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Rudd, Segel and Hamburg, part II

Much of the following may be an exercise in irony. Or is it? I mean, when you talk about the band Rush and Lou Ferigno there’s got to be some irony involved, right? And a sitcom about catering? Actually, that sounds like it could be a funny idea. Finally, why John Hamburg is the Alfred Hitchcock of dumb comedies.

PK: There are two things that, uh, well, actually three things that disturb me. First, that your character doesn’t pick up after your dog.

JS: Yes.

PK: I mean, that’s gonna alienate everyone in the audience, because everyone has stepped in dog shit.

JS: Sure, absolutely. That’s not my actual personal philosophy in life. If anything you should ask John Hamburg. I mean, he wrote that. My character’s philosophy is that it’s natural, you know. It’s just feces.

JH: He’s composting.

PK: On peoples’ shoes, though.

JH: Yeah, and he gets his comeuppance. I mean, people attack him. He’ll get his ass kicked, eventually.

PK: Are any of you fans of Rush? Is there a certain irony going here?

JH: No, I mean, I didn’t write Rush into the movie ironically. It was because I’m a fan and I love their music, and I think they’re the perfect band for a couple of guys to bond over.

PK: Were you a Rush fan before?

PR: I was. Yeah. And am. Yeah, absolutely. The first Rush record I got was “Moving Pictures.” When I was a kid, and um, I, actually, it was really kind of cool, because I had a little bit of a Rush resurgence in my life. I think I was driving one time and “Spirit of the Radio” came on and I just immediately downloaded it off of Itunes when I got home and I’m kind of rediscovering some of the Rush songs, and then the movie came along and so it kind of, it came about at a kind of the height of my Rush research. And I was so excited when they said, yes, they would be in it, because they’re also pretty reclusive. They don’t do this kind of thing too often. If ever.

PK: They tour a lot.

PR: They do tour a lot, but they actually had released a new record that was released when we were shooting. And I have a feeling maybe, some of this, like how fortuitous it was that it all worked out, they were in Los Angeles touring and they were doing two shows, and they had a day off in between each show and that’s when they came and did their scene in the movie. So, um, it was meant to be. I guess.

PK: You’re silent about the Rush thing.

JS: Well, I was just waiting. I was being deferential to Paul. I was a little too young to know Rush in their prime, but I became a big fan of Rush during “Freaks and Geeks,” because I had to drum “Spirit of the Radio.”

PK: So, you’re both musicians in real life, right?

PR: I’m not. Jason is. I mean, I try and learn guitar in a way that an actor learns guitar, which is… very annoying. In just about every category.

JS (singing): “I gave my love a cherry…” [the song the guy on the stairs isinging before John Belushi smashes his guitar in "Animal House].

PR: I’m not that bad. I mean, I gave my love a chicken. I’ve learned a bit of finger picking. I’m trying to learn banjo right now.

JS: Oh, are you really? Did you listen to the new Steve Martin album?

PR: I love, love Steve Martin. I love banjo. I love bluegrass music.

PK: So that’s not your actual playing for this movie?

PR: No, I did learn the actual bass lines, yeah.

JH: He can play bass. He learned how to play bass very well.

PK: And you’re doing the drums?

JS: I play piano and drums, a tiny bit of guitar, and I’m learning the trumpet.

PK: Did you ever compose the opera--the puppet opera for Dracula?

JS: Yes, I wrote the music for “Sarah Marshall” with help from a guy named Peter Salett and a guy called Lyle Workman but I basically wrote the demos for the music and they gave them some proper musicians.

PK I downloaded that, “We Should Do Something About It.” That’s a great one.

JS: Oh yeah, “We Gotta Do Something.” Thank you. That was a fun one. We wrote that in one night. I love that. The concept about a guy who’s writing an environmental song and really doesn’t give a shit.

PK: Um, wedding toasts. Drawing from personal experience. Did you have a wedding toast experience to draw on? It seems a motif, as you also have one in “Along Came Polly.”

JH: Yeah, you’re right. Alec Baldwin gives a wedding toast there. I, like most people, have been to a lot of weddings and find them to be rife with comedy, just cause when you get a lot of family and friends together, there’s gonna be some weird things happening, and there’s always the guy at the wedding, or woman, who has drunk too much and makes a toast, and everybody in the wedding party is just cringing. You know, fearful for what they’re gonna say. And the worst story I ever heard, I can’t go into it, because it’s too offensive. No, I’m gonna walk away from this one.

PK: You don’t have to name names.

JH: No, it’s… we’ll walk away from this one.

PK: How about, you were recently married. Did you have trouble getting your best man?

PR: No, I was married a few years ago. But my wedding was very, very small. I didn’t have a best man or do any of this stuff.

PK: Would you have had to go through a similar process to get a best man?

PR: I don’t think so. I actually have been fortunate enough since I was a kid to have really strong, good male friendships in my life.

PK: And female friendships?

PR: And female friendships, yeah. For sure.

PK: So you’re like a regular guy. You get along with the women--

PR: I think so, yeah.

JS: Paul’s very easy-going. Very likable, very affable guy.

PR: I enjoy the company of everybody. Except… well, I could name names.

JH: Paul’s a humanist.

PR (mock insulted): What did you call me?

JH: A humanist.

PK: Don’t tell the Christian right that.

JH: I won’t. We’re talking to them after this interview.

PK: The characters you play are often people who are very sensitive and subdued, and often get, well, not quite as bad as Ben Stiller, but you often are the victim of embarassment.

PR: I guess I’ve had moments where my character is embarassed or overcompensates. I mean, you know, being vulnerable, in some kind of vulnerable position, can be funny and relatable. But I feel like in this movie, I was really excited to play this kind of character who I believe is an optimist and emotionally available, as opposed to even in the one I did before this, which was Role Models, there was a bit more of a misanthrope.

PK: Are you really a misanthrope underneath all of this?

PR: I think that I have a fair amount of it. I think that those two qualities co exist in everyone. But there are many things in Role Models that annoy me in my own life, and you just kind of put them in a movie. But I think ultimately I’m optimistic. I’m a glass is half full type person.

PK: So you think the economy is gonna rebound?

PR: It will eventually. Hopefully. You don’t think so?

PK: Hopefully. [to JS] Your persona seems to be more of the outwardly cynical but inwardly sort of romantic, has one true love and then loses the true love and is heartbroken. Do you think that’s an accurate description?

JS: I think it’s an accurate description of me in life. Yeah, yeah. I’ve tried to play very different characters on screen. My character in “Knocked Up” is basically just sleazy. I was just going for sleazy. My character in “Sarah,” uh, what’s the show called, “How I Met Your Mother” is kind of a whipped husband, a very sweet whipped husband. My character in “Sarah Marshall” is a hopeless romantic. Heartbroken. And my character in this is terrified of monogamy and is kind of a cavalier, vagabond, man’s man.

PK: So he’s in denial.

JS: Uh, yeah, yeah. He was a late bloomer, Sydney Fife was. And so he’s trying to sow his oats now that he… when you turn into this.

PK: By late bloomer, you mean he lost his virginity late?

JS: Yeah, I believe I grew eight inches when I was a sophomore year of college, was my character’s backstory. So I was a real wimpy guy and then all of a sudden I grew eight inches in college and I could get girls.

PK: Speaking of growth spurts. Lou Ferrigno--are we laughing at him? Or with him?


JS: [all three] With him!

JH: We’re not laughing at anybody in this movie. Except for Tevin. The Tevin character.

PR: Who might be considered the alpha male wannabe. The kind of guy who deserves to be knocked down a rung or two. But one of the things I loved about reading this script and working on the movie is just how not mean-spirited it was, and is. I mean, I think that… Well, with Lou Ferrigno there was also that element of excitement that I think we had with Rush. Jon and I, when we were kids, we all loved the Incredible Hulk. And he seemed to be the kind of… also, if I’m going to be playing a realtor, in Los Angeles there’s a lot of actors…

PK: Was that Lou’s real house you were trying to sell in the movie?

PR: That was not his real house. No.

PK: He doesn’t have the statue.

PR: No. Though that house is incredible. But, um, it was, he seemed to be, I was like, yeah, let’s see if Lou Ferrigno would be into playing himself, playing his part.

JS: There’s nothing cynical about the movie.

PK: I agree. So, I get one more question. Can you tell me what your next projects are?

PR: I don’t really know what mine is. I’m not really sure. I wrote with some friends of mine in producing a show that actually premiers on the network Starz, called “Party Down.” About caterers. And, um, it’s also got a great cast and it’s funny. The cool thing is that each show is a different catered event.

JS: That’s a great idea.

PR: Yes it is. And it’s with Adam Scott, who’s great. Ken Marino, Jane Lynch, Maureen Star. Yeah, it’s funny and it’s realistic and kind of sad but very funny and I think, I don’t know, I’m really excited about it actually.

JS: And I’m going go do “Gulliver’s Travels” with Jack Black in London.

PK: Is that animated?

JS: No, it’s live action. We’re gonna go shoot in London for five months. So that’ll be great.

PK: Who do you play?

JS: I play Horatio, the main Lilliputian. So for the first time I’ll be shorter than my costar.

PK: And Jack Black is a towering man.

JS: Jack Black is quite short. He is Gulliver, yes. We finished the script and now we’re just waiting for the green light from Disney.

JH: I’m writing a screenplay for “The Little Fockers,” which is the third installment of “Meet the Parents.”

PK: I have to tell you that, my girlfriend and I, no matter what else is on TV, if we go through the cable stations and come across “Zoolander,” we have to watch the whole thing. At whatever point it was. The critic Philip Lopate has said that he does the same thing with “Rear Window.” So “Zoolander” is our “Rear Window.”

JH: “Rear Window” and “Zoolander” do get compared a lot. And I really appreciate the…

PK I think it’s taught as a seminar at some major universities.

JH: I’ve been touring the country giving a “Rear Window”/”Zoolander” lecture and there’s been about seven people who have loved it.

PR: If you play the two movies side by side, there’s a little bit of a kind of “Wizard of Oz”/”Dark Side of the Moon” thing going on.

JH: But I do appreciate that.

PK: If we get started on “Zoolander,” we’ll never stop.


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