One thing you can be sure of about Rob Corddry no matter what film he’s in – he’s a funny guy. The 42 year old started out as a writer for Jon Stewart, and since then his unconventional looks and machine-gun patter have let Corddry spread his wings in very different projects.
At one end of the scale are movies like ”In a World” and ”The Way Way Back”, indie dramas know for being as bittersweet as they are comic. Then there’s ”Hell Baby”, a ”Scary Movie”-esque pistache of demon possession tropes you’d think had come from a script meeting over beer and pizza (choice line? ‘You had me at perky boobs’… spoken by a Catholic priest).
Described as ‘Rosemary’s Baby if it were a comedy’ and coming from the brains trust behind Reno 911!, we’ll let you be the judge. But there’s no denying it gives Corddry the chance to do something from a different end of the comedy spectrum.
He spoke to Moviehole.net in Los Angeles.
Most of your characters are fairly over the top. Did playing the straight man come naturally?
I tend to gravitate towards that role in improv because it’s really funny to call out absurdity, and the audience needs it to a certain extent – they need the relief of knowing that someone on the stage or the movie is seeing what they’re seeing, it helps them with their own logic process.
So it’s not very hard for me. The hard part, especially in movies like this, is where I watch a character and think ‘I would’ve left ten minutes ago, there’s no justifiable reason you should be there’. So we definitely had to map out where I was and what to play.
You’re a naturally funny guy, so it seems like you’d actually gravitate towards larger then life roles like Lou in Hot Tub Time machine.
This was the only real straight man I’ve played. I’ve played sort of dramatic roles in comedic movies or vice versa but never sort of the plot device that is the straight man, that is really working on driving a movie engine.
So who is the real Rob Corddry?
I don’t know him. I had a new friend years ago that became one of my best friends in the world, and one day he said I was mean. It changed my life – I realised I didn’t have to use sarcasm or comedy to express my feelings all the time.
That’s your skill as well, you’re very dry and we can kind of never tell where you’re coming from on screen.
Would I get more jobs if you could figure me out?
Well then shit, I’m going to do that then.
But the problem with that – and I agree with you – is that I lead sort of an unfocused career. But my philosophy is just do cool shit with people who aren’t dickheads, and it works. And yet, if I just played the best friend in romantic comedies, I would make a lot more money and probably get a lot more roles.
But your approach also means you’re right at home in something like Oliver Stone’s W [Corddry played Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer] or other dramatic roles.
Yeah it’s fun, and my motto doesn’t include genre in the criteria.
There’s a credit in The Muppets for you as ‘sleazy superman’ that was cut from the film. That sounds like the kind of role a whole movie could be built around – tell us about him.
Having produced stuff now I think like an editor, and halfway through the day of shooting that I realised I was never going to make it into the movie. I was so easily cut out and there were a million cameos in it. But I’ve got literally one line in the second one too.
Sleazy Superman is a Hollywood Boulevard Superman character that steals wallets, and then he comes back at the end and does at the Muppet theatre then steals everybody’s wallet from the audience.
It’s really funny, he does a magic trick where he passes a bag out and says ‘now everybody put your wallets in there and now I’m going to make them disappear’, and I just walk off. There’s this pause where all the Muppets look at each other saying ‘what? Did he just…?’. So cuttable but it was fun. It might be on the DVD.
Are you more interested in dramatic stuff like In a World, which isn’t outright comedy?
Like I said, I’m interested in doing cool shit. I’m interested in doing things that I really like but I never make a choice based on what would be best for my career. I sometimes make choices based on something that I know would be bad for my career but never the other way around.
In a World – case in point, that’s just people getting together and doing our friend’s movie, and it turned out to be a wonderful movie.
So you don’t have a plan?
No, but I have certain things I want to play some day. I’d like to play a baseball player. I can’t play a super hero any more so I’ve got to play a bad guy. It’s probably going to be the leader of a corporation in a super hero kind of thing.
Even though you started off as a writer there aren’t many writing credits in your career since. Do you hope to get back to that?
Absolutely. I’m currently writing that baseball character with my brother. I only became comfortable enough to call myself a writer at a certain point because it’s a profession I really respect. I was only able to call myself a writer when I was writing Children’s Hospital, I got my WGA card and I felt like one, so now I can comfortably give notes in a note session without thinking ‘do I have to say something, does it have to be smart?’
Any secrets you can give away about Hot Tub Time Machine 2?
It takes place ten years in the future. Adam Scott plays a son ten years in the future who’s conceived in 1986 when we were on that ski trip and we’re basically trying to solve a murder and fix this hot tub because it always breaks for whatever reason.