Friday, August 12, 2005

Rob Schneider: Male Prosti-- er, European Gigolo (Q&A)

I've got a little equation that I apply to movie junkets sometimes: the sumptuousness of the press-day buffet spread is inversely proportional to the crappiness of the film being supported. If you've got an obvious blockbuster/ Oscar winner you're lucky if you get a bottle of water and stale crackers thrown at you. Conversely if what you had to sit through at the screening was festering turd caught on celluloid, then you can expect nothing less than open bar, eight course banguet and pewter-finished Tiffany cufflinks stuffed in the press kits. But sometimes there are anomalies. As I mentioned in the Eddie Griffin piece below I got a sit down with Rob Schneider too last week during the Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo thing. I used some of the copy for print pieces elsewhere but there's a lot of shite we talked about that I couldn't squeeze into them that I thought were interesting. Dude's chatty, son. Right after Schneider left the Mondrian he shot across town to Burbank to sit on Jay Leno's couch which I caught a bit of while transcribing all of this later that night -- which can be a pain in the arse when people speak as rapidly as Rob tends to do -- and he was still as juiced as he was that morning which I found funny. I thought Rob was funnier in person than I ever thought of him onscreen...mebbe in parts of the first Deuce and as Ula opposite Adam Sandler in 50 First Dates but other than that...NATHAN...I'd assumed he'd eventually follow in the footsteps Jimmy Fallon -- who IS the unfunniest person to ever be cast on Saturday Night Live...and I remember Anthony Michael Hall's brief run on SNL, yo. Guess it pays to have homies like Adam Sandler when the chips are down. Our little palaver went in directions that I didn't intend it to -- a good thing sometimes. By the way, the vittles were proper that day and as for the film itself, it was okay, nothing to write home about but it too was a shite's sight better than expected -- I didn't leave feeling robbed of 97 minutes of life (see Griffin's piece for my full review)...Anyway, here's what went down with Rob...Laters...

Rob Schneider: Wow what do you have there? (Picking up Press CD for the film which looks like it could be a full movie) Is the knock-off out already?

Q: Nah, it's just the press kit.

RS: Oh I thought the movie was already out on the streets of New York. I was like, "hmmm." Like when Kill Bill: 2 was out I was in Korea and it was it's opening the day in the states and a guy was like (in broken accent) "Want buy Kill Bill:2?" The guy had a TV in the back of his car and he punched it in I was looking and it was Kill Bill: 2, and it said "property of Miramax" and I was like "wow!"

Q: So how long was it after the first Duece Bigelow was released that you started working on writing this one?

RS: I remember it was December 15th, 2002. Right after The Hot Chick didn't open well. (laughs) so I said, "let's get writing." I was planning on doing it and stuff but it just kick-started me...it was tough because people really like the first one. It was a nice little movie and it wasn't built for a sequel, really. And so, we had to re-invent it. And we said "if we're going to have to do, let's kill it. Let's just go for it and approach it like it's a whole other animal."

Q: Why Amsterdam?

RS: Well, you want to take it to another level. I figured that in the first movie had a lot of different clients, the gigolo, so I thought this would be more fun if he had to compete against these European, world-class gigolos. That just created this whole world out there that was more interesting. And we didn't have a $100 million budget on this thing, of course, nowhere near it. So it was like "well, you could shoot it in Vancouver. Why don't we shoot it in Toronto? No, no, no, let's just shoot it in Amsterdam." None of the actors had trailers -- we just did it. And we didn't have a ton of money -- so it was like "well, this is either going to be a lower-budgeted, Hollywood picture or it's going to be a huge European film." We had a really terrific director, Mike Bigelow was great, so...he really got it! So, that was huge.

Q: How was the relationship between you and the director?

RS: He was great. He came up with a lot of funny ideas. That was unusaul for me to have a director who would come up with really funny stuff and good ways to shoot things, so that was a big bonus. Sometimes there'd be some conflict because it's tough, I mean directors are, by their very nature -- he's a very successful commercial director, they've been trying to get him to do a movie for ten years but he's been waiting -- so he's got HIS vision for it and I have mine. My dad always told me that not all conflict is bad. We would, sometimes, do things two ways and see. Sometimes he was right -- a lot of the time he was. So it was good, I mean it was a creative feel. It was tense sometimes too because we'd shoot and we're working in that area -- we had a limited amount of time and we're working in that castle -- about 45 minutes outside of Amsterdam -- and we had a limited amount of time to get in there -- that was it -- and it wasn't like "hey, we'll come back and shoot [whatever we miss]. It was like "no, you get this amount of time and that's it!" While we're shooting, they were still giving tours of this place and there was a cut off date and you've got to get everything in -- that was it -- because the family moved back in in September. That's it, you're not going back, they're in. They don't care about your movie. We shot in the Hague, in this beautiful building -- another museum -- and it was like " BOOM, 5:00 in the morning, you're out. We don't care about Hollywood." They don't. We'd be blocking off a street, just a temporary [set] for a 30 second scene and there'd be people honking their horns and they'd be like (in non-descript European accent) "We want to use our city! Fuck you! Fuck you Hollywood!" (laughs) Most of the people were nice but some of them were belligerent about it because,you know, here (in L.A.) you get spoiled or whatever. We didn't have police blocking off the street, we just had this one guy one guy standing over there (in a corner) who was like; (in Euro-accen) "please, could you just keep this space clear..." (laughs)...I've got a scene with Eddie Griffin and all of a sudden you hear a motor cycle [engine] cut through and you're like "holy...!" So, after a while we just sat there; you're just like well, okay, alright. I guess we don't have this site blocked off. You just kind of get used to it...that's just the way it was.

Q: Well bearing the latter in mind, how do you think this movie, itself, will be percieved in Europe?

RS: I think it will be better. I think it's important for me to do well in Europe; Deuce Bigelow was a hit on DVD in England and Ireland. I never really "hit" at the box office in England so, this has a shot, I think. I think with a little bit of anti-Americanism, I think it's got a shot at it. And also, I'm an Anglophile, most of my heroes were English comedians -- I hope that I can get through to them. John Cleese said to me that "the first one was brilliant" and I was psyched about that. If Roger Ebert had liked a thousand of my movies, it doesn't mean anything to me as much as John Cleese [liking one film] because he's one of my heroes.

Q: What about Adam Sandler, how hands-on is he as a producer?

RS: He's really hands-on. He's as hands-on as an executive at the studio. We just shot this thing for a Carls, Jr. rip-off of the Paris Hilton commercial and he was just -- he's shooting another movie right now with Christopher Walken and Kate Beckinsale -- and he was like "um, I made some changes" and I was like "how did you have time to make changes? I talked to you at midnight! What happened between midnight and 8 AM?" (laughs)...so he really is [hands-on]...He helps writing jokes, I mean the jokes at the beginning of the movie were his. Because I just had the security guard come in, it was Adam's idea to have him say "thank you, for last night." So he's just the greatest boss that you could have because he just comes in with jokes and tons of ideas and it's invaluable. Plus he really knows how to cut the trailers and commercials -- he's the master of the cut-away. Just the cut-away to jokes and funny things to keep the audience [engrossed with the story], I call it "eye candy" in comedy or "comedy candy." Very joke-filled -- it's jokes, jokes, jokes. There's a great thing in The Waterboy where he's doing this scene with Henry Winkler and -- it's kind of a dramatic scene -- for that very SILLY movie and he just chucks a baseball out the window and it hits a professor in the head. And there's no reason for that but it gets a big laugh. It keeps the audience going to the next place. He's brilliant...he's just wonderfully subversive.

Q: How important to you is the R-rating this time out?

RS: Well, this time I knew we were going to get fucked with the R-rating so we just thought: we're going to go for it. We weren't even going to hold back at all because I really, genuinely, thought that the first one should've been PG-13. Because we don't swear, there's no nudity there was just [words like] "poon palace" -- I think was one of the words -- "man-whore," "man-gina" which to me, was very silly. If I had known the process, I would've went and arbitrated and argued it. But they slapped us with an "R" so this time I said, "well, they're going to give us an "R" anyway because [of] the area, the sexuality. You know, we still have this country that still has more of a problem with sexuality than with violence which is astounding to me. If you shoot a woman in the breast, it's PG-13. If you touch her breast, lovingly, it's Rated-R. (laughs) There's something wrong with that, isn't there? Wouldn't you say? The thing is -- can I just open this up here? [continues as he jumps up to open the curtains to see the sunny, Westward view from the 12th floor of the hotel] -- There's something wrong with that formula. But I'll tell you what, it's very fair -- the whole thing with the ratings thing -- because if you don't like what they're doing; if you disagree you can arbitrate. You can state your case and they state their case. She's tough, Joan Grey's just really tough but I found her very fair. We won on The Hot Chick. [returns to sit down in his chair]

Q: A lot of great catchwords from the first Duece Bigelow, like "man-gina," etc. On this one you infuse even more of them...how do you come up with them?

RS: You know, I have the greatest group of writers in Hollywood, I think. All the guys who write for the Simpsons -- they're like buddies of mine -- I mean I know most of the guys...I think the Simpsons should try to sue me because I get their writing staff -- those guys are all pretty much rich and they just come and do it,we pay them a little bit of money. But they just hang out and they give me their weekend, they give me a whole weekend...there's Mike Reeves, the greatest is Matt Salmon, there's also Lou Morton, Josh Lee and there's a couple of the other guys that I can't think of now -- oh, and Dan Groening who's a brilliant guy. And we'd sit around and they'll come up with this stuff and I'm like "oh my God: Dan Groening came up with the idea for the girl with the penis nose. And I said, "I don't know how to justify that" and then I went "well, she could've grown up near Chernobyl and her mom could've worked at a nuclear reactor." But it's something outrageous and they said "this one, you got to just go for. These people are going to be expecting something, let's take it to another place." To me, what was fun was creating that Union of Man Whores. I think that that was something I was really happy with - we got some really great actors to do that. And it was fun, I hope that the audience will have a good time and be surprised with all the little turns and stuff. And it's beautiful! Amsterdam's a beautiful place to shoot, difficult but it's really crazy-beautiful. There's never been a Hollywood film shot entirely there. I mean Ocean's 12 went there for a week and pissed everybody off. (laughs) Because they were shooting in windows -- they had a ton of money -- and then people would get pissed because [film crew was] blocking off streets and they'd call the police and the police would be like "oh, George Clooney! Could I have a picture?" (laughs)

Q: How do you think this will go over in Asia? The Little Kim man-whore bit?

A:I think we'll be okay. I think we'll be okay but we're not getting released in Japan, I know that for a fact. "Not for us!" (Japanese accent) The distributors in Japan [might say]. But I've never been released in Japan anyway, so I don't know. Some markets are [better than others] I'm hoping to really get through in Germany this time, you never know what hits. You know, a friend of mine who was in the first Duece Bigelow, Tursten Voges -- he played the 7-foot woman, he's a big frail-looking man -- and he said (in German accent) "Who's doing ze translation? It's terrible! It's not funny, so much funnier in English." So, hopefully, we got someone better to do the translations this time. But it's a huge thing, you never know what's going to hit. I mean, I've been doing this for a lot of years and I went over to Taiwan on the first one; it was a hit in Taiwan. With the per-screen average, if you're at 8,000 or 6500 per screen, it's a big hit. Over there it was 26,000 per screen average -- so it was like every seat at every show sold out. So, I went over there and they were laughing before the actual jokes [transpired on screen] because they were reading the subtitles...In Latin America, in Spain...I haven't really hit in Northern Europe or Italy -- I'm like the Italian Benini a little bit...

Q: Are there a lot of extras for the DVD? I know that collision between the tracheotomy chick and the girl with a penis for a nose begs to be seen but it was cut out of the final edit of the released version of the film.

RS: Yeah, the DVD's going to have some more grosser stuff, definitely. I also thought: "You know what? You never know how far you can go with an audience." All you can do is trust your instincts. Honestly, in the first screening we showed it and the audience was like they wanted to see it but when we showed it they were like, "no, no...we didn't want to see that. We take it back -- we really didn't need to see that." (laughs)

Q: Do you have something against Canada, considering the way that the one Canadian tourist was portrayed in Duece: 2?

RS: I just thought that Canadians are so mild and the thing that tends to piss me off -- I have a lot of friends who are Canadian, like Boom Collins, he's a Canadian director of schlock films. He hides behind the Canadian flag when he travels in Europe, he's like "hey, I'm Canadian." No, you know what? You're basically American, come on. And so, it was my pleasure to slam the Canadians. And they're really funny, they have a great sense of humor, Canadians.

Q: Did you starting writing this with that anti-American stuff in mind or did it develop over time?

RS: Yeah, I thought that was important to put in there. I mean it's just also true. I mean you have to just deal with it. If you're going to deal with an American guy going to Europe -- and Deuce is kind of a moron, you know? That scene was actually much longer, in the DVD it'll be much longer, because [Deuce] goes on and on about trashing America.

Q: Certainly, they don't love us over there.

RS: You know, there's just a really anti-American sentiment in quite a bit of Europe. I mean not necessarily with the governments you know Italy sends troops to Iraq, the Dutch do also but there's a, I shouldn't say anti-American but anti-[Bush] administration. They were shocked. When Bush was re-elected they were just devestated. They just couldn't believe it, especially in France. All over Europe, they were in shock. In Germany it was unbelievable -- even in Russia was kind of like "What? How's that possible? Why would you make that choice?" But you're dealing with -- in Europe -- it's terrorism, they've had it. In Italy in the 70's, etc...I would say [over there] it's not "uncommon." Whether it's the IRA blowing up department stores in London. There was nothing quite as devastating as 9-11. So, I think that the thing about the blatant fact that there was no Weapons of Mass Destruction found, that that was, basically, a LIE and still they got re-elected anyway. That was just devastating. They were like (German accent) how was that possible? Why would you want to? I mean, that doesn't make any sense. It's stupid! What's happening?"... It was like, you know, a lot of the American public's not L.A. or New York that's making decisions as you could see in the last [Presidential] election. So you have to cover [anti-American sentiment abroad], you have to touch on that and express that. And I think it's also important that for Americans, when they see this movie -- to me, it's not important -- to see that it's important to know that "hey, there's some anti-American sentiment out there." And I also think that that's a part of the reality and I think, "hey, there's comedy there."

Q: Apparently you have like five other movies that are in production/ coming out. Could you talk a little bit about any of that?

RS: Yeah, well you know it's funny but after The Hot Chick my career's been in the toilet there for a while. And I just couldn't get anything going, I mean Disney didn't want to make THIS movie and thank God that Sony jumped on it. It's tough, you know, just the ups and downs. It's funny, every time you think you make a really good movie, if the people don't come out -- you're only as good as your last movie...[While] I like doing studio pictures -- I want to do a smaller film exactly the way I wanted to do it. It'd be nice to do a 4 or 5 million dollar picture which means you don't really have to sit down and have lunch...there's only like 7 or 8 studios, that's it. So you have to get a movie that they think has the chance to make a lot of money and do that without killing that comedy. It's a really tough thing...I was lucky that Adam Sandler and I were partners and that we were able to make pictures that, we think, are really funny without getting them ruined, frankly. This next picture is probably the most ambitious movie that we're going to do. It's Harve the Barbarian. Jack Handy wrote the script, it's a famous script in Hollywood -- if you ask comedy writers -- Harve the Barbarian is a famous script. And this guy, Jack Handy, he did Deep Thoughts -- I worked with him on Saturday Night Live -- he's got this script and he's been re-writing it over the years and now we've been working on it together. We're finally getting the chance to make it, Sony wants to make it now. For me, it's like a Lord of the Rings, BIG, middle-earth kind of thing. It's a pain in the ass but it's going to be fun. Then, I want to make some smaller pictures, more for adults. That's why I wrote [Deuce: 2] Rated-R because there's not a lot of adult movies, it's so skewed. You know, in PG-13 you're missing things and you have to compromise stuff - this was like: "you know what? Let's just go for it. If little kids sneak in, they just sneak in." (laughs) It's not mean-spirited. I don't think the movie's mean-spirited.

Q: So how was it working with Eddie Griffin again?

RS: You know, he's the best character actor working right now. He's the best comic actor, I think, in America right now -- he really is. To me, he's very facile. He's really able to just move and do something that's small and gigantic and make them both believable. In a very short time -- he can do it in the same scene... the way that he takes it from [mild] to screaming, it's really funny. He did not want to hold that burnt penis. He was not into it. (laughs) I don't know if he'll admit that but he had a rehearsal problem that day and he was like "I don't want to touch the penis -- I'll lose my hood pass." I was like, "did you just say 'hood pass to me?' I felt like I was in an episode of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air or something...But it's difficult, a little uncomfortable and that's the whole point of the thing it was very delicate [to shoot] but good things come from that, I think.

Q: Well, when you consider what you said about just that alone, on the one hand and the breasts and the bullets and all that stuff, how do you think all of this is going to play in the middle of the country?

RS: I think it's going to do the best in the middle of the country because there's a certain joy about it. I don't think it's a political correctness in the middle of the country, really, there's a political correctness is on both sides. I think the political correctness is on the East Coast and the West Coast. I really think this going to do best in the middle of the country...the good thing about it is that they kind of know Deuce Bigelow a little bit. It's amazing to me [the number of] the people who saw it on DVD. I wish they'd saw it in the movie theater, my career would've been a lot better off. (laughs) But it's fine, you know, that's the real responsibility to me was I wanted people to go and see this and have a great laugh. Like when I saw Mel Brooks when I was a little kid it was the greatest time of my life. I mean, literally, when the movie ended I was so bummed because I had to go back to my life. So, there's a real responsibility; all I keep thinking about is these guys [the audience]... when the lights go down -- give them a good ride. Give them a roller coaster ride. That's genuinely [what it's all about]. When all the crap's going down I try to never lose focus on that.

Q: Is there any chance that there might be like a Deuce Goes Down Under or anything like that?

RS: If this one does well enough. It's tough to top this one. I think the one that Eddie Griffin was most excited about was: Time Whore. In that one you could jump around, go to different places [in time]. You could go to the French Revolution if you want. To me, going into the future would be fun. I also think it's up to the audience to decide. If they really do turn out and enjoy the movie, then fine. If this just does good, then there's really no reason for it. We'll see. Also, I'm looking forward to doing some other things but this was a fun character to bring back. Literally, the first day, first shot, Eddie Griffin and I just looked at each other and went: "here we go." (laughs) It was like nothing ever really happened in the past five years.

Q: I got a quick one for you; who did you channel for that character in 50 First Dates? That crazy Hawaiian.

RS: There's a real guy named Ula. Adam Sandler and I were over there and we were kind of wasted --having a few drinks. We'd just flew into Hawaii, got off the plane and we're hanging out at his place and we're happy to be in Hawaii -- we'd just finished doing Big Daddy. We're hanging out there and there's this guy who's taking care of the property -- Ula. He had one milky eye or whatever and he was in a fight -- not a normal fight, a machete fight. And I remember, we were talking to him and Adam just looked at me and said "you've got to play him in a movie." When he says something like that, I know he's taking it seriously. I know he's going to write it up. So I went and talked to [Ula] beforehand because I didn't want to get into a machete fight either and he gave me his blessing for the movie, literally. He was like, "it's okay," and I took him out to dinner with his family. And I spent a lot of time, growing up, in Hawaii -- my parents had a little condo, my grandfather lived there -- so I was getting beaten up and chased by Hawaiians my whole childhood.


Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo is in theaters today.

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