Christopher McDonald Interview – SUPERHERO MOVIE

     March 24, 2008

You all know Christopher McDonald. While I’m sure a number of you don’t know his name, he’s been in over 100 movies so I’m very confident you’ve seen his work. Also, he’s Shooter McGavin in Happy Gilmore!!

Anyway, the reason I got to participate in a roundtable interview with Shooter (Christopher) is that he’s the villain in “Superhero Movie.” The film is a spoof of all the popular comic book movies to hit the screen recently, but it’s mostly spoofing “Spider-Man.” So if you’ve seen Spidey… Chris essentially plays The Green Goblin. The film is from writer/director Craig Mazin and he’s previously done Scary Movie 3 and 4, so if you enjoy those kinds of spoofs, I’m sure you’ll like this.

And while I won’t have the time to transcribe all the interviews I participated in for “Superhero Movie,” if you’d like to listen to the audio of the interviews just click on the following names – Marion Ross, Director Craig Mazin and Producer Robert K. Weiss. And if you’d like to listen to the audio of the Christopher McDonald interview same thing. Click on his name.

Finally, if you want to watch some movie clips from “Superhero Movie” they’re here. And with that….here’s Chris.

Question: How are you doing today, sir?

Christopher McDonald: I’m great. Thanks. Did you guys see the movie?

Question: Yes, we did.

Christopher McDonald: Did you see it last night?

Question: Yeah, we saw it.

Christopher McDonald: I wanted to see it with an audience – even a tough crowd like you guys.

Question: They invited people into it.

Christopher: Oh yeah, they did, yeah. But it was good. I got some laughs from the people. I was like, “oh my God. It’s infectious” and then everybody starts going, you know it is pretty funny. The farting is going on a little long but it is pretty funny.

Q: I want to let you know I had the loudest laugh for the I shat my pants.

Christopher: Oh good thank you. Thank you. I shat my pants. That was one of my audition lines and I thought God, I’m going to say that in a movie and I love it.

Q: Do you embrace that kind of stuff?

Christopher: You know, I’ve never done a spoof movie before. I mean, everybody who does a straight movie always spoofs it on the side, you know, but they never bring it on. And the producers and directors were really bright to go, now let’s really do this Superhero because we all love superhero movies and then to see them do this was a challenge. As soon as I sat down with Craig Mazin, I was supposed to be the crazy editor part. And I was just coming to meet and greet, he said “yeah, I love you. You’re great. I love you. You can do it. Nobody can do it like you. You’ll be terrific.” And then we just started talking and doing this whole thing and God, he’s so funny. Have you sat with him yet?

Q: Not yet, no.

Christopher: He’s one of the funnies human beings I’ve ever met. He’s just quick. Just smart and I love him. I just thought it was great and we did the old “okay kid put here there” like we were old moguls at old Warner Brothers. It was so funny. So on the way out the door I said hey, who’s playing the Hourglass/Lou Landers? He goes why don’t you just take that material and come in tomorrow and give it a run and we’ll play with it. I went, “great”. I took it home, went in the next day and worked for like an hour and a half and he said it’s great. Bob Weinstein walked in and he said I was the easiest casting of everybody. So I said, “yes!”. So my one day part turned into the run of the movie which was really fun.

Q: So what’s the difference, you’ve done the villain in a lot of the straight comedies is a weird way to say it but so what’s the difference to do the outright spoof of it?

Christopher: Laughter. Laughter is good. It’s just funny the way he says some of the stupidest lines in the world. Craig Mazin said to me, “you know how hard it is to write those stupid lines?” It’s like it’s so funny. You basically getting carte blanche to be as big and chew as much scenery as you can because first of all a superhero needs a super villain or else it just you know…they made a movie about it called “Mystery Men”. It was like, “We need a super villain. Who can we get?” But it’s just carte blanche to do everything, plus when they give you the kick-ass, sexy, hot, uncomfortable costume. Oh my God. I loved that. It took forever to put it on but once you’re in it you’re tougher and bigger and meaner than anyone around. It was just an absolute riot to do it.

Q: Did you keep the costume?

Christopher: No, but I’m working on that. I’m working on that. It only takes 4 people to put it together that’s the problem. I’d have to train my children. No, not that way! Because everything is like little tiny screws and things like that and pull it in and I had to wear a man girdle. Yeah, I said it. I had to look like this, so it was fun.

Q: How much ad libbing is done on a set like this? I mean where you think of bits or a pratfall or whatever and how much did you have input into maybe your character or maybe the costume.

Christopher: I had a lot of input into how I walked and moved in the costume but mostly everything was scripted. I did ad-lib a couple of things, I don’t think they made it to the movie, but Craig really knows what he wants. He knows what’s funny. On the set there was like…on the day…a thing that did last in the movie was I’d go to kill him and say douche bag. That was one of the funniest moments with douche bag night was unbelievable. But anyway, I go backstage and I throw the thing away and he goes, “finally I got you Lou Landers” and I turn around he looks away, it could be that guy, and I go to kill him because that’s how I suck his energy out, and then he said okay, pull your hand back, pull your hand back and put it in your nose, yeah, yeah. Do that. So we did it like 8 times and I’m going, “oh my God.” It’s funny and then it’s like oh my God it’s probably going to end up in the movie. That’s how other smarter actors protect themselves. They just go, “I just can’t make that work. Was it one finger or 2? Is it a thumb?” and they go, “yeah, okay we’ll move on.” But I, of course, will try anything and actually it was kind of funny. But at the time it was an improv moment that I thought was going to go to hell but it actually worked.

Q: So you’ve been playing the villain in these comedies for a long time. When did that start for you?

Christopher: That’s a good question and to think they didn’t think of me right out in front and say hey, you’re a super villain. You’re perfect. You’re a villain in all these things. It started with I guess “Thelma and Louise” when I was like this villainous husband, but you know, they had to either choose to go back to their husbands or go over the cliff. So you gotta figure you gotta be pretty whooo out there and they chose the cliff clearly. But that’s what really started it and then I was offered every red-neck hayseed in the world and I just tried to do a different spin on different things every time. Like immediately after this movie I went and did a serious drama. You have to balance them out. But I’ve been doing a lot of villains like in “Happy Gilmore” and so it basically started with “Thelma and Louise” and I started really enjoying it. I played the other guys and it’s sort of like you know, it’s good you’re right there. You’re the lead guy and you have a lot of empathy and that’s good. I like playing the villain guys that also have flaws, but they don’t let you do that sometimes. They want the story to be black and white. Not a lot of gray, which is unfortunate because I’ve been asked to do that and I put that it and it never makes the movie. I’m like oh, God. You can’t play him as a villain. You gotta play him as a person first, you know, that has different needs. But not Lou. Lou just wanted to take over the world, so you can’t blame him. But he had that accident in the chair so you can’t really blame the guy.

How many times have you turned around with someone saying “Shooter”?

Christopher: Oh, a day?


Christopher: About 8 a day. Yeah, it’s a lot. It’s good. I used to be…like in airports it’s the worst because people they’re getting a little bit more bold now, but back in the day it was like [whispering] “it’s Shooter McGavin” and as I walked about 8-15 yards they went “Hey Shooter!” and I went “yeah” like this and just keep walking and it’s just so great but now it’s like “Dude. Shooter” and then “Yup, how are you doin’?” It’s great that they…I just heard from the military, I was doing a thing last night meeting some of our brave men and women coming back and they said it’s the number one comedy they always watch and they watch it every week. It’s like “Happy Gilmore” put her in and just laugh and that’s a good thing. But I do get it a lot and especially at sporting events and airports and things like that.

Q: I was also going to… you were in “Fanboys” which has been delayed and all that stuff. Could you talk a little bit about your character in the film and also do you know what’s going on with the movie?

Christopher: The first question: I play the lead boy’s father, Sam father. And I have wanted him in the family business and that kind of thing and I still think it’s basically cameos and they brought a lot of people as you know they’ve got everybody but Harrison Ford from the “Star Wars” movies, but he was busy doing something else. Anyway, it’s Dimension Films. What I was told was…so anyway let me tell you about…he plays my son and goes on this road trip and I wanted to give him the business and my older son is like a total buffoon and he ends up running this car business and I spend too much time in the sun clearly because it’s really…they wanted me to be tan. You remember like that old lady in the Farrelly Brothers movie “Something About Mary”? She looked like a leather suitcase? Yeah, that’s me in this movie. “It’s a tough guy who talks like this and he says c’mon kids let’s do this” and he’s a used car salesman. A lot of fun to do. Anyway, the movie is 75% great, so the 25% is being rewritten and re-shot. Because they liked this movie they just said, “hey it’s almost there. Let’s put a little bit more time and money and effect into it and make it just a winner”.

Q: Are you going to go back and re-shoot anything?

Christopher: Me? I don’t think so. No, they said my stuff was great. It’s story. It’s basically story. They wanted to get a little bit more of a …and this one was gags so let’s bring in some tits, oh yeah, Pam Anderson let’s get her in here. Let’s bring in some you know…who else can we spoof. Hmmm. Wolf Man, let’s bring him in. That kind of stuff.

Q: Do you think they’ll leave the cancer part in it?

Christopher: Yeah.

Q: You know there’s a lot of stuff going on with them thinking about removing the cancer storyline. They’ve been testing it with both versions.

Christopher: Oh no kidding?

Q: Yeah.

Christopher: I didn’t know that much even. I thought they’d leave it in because I thought that was the script we made.

Q: That’s exactly what most fans are thinking, but the Weinstein company…just sorry for taking this out of turn but the Weinstein company is doing 2 different versions. One with cancer and one without and they’re testing it and Steve Brill has come in and they’re kind of fucking with the movie.

Christopher: Well, yeah but they’re ultimately trying to make it better because the movie is supposed to be quite great, but it just needs a little bit of a tweaking. So I thought the cancer thing gave it impetuous to go. That was…there’s cancer everywhere, so I hope they don’t lose it.

Q: With this film, which scene did you do that you just couldn’t get through without laughing?

Christopher: In this movie? Let’s see. It was the I shat myself. That scene…we did it a lot and we just tried to get each other going and then it was—and we tried different ways of doing it and different things but I think what we have is one of the earlier takes. But it was so silly and my job was to crack the crew up because your only audience is right there. It was working pretty good there and then it’s amazing, I mean, when I watched the flatulence scene if you will, I said I cannot believe—it’s funny and then oh my God you get repulsed and then it goes this way whoooo and you go it’s too funny. The tears and the thing up her nose and oh my God it’s funny. So I was watching them when they were doing it because I came in the…blew in door the next minute. And you want to react to things like that. Like I wanted to do this take where I was going, ooosh or something because of the gaseous smell, but didn’t. Didn’t make it, so anyway. It’s amazing when they get into the editing room on a movie like this and they know what they’re doing God knows that they’re successful. It’s cut, cut, cut, gag, gag, gag, gag, air? No cut that out. Gag, gag, gag. It’s really something and that’s why I think people that’ll see it will want to see it again just because they missed it. Missed a lot of it because of the laughter. They were laughing last night and the people missed the next joke…next 2 jokes. I thought that was great.

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Q: Were you studying Willem Dafoe in “Spider-Man”?

Christopher: I looked at “Spider-Man” but honestly that did not help me. You know what helped me? Looking at “Scary Movie”. Looking at “Airplane”. Looking at spoof and I needed to do it I was amazed and one day I came in and I gave…I said, “did you see “Scary Movie 4” when that wonderful actress—I don’t remember her name—but she played the best friend of Anna Ferris.

Q: Regina Hall.

Christopher: Regina Hall, she’s in this one too. She was so funny. She did this thing with the spasm with the Alka Seltzer suds coming up and oh my God. I had to rewind it and play it 3 more times. I laughed every time. It was just sick and I just said that is funny. I get it–good. So I brought it and shared it with some of my co-stars and they were like yeah, we should have looked at this. I went yeah it’s great. This is what we’re doing. This is an island unto himself. This is spoofing. This is parody. This is not comedy—straight comedy—this is parody comedy. So it’s comedy with a twist. Comedy with almost smart comedy. It helps if you’ve seen “Spide-Man”. It helps if you’ve seen the “Wolverines” and all the super hero movies. A lot of our fans that will come to this have but even if you haven’t it’s still funny.

Q: So how was it acting opposite Leslie Nielson and Marion Ross?

Christopher: Well, I didn’t do enough with them. I mean, I came in and killed Marion which is great. It’s a good time. Mrs. C, you’re going down—bang! And I didn’t get a chance to work with Albert enough. Of course he was there a couple days, so I came down to the set and watched him work. He has the presence and the charisma and the just the unique Leslie Neilson delivery. You could give this man anything to say and he can make it work. It’s something totally retarded. I basically lifted from him when I had to say that line about “well you know…family and Lance is doing a family I have…fruitcake? No, never married. Fruitcake? No just never met the right woman.” It’s just the way he just kind of… anyway they did that a lot of times too and it’s funny. But that’s the way he did it. He’s so good.

Q: You’ve done a few movies since “Superhero Movie”. Could you talk about some of the other films you have coming up?

Christopher: Well, yes. I went headlong into a drama after this wacky spoofing that we were doing. It’s written by a man who’s written like 14 movies all together and also happens to be a brilliant lawyer in that he makes hundreds of millions of dollars for his…representing IBM against CBS or something he’d win. So he’s this guy who’s a real genius from Yale and this is a true story of his life in college when he’s 15…of the people…it’s not like you know where Bush went with the whole…what was that called….the skull and bones. It’s a different thing. It’s like the beginning of group therapy and this was back in the 60’s and 70’s and he–well actually 60’s when he was doing it maybe longer—but it still goes on every year. The 15 of the sharpest, brightest people—not unlike this room—would get together and see how they’re going to impact the world and then this is a movie with the shade of if you will of someone dying and having their wish that we’d get together and talk about and work the program that we came up with in college, and it still goes on to this day from what I hear. And it’s really interesting and it was all about failed dreams or compromise or settling for something and things like that. And people who didn’t settle are still out there chasing albeit with you know a little peccadilloes like alcoholism, but doing what I love to do and that kind of thing. One guy ran a studio and it was like a Brad Gray. It was a very interesting story based on real people and that was very interesting. Shot it in New York City. I have several more coming out. I have a love story that’s really beautiful based on a true story also called “My Sexiest Year” and Harvey Keitel plays the dad. Frankie Muniz is the son and the model of his sexiest year is Amber Valetta. So I book in the movie playing him 25 years later and having spent that summer we flashback into the amazing summer where his mother is dying of cancer played by Frances Fisher, and he has to go live with his dad who’s sort of this wheeler-dealer gambler guy down in Florida. And it’s a great story, this kid meets this model and she embraces him and then he’s coming of age thing and everybody assumes he’s the hottest kid in the world because he’s down with all these rich people down in Florida. And Frankie Muniz does a great job. Harvey does a brilliant job as always. It’s my 3rd movie with him. And I play him grown up so I have a love scene at the end of the movie with this girl that I come to give her thanks for letting me become a very successful novelist. And I track her down and she’s doing the old Lana Turner…not Lana Turner. It was one of those other great actresses back in the day–ended up being a waitress in an airport diner, you know after being a super successful actress in Hollywood.

Q: Who plays that role?

Christopher: Amber Valetta. She plays the super model and then we cut 25 years later and she’s…

Q: Oh so she just ages. So you come back to thank her for sleeping with you?

Christopher: Pretty much and how I wrote that book about that and all that stuff around that book. That was really interesting and how that just made me a man that summer. It’s really a kind of a cool thing. It played down at the South Beach Film Festival—the Miami Film Festival. It will come out this summer—or later maybe fall. And let’s see what else I’ve got going. I’ve got…we talked about “Fanboys”. Oh, “Player 5150”. Very interesting story. And that’s all we are really goat singers, we’re just storytellers. This ones about gambling or the perils thereof. And Ethan Embry does a great job in it. I played his dad in “Dutch” and I’ve seen this kid grown up and he takes his shirt back and he has a tattoo of a cross like this…and I say what the hell is that? He said, “that’s what happens when you start acting when you’re 9 in Hollywood”. Wow. Anyway, but he’s brilliant. He plays this guy who gets in a little bit over his head and you see the gambling and he can get himself out of it and he’s…I’m the bookie and I don’t want my stuff and I want it. I want it when I want it. I can lend you stuff. I can carry you for 3 months and I get very angry. It’s a wonderful compassionate villain; I like to call that one because he gives a guy a break. He’s like I’ve got people to answer to too. And Bob Gunton’s in it. I answer to him. So it all gets passed down this thing, so anyway he gets it—I don’t want to give it away too much but it is a allegory for what you can get in trouble to if you start gambling over your head. Simple little things like betting on ball games like you know what you guys are doing here in the basketball thing. He gets a little bit over his head and it’s a good lesson I think so that’s good.

Q: Do you see any theatre in the future?

Christopher: I absolutely do. I am hoping…the hardest thing about the theatre right now is I have a family here in L.A. and as much as I love doing theatre I only want to do it in New York because I want to make…you want to make every minute count. You want to do the best of the best. I had that chance to do that. I did “Chicago” and playing Billy Flynn and I absolutely loved it. They loved me. It was one of the highlights of my career. Going out there was the 10 year reunion, they had called me back to do a second stint and you look out in the audience and there’s Barbara Walters and Sidney Lumet and Sydney Pollack and you kind of go…and they’re all dressed up in monkey suits and you’re going…and you come out and there’s 10 Roxy’s and 10 Velma’s and 8 Billy’s and 5 Amos’ and it’s just crazy. They choreograph this whole thing–all the big stars that have played these parts over the years and done it for so long. It was a home run and it was chills. Every time you stepped out on the stage, another actor would step out in the part and you’d step away and then James Naughton would come out and sing one of the songs. They’d clap for about 3 minutes and it was just whoa, great. I love it and I want to do it but the commitment is a year when you want to create something you want to make some noise and do it so right now I’m doing the replacement parts because it’s…I’m in and out in 3 months. I’ll miss my kid graduating or something and I’ll kick myself. So it’s not about another movie or another gig, it’s about life first and that’s why I was go grateful that we shot this movie in Los Angeles. So when I wasn’t working, I was in my own bed, kissing my family and I was extremely grateful, because it very easily could have been in Canada or Vancouver or Toronto or something.

Q: Do you see a sequel to this one? There’s been “Scary Movie 1, 2, 3,” would you like to play that role again?

Christopher: Knock wood. I would and the thing is you can die in a movie and in these movies, “I thought you were dead. Yeah, I thought you were too. Anyway” That’s how they fix it. It’s so funny. We laugh so hard. I pray that we do sequels. It’s all about how this one performs. They have a lot riding on it. You try to pick a weekend that’s going to be great but there’s like “21” is getting plastered everywhere and that looks good and the other thing looks good. You never know. Spoof people who love those action movies, which there are plenty, are going to be attracted to this movie so I think it’s going to do well. So we pray for a big weekend. Something with a 2 in front of it would be nice. A 3 maybe.

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