Interview: Cast of Sex Drive, Part II
Wed, 22 Oct 2008 18:43:45
Seth Green Videos
In Part Two of our interviews with the cast of Sex Drive, we sat down with actors Clark Duke (Clark and Michael) and Seth Green (Robot Chicken), arguably the film’s comedic centerpieces. They share a knack for deadpanning lines, often stealing scenes in this salty teen comedy. Duke and Green spoke to us about the underappreciated genius of co-star James Marsden, the debauched antics of Amish Rumspringa, and watching the movie with an audience for the first time.
How did the polished look of the character come about? They didn’t deliberately dress you up that way?
No, I don’t think [Sean] Anders, the director, intended for me to be spiffy. Me and the wardrobe lady proposed it to him and he was like, “Okay.” I was a big fan of [the look].
And you didn’t know that you were going to be the stud in the movie. You were auditioning for something else.
I auditioned for Josh [Zuckerman]’s part, Ian, the other character in the film. I thought I was going after that. I got there, and [Anders] said, “No, no, we want you to read for Lance.” It was my second or third meeting that day, so I hadn’t read the script, and I was very up front about that with him. I just kind of did a cold read of Lance there, and I guess they liked it enough that, here we are.
You definitely hit comedic beats in the script. How much did you go off on your own tangents in terms of improvisation?
We had a lengthy rehearsal period, so there was a lot of collaboration, finding new stuff and rewriting a lot of my dialogue. On set we would do a couple takes on script and then they were just kind of like, “Go crazy. See what you’ve got.” I’m very appreciative because a lot of my [improv] ended up in the movie that usually gets laughs.
How much did Seth [Green] crack you up on set?
Constantly. I love Seth; he’s a pro. I know on the DVD, the scene of me and him on the buggy…there’s an extended, 15-minute version of that scene that’s just really filthy. Just the filthiest thing you’ve ever heard.
We heard that you were given your own camera to film on and off set. What did you film?
I was kind of lazy with that. I really only filmed one thing…Dave Sheridan, the guy that plays the villain in the film, the big Charlton Heston beer guy. We noticed that he really looked a lot like Macho Man Randy Savage. Sheridan is one of the unsung guys of this film…he actually had a lot of really funny stuff that they cut for time and because it didn’t make sense for the character to be wacky. I really can’t stress how funny Dave Sheridan is in real life. Talented guy, hell of a writer. But anyway, we dressed him up like Macho Man in this orange thong and a little orange tank top that we frayed, and put the headband and the glasses and just kind of terrorized that Marriott for a few days. That was the only thing I filmed, but it’s gotta look terrible, ‘cause it’s just me violently shaking. I don’t know why it was so funny to me, and a lot of people don’t think it’s funny. To me, it absolutely kills me. I watched a lot of wrestling in the ‘80s and ‘90s, so for me it’s an added novelty.
[James] Marsden said that he couldn’t believe that he was inspired by someone 10 years younger than him who was full of so many cultural references.
Jimmy is the guy who, when people ask me what my favorite thing is about the film, it’s without fail Marsden in it because he just sings in it. I don’t think anybody suspects that he’s that funny yet. Even in stuff that’s sort of a comedy, like Enchanted, or one of those movies for girls he does. [Laughs] He’s such a huge talent…but he just went balls out on this and it just kills, to me. I’ve seen the movie about 12 times at this point and the only thing I still laugh at is Marsden…Weird stuff he does; he has this boyish glean in his eye. He’s just such bad news.
What was your experience like, seeing the movie for the first time with an audience?
Well, the first time I watched it, I’ll be honest with you, I was kind of physically sick because it was so jarring to be in a theater and see [myself] in a movie. I was catatonic afterward. The second time I really enjoyed it. That’s the only way to see it: with an audience. That’s the barometer of what’s working and not working, and it’s so personally gratifying. To see something that we’ve made that people are enjoying is really fantastic.
Was there anything in the script that you read you had to do and were nervous about?
The nudity made me a little nervous; I’m not gonna lie. The first day it was pretty brutal. I might have pounded a few drinks that morning just to kill the shakes, you know [laughs]. But honestly, a couple hours into it, it was like, “Who gives a shit?” There was nothing I could do to embarrass myself in front of the crew at that point. The nudity was a little nerve-wracking at first.
Do you have anything resembling a master plan for your career, where you see yourself in 10 years?
Yeah, I hope and pray I’ll be writing and directing in 10 years.
You prefer that to being in front of the camera?
Yeah, a little bit more. It seems a little bit more rewarding because it’s such a culmination of what you’re trying to get people to see. But I’m having a blast doing this. This is amazing. I’m having the most surreal year of my life here.
So, do you want to be directing and writing comedies 10 years from now?
I assume so. Comedies are fun to make and they tend to be the movies I enjoy watching a lot of times. Because you don’t always want to watch a Bergman movie. Sometimes I just want to watch The Jerk.
It seemed like you were trying not to laugh while you were delivering some of your lines.
Well, I think something inherent about this character is that he takes a certain joy in being an asshole. [Laughs] So I think it was less about me personally trying to keep from laughing as much as letting that come through in the portrayal.
How much did you know about Amish people beforehand?
Oh, I’ve done a tremendous amount of research. [Laughs] I auditioned for Witness when I was a child. I grew up near Dutch Wonderland, frequented the area, learned how to make fudge.
They’re big on fudge.
Huge on fudge, and butterscotch, too. Natural elements, very easy to mill, apparently. A lot of upper body strength. That’s why all their kids have huge shoulders.
So Rumspringa is a real thing?
There’s a great documentary called Devil’s Playground which is really disturbing. [Laughs] Oh my gosh! When you see it you just think, “Oh, this has to be exaggerated.” You can tell when things are authentic, and it is very, very disturbing. Any time you watch underage kids doing anything illegal—drugs, alcohol, rampant sexuality—any of the things that tend to go on in Rumspringa, it is…shocking. When you see something physical that you, personally, are not involved in but you’re just witnessing—to see human beings behave that way, to see any of them under the influence of any narcotics or anything like that, it’s disturbing. And especially the joie de vivre with which these kids are pursuing all these types of things. They’re just like, “I don’t give a fuck! Woo!” Jesus Christ, I’m not sending my kids to that college!
It’s surprising that people go back afterward.
The influence that they have on them as kids is so profound. And also, where are you without a base of familiarity, without a family, or without a support system? The thing you sacrifice should you choose the life of a heathen is you lose your family, and who’s going to choose that, really?
Did you take a lot of road trips growing up?
You know, not really. We’re talking about something pretty ridiculous, actually. I’m trying to put together a state-to-state tour for Robot Chicken for our Star Wars DVD next July where we’ll all kind of get on a bus and hit some locations and throw some parties. We finished shooting the second Star Wars special. It’s going to be on the air in November and the DVD will be out in May or June of next year.
Did you talk to Sean a lot about how your character would take shape?
He and I were very [much] on the same page about what this [character] was. He gave me leeway to exaggerate that and he would give me specific notes to accentuate it. We completely agreed [on] what we were going for, and I think that’s why I think I got the job.
He definitely deadpans every line.
Josh [Zuckerman] is such a perfect foil, because he’s really sweet and sincere and so earnest [laughs]. That’s a very malleable personality.
The Fall Out Boy scene is pretty funny.
I’ve known those guys for a while. When [the filmmakers] were talking about bands [they wanted in that scene], they were at the top of the list…so I just texted Pete Wentz, who’s the bassist and songwriter. I was like, “Dude, have you heard about this movie Sex Drive?” And he was like, “Oh, yeah, I don’t know if we’re going to do it.” And I was like, “Well, I’m in it and you’d have a lot of fun if you did it.”
James said that he tried to keep people on their toes on set while shooting. You have a certain passive-aggressive humor that you bring to your role and interactions in the movie. Did you find that extended to when you weren’t shooting?
I’m not all that Daniel Day Lewis about it. Sometimes when I’m playing a more dramatic, more complete departure character—like when I was doing Party Monster we kept those personas on between takes just because that ramp up is a little tricky. But when we were done for the day, we were done. I’m really not that guy. I think from doing voiceover and from doing improv I’ve gotten so used to leaping in and out of very specific and details characters.
Did you bring a lot of improv to your role?
We got to improv a bunch. You know, the bulk of what you see is on paper [in the script]. They wrote a really clever script and it was about interpreting it well. But yeah, we got to play around. There’s one scene that they completely cut together where Josh is trying to answer me and I just keep running at him. That was a bunch of improv that they cobbled together into a sequence. It makes me look very funny. So, thanks, editorial team.