“Somewhere between Porky’s and Goodfellas” is when Danny McBride realized he wanted to be a moviemaker. Though he got his start in more serious-minded fare as a second unit director on fellow University of North Carolina School of the Arts alum David Gordon Green’s George Washington, the writing was on the wall for this would-be wiseass, whose first credited acting role is the character of “Bust-Ass” in Green’s All the Real Girls.
But the true birth of McBride’s comedy revolution began in 2006, when—alongside UNC classmates Jody Hill and Ben Best—he co-wrote and starred in The Foot Fist Way, a micro-budget comedy that found its way onto the desk of Will Ferrell (who came on as executive producer) and eventually the personal DVD collections of cult movie mavens worldwide.
Since his turn as tae kwon do instructor Fred Simmons in The Foot Fist Way, the 34-year-old has parlayed his unique brand of lovable loutishness into scene-stealing roles in Tropic Thunder, Pineapple Express, Observe and Report, Land of the Lost and Due Date. He also enjoys a rabid following for his HBO series, “Eastbound & Down,” in which he stars as loudmouth baseball has-been Kenny Powers.
Next, McBride will take top billing over Natalie Portman and James Franco for Green’s Your Highness, which he co-wrote with Best and also executive produced. Not bad for a guy who, when asked to describe his job in three words or less, simply replies “dick jokes.”
1. Which moviemaker—living or dead—inspires you most and why?
John Hughes and Steven Spielberg are pretty much tied for all the movies I gravitated toward growing up. They were my early introduction to what movies could do.
2. Of all the characters you’ve played, which has been the most challenging?
Probably Will Stanton from Land of the Lost. That whole film was really difficult ’cause it’s really hard to act in front of nothing. . . but enough about Will Ferrell.
3. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
It’s a tie: “Liquor before beer.” I always forget to follow it, but it’s good advice. And “If you shake it more than twice it’s masturbating.” I’d rather piss my pants than get caught jerking off in a fucking bathroom.
4. Who’s the one director you’d most like to work with and why?
The Coen brothers consistently make my head spin. They are the masters of tone. Comedically, they deliver in ways I never see coming. Working for them would be the ultimate.
5. Who’s the one actor you’d most like to work with and why?
Bill Murray. Does there really need to be a why?
6. What’s the one thing a reviewer has said about you or one of your movies that has always stuck with you?
“Story? Who cares. Character development? That’s for show-offs. Funny dialogue? Too hard to write. These babies can talk!!” Oh wait, that’s what someone said about the movie Baby Geniuses.
7. As an actor, what’s the biggest benefit of writing and/or producing your own work?
Well, it’s a lot easier to take notes and suggestions from myself than from some asshole who doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about.
8. What’s the first thing you do in preparation for a role?
Go to thesaurus.com and look up other words for “lovable asshole.”
9. If you could recast any movie and put yourself in any role, which would it be and why?
The dragon from The NeverEnding Story. Except at the end, when he scares those kids into jumping into a dumpster. . . I would have eaten the kids. Always thought that was a missed opportunity in the narrative.
10. Who would win in a fistfight: Fred Simmons or Kenny Powers?
I’d put my money on Powers because he’d probably cheat and bring a glock to the battle. MM