass on the scene, rolling in with my pocket watch and my buffoon hairdo, with my shoes.

AVC: What can you say about the very tan person you’re playing right now on Suburbagatory?

AT: I’m kind of, again, another buffoon, another jackass. While I was doing Stephen Douglas, it’s like, “God, why am I considered to play a jackass? I’m getting into the jackass groove here.” He’s a guy who lives in suburbia who’s beckoned his friend, Jeremy Sisto, to move out there, and he brings his daughter. She moved out of the city because she needs better influences. He doesn’t like how she’s growing up in the city; she’s 16, he’s a single parent, he feels inadequate. I tell him he should come on out here. I’m his best friend, and I have embraced the suburbs. I love the country club, very into tanning. I have a brilliant, bright-red Speedo. I like golfing. I’m a cosmetic dentist, which is sort of perfect. I will make a decayed tooth look good. Whatever might be decaying is kind of the perfect analogy for suburbia, which I grew up in. I cover it up and make it shiny, and I’m that shiny surface.

AVC: You are the spray tan on the outside.

AT: Yes, I am the spray tan. It’s really funny, man, I have to say. Emily Kapnek, who created it, she’s got a great group of writers together, and they’ve got some really bizarre humor. Some really funny, odd shit that makes me laugh. Nothing my character says, but still very funny. It’s very repeatable, so hopefully that comes through, and people like it. It’s got a good slot right before Modern Family, which is my favorite show. So keep the TV on. We should be good. I’ll catch the end of Suburgatory in time for Modern Family, so I’ll get to see some of it.

AVC: There should be a crossover at some point.

AT: Come on! I would love it. I want to crossover to all the shows. I want to do Modern Family, I want to do a Castle. I’m pitching that already, because Nathan Fillion is a friend, and we’ve been trying to figure out what I’m going to do, but now that I’m on the same network, I need to get my character into the Castle world. He needs to come out of the city and into the suburbs, because we are in the suburbs of the city, so it’s going to be awesome. I’m beyond Nathan, I’m into the producers and pitching them stuff.

Original Interview at The A.V. Club

Five Favorite Films With Alan Tudyk from Rotten Tomatos

9 October 2011 Leave a comment

Five Favorite Films with Alan Tudyk

The Tucker & Dale vs. Evil star also talks about his new movie and attending pirate faires.

by Ryan Fujitani | Thursday, Sep. 29 2011
Comedic actor Alan Tudyk is what we affectionately refer to as a “that guy,” someone whose face is almost immediately recognizable but whose name tends to elude the average moviegoer. Remember Pirate Steve in Dodgeball? “Oh, that guy!” Remember Simon, who endures a hilariously bad drug trip, from the original 2007 comedy Death at a Funeral? “Oh, that guy!” Remember Hoban “Wash” Washburne from the cult sci-fi show Firefly (and its subsequent film sequel, Serenity)? “Oh, that guy!” Yes, whether you realize it or not, Alan Tudyk has been making you laugh for years.

This week, Tudyk stars alongside Tyler Labine as the titular duo in the horror movie satire Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, successfully adding “misunderstood hillbilly” to his colorful list of past characters. The film, in which a couple of backwoods hayseeds on vacation are mistaken for murderous psychopaths, generated quite a bit of positive early buzz and has already been stamped Certified Fresh, and though it opens theatrically this week in limited release, it’s already available via video on demand. RT was recently afforded the opportunity to speak with Tudyk, who absolutely gushed about his Five Favorite Films and went on to discuss his role as Tucker, his fear of horror movies, and his experience hanging out with pirates for a day. Read on for the full interview!


All That Jazz (Bob Fosse, 1979; 87% Tomatometer)

I’m going to go with All That Jazz for number one. It’s Bob Fosse directing a movie about himself; he changed the name to Joe Gideon from Bob Fosse. So he’s directing a movie about a musical choreographer/director who takes too many pills, sleeps with too many women, drinks too much; he’s a moviemaker who’s editing a movie while he’s doing a play and having hallucinations with musicals. It’s so unbelievable how he balances it all, and it’s Roy Scheider’s best performance, I think, ever. He’s amazing in it. It is so amazing.

He’s a pretty despicable guy in the movie — I mean, he sleeps around on his girlfriend — but you love him. The doctors tell him not to take his drugs, but he does it anyway, and you still love him. You don’t blame him. And it’s sort of how Bob Fosse ended up dying, so he really forecasted his own death. I mean, he even put his girlfriend in the movie as his girlfriend — Joe Gideon’s girlfriend — and then cheated on her! Like, he had his character cheat on her. It’s so f***ing unbelievable. Just brilliant. That’s number one. That would be my, I have to say, overall all-time favorite. I’m just very impressed by that movie. It’s just really, really good. It’s got like four musical numbers in there, but they’re not like Glee. Some of them are in drug-induced hallucinations, and some of them are, he’s actually directing a musical. I’ve done plays; I’ve done one musical. But the first table read, when they’re going to put up this play, it is so like the table read on plays. I recognize so many things that they get right. Yeah, that’s my all-time favorite.

Young Frankenstein (Mel Brooks, 1974; 94% Tomatometer)

After that would be Young Frankenstein. I think that, laugh for laugh… I mean, if you’re going to go for more laughs, I think Blazing Saddles. But Young Frankenstein‘s just a better movie. More solid. And it’s Gene Wilder. I was such a huge fan of Gene Wilder when I was growing up that I even used to try to do… He used to do something; he would say nonsensical… He would make noise in movies without words. He would say things like: [mumbles incoherently], like that, and it made me laugh so hard when he would do that, that I would try to put it in movies when I started acting.

I did a movie called 28 Days, and I’m in rehab, and we’re in a circle talking about our feelings, and the script said, “She calls on Gerhardt, but he’s crying and he can’t respond,” and she says, “Okay, we’ll come back to you.” And so it came out. “Gerhardt, would you like to say something?” [bawls incoherently] And I just make noise. [laughs] And then I snuck it into A Knight’s Tale when I’m trying to threaten Chaucer for the first time. I’m like, [frustrated mumbling]. I would just rip [Gene Wilder] off, totally try to mimic him. So, Gene Wilder, huge fan. That’s number two.

What’s Up, Doc? (Peter Bogdanovich, 1972; 91% Tomatometer)

Number three is What’s Up, doc?. Peter Bogdanovich directed. It’s his homage to Keystone Kops-type slapstick comedy movies. No, it’s not Keystone Kops; he does have Keystone Kops moments, but it’s… Not a slapstick movie; it’s called something else. They were really popular at one time, with like Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn.

RT: Screwball comedies?

Screwball comedies! There we go. And it’s got Kenneth Mars, who’s also in Young Frankenstein, as an inspector with one arm. Kenneth Mars, who also does a great… He yells at them right at the end in Russian, but it’s not Russian; he just makes up a lot of noise. Madeline Kahn’s first movie; she’s brilliant in it. And Austin Pendleton, a young Austin Pendleton, who’s hysterical. And, unbelievably to me… My only understanding of Barbra Streisand was sort of this, what I’d seen of her peripherally; she always seems to be singing in some concert venue with a lot of scarves on or something. I don’t think of her as “sexy.” But she’s hot in that movie. She’s f***ing hot.

Sexy Beast (Jonathan Glazer, 2000; 86% Tomatometer)

And then, I’m going to go with Sexy Beast, a little off of the comedy. Why I love that movie so much is that Ray Winstone is such a badass. I’m a big fan of Nil by Mouth as well, and I knew him from Nil by Mouth. It starts out, he’s with his friends, and [speaking in a British accent] they’re all talking, out there at the restaurant, and he’s like, “Yeah, I’ll get the chicken thing.” “What chicken thing?” And then the friend comes in like, “Ah sh**, just leave it outside.” And they go, “We have something to tell you. Don’s coming.”

And then you see him basically sh** his pants, like, “Don? Don’s coming? What’s Don coming for? No, no, God, not Don!” And I’m watching like, “Holy sh**! Who would Ray Winstone be afraid of? This better not be the Ben Kingsley role. This better not be that f***ing little Ghandi motherf***er coming in, scaring Ray Winstone.” And right after the first scene with him, he’s just riding in the car silently; he’s just quiet. Then he gets out of the car and goes, “I’ve got to change my shirt. I’m sweating like a f***ing ****!” [laughs] Oh my God! And he’s so good in it. And it was ultimately a love story, a love story. It was all about his love for his ex-porn actress wife. So f***ing awesome.

Smokey and the Bandit (Hal Needham, 1977; 77% Tomatometer)
And number five, I’m going to say Smokey and the Bandit. I’m back on the comedy. It’s between Smokey and the Bandit and OSS 117, which is a French movie — it’s sort of like their version of the Naked Gun movies, but their agent’s really good; he’s actually very good at many things. He just happens to be a complete moron. But he’s a lover, he knows many languages… Anyway, Smokey and the Bandit, Jackie Gleason’s performance and Sally Field’s; she was amazing. It’s also a good snapshot of America when being a truck driver was cool. [laughs] Being an 18-wheeler truck driver was like, “That’s a good job.” I mean, they were badasses, and you don’t really think of that now; they don’t have that same mystique. But Jackie Gleason as Buford T. Justice… He has his own f***ing entrance music; every time he shows up, they’ve got this tuba playing, he’s there on the scene, and he’s doing his schtick, doing the best stuff. He’s another character, like the Joe Gideon character in All That Jazz, who’s despicable. He’s a racist, he’s a terrible father, he’s a sh**y cop, and you just can’t wait for him to get back on the screen. He has a line in there, talking about Sally Field, who runs off, and she’s a dancer, and he says, “That’s what you get for poontangin’ around with a bunch of hippie show folk.” [laughs] That is the quality of stuff he’s doing in that movie; it’s just so brilliant.

RT: There aren’t many actors who can say they’ve played a pirate, a robot, a cowboy, and you even did the medieval thing in A Knight’s Tale. Now, you’re a misunderstood hillbilly. So what’s the typical selling point that really gets you interested in a role? How does someone who’s played as many varied roles as you have go about choosing his material?

Alan Tudyk: I guess it’s just reading the script, and it being interesting. You know, you just follow what you like. Even like A Knight’s Tale. Something that people didn’t like — and some people still don’t like — about that movie was the choice of music, the way they used music in that movie. But when I read that script, it was like, “1437, jousting, the sound of Queen’s We Will Rock You can be heard,” and I was like, “What? That’s f***ing awesome. Yep, I’m ready. Let’s go. I want to go on that ride.”

Dodgeball, I mean, that’s just crazy. Honestly, the first time I read it, I didn’t get it. I’m like, “I don’t understand… If they cut that pirate, this is a good script.” [laughs] That’s actually what I said, and my agent said, “I really want you to read it again.” I read it again, and I got it, and when we did the improv portion of the audition, I embraced it and found it just so bizarre. It was awesome.

So what was your initial reaction when you first read the Tucker & Dale script?
[Note: Spoilers follow in the next paragraph]

Well, I didn’t think it was going to work. As I was reading it, I got to the point where the first kid dies. [laughs] And I was like, “That’s great. He’s f***ing dead. Awesome. We’re going to kill people in this.” And I loved the Texas Chainsaw Massacre moment. But I was like, “There’s no way they can… They can’t continue. They can’t support this, because there’s going to come a point when it’s going to be too unrealistic to be believed, to be misunderstood as these killers.” And I’m reading it, and I’m like, “The cops! They would go get the cops,” and then they’re like, “You go get the cops,” and I thought, “Oh, cool. They are getting the cops.” Then, right about the time I’m thinking, “The cops would have shown up by now,” the cops show up! And we get out of the cops, and it keeps going, and by the end, he pulled it off.

I mainly wanted to make sure I talked to Eli [Craig] about the way he saw the acting, like how he wanted it acted. Did he want to do it sort of winking at the camera, or did he want to actually be as serious as possible with the ridiculous situations? And [the latter is] what he wanted, and that’s what I wanted. So, I think, after that conversation, I was in Calgary within four or five days. Yeah, it was quick. There was somebody else playing Tucker who had made an agreement to do that early on and said, “I’ll do it,” and then two weeks before production said, “What do you mean? No, I’m not going to do that.”

It’s interesting that you mention you talked to Eli Craig about the tone, because one of the first movies I thought of while watching Tucker & Dale was Shaun of the Dead, which had a similar sort of tone throughout. How do you maintain that balance between slapstick humor and the sort of actual tension that exists in the movie?
[Note: Spoilers follow in the next paragraph]

Yeah, I don’t know! We just watched it yesterday because we were doing the DVD commentary, and there are certain scenes in it, like the one just post-woodchipper accident — and I love that part of the movie, because there’s that other kid who impales himself, sinking towards Tyler [Labine]’s face — and I come inside and I see him, and he’s like, “What happened to you?” and I think we played it straight, but it’s just so ridiculous. “What happened to me? I’ll tell you what happened, man! Holy s***!” But it isn’t… You’re right; there’s like a tip in there, a little… Because you’re also saying — there’s a line in there that kind of gets covered up, but I say, “We gotta hide all the sharp objects! Those kids are killing themselves out there!” — you’re saying stupid s***, but if you believe it, I guess, that’s the trick.

And you definitely believe that Tucker and Dale are both completely exasperated by what’s going on outside the cabin.

[laughs] Yeah, yeah. Without that, it wouldn’t… I think it’s the audience; as they’re watching, you know, how would you actually react in that situation? You would be beside yourself. You would be so exasperated. “How did she knock herself out again? What do you mean?”

Your Five Favorite Films notwithstanding, were you ever a big genre movie guy? Were you into horror movies, and did you get any particular kick out of subverting the genre in Tucker & Dale?

Um… No. [laughs] I’m not a big horror movie fan. I am afraid of them; they scare me. The Shining had a huge effect on me. I could just think about those twin girls, and it would keep me up at night. Really scary. But I have… I wish I could remember the name of it! There was this terrible horror comedy that I loved that I found at a Blockbuster when I was young. I need to find this thing. I did love this movie because I rented it again and again, and it was a horror comedy. Basically, there was a brain that wanted to assemble a woman and put his brain inside of the woman that they assembled, and he enlists these two guys who work at some sh***y restaurant to get women and cut them up for him. And there’s like one woman they kill by making a hush puppy out of her head, and the brain has a voice, and he talks like this old Jewish man. I gotta find that movie. I’ll just Google “idiot, guys, hush puppy head.”

[Editor’s Note: After some research, it’s been determined that the movie whose title Alan was unable to remember is the 1987 horror-comedy Blood Diner.]

So I have liked that genre before, but it wasn’t something I was looking forward to lampooning. I just got excited about doing a comedy that had such high stakes with a director that wanted to play it real. There’s so much room for humor when you’re allowed to invest in the stakes, and not let s*** go by. That happens way too much; I hate that in a movie. I’m into a movie, and then they suddenly do something like, “Why would they do that? They wouldn’t care about that. He would tell him that. That’s too convenient; you guys are being convenient.” I think we did a good job of staying away from that as much as possible. There’s a couple moments, but we talk about it in the DVD commentary.

One last, very brief question: Being that you played Steve the Pirate in Dodgeball, and you were sort of a space pirate on Firefly, do you celebrate International Talk Like A Pirate Day?

I don’t, I don’t. I will, though. You know, I went to a pirate faire right before we did Dodgeball, to study pirate people. There are people who get together and play pirates. So it’s almost like Scarborough Faire, but it’s all pirate-themed. And I went out there with the actress Missi Pyle who played the Russian on the other team, crazy, bad-toothed, in red. Yeah, I would go to another pirate day. I have a movie of us at that pirate day and it’s pretty funny. But no, no I don’t. It has a place in my heart, and in my liver.


Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is in theaters this week, but it’s already available on video on demand.


Original Interview at Rotton Tomatos

Alan Tudyk Talks Tucker & Dale and Abraham Lincoln with Collider

8 October 2011 Leave a comment

Alan Tudyk Talks TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL, ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER, SUBURGATORY, and Working With Joss Whedon

by Christina Radish    Posted:September 28th, 2011

Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil, available on Magnolia On-Demand and in select theaters starting September 30th, is a hilariously gory comedy about two lovable redneck best friends on vacation at their run-down mountain house, who are mistaken for murderous hillbillies by a group of preppy college kids that end up dying, one by one. While Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) try to lend the students a hand, the misunderstanding grows and the body count gets uncontrollably higher and higher.

At the film’s press day, actor Alan Tudyk spoke with Collider for this exclusive interview about making sure he and first-time feature writer/director Eli Craig were on the same page with how to handle the film’s tone, how easy the friendship came between him and co-star Tyler Labine, and that hanging upside for the film was actually really painful. He also talked about how his Stephen Douglas in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is different from the actual historical figure and that the changes from the book were necessary to make the film more active, that he loves working with Joss Whedon (they did Firefly and Dollhouse together) because he’s daring and different and challenges him as an actor, why he was drawn to the new ABC comedy Suburgatory (premiering on September 28th), and what he enjoys about doing voice-over work, including the upcoming MTV series Good Vibes. Check out what he has to say after the jump:

Question: Since you came to this film so last-minute, how did it come about? How quickly did you have to make the decision about whether or not to do it?

ALAN TUDYK: Yeah. From the initial reading to being in Calgary, I think there were maybe three days there. I was given the script and told to read it fast. Truly, I read it and was very impressed by it. My hope was that (writer/director) Eli [Craig] saw it the way I saw it, as far as playing it, and that he didn’t want to be too over the top with it. I was hoping that he wanted to be as realistic as possible with it. The situations are so crazy and they pile up so fast. It’s not a small, quiet acting style. I wanted to make sure the stakes were respected within the script and that it not be the type of comedy where you couldn’t have the moment between Dale (Tyler Labine) and I, when I say, “You’re a good man. You’re smarter than you think you are. You’re better looking than you think you are. I care about you. Friends forever.” Also, in that same speech where he’s pouring out his heart, Tucker says, “I think she needs you right now, more than ever, because she falls down a lot and she’s always bumping her head.” You can acknowledge how ridiculous the situation is within the realism. That’s my favorite kind of comedy. And, Eli was right on board with it.

Were you nervous at all about not getting to meet or work with Tyler Labine before shooting this?

TUDYK: I don’t think I had time to worry about that. I really don’t. It was so fast that I was worried about getting up to speed, as fast as possible. And when I met Tyler, it was over breakfast. Eli was talking about what he was looking forward to and basically giving us the schedule for the next couple of days, and I remember thinking that he was really laid-back and cool. That was it. We made a plan to see each other that night. He said, “Come over to my place.” He was staying at this really nice apartment that overlooked the whole city. Now that I think about it, why the hell did he have such a nice apartment? What kind of bullshit is that? And then, we worked that night, and we got along really easy. It wasn’t a concern at all. He’s a really easygoing guy. It was based on us both wanting to do the best job that we could, and we weren’t competing with one another. I think that’s big. That’s rare, sadly. It’s such a competitive business that it’s tough for some people to put that down.

With this moviebeing equal parts gory and hilarious, is there one that you personally respond to more, or was it just that the combination of the two worked so well?

TUDYK: It’s the comedy that drew me into it. I was really looking forward to that. I was really looking forward to the cop scene. I think that’s really funny. All of this stuff has happened, and they’re finally at a place where they feel like they understand what’s going on, and they’re aware that people are killing themselves and dying, and then they make the plan to cover it up and they’re involved in these deaths and getting their hands dirty, right as the sheriff pulls up, and it’s just so funny. That shot of the two of us dragging half of a corpse, covered in blood, and he pulls up and we go, “I can explain,” is so ridiculous. You’re on their side because it really isn’t them, but it doesn’t look good at all.

What was the biggest challenge in making this movie?

TUDYK: Hanging upside was very painful. There was hours of that. Because we were shooting fast, we didn’t have a lot of time, so it made sense to just leave me there, not for long periods of time, but while they were resetting for 15 or 20 minutes. It was bad. I couldn’t think for three days afterwards. My head was swollen, my eyes were swollen, and I had headaches. It was really a bad thing. I know yoga people stand on their heads for some kind of enlightenment, but that was not my thinking at all. I have a different diet than they do, or something.

How is the Stephen Douglas that you play in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter different from the real Stephen Douglas?

 

TUDYK: I’m afraid he’s very different from the real Stephen Douglas, in that I’m a pompous guy. I don’t think he was really known for that. He did have money, though. I’m also in cahoots with vampires. I collaborate with vampires to aid my political career. I don’t think the original Stephen Douglas did that. That’s the main difference, right there. I’m also kind of a fool, and the real Stephen Douglas was not a fool. He was a very smart man, and actually really helped our country. He wasn’t on the right side of every issue, for sure. He ran against Lincoln for the presidency, and should have won – and thank goodness he didn’t – but he switched positions. He had originally been anti-slavery, and then switched. He married someone that had a plantation down in Georgia and he found that it was more politically expedient, not to be anti-slavery.

Do you think the changes made from book to screen were necessary to turn the story into a film?

TUDYK: Oh, yeah. It makes it much more active. Reading is a heady thing. You can be into the action of someone’s thoughts and take a whole trip down someone’s ruminations while seconds tick by in the world that they’re in, but you can’t really do that in film. Some films can, but not too much. The way it is now, it’s very active. It’s a very active movie. There’s things going on. There are physical representations of thoughtful ruminations. Don’t extrapolate what has been changed from what I’m saying, it’s just much more active.

You are very much loved by Joss Whedon fans from the work that you’ve done with him. What do you enjoy about working with him, and what do you think he draws out of you, as an actor?

TUDYK: I like working with him because he is daring and different. I don’t know if he would say it was daring because it’s just how he thinks. What somebody else would call off-the-wall is just how he sees it, as the only way it can be done. I like working on projects like that. I think Tucker & Dale is like that because it’s fresh. I liked that about Firefly. It was a fresh idea on space. There were no aliens. They were on a ship where they couldn’t just go, “I’ll have beef stroganoff,” and then it showed up. They had protein balls, and they were lucky to have that. And, they were crooks. He also sees me as an actor, in a way that other directors certainly haven’t. He gave me an opportunity to play Alpha in Dollhouse, which was a killer who was evil and had multiple personalities, and was a real challenge. He does Shakespeare readings at his house, and he gave me the role of Julius Caesar, which isn’t a huge role in that play, but it is a serious role and a political role. He said, “After seeing you in that, I knew you were Alpha.” I don’t know how he got there, but god bless him. That was disturbing, challenging and fun.

What drew you to Suburgatoryand who are you playing on the show?

TUDYK: I’m playing a guy named Noah Werner. He’s the jackass best friend of Jeremy Sisto’s character. I just read the script and really liked it. It was very different from everything else that season. It’s stylized, in a way. It’s a shinier world than reality. It’s just above reality. And, within that reality, since they’re creating it, things that are absurd can take place. Somebody can fall into a pool while texting, float to the surface with her fake breasts because they are basically flotation devices, and continue to text, without noticing that she’s in the pool. It’s a different reality. I like that about it.

 

And then, the character itself is someone very different from me. He’s very fake. He loves fake tans. He loves jewelry. I don’t wear jewelry, as a man. I’m amazed at it. He wears a ring and a bracelet and a watch, and I think he’s going to move up to a chain. It just changes everything. He’s rich. He believes in getting laid. He’s the asshole friend who gives bad advice to his friend, who’s just trying to be a good father.

I haven’t had a regular role in television since Firefly, and I really wanted to get back to doing that because I think you can grow so much as an actor when you’re able to see yourself so fast, and then adjust. We shot Tucker & Dale and it takes a long time to know what worked and what didn’t, and you can’t reapply it. With the TV show, you can go, “Oh, that wasn’t working. Scrap that. This is what’s working.” You can apply it and hone your craft. I’m a geeky actor, in the way that I like the craft of acting. I trained as a stage actor and was given a lot of technical tools to play with. I like the craft of acting. It sounds geeky when I say it, but it’s true.

What do you enjoy about doing voice-over work?

TUDYK: I’ve done a lot of voice work lately. I did Ice Age 4, the new Chipmunks movie, and The Life and Times of Tim. In this show on MTV, called Good Vibes, that comes out in October and will air after Beavis and Butt-head, we did 13 episodes, with Josh Gad and Danny McBride. I first got cast as this stoner Mexican guy who lives at the beach in his van and he has flashbacks of things. I also play another Hispanic character who is big and he’s 16 years old. And then, I play another 16-year-old, and a 45-year-old dad, and this other mother fucker called Mr. Proper who hangs around on the beach, and I play old people. In the same episode, I’m playing seven characters. I love that. It’s a blast. That is really fun.

Original Interview at Collider

Alan Tudyk Interview from SFX

29 September 2011 Leave a comment

Alan Tudyk Interview

  September 23 2011
The actor who played loveable pilot Wash appears in Tucker And Dale Vs Evil, which hits cinemas today. SFX chats to him about the Whedonverse, I, Robot, Transformers and a whole load more

SFX: What are you up to at the moment?

Alan Tudyk: I have my first read-through of a TV show today that we’re starting next week for ABC called Suburgatory.

What can you tell us about the show?

I’m going to be a regular. It’s a comedy. With Jeremy Sisto and the lead, her name is Jane Leavey, she’s a young girl, she plays a 15 year-old girl. Jeremy plays her father and they move from New York City to the suburbs, because he decides that’s a better place to raise his daughter. Satirical take on life in the suburbs and I’m his best friend that beckoned him out there. I’m sort of an immense tool; a bit of a jackass. Somewhere between the ass and the tool, somewhere in that region. I just found out I have to wear speedos; I’m not excited about it but I have a very orange spray tan right now. That’s the hard part of this job and that’s not too hard!

What are you looking for in a role because you seem to do a lot of roles that can be described as ‘fun’?

[Laughs] Yeah. I dunno. I kind of just… I guess I’m attracted to thing that are fun. I guess what is fun about this role in Suburgatory is that there’s a lot of room to play around. You know those people in life who are a bit eccentric and larger than life or a bit odd? That their realm of possibility around them is larger than somebody who’s called normal? What’s normal for an oddball? They could start screaming in public. That’s fun to play. I look for people that the way that they express themselves isn’t constrained by public norms, I guess. Yeah, that’s who I’m drawn too.

Was it a big deal coming back to TV? Is it a medium than you like?

I do! I haven’t done a TV show since, well, I haven’t done a regular on a TV show since Firefly, on Fox in 2001. So it’s taken me a while to get back. But, I mean, that project was special in so many ways. I loved having a new script every week to watch a character development over time, as opposed to a movie where you have one shot at a character and you move on. On TV your character can continue to grow for years if it’s popular, so I’m looking forward to that again.

Going back to Firefly, did you have much input to the character or was it all from Joss, already written on the page?

Most of it was written; the character itself was not too unlike [Joss]. It really had Joss’s voice, the role of Wash, that kind of smart-ass pacifist. When everybody else wants to run off into battle, he’s the one saying, “Isn’t this the dumbest idea ever? Can’t we just go and take naps?” [Laughs] “Isn’t that the better idea?” His voice was there.

I was always pushing things. I was always pushing story ideas, constantly, on Joss. But it was off of the character that he had already drawn in the world that he had filled up. You start to ask questions as you’re going along like, “What did my character do during the war?” Things that probably would have been answered had we had more time, and I had definitely ideas about that. I wanted to be drafted into the war to fight against the alliance. I was on one mission and then I got shot down and was put in prison and spent the entire war in camps, in prisoner camps, and I survived in prisoner camps by entertaining my fellow prisoners by telling of the great battles of the war using shadow puppets. [laughs] I would push that idea all the time and then there were shadow puppets in one of the episodes. So my ideas found their way in, not the way I wanted.

I had whole scenes written. I’d be like, “Here, check it out. We’re all listening. We’ve got Jayne and the Preacher lifting weights, down in the cargo hold and then I walk through and Jayne starts taunting me that I can’t lift weights and I say, ‘Okay, I’ll do it!’” And I take off my shirt and I’m covered in tats. The first time you see Wash shirtless he’s tatted up and it’s all prison tats and it blows Jayne away. And he’s like, “Oh my god, you were at that prison? And that prison? That’s the worst prison! Oh my god, you have a whole life that I don’t anything about.” And I’m like, “That’s right buddy, you don’t know shit!” And I grab the weight and I try and do a bench press and it falls on my neck cause it’s too heavy to lift… “Come on Joss! It’s a really good scene! Please!”

In more time I would have worn him down! I would have had my own episode! I would have written a script. I had full scripts. I was always pitching them! I loved that… I think there’s a lot of fan fiction on that thing, I think it lends itself to people coming up with new ideas. Especially since it had such a short life.

It’s popularity has lived on. Did you have a sense at the time that it was special?

I did with the people I was working with. The experience of it was very special. What we were doing we believed in, we liked it very much, we thought it was great. But Fox seemed to be working against us in an Alliance sort of way. They put us on, they gave us a crappy time, they didn’t advertise our show, they kept taking us off the air two and three weeks at a time and putting it back on out of order. It felt personal! It felt like they were doing it, that they had something against us. I don’t know what it was but it felt like, at Fox, we were in hostile territory the whole time. So we banded together even more and that was very similar to our characters. We’re this group of people holding on to each other, holding onto this way of life, which was for us at that time was doing Firefly. It felt special and maybe some of that came through.

Certainly the scripts were amazing and Joss’s idea were amazing and certainly if it was done today they wouldn’t have gotten rid of it. It was a different time. They didn’t respect Comic-Con and the science fiction audience like they do now. They bow to and court that audience now. I think were it today with the way the internet works as a distributor of content it would certainly be on the air for a long, long time. It’s a shame.

Are you a genre fan yourself?

“Yes! I was about to say that I wasn’t until Firefly but I was a big Star Trek: The Next Generation fan. I’m not the kind of fan that can track, you know, “In this episode they went to this planet and they did this thing,” but I love getting together every week with my friends and watching that. And we’d always say Jean Luc Prichard is a mother-f**ker, he can do anything. He can do anything! He’s a badass. And we all wanted to get together with that woman who can feel things, Aurora or whatever her name was…

Deanna?

Deanna, damn. With those body suits… I was definitely in… I loved watching that show and I was a fan of that. And now who isn’t a fan? Every other big movie has some kind of science fiction element to it.

Who’s the better pilot – Wesley Crusher or Wash?

Uh, Wash. Absolutely. Wesley would do things by the book and Wash is writing his own. It would have lots of illustrations that book. [Laughs] Yeah.

When Firefly came back and you made Serenity, how did you feel when you found out Wash was going to get killed off?

Ah, I was… I was shocked at first but as Joss explained to me right after I read it – he had asked me to call him afterwards – he had explained to me why he did it and what it will bring to the movie as far as raising the stakes. After Wash dies, all bets are off and anyone can die. And that next battle, where everybody starts to go down – Kaylee gets shot in the neck with the poison, the Doc gets shot, Zoe gets stabbed, they run out of ammo – it’s like, “Oh, they’re going to kill everyone.” After Wash dies, so quickly, carelessly, it really ratchets up the stakes for everybody else. That’s what he wanted it to do and it does do that. Wash died in the service of something greater than himself. If it didn’t work then I’d be pissed but it does work.

Have you been lobbying for a part in The Avengers?

[Laughs] No! If Joss wants you in something he’ll tell you. You don’t need to waste your time embarrassing yourself saying, “Give me a job please!” I did Dollhouse and I wasn’t even watching Dollhouse at the time when he offered me the role of Alpha. I went over to Nathan’s house for a game night playing Pictionary and I asked him how his new show was going and how I hadn’t seen it yet and he went on to describe this character Alpha and how cool it was. I was like, “That’s amazing. That’s an amazing character. Who the hell is playing that?” He said, “I want you too.” He had been thinking that for a while. I had no idea. So I’m sure any future roles for Joss would happen like that.

Alpha was quite different to what you done before.

Alpha, absolutely. Joss said that, it was from a Shakespeare reading we had done at his house. And he was like, “Oh, you can do this other thing!” I was reading Julius Caesar, Anthony, I dunno – I can’t remember who I read – but something in that performance had led him to believe I could do it. I loved it. It was fun, it was great to get to stretch in that direction.

And that I started to get all these scripts for bad guys!

What I did learn through that process is, because of the way that the character was introduced, he pretends to be this agoraphobic geek who is afraid of his shadow and once he gets what he wants he turns round and he’s a killer. I enjoyed playing the agoraphobic freaky dude, and then when I was playing the killer. And I was like, “Aw, this is hard!” I have to stay in shape, I’ve got to watch what I eat – this is intense! I really have to focus!

Playing the idiot comes a lot more easily to me. I learnt that. Joss taught me that. The Jackass fool is much more to my liking. So when I was cast in V, soon after doing Dollhouse, I was this half-bumbling FBI guy who was partners with Elizabeth Mitchell’s character. I loved that, and then they turned me into an evil lizard guy, so I was like, “I want out. I can’t be lizard man. I can’t be lizard man. This evilness is too… other people…” I don’t feel as much range in evil people as I do in other people.

You looked like you were having a ball in Transformers?

Yeah! Yes, it’s a ridiculous role. Again, sort of an idiot, but also there’s a whole side of him that you don’t anticipate, when he can actually, all of a sudden, have skills with weapons, and disarming people and it was great! I was having a blast just working with John Turturro. Working on such a big movie was also great. I had a scene with John Malkovich. You just go to work and there’s John Malkovich – I was just blown away! Hanging out with Victoria Secret models…

There was a lot to that job that goes under the heading of “fun”. What you expect from movie acting. You looked around and there was the trappings of “movie actor”. Tucker And Dale vs Evil, on the other hand – the trappings of that movie were much more, “I’m covered in blood, it’s cold, I’m wet. We only have three weeks. We have to move fast.” I was sore because I had to hang up side down for hours! “My head hurts!” I did like working with Tyler Labine and Eli Craig. But the joy of that job comes later when you watch it all assembled. But Transformers was fun on the day.

Going back to I Robot – you were one of the first motion caption actors, in a way. Are you irritated that you don’t get recognition for that?

They didn’t promote it. They decided to go a different way with the way that they described the movie. They didn’t really promote it. When Gollum came out you saw a lot of Andy Serkis working in the suit and they put Andy Serkis’s performance next to Gollum and you saw the way the technology was working so we all got educated as an audience as to what he was doing. What was him and what was effects and how they worked in concert.

They didn’t do that with I, Robot. I blame Fox! [Laughs] They’re the ones to blame! I blame them for Firefly. I blame them for people not knowing what the I, Robot process was! I was there for six months with everybody else and then after – when everybody went home and Will Smith was shooting Hitch – I was still in I, Robot land. And it was up for an Academy award for the effects and the effect house pitched to Fox, “Let’s do a campaign where they do this side-by-side comparison to Alan’s performance” and Fox wasn’t up for it. It lost to Spider-Man… which was wonderful and deserving of an Academy Award but they just didn’t… I don’t know.

I certainly don’t understand Fox’s decision-making process. I just ran into one of the main producers from I, Robot, just yesterday, oddly enough, and he’s going, “God! I’m watching all this stuff on Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and it’s amazing! And they’re talking about Andy Serkis! You did all of that, and nobody knows you did it!” Uh huh!

One of the producers – I won’t name them – came up to me and Bridget Moynahan after a screening in this theatre on the Fox lot, and said, “What did the two of you think? Bridget you were amazing, oh my god, oh my god. Alan, great voice!” And Bridget stood up for me, she said, “Alan did a lot more than that!” And they cut me out of the promotion of the movie. It took me a year to recover from that one.

But I really loved getting to play the role. I loved the role of Sonny, I really loved. It was a great role. The robot that can feel. I’m human. I am human. It’s Pinocchio. It was well written. It was fun. It was fun working with Will Smith, it was fun working with Alex Proyas who is another sci-fi guy with Dark City. And The Crow movie – he also did the first Crow.

I won’t do another motion capture movie, but just saying that means I probably will!

Richard Edwards

Original Interview at SFX

 

Alan Tudyk on Alan Tudyk from Empire Online

29 September 2011 Leave a comment

Alan Tudyk On Alan Tudyk

On his new film, Tucker & Dale Vs Evil, Transformers, Serenity and more

Everybody loves Alan Tudyk, even if they don’t quite know who he is. The star of this week’s Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil has appeared in everything from Serenity to 28 Days, from I, Robot (he was the robot) to Transformers 3 (he was the “humorous” supporting character who actually was). He’s hard at work on the other side of the Atlantic right now, but we got hold of him on the phone to ask about his new redneck horror comedy and catch up on some career highlights to date…

WORDS HELEN O’HARA

…On the origins of Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil

When I first read it, I remember getting the idea that it’s gonna be a misunderstanding, that the college kids are gonna think that Tucker and Dale are these bad guys and they aren’t. And my first thought was there’s no way to maintain this; yeah, it’s funny but there’s no way they’re gonna be able to make this work. Then when the first kid died I was like, “Well, that’s really interesting, the stakes are high.” It seemed like every time I got to a place where doubt crept in and I’d say, “Nope, cops would show up, this is too unreal now and silly”, the cops did show up and it added even more humour.

By the time I was done, I got on the phone with Eli Craig, who wrote and directed it. The main thing I wanted was to be on the same page with him as far as how it was to be played. Was it going to be a Scary Movie-type comedy where everybody’s winking at the camera? Or was it going be two guys going through something absolutely ridiculous and responding to ridiculous things? That’s where the humour comes from, trying to be as real as possible. I went to Canada a few days later and got to work.

 

 

…On co-star Tyler Labine

We lucked out. I went over to his apartment, and we worked in a way that I have never worked with another actor since, like, drama school. We cracked open the script and went through page-by-page and asked questions of one another, and of ourselves. Where we were from and how we know each other and how much this means to us. Then when we met with Eli, we all three worked together. I’ve worked with a few different writer-directors and it seems like there’s two kinds: one is the, “It’s taken me so long to get this here, every word is precious” type; and the other is, “Hey, I’m up for the collaboration” and Eli was that.

When you go from the script to the actual location, everything is different and you think, “OK, we’re gonna have to make this work.” That that’s where the chemistry really comes into play, the ability to improv and bridge those gaps. And it was such a short shoot; we did it in, I think it was three weeks. It was so fast that we got one take with the script and then Eli would say “Go” and flub around a little bit and that would be it, now packing up and moving on. We didn’t linger very long on anything!

 

…On the film’s gore

The gorier, the funnier. We used a lot of fake blood. There were different kinds, different consistencies, fresh blood versus older blood. I’d never done a horror movie or had anything with so much blood. You know you have to wear the same clothes over and over again, you can’t have a back-up outfit and you can’t wash them either; it has to look the same. So this blood, which is mainly corn syrup, it hardens, so they would have to spray it down with water and knead it and work it till it’s moving again. So you’d start your day off in a wet, syrupy mess. It helped, I think, add to the the feeling of horror!

 

 

 

On Transformers: Dark Of The Moon

It was a ridiculous role and I love ridiculous roles. Michael [Bay]’s another one as well, more so than any director I think I’ve ever worked with, where you get on the set and he’s like “Yeah, the script doesn’t work, what are we gonna do? Right, what are the basics? We’re getting information over the phone that we need to print out.” He just blocks it out, and you do the lines and then immediately throw them out. If you have punch-lines or new ways of doing a thing, he’s up for them, and they’ll put them in the movie!

We had three or four jokes, and ended up sticking with the Cyrillic alphabet joke. The one that I liked was, “This isn’t a language; it’s just the last seven letters of the alphabet rearranged over and over again!”

 

…On the missing link between Transformers and Sandra Bullock rehab-dramedy 28 Days

That character [in Transformers] is actually very similar to the character I did in 28 Days with Sandra Bullock, Gerhardt Weihnacht. He was the gay German who is in rehab. I decided that it’s the same guy: he had gotten out of rehab, got himself on the right track and then… entered the army, became a specialist, found that he had skills in computers and weapons. Then he got burned out after too much killing and just decided to become a valet to Agent Simmons. There’s a moment where he just goes crazy, and I say, “That’s the old me” and that was all based on that bullshit idea that it was the same guy.

Hopefully Sandra Bullock will turn up in the fourth instalment, that’d be a wonderful crossover. And Viggo Mortensen, Dominic West! Bring ‘em all! Marianne Jean-Baptiste. They’re some bad-ass actors. That was my favourite movie of my own for a long time. There was no script for that ending: the movie ended a different way and the audiences they showed it to didn’t like it and they liked the weepy, gay, German guy so we did the scene in the flower shop in a day; director Betty Thomas came in with the basic idea, and that was it!

 

….On ‘fonging’ in A Knight’s Tale

I wish I could tell you what that is! It means something actually. I asked the director, Brian Helgeland, constantly. I’m like, “Does this mean what I think it means?” And it doesn’t! It means something in the art of leather-making; it’s a move you can do when you’re curing leather. He knew it the entire time and never told me, just said, “It’s whatever it means to you, man, define that for yourself.” I think I defined it as… I’m sure, the most obvious way is how I defined it.

 

 

 

… On Wash’s fate in Serenity

It’s shocking, and I was really moved by the Kaylee line. You know, the character Kaylee says afterwards when they move on, “Wait a minute, where’s Wash?”, and it was so sad! And then Zoe says, “He ain’t coming,” it’s so, so sad.

After I read it I called Joss – he had told me before, “Just call me when you’re done reading it,” so I knew something bad was coming, or just potentially very embarrassing. As he explained it, it was to raise the stakes on the movie. At that point in the story, everybody starts to get injured and it looks like nobody’s gonna make it out alive and with Wash dead, there’s a moment where you actually think: “He’s just gonna kill everybody!” Especially when the doctor goes down and three other people have gone down, it’s like, there’s no way out! They’re running out of ammunition, there’s just no out. So I think it worked. If it didn’t work, I’d be mad, but Wash died in the service of something greater than himself: the story.

 

 

…On Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

I play Stephen Douglas and it’s based on the book so there’s a good idea of what’s happening there. It’s Timur Bekmambetov directing, so it’s that book processed through him, with his stamp on it. It’s sort of action, you’ve got vampires and Abraham Lincoln locked in battle. It’s all so funny, the idea’s absolutely ridiculous. So I found myself being a little bit of the ridiculous.

I’m a historical figure so I provide a lot of historical moments, so I seem to show up whenever Abraham Lincoln is making a decision; I work as his foil, you know, the other side of the argument on slavery – which you just don’t get to hear enough of. I’m in cahoots with vampires and Rufus Sewell plays the lead vampire and I haven’t worked with him since A Knight’s Tale so it’s really great working with him. And we’re on the same side, pretty much. Whenever you’re working with vampires it’s like you’ve got an attack dog. And politicians are even less trustworthy so really it’s a bad pairing.

… On his voice work, and Pixar

I’ve been doing a lot more voiceovers, those are great. I’m still doing Green Arrow, I just did that the other day. It’s cool to be part of it and this one’s huge. I’m gonna show myself to be really ignorant if I try to go onto this too much; this is comic book-land, and I’m not as good on my comic book lore. Nathan Fillion is the guy for that. I went to go see that ‘X-Men’ movie and he was like: “Yeah, but he didn’t build the plane; this person built it and then this person turns into this person after this…” But like, really? Cool, way man, you’re legit! The video game voiceovers those are mainly for Halo, which is the only game I play. It was only because I love the game and they were fans of Firefly, and they asked Nathan Fillion, myself and Adam Baldwin.

But I’ve been doing a lot of voiceovers. I do a voice in Ice Age 4 and there’s Alvin And The Chipmunks 3 coming up. I do a voice of a little chipmunky person. Well, I guess that wouldn’t be a ‘person’. And I’ve done Pixar. I don’t know how much I can say on that one except it’s a really cool role that I can’t wait for people to see, but I’m sure it’s at least two years out, maybe a year and a half at best. We’ve been working on it for a while though. It’s great, they really take their time.

 

Original Interview at Empire Online

 

 

Alan Tudyk Talks Tucker & Dale Vs Evil With Ain’t It Cool

30 August 2011 Leave a comment

AICN HORROR: Ambush Bug talks with Alan Tudyk about TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL! Plus a review of the film!

Published at: Aug 29, 2011

Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with a special edition of AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS. I had a chance to talk with genre actor Alan Tudyk about his new film, TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL. But before we get to the interview, here’s a review of the film.

TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL (2010)

Directed by Eli Craig
Written by Eli Craig and Morgan Jergenson
Available on VOD now and in theaters September 30th!
Find out more about the film here!
Starring Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss, Chelan Simmons
Reviewed by Ambush Bug

The horror comedy is very difficult to accomplish. Too much comedy, it softens the horror and makes it all pretty ridiculous. Also there’s a factor of the comedy actually being funny, which is harder than usual to play off. Too much horror, and the comedy fails. But if you go too far over the top with the horror and gore, then it overshadows the comedy or negates it. With the genres seemingly at odds with comedy reliant effortlessness and improvisation and horror being so meticulously framed and acted out, one wonders how any horror comedies ever worked. I can name only a few that have been totally successful; EVIL DEAD 2, MOTEL HELL, ZOMBIELAND, maybe the original SCREAM, but that’s more of a spoof of the genre than real horror (I know that’s debatable). There does seem to be a trend these days with mixing horror and comedy. I think it’s a coping mechanism for most. Rather than tackling a subject head-on. The safe way to approach things is to make fun of it, which often times lessens the impact of the horror. While I wax on and off about horrors and comedies and their kooky relationship, consider TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL.

Never in danger of taking itself too seriously, TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL walks that precarious line between horror and comedy and comes out a winner. Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine play Tucker and Dale respectively. Like a classic comedy team, the two play off of each other with Tudyk being the surly straight man to Labine’s innocent naïveté. There’s a deep friendship between the two of them which is apparent from their first moments on screen and Tudyk and Labine but enough sincerity and heart in the characters to show that they are taking these two dolt hillbillies seriously, even if the story is ridiculous.

And the story is pretty ridiculous, but genius too. Instead of focusing a group of pretty twenty-somethings, the narrative focuses on Tucker and Dale, two hillbillies who just want to own their own home and fish all day. When that simple dream becomes a reality, a group of kids stumble upon them and mistake them for DELIVERANCE-style hillbillies. A series of ridiculously hilarious events occur to make Tucker and Dale look responsible for the kids’ deaths and all hell breaks loose. Everyone in this film is an idiot, but fully committed to their idiocy. It works amazingly well.

Writer/director Eli Craig pulls off the impossible here, making a genuinely funny film with over the top gore. TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL touches on all of those clichés we’ve come to love and grow tired of in the horror convention, but does so with a fresh perspective and with a cast (most notably Tudyk and Labine) that is truly exceptional. By the end of this film, I could see this being a franchise with Tucker & Dale facing off against all types of evil!


And now, here’s what Alan had to say about TUCK & DAVE VS EVIL!

AMBUSH BUG (BUG): Hi Alan, how are you doing today?

ALAN TUDYK (AT): I’m good thanks, how are you?

BUG: Well I’m good. It really is a pleasure to talk with you. I’m a big fan of yours. I’ve seen a ton of your films, from the Whedon stuff and to the more recent stuff like TRANSFORMERS, so it’s great to be able to talk with you.

AT: Cool, thanks.

BUG: We are talking about TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL today. Do you want to explain to the readers at Ain’t It Cool what the movie is all about?

AT: It’s about two good old boys who go out to their vacation cabin for the first time to fix it up and to enjoy a fishing vacation when a group of college kids mistake them for the type of hillbillies that committed a mass college kid killing twenty five years prior to the day and… (Laughs) Oh God, this is awful having to explain this about the movie. You would think I’d have this part down. This is Eli Craig’s job. Where am I? So twenty five years to the day… You know it’s better if… A group of college kids camping on a weekend camping trip start to die… (Laughs) and they place the blame on a couple of good old boys that they figure are killer hillbillies, but they’re not.

BUG: I have seen the film and I know what you are talking about. I really thought it had the right mix of horror and comedy and you don’t often see that in horror comedies, it’s either strong in one or the other or sometimes neither, but both aspects are strong here. How did you come across this script? What did you think of it when you first read it?

AT: It was just one that was given to me by my agent. I loved it. I thought in the beginning, when I started to read after the first college kid died I was just really excited that the stakes were going to be that high and that people were actually going to die in the film, it wasn’t going to pull punches that way and then I initially thought “I don’t know how he’s going to keep all of these balls in the air. I don’t know how this is going to work. The first death, “okay they misunderstand it to be them… but the second, they would go for the… oh wait they are going to go for the cops. Okay, so that makes sense. But wait by now the cop would have shown up… oh wait, the cops are here… Now what the hell are they going to do?” It just kept going and by the end I was like “Wow, I think he actually pulled it off.” Every time I thought there would be something that would stand in the way of it working, he found a way around it and with great humor.

BUG: Can you talk a little bit about your relationship with Tyler Labine? He was your costar in this film and you guys share most of the film together, what was it like working with him? You guys seemed to have a great rapport between the two of you.

AT: Yeah, we got along really well. We got to work right when we got there. He has a similar work ethic and I mean he’s just an impressive actor. There are some actors that you can tell how they are doing what they are doing, you see their tricks. It’s a craft. (Laughs) Acting is a craft, so if you’re a craftsman yourself, then you can see how people do what they do, but Tyler’s one that I’m like “I don’t know how he does what he does.” He just does it and it impressive to me. That’s exciting. That brings up your game I guess. You don’t want to look like a slouch next to him, so you just keep throwing the ball back and forth I guess in a way. Does that make sense? I feel like I’m not making sense all of a sudden. I’m going to get some coffee, that’d be awesome.

[Both Laugh]

BUG: It made sense to me. I agree, I think you guys did play well off of each other. So what about the director, Eli Craig? What was it like working with the director of this film and did he have a specific approach with horror and comedy that was different than some of the other directors that you have worked with in the past?

AT: Well one way that he was different from other directors is he was very keen on this being a collaborative effort, you know? He wanted our opinions. He was great at leading us, but he was also listening and so there’s a lot of improv in the movie and he’s part of it.

BUG: I was going to ask about that. How much of the comedy was improv?

AT: He was one of the improv voices that once you are in the situation and things start to change and come up, he’s like “Oh wait, why don’t you say this? What if you did this?” He was very flexible and was supportive of our different ideas. That was encouraging. It just made you want to… You stopped limiting yourself and started to come up with more stuff.

BUG: Yeah, that just makes me think, horror is such a well plotted, well planned out genre and then comedy is so… it works best almost when it is improvised or when it is something that just kind of… it’s the timing and off the cuff stuff that’s going on. Do you see this as a horror comedy, or a comedy with horror elements?

AT: I see this as a horror comedy and that was what I asked Eli when I first talked to him on the phone about it, how he saw it and that was the way that I put it, does he see it as a comedy horror or a horror comedy and my distinction there is a comedy horror would be something like the SCARY MOVIE type where it’s primarily a comedy, but they use horror spoofing, but it’s really broad and very, “Comedy with a capitol K” and this is a horror movie… This situation is so ridiculous, I mean the circumstances are so ridiculous I should say, and the people in it are so stupid. The college kids are so stupid and Tucker and Dale are endearingly stupid at times, really dumb, that they are like “I know what this is… this is a suicide pact… We have got to hide the sharp objects, more than likely they will come in here and grab them and start to try to cut on themselves.” They’re trying to childproof the woods or something. (Laughs) It’s the circumstances that bring out the humor, but the playing of it needed to be as real as possible.

BUG: It seems a little bit like the tone of THE EVIL DEAD and films like that, even going back to MOTEL HELL and stuff like there where there is definitely comedic parts to it, but at its heart it’s mostly a horror film, because there are a lot of scenes that really shocked me where it’s like I couldn’t believe that this happened and then all of a sudden something else happened. It really was pretty horrifying, but also there’s this kind of slapstick sense to it, too.

AT: Yeah, when somebody is on fire and burning to death, that’s horror, that’s horrible, (laughs), that’s horrifying with horror in it, but if you have someone burning to death or slightly burning and then somebody tries to help them by putting it out with something from a jar that turns out to be turpentine and gets them on fire more, then they catch the curtain and they are like “Come on, this is my house man.” And “Jesus, he’s crackling like a log.” There’s all the humor to it. It’s terrible. (Laughs)

BUG: It’s the gallows humor, it’s great. So you’ve done a lot of films and some of them have been serious with more dramatic roles and others have been comedic, do you prefer one over the other? What do you bring to each role? How do you approach each type of role like that?

AT: Each one is different. You know, approaching TUCKER AND DALE, I tried to make him as real as possible. A lot of TUCKER AND DALE is about figuring out who Dale was and how they work as a team, as best friends, but you know the approach to that is not very different from the approach to Doc Potter in 3:10 TO YUMA. You just want to connect with who they are and “what do they say?” “What do people say about them?” It’s all of the basic acting shit that you learn. I tend to like comedies more.

BUG: Why is that?

AT: I have more ideas about it. I did a stint on a Joss Whedon TV show, DOLLHOUSE. I played an evil guy on the show. He’s described as an evil thing from the very beginning, this character or “Alpha” and nobody knows what he looks like and I played Alpha and when I got introduced in the TV show I’m introduced as this agoraphobic pot growing guy who is just afraid of everything and he gets kidnapped by an FBI agent and doesn’t want to leave and he’s afraid to walk down stairs if they don’t have risers on them, because “somebody might snap their ankles” and like everything scares him and then once he gets left alone, he flips and he’s actually putting on an act and he’s this terrifying guy who starts cutting up people’s faces with a scalpel and I had such a blast playing that crazy agoraphobic guy. I don’t think it was until I did this role that I really realized the difference for me, how much I liked comedy. Because when it came to a scene where it was comedic, I was like “Oh, we could do it this way or this way. Hey can I do this? What if I say this?” I just had a lot of ideas, then when it came to being this horrific killer it takes so much more concentration, I have to stay quiet… I just have to really kind of stay focused on what I’m doing and be thoughtful. I’m more of an idiot clown in my real life and so it becomes sort of second nature to me to do it at work.

BUG: Okay. Alright, well it is a fantastic movie. I also just wanted to note how I really like the way they flipped it where usually the hillbilly characters are the ones that are not the central focus of the film and they are the ones that are either made fun of or they are the bad guys or there is something off with the hillbillies and it’s always the kids that are the heroes and I just love that they flip that in this film. Did that attract you to the film?

AT: It was that. The idea behind it was fresh, I had never heard of it before. It was one of those ideas that when I hear I went “I’m surprised I haven’t seen this before,” which is always a good thing and then it was that Eli wanted to play it… I liked the characters. I thought the script worked really well, and then the clincher was “I get to play this seriously?” And just the ridiculousness of it, which brings the humor. It’s like YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN is a good example, it’s a hysterical movie, but Gene Wilder never… In that movie Gene Wilder plays it straight, even when he’s doing “Putting on the Ritz” with the monster you know, that’s such a ridiculous scene. He can’t say the words, but he’s tap dancing and putting on a show and you know that’s the kind of comedy I always love and the kind of acting I always loved and so when Eli wanted to do it straight, even though there are ridiculous moments where you would be absolutely ridiculous things and saying ridiculous things, that’s what really excited me.

BUG: Well I think both in drama and horror, I like seeing you in both of those, so keep up both of them hopefully.

AT: Thanks man.

BUG: Once last question, where are we going to see you next? I know you are constantly working on things, so what’s the next thing for you?

AT: I finished a movie called ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER which was a novel that was really popular, best selling and all of that. I play Stephen A. Douglas in it and that will be out next summer I think. I think that’s when it’s going to be out and I started a TV show… I’m doing a TV show right now that premieres a month from now on ABC right before MODERN FAMILY, Wednesday nights.

BUG: What’s that called?

AT: It’s called SUBURGATORY.

BUG: Alright, well thank you so much for taking the time out to talk with me today. I’ll get this interview up as soon as I can, hopefully by next week so that it can be in time for the opening of the movie.

AT: Thank you very much. I’m glad you liked the movie.

BUG: Yeah and the movie opens next Friday, is that correct?

AT: No, the movie goes out on… The distributor, this is how they do movies, they will do it starting tomorrow with a Movie on Demand. You can like go to iTunes and buy it. You can watch it on Movies on Demand I guess, like Videos on Demand, and it will be out for like the month and then it is released into theaters on September 30th.

BUG: Sounds good. Thanks a lot for taking the time to talk with me. I know you’ve got a busy schedule, so I appreciate your time.

AT: I appreciate it man, thank you for taking the time as well.

BUG: Great, have a good day.

AT: Cheers, you too.

BUG: As Alan said, you can check out TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL on VOD and then it’s released in theaters September 30th. Be sure to check it out!

Original Interview at Ain’t It Cool

Alan Tudyk Talks Tucker and Dale, Firefly, Serenity and more with Den of Geek

21 August 2011 Leave a comment

Alan Tudyk interview: Tucker And Dale Vs Evil, Pixar, Firefly, Serenity, and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Caroline Preece

You can also get Joss excited about it too. If you start talking to him about Firefly, you can definitely rekindle that spark, because it was such a passion project for him

We chat to actor Alan Tudyk about his forthcoming movie, Tucker And Dale Vs Evil, and his work with the mighty Joss Whedon…

Published on Aug 10, 2011

For some, Alan Tudyk’s distinctive features will forever be associated with the sterling work of Joss Whedon, whether it be his turn as Alpha, the agoraphobic murderer in Dollhouse, or the loveable Wash in Firefly and Serenity. Elsewhere, he memorably played Steve the Pirate in Dodgeball (“Steve’s gotta go drain the sea-monster!”), and has lent his vocal talents to animated features such as Ice Age and Rango.

Tudyk’s latest film is Tucker And Dale Vs Evil, a comedy horror about a pair of hillbillies whose vacation in a remote cabin quickly goes awry. With Tucker And Dale out next month, we caught up with Tudyk to discuss the film, as well as his role in the forthcoming Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and the likelihood of more Firefly or Serenity.

What drew you to work on Tucker And Dale Vs Evil in the first place?

The script; just the idea. Seeing one of these hillbilly/college kids slasher flicks through the eyes of the hillbillies is something I’d certainly never seen or thought of before. I didn’t expect it would work when I first heard about it, and when I sat down to read it. I kept thinking, this won’t work, he won’t be able to keep all these balls in the air, he’s not going to be able to maintain this. But he did, and that’s exciting to me, something new and hard to pull off.

When Eli [Craig, director] and I talked for the first time on the phone, the first thing I asked was how he saw it being played by the actors, what kind of style the movie would be in. Is it going to be the type of movie that honours the stakes of what’s happening? Like, if someone dies, will we be dramatic and say “somebody… just… died,” or be more relaxed about it? When Tucker comes in after the guy jumps into the wood chipper, and he’s asked “what happened?”, it’s more “Oh my God”.

He stand there and tries to comprehend what just happened. He wanted to go for a more realistic reaction to the ridiculous things, and finding the humour there, as opposed to something like a Scary Movie that is more comedy than horror, and doesn’t even try to walk that fine line. He was into that, and I was all over it.

It’s been compared to films like Shaun Of The Dead and Zombieland. What do you think it is about the horror genre that’s so ripe for parody?

I think horror and comedy are intrinsically linked, like when you get so scared that you have to laugh. I think the idea of nervous laughter is definitely at the seed of it. Both genres benefit from really high stakes, and in a horror movie the stakes couldn’t be higher. People are dying, and you’re afraid for your life. I can’t watch horror movies, I have to cover my eyes.

I ask, why would I scare myself? Life is scary enough, why force myself to be afraid of what’s in the dark? Comedy also benefits from those really high stakes, but reacting to them is important. One of my biggest complaints about so many comedies is that they set up things that you as an audience invest in, only to ignore them because they’re not convenient. It’s such a let down, and it’s done so often as a way to ignore reality.

You’ve done some voice work as well – how does that compare to being in front of the camera?

I love it, even though it’s not as openly fulfilling. If I was just a voice actor I think I would be sad, as I wouldn’t want to give up on-camera acting. I like working with other actors and, a lot of time when you’re doing voice actor work, you’re just by yourself. There are a few exceptions, of course.

When they shot Rango, I think it was a whole theatrical experience, just basically acting the movie. I’m doing a Pixar movie right now, and I did Ice Age, doing a lot of these things alone. I’m working with John C Reilly right now, and I’ve never met him. I have scenes with John C Reilly and I haven’t shaken his hand. I love that guy, although only through his work as I don’t know him. Who knows, maybe there isn’t love there, but I love his work.

The one benefit of doing voice acting is a cartoon coming out on MTV called Good Vibes, where I get to play ten different roles. In Tucker And Dale they only let me play one, which was fine. That is a benefit to doing this work, as I can voice roles that I would never get to play. Like, I’m Green Arrow! I don’t think anyone would give me that job. Maybe if they were an interesting casting director, but I think they’d probably go for an Australian or something.

You’ve done a lot of comedy films in the past, are you drawn to that genre more than others?

I do like comedies. I learned that on my role on Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, where I played a bad guy who’s introduced in an extreme way. He’s introduced as this agoraphobic who’s afraid to go outside and would really just rather stay home if he could; the sort of guy who doesn’t want any trouble, and just grows weed in his apartment.

Then you find out later that it’s all a ruse and, when left alone, he turns into this face-slashing maniac. I liked playing the guy who was afraid of everything, who was quirky and didn’t like to walk down stairs that didn’t have backs in case someone grabbed his ankles. I’ve come to learn that, when it comes to doing that, I have more input and ideas.

I’m always asked “Can I say this line,” or, “How about…” When I’m playing a bad guy or evil people out to wreak havoc, I don’t have as many ideas, so I can only really do my best. So I prefer comedies, especially comedies with a physical element to them, if I could have it all my way. Also, anything Joss Whedon, I’m on board for.

People must still ask you about possible news on Firefly and Serenity. Are there any developments there?

I always said we’d do a prequel. But I was with Adam Baldwin and Nathan Fillion at Comic-con, and looking at ourselves, there’s no chance for a prequel. If we pitched it as ‘before you ever met our characters’, ten years later, people wouldn’t believe it. I’m always optimistic, because people are interested and there’s still an audience for it.

There’s so many un-investigated storylines and ways to approach it. There’s also a lot of intelligent, imaginative people who could pick it up. It’s just about production costs, and production costs are coming down. I think it’s a matter of time, but I don’t base that on anything other than, why not?

You can also get Joss excited about it too. If you start talking to him about Firefly, you can definitely rekindle that spark, because it was such a passion project for him. After it got cancelled, the fans played such a huge role in getting it to the movie, but other than the fans it was all Joss Whedon.

You have a part in the upcoming Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, what can we expect there?

It’s being done by Timur Bekmambetov, the director who did Night Watch and Day Watch, and it was very much his vision of the novel. He brings his style to it, so it’s the book but with a lot of his humour added. It’s really intriguing the way he does things, so you can expect something massive.

My character comes in as a political foil to Lincoln, always showing up when he needs somebody to argue against. I also give historical context, because historically Stephen Douglas was engaged to Mary Todd, who Abraham Lincoln ended up marrying. They both ran against each other for the presidency, and their debates defined a style of debating set at that time.

Of course, Stephen Douglas was also in cahoots with the vampires. I mean, they taught that in my school, I don’t know if they taught it in all schools, but Stephen Douglas worked for the damned. So, I play an historical guy, but my wig is awful and he’s somewhat of a tosser. But it was fun, I had a great time doing it.

Alan Tudyk, thank you very much.

Tucker And Dale Vs Evil
is out in UK cinemas on the 23rd September, and will be able on DVD and Blu-ray from 26th September.

Original Interview at Den of Geek

 

 

 

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