From “Blades of Glory”, “Arrested Development” and “Semi-Pro”
Will Arnett was too big for television – and that’s why “Arrested Development” never stood a chance. That’s the story he’ll stick to anyway. CLINT MORRIS talks to the TVs ‘Gob’ about his embryonic feature film career.
So you’ve skyrocketed since ‘Arrested Development’!
You have. I saw your IMDB Pro page – man, you’ve got like ten projects on the go.
Yeah it’s quite good. It’s been a good time work-wise.
Is it right to say then that ‘Arrested Development’ made your career?
Without question – there’s no other way to look at it. If my friends were in charge of movie studios then maybe then I might’ve got some movie roles, but no, the show made my career.
Everyone from ‘Arrested Development’ has done great though – I mean Jason Bateman’s back on the big screen! There’s no more Teen Wolf for him!
He’s doing great – he’s hung up the old TW costume for good! Mike Cera’s doing great, he’s in Superbad which is supposed to be great…
And I heard that Ron Howard guy is doing OK too. He’s making ends meet.
Yeah I heard that too. Good on him! Him and his buddy Brian are out there giving it a go.
Do you wish ‘Arrested Development’ had continued?
Yes and No – and not because I thought I had bigger fish to fry and wanted to make my move onto the big screen…
That was David Caruso’s answer.
Yeah. Insert Jade here. [Laughs] No, I think it was just that we were constantly on the verge of being cancelled and at a certain point that starts to eat away at your psyche. While it actually fed the show – fed the writers, feed the performers – and the constant underdog mentally makes you wanna show the world what you can do, that does starts to ware away after a while. I just never knew where I was going to be and what I was going to be doing. It became a little difficult. When it did happen… it was quite deflating.
At least you got a wrap-up episode. I mean did you see the series finale of ‘Veronica Mars’?? It sucked!
Did it? Really?
Yeah. It was just wrong.
Yeah, it’s not really fair. Thankfully Mitch Hurwitz on our show thought he knew how to wrap it up and I think he did a pretty good job.
Did you get a lot of offers to play characters similar to Gob after the show ended?
We’ll I got offered – and I still do to this day – a lot of jerk roles or dick roles, or the really dumb guy role. Most of them are just very broad and they just don’t interest me. I’m not worried about being stereotyped, I am attracted to characters that are really dumb and really confident – I love that combination – but I just want to play those guys in good movies, ya know? I just played Isla Fisher’s boyfriend in a movie called Hot Rod – and he is really a dick; in fact he’s probably the most startlingly dickish character I’ve ever played. I was quite alarmed by that and said ‘OK, that’s enough of those kinda roles for the meantime – if I’m just playing a dick, something has to give’. [Laughs]
Speaking of, I just saw you in ‘Lets Go to Prison’.
Oh yeah. That film was totally portrayed in the wrong way. It was a little $4 million dollar movie that was filmed over 5 weeks – it was never supposed to be a big release and I think Universal – god bless them they wanted to release it – missed the mark there. We missed the mark too, I guess – we made the movie. What I wanted to do in that movie was play a guy who this awfully privileged kid, not necessarily that stupid just kinda clueless, who comes out on the other side of jail a changed man…. Prison actually makes him a pretty good guy. That’s what initially attracted me to that. It wasn’t exactly the movie that we wished it could’ve been.
Speaking of which, how do you feel about ‘Grindhouse’? You did a voice in that?
I did the trailer for Don’t –Edgar Wright is a friend and called me up one day and asked whether I’d do the voice for it. That was fun. To be honest I haven’t seen it yet…
It’s really good. Most of Australia is pretty pissed because the two films are going to be separated for release here.
Oh right, it is now, yeah.
I can’t understand how a good, creative movie like that can tank. Maybe it’s the fact that the thirty-something’s that remember the drive-in double feature aren’t today’s biggest cinema audience.
No they’re not and also I think – remember, I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about – a lot of reviewers in the states took great pleasure in taking Harvey Weinstein apart. It didn’t have anything to with the movie – it’s very personal. That’s unfortunate. I feel for Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino and really… Harvey Weinstein. Say what you will about the guy – and people say all sorts of things about him – but he has managed to turn out interesting movie after interesting movie over the years. If you look at the movies that he has greenlit, produced and financed, he has done single-handedly a lot more for cinema over the last twenty years than a lot of other people.
You’re producing movies yourself now aren’t you?
Starting to. That’s just me wanting to have a little more control over what the final product is. As you’d know, as you go through the process more and more you want to have a louder voice in the room; right from the beginning, all the way through. The only way to do that is to half a little piece of the movie.
One of them is ‘Space Invader’?
Yeah, really looking forward to that. Pretty excited about Space Invader – it’s a great script; we were pitched it a couple of years ago. It’s the story of a guy who works for NASA. His girlfriend does too. He’s fallen out of life a little bit. She ends up going on a mission to space – international space station – and he’s convinced she’s falling for the all-American hero up there. He thinks that guy has everything he doesn’t have – but he does, he just hasn’t realised it yet – So, he’s gotta get to space to save his relationship. How far will you go to get your girlfriend back? And also, how the fuck do you get into space? So it’s a really funny script and it’s one of those rare instances where the script is far funnier from the pitch I just gave you. Its really, really good.
I heard the pitch for ‘Blades of Glory’ was nothing compared to the script, too?
The pitch gets everyone through the door – even though people groan and just assume it’s going to be dick and ball jokes – but the script does the talking. I’m really happy with how Blades turned out; I think it’s a funny movie and I think there’s a little bit of something in there for everyone, which isn’t always the case.
How is working with Will [Ferrell]?
The greatest. He’s the greatest. He’s the funniest guy. He’s a great performer. I’ve been a fan of his work for ages. I like his processes too – he’s really collaborative; he likes to improvise a lot and my wife Amy [Poehler, who co-starred in the movie] and I like to stuff around a lot, so it was good. I just finished a movie with Will, about a month ago, called Semi-Pro.
I’ll say I’m going to take a couple of months off – but my vacation will probably be me working – and then hopefully we’ll be gearing up to start making Space Invader. We’ve got like three or four things that are about to go and it’s really a matter of timing. I’ve kept myself open to all of them. As you know, it’s whoever pulls the trigger first.
‘Spring Breakdown’ is one of yours, right?
Yep, that’s complete. That’s actually my wife’s movie – I just do a couple of scenes in it. Its something she did with Rachel Dratch and Parker Posey. I was out in L.A at the time and Amy asked me to do it for them. It’s a funny movie. It’s like the movie Old School for ladies. Ladies aren’t represented enough – especially in comedy; it’s a male-dominated area. Women are always cast as the eye-rollers and they’re really underwritten. There are some great performers out there – like Rachel Dratch and Tina Fey, who Amy’s making a movie with at the moment in New York – and they’re really funny performers… it’s unfortunate people don’t write more stuff for them. That’s part of the reason why Amy’s starting to produce stuff herself. She and Tina also just did the re-write on the movie they’re doing in New York, so she gets a little more control there, too, by writing.
And what about ‘Jeff the Demon’?
It’s a great script. Originally written by Tom Scharpling and Joe Ventura, who are back on it after doing a final pass on it, it’s a movie I really wanna make. It’s a great character. It’s almost like a homage to great 80s teen movies – like Weird Science. It really harkens back to that stuff – but in the best way. It follows that model. It is a tip of the hat to all those movies but it’s really good – its super, super, super funny. Every draft I’ve read has made me laugh – I can’t say that for a lot of scripts. About nine months ago Mitch Hurwitz and [inaudible] from Arrested Development came and did a pass on it and they did a great job … on an already great script, so now, more than ever, its super-tight; super packed with jokes… it’s one of the funniest scripts I’ve ever read. Aren’t you involved in a similar film? That sounds great.
Yeah. The film I’ve written harkens back to the 80s films, too. So I’m all for someone opening the door on those kind of projects again.
I think my film, and your film will be helped a lot by Superbad – it’s going to go back and revitalize those good teen movies. I think there’s been a lot of movies that have the veneer of funny but don’t actually have hard jokes in them. I don’t want to bash any TV shows but there’s TV shows that people think are so funny but I can’t work out where the laugh is – there are no hard jokes, I’m always like ‘what’s funny about that? Give me one example of a funny joke in that!’. Will Forte and I did a movie called Brothers Solomon, that Bob Odenkirk directed, and it’s a super funny script… really hard jokes. That’s kind of what I want to do now. Lets get funny!
Do you write?
I don’t write per say but I might help with jokes and so on. I did that on a film called Friendly Skies, which I might make, about a flight attendant. It’s a really funny movie. It’s been a really fun process.
BLADES OF GLORY is now showing at Cinemas