Quint interviews Dax Shepard about ZATHURA, teenage girls and Mike Judge's IDIOCRACY!!!
Published at: Oct. 16, 2005, 10:31 p.m. CST by staff
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with the second interview I did when Jon Favreau and Dax Shepard came into town to screen their family sci-fi adventure flick ZATHURA at Fantastic Fest.
For those who read my interview with Favreau, you'll remember that we talked very little about ZATHURA. The interview focused almost completely on his upcoming JOHN CARTER OF MARS. Believe it or not, these interviews were arranged before Favreau was announced as director and it wasn't a conspiracy to do an official interview for AICN about JOHN CARTER. It was lucky timing more than anything as well as Favreau's excitement and his desire to make it known just where he stood on the project.
Now we have my interview with Dax Shepard, which took place immediately after my chat with Favreau. You may remember his cameo at the end of the Favreau interview ("Did you find out if he was gay or not?"). The below is what followed after that.
I think you'll find it really funny. I know I did. Dax Shepard and I have many shared interests and due to those we went off track quite a lot. I've omitted most of it. Uncharacteristic, I know. I'm the one who likes to include the most off the track tangents in my interviews, but here it really is only interesting to two people. If you're curious, though, we talked a great deal about the city of Wellington, where he stayed while shooting WITHOUT A PADDLE and Texas Hold 'Em. Little bits that relate to what we're talking make it into the interview (a good amount of the Poker stuff, actually), but there are whole paragraphs worth of stuff that I'm saving you from.
Anyway, the interview is lewd, crude, funny and fun. We start talking about him reading some test screening reviews for Mike Judge's IDIOCRACY on this very website... Let's dip into it, shall we?
DAX SHEPARD: I did that Mike Judge movie and they tested in England. So, finally there was this good review out of England. Then someone else from England, like, wrote in "That mate's fuckin' crazy! That movie was horrible!" I'm like, "Uggg... please!!!"
The very first review ever on that movie... someone had gone to a test screening and it was on Ain't It Cool. They said it was great and then all hell's broken loose since then.
QUINT: What's going on with that movie? I know it's been delayed and delayed and there have been reshoots...
DAX SHEPARD: I don't know. My best guess is that the best case scenario is like, "Well, everything he's done has gone through a horrible growing pain and tested poorly and then came out and been great."
QUINT: Well, OFFICE SPACE is huge now, but it didn't make a peep when it was released.
DAX SHEPARD: OFFICE SPACE they threw away and it did nothing. It did $10 million at the box office and then it became OFFICE SPACE. Even BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD. Paramount had no expectations for that film and it was the biggest weekend of that month.
QUINT: Do you have any idea when IDIOCRACY is coming out?
DAX SHEPARD: No. No clue. I talk to Judge, still, a lot, but I never even... I'm done asking. My feeling is I have to be in a position where I'm like, "I did what I do and all these other people have jobs and their jobs is to fuckin' figure all that out." Because I'll go crazy trying to figure out why it's not out yet.
'Cause it's maddening. You go for 3 months. It's a blast, you think you're doing something great and then... Alright... That was a year and a half ago now... Still no word.
QUINT: You know, I went to the props sale for IDIOCRACY....
DAX SHEPARD: They had a props sale!?! I didn't know they had props sales...
QUINT: Yeah, down at the Austin studios. Although it ended up looking more like an excuse for all the grips to bring their garage sale stuff to try and sell. The props for sale were like barrels. You could buy a barrel, you could look at some stuff that someone already has dibs on or you could buy some crew member's beat up '70s records.
DAX SHEPARD: (laughs) Right. (pause) I'm trying to think what I would want... He (the president) drove a ridiculous chopper, like a trike that they brought in from Las Vegas Cycles or something. There were a bunch of those stupid electric cars. There was nothing very awesome, it was all like foam and crap. My apartment was definitely a big, shitty piece of plastic.
So, you saw ZATHURA last night for the first time.
QUINT: Yes, I did.
DAX SHEPARD: Did you like it?
QUINT: Yes, I did. What I loved about it is there's a majesty and an awe missing not only from most kid's movies, but most Sci-Fi movies that was in ZATHURA. A lot of it had to do with the score, but it was like watching STAR TREK versus, like, STAR TREK: NEMESIS. Sci-Fi movies now are just so cold they don't stop to show the characters' awe and wonder, so we don't feel that. ZATHURA did that.
DAX SHEPARD: It takes itself serious in the right way, I feel like. It's not like, "Here's the corny fuckin' the kids like each other now scene." You know? It's all kind of earned. He didn't push anything. I think it's hard for directors not to go that route when they're working with kids. It's so appealing and easy, but Favreau didn't do it.
You know, the first time I saw it, I'm just on, like Idiot Shill alert. I'm waiting to see me in some really weird mushy scene with kids and just be completely embarrassed. Every time one of those scene... I got through them and they were authentic and real and not forced. He couldn't have done a better job with all those moments in my opinion.
QUINT: I think that to those born in, say, '98 or '99, this will be one of those movies that they have where it'll be their favorite movie... Then when they get into their teen years, they'll look back and a lot of the movies they liked will be in that, "What the hell was I thinking?" place, you know? But ZATHURA will be one of those that holds up, that they'll have more than just a nostalgia for. Of course, this is all on a first impression, but I honestly feel the story and how it was told is a lasting one.
DAX SHEPARD: I have the exact some opinion of ZATHURA. I left the theater and I called my mom to tell her what I thought and my first comment was, "I'm actually in a movie that people will rent in 15 years." I'm in a movie that will be kids' favorite movies that they'll rent, like I do. Like, around Christmastime I rent GREMLINS. To me, that's a Christmas movie. I watch it and I get kind of a good Christmasy feeling. I know kids will like it and this'll be a Holiday movie and they'll get older and they'll rent it and that kinda feels neat. I'm in a movie that will stand up.
QUINT: You have about a month before you're attacked on the street by children wanting tips on how to deal with the Zorgon horde.
DAX SHEPARD: What you want is your demographic to get, eventually, up to your own mating age. Mine keeps getting lower and lower. Like, Punk'd was 13 year old girls and now I'm going straight to 7 year olds.
And I can't tell, either. Like, anyone below 24 is all the same age to me. Now I'm getting old enough and perverted enough that I remember doing this student movie with this guy, like, 8 years ago. He was, like, 44 playing 25, you know what I mean? He told me, "I'm gonna tell you something. Once you hit 30 there is no such thing as an ugly 18 year old girl." I'm like, "You're crazy!" And he was fucking right! I challenge you to find me an ugly 18 year old girl. They do not exist. They're all beautiful.
QUINT: So, it wasn't so much of a joke last night when you said you got the life sized frozen 15 year old girl in her boxers prop.
DAX SHEPARD: The Kristen Stewart? Ah, yeah. I don't even know what that person looks like 'cause I was so like, "I'm not even going to look at this girl. She's way too young." I'd, like, catch the corner of her hair. In the scenes I was with, I was like, "Okay... just keep it real professional."
QUINT: The great thing about Favreau is how much he used practical effects. Did you have a favorite prop or toy to play with... Kristen Stewart doll notwithstanding.
DAX SHEPARD: Well, yeah. I had a real rocket pack and when I hit the button stuff actually came out. That was very cool. I mostly enjoyed working with those two kids (Josh Hutcherson and Jonah Bobo). They were both so smart. I think there's a common consensus that acting is bad for kids or that it's not a healthy for children to be doing, but I look a these two kids and I think, "How would they be fitting in to real, like, where I went to elementary school?" I don't think they would. They're both really smart and kind of emotionally available, neat kids. I was like, "God, I wish I could have had this kind of thing I could have do."
I just loved going to work. I taught them improv games. They loved playing improv games. It was just like being around two people that have as much energy on set as I do and liked to fuck around as much as I do. And the crew haaattteeddd me for it. I'd would come and just wind them up so loud and they'd be useless three hours after I got there because they'd be dead tired. The parents would be off set like, "Ahh... should he be saying that word around my 7 year old? Is that the language we want him to use?"
But that was the highlight. I would wake up in the morning and laugh. "Wow. I get to go play with 2 kids all day in a beat-up fucking house and they're going to write me a paycheck at the end of the week... that I'm going to get to keep!" I felt like I was robbin' the world or something.
QUINT: The day I was onset they were around doing robot chase stuff, but I never really got to meet them. It was really cool to sit back and watch Favreau interact with them, though. Like, Jonah was having to leave early because of...
DAX SHEPARD: Yeah, some weird holiday or something.
QUINT: (laughs) Yeah... but Favreau would turn to me and go, "Yeah, it's Jew Year's Eve," then the kids would come in and he'd look to them and go, "So are you ready for Jew Year's Eve?" I thought it was hilarious that he didn't feel the need to put a censor on that kind of stuff with the kids.
DAX SHEPARD: Well, Favreau really lucked out 'cause he's half Jewish and half Italian. Yeah, 100% bullshit. (laughs) He just needs, like 10% black and he's got the spectrum covered and he can make fun of everyone. You'll get jealous of him!
The kids, yeah... one's Orthodox Jew and one's, like, Kentucky kid, like straight out of the bluegrass, you know? That kid I took a real shine to because he's so humble! He's done as many movies as I had at that point for sure and he's like super-humble. I don't know... that was my favorite part. I'm queer, I like kids.
QUINT: Was the rocket pack your favorite prop to play with?
DAX SHEPARD: Yeah, the rocket pack was probably the coolest. My suit was pretty good. The guys who designed it were serious... these guys had, like, real NASA Space Suits from all different eras, so it had good ventilation and everything. It was done very ergonomically correct. The rocket pack was cool... I liked being on the wires, that was fun.
But mostly, just trashing the house was the best part because it was a real house in that the oven was real and the fridge was real and I got to just destroy everything and break cabinets and all that. There like a 12 year old kid in me that always just wanted to destroy my kitchen for some reason and I got to... at work.
QUINT: You got to break shit and then teach children the vices of gambling.
DAX SHEPARD: Exactly. Those damn poker-playin' mischievous children!
QUINT: You a Texas Hold 'Em player?
DAX SHEPARD: I love it. I could play around the clock. The addict in me could go sit in a room for the rest of my life playing that game. I would play 7 days a week if I could. I won't let myself play online 'cause that's all I would do and I know it. I mean, you can tell when you're talking to people on the phone... That's now and epidemic. Like, used to be you'd call your buddies and be like, "Are you drunk? You sound pretty hammered and it's noon!"
Now you call up and you're like, "You're fuckin'... you're playing poker, aren't you?" "No, what do you mean!?" I'm like, "I can hear the dinging. You're playing online poker aren't you?" "I'm just playing, like, a couple hands..." "Oh, really? You're just playing a couple hands at 11am..."
QUINT: And as they're talking you realize they're in no way listening to you, just focused on the game...
DAX SHEPARD: Not at all. "You don't understand, I'm calling you from the clutch of a bear... Right now I am being consumed by a bear." "Yeah... that's awesome... then what're you gonna do? You got a bear? Oh, I gottago, I gottago. I got pocket pair! High pocket pair!"
QUINT: A project of yours just hit the trades. It looks to be a pretty big deal.
DAX SHEPARD: GET 'EM WET?
QUINT: Yeah. Can you talk a little about that?
DAX SHEPARD: Will Arnett and I met on a movie we just did called YOU ARE GOING TO PRISON. We instantly became really good friends and I think he's unbelievably hilarious. While we were there we started idolizing Dave Koechner, who's also in the movie YOU ARE GOING TO PRISON. Do you know who Dave Koechner is?
QUINT: Yeah, from ANCHORMAN and RUN, RONNIE, RUN.
DAX SHEPARD: In real life he may be the funniest human being walking the planet. He is the mayor of where ever he goes. If he walks into a Chili's it's like, "Awwright, gang! I want a rrrround a' drinks for everyone!" He is a blast. Will and I kind of just fell in love with Koechner and would imitate him nonstop.
Koechner's the kinda guy that'd walk around the set going, "Awwright, gang! Quiet on set! Onnna beelll!!" So, we started doing this Koechner imitation nonstop and it kind of evolved into like, "What would Koechner do if he wasn't an actor?" It was like, "Salesman of some sort." Then I'm like, "I bet he would move hot tubs. I bet he would sell the shit out of a home spa."
Then it became, "Wouldn't it be hilarious to send Will and I LOST IN TRANSLATION style to Japan, but selling something that no one there would ever want, which would be these hot tubs that are the size of the people's homes. Like, 1,700 gallons."
So, I wrote the first act and then we went out with the story and pitched it. A few different studios were interested, so it worked out good. Now I gotta sit down and write the rest of it.
It's the 3rd script this year I've written and sold, so I'm written out. The acting part is so much more fun. Sitting by myself in a room, "Is this funny?"
QUINT: "Does this suck? Am I wasting my life?"
DAX SHEPARD: Yeah! I'm basically selling out three months of my life. It's like, for this amount of money I'll disappear into a room for 3 months. That's what you're getting. I go away. I always think that about truck drivers. That's the single worst bargain in the world. It's like, "I'll sell you 7 days of my life for the next 20 years for this amount of money." You might as well be in solitary confinement... with a fuckin' walkie-talkie.
And we were stopped here. Told ya' it was funny. In the end, Shepard struck me as a really fun guy to hang with and his personality is so likable that I think he might make that leap from TV to film without much trouble. Maybe one of these days I'll be able to clear him out with a few hours of Hold 'Em. I'm poor, but I got crazy poker skills... even if I seem to lose almost every week.
Hope you liked the interview! I got tons of goodies coming up, so keep your eye on the site! 'Til then, this is Quint bidding you all a fond farewell and adieu!