Surprisingly, Bad Milo, which is a movie about an ass demon, also has a lot of heart. As the pressures of Duncan’s (Ken Marino) life start mounting, his stress triggers an insufferable gastrointestinal reaction that results in a pint-sized demon living in his intestine, that forces its way out and slaughters the people who have angered him. Trying to keep its insatiable appetite at bay, Duncan attempts to befriend it, naming it Milo.
At the film’s press day, actor Ken Marino spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about how he came to be a part of this project, his first reaction to the script, what he thought when he saw what Milo would look like, what it was like to work with the puppet, and working with such a great cast. He also talked about revisiting his character Vinnie Van Lowe for the Veronica Mars movie, working on the new season of Eastbound & Down, and the type of projects he currently has in development. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
Collider: How was the idea for this film presented to you? Did you have any idea what you were getting yourself into?
KEN MARINO: I had worked with Mark [Duplass] on this Funny or Die short that Adam Scott directed, so we became friends. And Mark called me up and asked me if I wanted to read this script that he would love for me to be a part of, and I was like, “My god, absolutely!” I was so excited. But then, he said, “Read the script because it’s slightly different than some other movies we’ve done.” So, I read it and I loved it. I just thought it was right up my alley. I thought it was a perfect movie for me to be a part of because I got to play a straight, put-upon everyman, but it was also ridiculous and absurd because this monster comes out of my ass. The thing that put me over the top is the scene where they bond in the motel room, which I loved. That’s my favorite section. When I read that, I was like, “I wanna do this movie badly!”
So, when you realized that this was a movie about a guy with a demon in his ass, what was your first reaction?
MARINO: I knew it was funny. I love horror comedies, and I love horror movies. In particular, I love horror movies from the ‘80s that have practical monsters in them. They’re not just slasher movies with people going to kill people in people’s houses. Although I do like The Last House on the Left, and things like that, I do like these ridiculous monster movies. They’re scary, but they’re absurd. I had a lot of fun in my 20’s, watching a lot of these movies late at night. So, when I read it, I was like, “Oh, my god, I have an opportunity to do one of these?! Yeah, absolutely!” And then, when I found out that the monster was definitely going to be practical, that just got me more excited. It was a little gift for me.
MARINO: When I first saw it, I was very excited because I thought it was perfect. I think they did an amazing job with Milo and created a really beautiful shit monster. He looks like if intestines ran into E.T. There were two heads for it. There was the sweet head, and then they would take the sweet head off and put on the one showing the fangs. I enjoyed both sides of Milo. I actually preferred the sweet head because it cuts against the monster of it. It’s like a sweet little puppy ass monster. What was great about acting with it was that you weren’t acting with a little tennis ball or a ping-pong ball. The guys who were working it were more than puppeteers. I could be representing it wrong, but I don’t think they like calling it a puppet. I think they like to call it a character. There was a guy who was controlling the body, and there was a guy who was controlling the face, almost like a model airplane controller. They were very invested in reacting, in a real way, in a scene. You were acting with an acting partner. You weren’t just acting with a doll sitting there. It was an inanimate creature that was reacting. It would do all these really cool things. So, if you could get passed the guy in the black suit with the sticks controlling the hands and really focus in on this guy’s face, you actually could get caught up in the scene. Your suspension of disbelief could go to the world that this thing existed. Basically, you have to tap into the child in you. If you can get to that innocent place, then you’re golden. That was the subconscious goal for me.
Were you surprised at how much emotion the puppet actually had?
MARINO: Yeah. He’s got tender eyes, and there are moments where you actually care about him. He is definitely a victim. He’s not just a monster, going out and killing people. He doesn’t know. He’s there for a reason. He comes out to protect me, and I know that. And I’m a victim of not being in control of who I am, and a victim of all these outside forces. And we need each other. It’s an interesting pairing and dynamic between the two of them, and it’s much more compelling than it should be.
How was it to have such a great cast to work with?
MARINO: That’s a testament to the script, that’s a testament to Jacob [Vaughan], the director, and that’s a testament to the Duplass brothers. They can call people up and say, “Hey, do you want to do this?,” and they can get good quality people. You don’t get good quality people by just asking. You have to also have a script that is interesting and compelling. Even though it’s an ass monster movie, there’s something emotionally fulfilling about the script that, when you read it, you connect to, on an emotional level. If you can succeed at that, then people will sign on. With people like Toby Huss, Stephen Root, Peter Stormare, Mary Kay Place, Gillian Jacobs and Kumail Nanjiani, there are so many wonderful people in it. It just felt very lucky to me, to work with Stephen Root, Peter, Toby, Mary Kay and Gillian. Those are gifts.
Some of the therapy moments between you and Peter Stormare are just hilarious.
MARINO: Yeah. I mean this in the best way possible, but he’s ridiculous and amazing. He really is the worst therapist. He really is a thinking outside the box therapist. I question whether he has any sort of degree or legitimate certificate of practicing.
How much fun was it for you to return to your Veronica Mars character, Vinnie Van Lowe?
MARINO: I love that there are so many Veronica Mars fans. I was not a regular on the show. I was lucky enough to just come on. I loved the character. But, I never really realized the rabid fans that it had. I just didn’t know. And so, when the movie happened, I was like, “This is awesome! This is great!” I was lucky enough for them to call me back in and let me do the part again. I’m so happy for them. Rob [Thomas], Kristen [Bell], Dan Etheridge and the people who worked on that show couldn’t be nicer and couldn’t be sweeter, and they’re super talented people. The fact that they got to do this is a nice story.
You’re juggling various film and TV projects, in various stages of development. Do you have any idea which you’ll do next?
MARINO: No. My wife and I are creating a show for Fox. That’s always a crap shoot, but we hope that it gets picked up and we hope that we get to shoot it. Right now, we’re writing the script. David Wain and I have written a script that we’re going to go out with soon. My wife and I are writing a couple of scripts. And there are TV things that I’m doing. I don’t know what the next big project will be. I just did Eastbound & Down, which I’m excited about. That’s coming out in October. Working with those guys was a dream. So, I don’t know what the next thing is, but hopefully things will keep coming. I guess there are people who are like, “Here’s one thing, and I’m gonna do it,” but I can’t. I don’t have the capacity to have that singular focus. I need to try to get a lot of things going ‘cause you never know what’s gonna hit.
Bad Milo opens in theaters on October 4th.