Danny McBride On Set Interview – LAND OF THE LOST

     April 20, 2009

Written by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub

If I had posted this interview with Danny McBride when I conducted it last summer on the set of “Land of the Lost”, only a fraction of you would have cared to read it. But now, with “The Foot Fist Way” out on DVD, and Danny starring on the great HBO show “Eastbound and Down”, I’m hoping a lot more of you will want to read what he had to say about not only making “Land of the Lost”, but all the other projects he’s involved with.

The thing to know is, we conducted this interview before “Tropic Thunder” and “Pineapple Express” had come out, so all the journalists on the set visit were all curious about those films, but I think it’s cool to hear Danny talk about them before they became really popular.

As you read the interview (or click here to listen to it) you’ll find Danny willing to talk about anything, and he couldn’t have been nicer and more grounded. And if you’re already a fan of Danny’s, you’ll definitely like hearing him talk about “Eastbound and Down” while it was still coming together.

And for those that aren’t familiar with “Land of the Lost”, here’s the synopsis and trailer to get you ready for the interview. And here’s a link to my set report that I posted yesterday.

The film is based on the original classic television series created by Sid & Marty Krofft. The remake stars Will Ferrell as Dr. Rick Marshall, Danny McBride as a redneck survivalist, Anna Friel as a crack-smart research assistant, and Jorma Taccone as Chaka! Here’s the synopsis and trailer in case you missed it:

Will Ferrell stars as has-been scientist Dr. Rick Marshall, sucked into one and spat back through time. Way back. Now, Marshall has no weapons, few skills and questionable smarts to survive in an alternate universe full of marauding dinosaurs and fantastic creatures from beyond our world—a place of spectacular sights and super-scaled comedy known as the Land of the Lost.

Sucked alongside him for the adventure are crack-smart research assistant Holly (Anna Friel) and a redneck survivalist (Danny McBride) named Will. Chased by T. rex and stalked by painfully slow reptiles known as Sleestaks, Marshall, Will and Holly must rely on their only ally—a primate called Chaka (Jorma Taccone)—to navigate out of the hybrid dimension. Escape from this routine expedition gone awry and they’re heroes. Get stuck, and they’ll be permanent refugees in the Land of the Lost.

Q: Do you know these guys?

Danny McBride: Yeah, we used to all go to college together.

Does it get weird seeing the same press again and again?

DM: It does.

Do you have to come up with new things?

DM: No, I’m just like these guys’ll be an easy audience.

How do you keep all your stories straight?

DM: We go through it. That’s why Claire, my assistant, we have to all have the same lies, like we’re coming up with a murder. We all agree on the same things.

What’s the story with the tats?

DM: Yeah, there’s tattoos. There’s this one, this one here. None of them are mine. They’re all courtesy of Universal. My guy has a lot of respect for the red man which shows that he does by calling them red men. Yeah, and this is my character’s mother. A lot of character development going into this.

Did you get to pick those yourself?

DM: They gave me a choice of several naked women and I settled on this one. I thought this one was the most appeasing. We should have probably put her upside down though, should’ve been the other way.

Is this your real hair grown out?

DM: This is, yeah. This is what I’m working with.

Talk about your character in the film?

DM: Yeah, Will in the film, you know in the TV show he was obviously younger. He was a teenager and he was related to Holly and Marshall which he’s not in this. Our paths cross when Marshall and Holly are investigating these mysterious tachyon hits. They find me out in the desert. I own a gas station and a weird sh*tty amusement park that has one ride. Yeah, we all get swept away into the Land of the Lost together.

Do you have a shorthand with Will?

DM: It’s weird, Will in scenes, he only likes people to communicate with him through sign language, so I’ve had to really learn a lot of that in this.

A production person came over and said, “Sorry, we need Danny back.”

DM: Aw, this f*ckin’ production, Jesus Christ. No, I’ll be back, no problem… You guys have seen Brokeback Mountain obviously. Very similar. It’s very similar. A lot of punching.

after awhile Danny came back.

Spit on the palm?

DM: Yeah, hitting, yeah, it’s disgusting.

What is the reaction in this scene?

DM: You have to pay 10 bucks to see that but I can tell you a little about them. They swell up here, like when they start getting turned on. This starts going big. You’re in for something. It’s a weird movie. There’s rape jokes in it and sex, I don’t know.

Is there going to be an unrated Land of the Lost?

DM: I hope it makes it into the theater. We’ll see.

Is this PG-13? Are you doing it both ways?

DM: No, I think it’s PG-13, yeah. Hopefully. No, there’s been no F bombs in the movie. There’s no drug use. Yeah, we should be PG-13. We should be okay.

How does the action compare to Tropic Thunder?

DM: It’s a whole different deal I guess. This has been a lot of looking at tennis balls and running away from dinosaurs. There were no dinosaurs in Tropic Thunder so that’s different. The Tropic stuff, because we were in the jungle and it’s 120 degrees and everyone’s sweaty and it smells like pig sh*t, it was really easy to get into the zone of running for your life. Where here you’ve got to use the old mind bone a little bit more to figure out how you would react to a T-rex running over top of you.

Is it easy or hard to be funny in that circumstance?

DM: You know, Will just takes everything up a notch that you just try to fall in line. The mood on the set has been so light for something that’s been going on for so long, yeah, everyone just always seems to be in a good mood so it hasn’t been too hard to stay in a jovial mood I guess.

Is there room for improv when you’re hitting specific marks?

DM: Well, that was one of the things that initially attracted me to this was Brad’s take on it was he wanted to make a big movie with such a large scope with large special effects and still try to keep the looseness of what Ferrell comedies usually are like. So that seemed interesting to me, to mess around with the improv and kind of keep that comedy and see how that plays when you have Rhythm and Hues, Academy Award winners making T-rexes and weird lizards running all around you.

How do you work together? Can’t leave the camera running.

DM: No, it’s not like that. It’s cool because it just forces you to like not be as lazy. Like if you did something that was really good in one take, if you want it to be in there… multiple cameras are hardly ever rolling unless it’s some sort of action or stunt. So it’s not like in the scenes we’re covering everyone for every riff. It just makes you have to work at it more. Brad will tell you, I think this scene is just going to be this shot. So if you came up with something great in the second take, you have to figure out a way to make it work with what’s happening in the fourth take so that it’ll be there hopefully in the movie.

Was it like that in Tropic Thunder too?

DM: Ben always had multiple cameras rolling but it wasn’t like the cameras were locked down. He would have multiple cameras going and they were each on like 50 feet of dolly tracks. That movie is up on its legs a lot.

What’s the dynamic with Anna Friel?

DM: Well, I’ve said before, it’s really incredible. She’s the first real live British person I’ve ever met. They don’t just live in history books like I thought, so that’s cool. It’s kind of neat to have your eyes opened like that. It’s really cool, it’s real, just like the dinosaurs are. No, she’s been awesome. I think Anna’s background is like she comes from a really strong dramatic background so it’s cool to see her walk into something like this and how she just is easily able to just fall right into the deal. She’s really funny. When I read the script, a lot revolves around that character because the world of the science and the theories kind of comes from, she balances Will out in a way and you really needed someone that was going to be able to sell this like tachyon meters and these weird theories about Land of the Lost to make it seem like it’s real. I don’t know, it’s weird. The British accent just legitimizes so many things you would not believe.

You did a cameo on Observe and Report.

DM: I was a crackhead, yup.

Were you hurt you couldn’t do more?

DM: I was. That pained me. I wanted to really be there for Jody and be able to do more. I was going to originally play this role of this cop which had a much bigger role but it just didn’t work out. It would’ve, but the potential strike, the SAG strike, insurance wouldn’t allow Jody’s movie to go much later, so we just had to part, but Jody and I are getting to work on this TV show for HBO so we kissed and made out there and then we’re just like I’ll see you in Wilmington, we’ll meet up then.

Talk about the HBO show.

DM: Yeah, after Will and Adam saw Foot Fist Way and helped us get the deal with Paramount with those guys, they asked if we had anything else we wanted to do. We really wanted to try to just get into TV but get into HBO specifically. We weren’t interested in doing something that’s like 24 episodes. We wanted to just do something smaller, something like Extras or the Office, British television where it’s like six or seven episodes in a season and it can be its own unique story. It doesn’t have to turn into a formula. Those guys were really into that and HBO was into it so we shot a pilot last summer. HBO’s picked it up and we’re starting to write now and we’ll shoot this fall.

What’s it called?

DM: Right now it’s called Eastbound and Down. I don’t know if that’ll be what it’s called. We almost named it that as a joke because it’s the theme song to Smokey and the Bandit but I don’t know if you can name a TV show after the theme song to Smokey and the Bandit.

Is it weird to wait so long?

DM: It’s one of those things where all these great shows they have are going off the air that we kind of felt, and it’s Will Ferrell, why wouldn’t they want to be in business with Will. So we shot the pilot and everyone over there seemed to really be into it, but yeah, there was a really long period before we heard anything. Then there was also, in the midst of that, a lot of regime change there, so we were hoping that we weren’t going to get lost in the shuffle. No, they said they’ve been into it. We started writing right before the writer’s strike and then that happened so that kinda killed everything. Then I was on this movie so that’s the main reason it’s been delayed for so long.

What’s going on in the scene today? Anna’s captured, you have to rescue her?

DM: I think they’re working on post rescue. This is like some essential parts of the movie but there’s a pretty awesome fight scene that’s happening right now. It might involve Will and a T-rex, I don’t know. Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it’s a rock.

Did you train for fight scenes?

DM: I haven’t. No, no training unfortunately which is probably a good thing because I would have hurt a lot of people. There’s been a lot of battling in this movie, yeah.

Is the kind of movie you have a lot of friends calling to come?

DM: I’ve had a bunch of friends, yeah, especially like friends who are like huge Sid and Marty Kroft fans. They instantly just gravitate towards them. Guys who are big fans of Bo Welch and they want to come in and see his trees that he’s made for the movie and stuff. I went to film school so these guys have very specific interests in the movie, yeah.

Was it weird working with the Krofts?

DM: Oh yeah, it’s been incredible. Those guys have been amazing. It’s cool to just come to work and just f*ckin’ make fun of Marty Kroft to his face and just joke around with him. He throws it back you. It’s like this is so surreal, hanging out with these guys. They’re incredible.

Were you a fan of the show?

DM: Yeah, yeah, I watched actually a lot of Sid & Marty Kroft stuff when I was a kid. My parents were really into it so that was just something that they kind of opened the door to me. It was weird though because I had watched a lot when I was a kid. Then when I started to grow older, I kind of had just forgotten about Land of the Lost. Then I think I saw a picture of a Sleestak somewhere and it like unlocked all those ancient fears, like oh God, I remember being horrified of these things. So it was definitely a pretty trippy day the first day the Sleestaks worked, just walking onto a set, there’s like 30 of them just coming out and their little pinchers, walking all slow.

Do you get to hear the noise?

DM: They’re going to do a lot of it in post, yeah. Sometimes Brad’ll get on the microphone and do it while the scene’s going on. He’s a good Sleestak. He has a good Sleestak voice.

What’s the necklace?

DM: Yeah, he sells native American jewelry in his store so he wears the stuff. He doesn’t sell this watch. This is just his watch that he uses to tell time with I guess. Not a plot point.

What’s Will’s deal? Holly and Marshall are science types.

DM: Well, Will’s deal is this. Look at this. This is his amusement park. This is the Devil’s Mystery Cave right here. Here’s my office. That’s my home, right there.

What’s the one ride?

DM: It’s the Devil’s Mystery Cave. It’s like a shitty log flume ride almost where you’ve got to go through on a raft, very reminiscent of the TV show. In this area, he talks about how this area’s known for the infamous legends of the lizard man, which you notice kind of vaguely looks like a Sleestak so there’s kind of this hint to the mythology that maybe other things have passed through this area somehow.

Is your character the key?

DM: He might be. A guy who owns a store like this, he’s probably the dude who holds the key to the universe obviously. This is what Will’s really about. He’s trying to save up to open up his humongous casino, roller coasters and all kinds of crazy sh*t.

Where is that in the movie?

DM: There’s a miniature model that is inside the store.

That looks like the incinerator we saw.

DM: Yeah, so there’s all this kind of weird kind of tie back.

Is it possible he’s been there before?

DM: You know, we’ll have to see. I don’t know. Here’s when sh*t gets crazy on the ride. That’s us. There’s me. Look at, you can see the denim shirt and everything. Look at, there’s me again, screaming. That’s all the stuff you guys saw earlier.

We cracked a code.

DM: Yeah, there’s something to be read in there, huh?

Were they designing a ride for Universal Studios?

DM: Well, that’s what we’re imagining. Now that we’ve got the King Kong ride outta there, we can put the Land of the Lost ride. Just makin’ moves, makin’ moves.

Did the fire affect production at all?

DM: It didn’t but everyone was really scared. I think half the people were scared that our sets were burned down. Like Daniel Lupi was afraid that we started it. So everyone was very frightened but luckily we were okay. All the work that had gone into the sets, none of it was affected so that was good.

Were you shooting at the time?

DM: We weren’t. It happened on a Sunday morning so no, we were supposed to go back the next day.

Is this the biggest project you’ve been involved with?

DM: Yeah, I think this and Tropic probably are, yeah, the two biggest. They’re about this much bigger than The Foot Fist Way. A little bigger.

How has this summer been for you?

DM: It’s actually been great. We went through – – Vantage has been kind of crazy because they just got, I think the day after Foot Fist came out, they got folded into regular Paramount so everyone who should’ve been keeping an eye on what the movie’s doing were suddenly looking for new jobs, but they stuck with us. We open up in like I think 25 more cities this week and then we go next week. I don’t know, the movie only cost 70 grand so it really only has to get about 10 more people into seats to make a return on it.

What’s the status on Your Highness?

DM: We’re trying to make it not too big so we can make it as lame as we want to make it and keep it rated R and everything. We just really want to kind of do our take on a movie like Krull or Dragonslayer. We’re not really making fun of the genre but just making a movie like that that looks like that and feels like that and uses those old kind of special effects and just hit it. David I think is really great about covering, hitting tones like that. That’s what’s so amazing about Pineapple Express is it feels like an ‘80s action movie without making fun of an ‘80s action movie. He just embraces the tone on another level. I think it’d be funny for him to try to make his Clash of the Titans. It would just probably be the dumbest movie that’s ever been made.

Is it weird that Pineapple is finally coming out?

DM: It’s great. We made Pineapple and Superbad had done so well for Sony that they had locked onto that Superbad date from the time we were shooting. They were telling us that that’s when it was. Yeah, it’s nuts. Pineapple was locked and done by last fall and it was just kind of like here’s a movie we’re all proud of. We’ll wait until it comes out at the end of next summer.

Is Mr. Machine something else you’re doing?

DM: Yeah, yeah. We’re turning that into Universal next week. That’s just our take on one of those old Amblin films. It takes place in the mid ‘80s, follows around these science fair geeks that construct this robot that ends up getting a life of its own. It’s like a Short Circuit zombie movie kind of. That was something that we had written before any of this other stuff that happened so we just went back and dug it out and started working on it, trying to reinvent it and people were interested in it. Now, David originally had no interest in directing it but now after where we’ve gotten this puppy, he kind of is a little more interested. Who knows? I don’t know.

What are your next projects?

DM: I think that’s it. I’m working on a really cool iphoto slideshow for my mom. That should be hitting theaters soon hopefully. Some YouTube, some webisodes. We’re working on some webisodes.

Ever been to Comic Con?

DM: I haven’t. I’m looking forward to going this summer. We’re going for – – me, Seth, James and David are all going down for Pineapple so it should be really cool. We’re there for a few days so I’m not sure, and I guess they’re going to play it there. They’re going to screen it there.

Screening with Q&A?

DM: Yeah, I’ll be there for that.

Are you into the geeky stuff?

DM: I’m mildly into graphic novels and comic books but like I’m reading Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman now. Bill Hader told me that I had to get into that so I’m on book six now, the weirdest series. It’s pretty cool. I like it. I’m digging it. I’m surprised that no one’s tried to adapt that.

They have.

DM: It’s been horrible, right? Oh, I own an Xbox and a Playstation and a Wii so all bases are covered.

Favorite game?

DM: Well, the last thing I was getting my knuckles wet with was Call of Duty but then the movie happened so I had to put my gun down. But now I’ve been rockin’ a little Grand Theft in my downtime so that’s been fun.

Not Guitar Hero?

DM: You know, what I don’t like about those games is I have a skill set that only goes so far, so no matter how much I play it, I just can’t get past f*ckin’ medium so it pisses me off.

“Land of the Lost” invades theaters June 5th. And I’m on the ever growing world of Twitter.

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