For forty five minutes I had the pleasure of sitting in a room with some rather funny gentleman, appearing to promote their latest flick, “Dinner for Schmucks“, comedy director Jay Roach and writers David Guion & Michael Handelman, and actors Steve Carell and Paul Rudd, along with Ron Livingston and Bruce Greenwood. Personally, I could have listened to them riff off each other and the press all day, but alas they had other engagements.
What was it about this particular story and your character that persuaded you to sign on to this project?
SC: Working with Jay, working with Paul, and those were enormous factors for me and I liked the storyline too. I thought it was funny, it was a little weird, it had a heart to it. I tend to like things that have a grey area to them. Like the character that Paul plays, ya know, here’s a guy that’s very conflicted. He’s not a bad guy but he’s at a moral impasse in his life and I think that’s a really interesting aspect of the story. I thought it was a very intriguing storyline and I think it actually says something very kind, ultimately, and that’s what I responded to. I think it’s a very kind story and a great relationship between these two characters.
PR: Yeah, the people involved and I thought the script was really funny and that was it. It was kind of a no brainer. I was so excited to get offered the part. I loved it. That’s it, really.
BG: It was working with Jay and Paul and Steve and with a movie like this one, you have this premise of making fun of people, it stands a chance of being mean spirited and it was anything but that, it had this big heart in the center of it. I was surprised that given that whole premise of making fun of people, it could actually end up not doing that. So, that was the appeal to me on an emotional level as well.
RL: Just happy to be here. I think sometimes, in your head you have to imagine what it’s going to look like and the great thing about this one was we actually had a chance to see Steve and Paul work together and it’s brilliant. The great thing about this one is it’s even more brilliant than the stuff that I’ve seen them in together before, there’s a comfort level there and a playfulness, but I think it does kind of go on the deep side and I think that’s maybe a lot of times with Jay and I think Jay does a great job of having character comedy meet physical comedy in way where you don’t feel like you give up one to jump into the other. It’s a thrill just to have a chance to be along for the ride.
What was the most challenging aspect of this picture?
SC: We shot a scene where Paul had injured his back and essentially, we shot it for a day and a half and I had to hug Paul for a day and a half.
PR: That’s challenging for anyone.
SC: Because he was giving me nothing.
PR: No. The only way to sell it was to go dead weight, I think.
SC: So, that was probably the most challenging physical aspect of the movie. Terrible, terrible answer, don’t like that.
PR: Ya know, just to try and sustain a performance and not make it into- it’s always challenging, with anything you work on, it’s challenging, to try and be real and show up and not look as if I’m play acting anything, just try and be the character, it’s always work.
Paul, What’s with the beard?
PR: The beard? Well, I’m getting ready to start a movie on Monday.
SC: That’s a lie, that’s a lie.
PR: Just doing it for fun. I came in this morning at 6 a.m. and they applied it with spearmint gum and hair from my back, took about an hour. It just seemed like, what’s going to be fun to wear in New York City summer heat.
For Steve and Paul can you tell us about seeing the French Film for the first time and your reaction to it?
SC: I approached this the same way I approached The Office, I still haven’t seen the original Office because I didn’t want to do an impersonation of Ricky Gervais. So, I haven’t seen the French film because I didn’t want to have that inform what I was going to do with this one. I try to look at it as a blank slate but I’d like to see it now. Now that the work is done, I’ve heard only great things.
PR: Yeah, before I prepared for this I watched the British Office.
What special quality or talent do you possess that if you really believed in it, it might get you invited to this dinner?
SC: I play the baritone horn. So, that could qualify me to get invited to one of these dinners. The baritone horn is like a mini tuba and probably the least sexy instrument you can choose. When people ask whether I play a musical instrument I generally say that I don’t, so I don’t have to acknowledge that I play the baritone tuba. And I also play the fife, which is no more sexy than the baritone horn. Those both might qualify me.
Bruce: I turn big, green wooden bowls and wear a slicker with a helmet. I’m serious. I make big bowls.
RL: I can juggle a little. That’s all I got.
PR: I can do this with my tongue. I don’t think I’d get the trophy and I also play the baritone horn.
Jay, how do you think the American comedy has changed in the last twenty years?
JR: I don’t know how much comedy’s changed. I grew up on watching Woody Allen films and “Annie Hall” sort of convinced me to go to film school. I remember how that film was; funny obviously but how it made comedy as a way of coping with heartache and heartbreak. It seemed like a good coping strategy. I think that’s what attracted me to this story; it’s sort of about a character who hasn’t coped with his own pain and his separation from his wife, in a very unusual way, with his mice. And he’s also such a try-er and optimistic that it’s his way of coping and that can become a contagious idea. It wasn’t so much meant to be a film with a moral, just as much of a film where you enjoyed watching how one persons approach to life might seem off center, odd, or idiotic, might actually inspire another person to get in touch with their better self or something. But mostly just because the characters were struggling to be, in a funny way and I think that’s always been the essence of the best stories from New York.
Steve, congratulations on your Emmy Nomination.
SC: Yes, thanks.
And I hear you’re going to retire from The Office, could you talk about that?
SC: We’ll let Jay take this one.
Do you rehearse any kind of speech?
SC: Do I rehearse my Emmy speech? Not anymore, no, I don’t. Yeah, this will be my last season on The Office, it will be Season Seven and my contract expires at the end of the year and I always wanted to honor my contract. I just felt that now was a good time for the character to move on. For me to move on personally, and I want to spend more time with my wife and kids, so that’s really the reason behind the decision there.
PR: And Steve will be, actually, playing for the Miami Heat.
SC: Very exciting time. Scranton is burning my Jersey.
Steve, do you have any plans for later this year where you create the project yourself or personal projects?
SC: I just completed a movie with Ryan Gosling and Julianne Moore that’s the first movie that my production company is producing and that’ll come out sometime next year. So yeah, I hope that I’m able to start writing again once my time at The Office is up. That should free me up to do some more writing.
- Katie Crocker