When you watch Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, don’t expect it to give you the factual story of Weird Al’s life. Actually, don’t expect it to be even remotely true. Making the film involved “absolutely no research on Al’s actual life,” director Eric Appel told MovieMaker last week after the movie played as the opening night film of the Newport Beach Film Festival.
Instead, his and Yankovic’s aim was to completely parody the biopic genre, just like Yankovic would parody a song.
“It was basically us taking like all of our favorite tropes from biopics and just — it’s really satirizing the entire biopic genre. Not just rock biopics, like The Doors or Walk The Line or Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s also Boogie Nights and Forrest Gump, like fictional biopics as well,” Appel said. “They all sort of follow the same storytelling template, and it was us kind of deconstructing that and then putting it back together in the most weird, surprising way.”
Yankovic himself plays record executive Tony Scotti in the movie alongside Will Forte as Ben Scotti and Daniel Radcliffe as Weird Al. Julianne Nelson plays Yankovic’s mother and Toby Huss plays his father. Rainn Wilson plays Dr. Demento, Evan Rachel Wood plays Madonna, and Arturo Castro plays Pablo Escobar, with tons of smaller appearances from some of Yankovic’s friends including Jack Black, Conan O’Brien, Patton Oswalt, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
The movie started as a fake trailer that Appel made as a joke, with Yankovic’s permission, when he worked at Funny or Die. It starred Aaron Paul as Yankovic and Olivia Wilde as Madonna. For many years, Yankovic would show the trailer at his concerts, prompting fans to ask when he was going to make it into a real movie — until he actually did.
“After a decade of people coming up to him after concerts and saying, ‘How can I see this biopic?’ it sort of started wearing on him. And then, I think it was [when] Bohemian Rhapsody had just come out, and Rocket Man was about to come out, and they had announced the Elvis movie, the Aretha Franklin movie, and it was a whole slew of biopics. It was like, okay, I think that people are into biopics again, they’re back in the zeitgeist. They sort of disappeared for a little while after Walk The Line and there was a lapse for like a decade, and now they’re back in full force.”
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story will begin streaming on The Roku Channel on Nov. 4.
Main Image: Daniel Radcliffe as Weird Al Yankovic in Weird: The Al Yankovic Story