Over the course of the Galway Film Fleadh, one of the new Irish features to be screened was Run & Jump, and entertainment.ie was lucky enough to nab one of the tickets to the packed out screening, and we were so lucky that we did. Telling the story of a married woman whose husband (Maxine Peake) has just suffered from a brain-damaging stroke who finds herself falling in love with an American doctor (Will Forte) who has moved in with them to document her husband's recovery, the movie is both hilarious and heart-breaking, and it's not unfair to say that it is one of the best Irish movies of the decade, and should go on to be a huge success. And apparently everyone else at the Fleadh agreed with us; Run & Jump went on to win both the Audience Award and the Best First Irish Feature Award.
If that wasn't enough, we also had the privilege to interview one of the stars of the movie, Will Forte. Suffering from severe jet-lag but fighting it off like a champion, and with the sun splitting the trees outside, here's how we got on:
Entertainment.ie: I understand that we're having better weather this week than you did when you were over here shooting the movie?
Will Forte: Oh yeah, it rained almost the whole time I was here last year!
EI: How did this movie appear in your radar? And what was it about the role that was attractive to you?
WF: Steph [Green, director] approached me about it, we have the same agent, and that was how I first heard about it, was her just approaching me. She was somehow interested in me for the role, and I read it and thought the script was wonderful, and it's obviously so different to anything I'm used to doing, or I just don't see those kinds of scripts coming my way very often. So I thought ‘Wow, it'd be really fun and interesting to give this a try.'
EI: By all accounts it is your first major dramatic role, how difficult was it for you to turn that comedic switch off?
WF: It was definitely an intimidating thing, because you're so used to comedy stuff, and big, broad characters, and so it's just different to be acting in a more realistic manner. You feel slightly vulnerable. You feel like you're opening this curtain for people to see what you're like as a real person, almost.
EI: Everything must feel a lot smaller, having to do a lot more with a lot less.
WF: Oh, yeah! And I was never sure if I was pulling back too much, and Steph was wonderful about nudging me in the right direction if I got a little too big or a little too small.
EI: Just to go way back in your career, which kicked off in a big way thanks to Saturday Night Live, which isn't really readily available in Ireland, but we are hugely aware of it. You worked on that show for almost ten years, what was it like to be a part of, and what was it like to leave?
WF: It is such a unique job! The best time ever! Everyone there just becomes a family to you, and when you go into comedy, at least when I went in, that was my goal; to get to SNL. And to actually get to achieve one of your goals is so rare in life, so it was just a real honour to be a part of the show. It was so much fun, and such hard work, gruelling work schedule, but you go away for the summer break and you are so excited when you have your first couple of days off, but then you can't wait to get back there, it's like an addiction. But leaving was really hard, just because it's like a family there, and there are all these people there- I'm on the west coast in Los Angeles, and to have all these super close friends and family members out there [in New York], so far away, made it really hard to leave. And the job is just so different from anything else! You're writing something on Monday and you're seeing it on Saturday, there's nothing like it.
EI: Another kind of sketch based comedy show that a lot of people would know you from would be Tim & Eric [Tim & Eric's Awesome Show, Great Job!], which is about as out there as comedy gets. What're your memories of making that show?
WF: It's so much fun to work with Tim and Eric, they are... NUTS! But also, if you met them, you would have no idea that these are the guys that create this insane comedy, because they are just sweet guys, pretty normal guys-
EI: Isn't that a sign of a proper nutjob? In that you can't tell that they're nuts?
WF: Yeah! (laughs) But it's so much fun, because they just write pretty loose scripts, and then they just let you go nuts, and then they'll pick out the things that they want you to work off of, and it's so much fun to work with them, because it's really different, it's a very liberating experience.
EI: You've done a lot of voice work over your career, some of the highlights being American Dad, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, The Cleveland Show, Grand Theft Auto... and there's loads more! How liberating is it for you as an actor to go as crazy as you could want to go with your voice, or do you find it stifling that you're effectively acting against a microphone?
WF: Those jobs are so great because the quality of those shows, they're such well-done shows!, and the time commitment to do a voice over job is such a small sliver of what it actually is to put those shows together. So all these people are doing so much work, and I feel almost guilty saying I'm part of those shows because it's all these people are doing such hard work and I just come in and get to breeze through, say a couple of words into a microphone, and then take over. Then somebody else has to carry the load! (laughs) Voice over jobs are the greatest jobs in the world because you can really be a part of some really fun and boundary pushing things, but you still have time to do other stuff as well. It's pretty great!
EI: We couldn't mention SNL and not mention 30 Rock. Your character Paul turns out be one of the most out there and yet stable characters in the show, which was a fantastic balancing act to pull off. What was it like to be a part of something that is effectively one of the great modern television shows?
WF: I was just so excited that they wanted me to play this part. That writing staff is so good, and those scripts were always so great, and of course all the actors were always so wonderful too. So it was awesome, I miss it! It was very similar to the SNL experience, as there was also this camaraderie there, and I think that was because a lot of people who came over to do that show came from SNL. Not everyone, but enough people had made the transition to 30 Rock from SNL on the cast and crew that it felt like kind of a second home to go over there and spend time with them. So it was really awesome to get to do that show, both very fun to do because it was just like messing around with a bunch of friends, but it was also the quality of that show is just so high.
EI: Plus you got to wear lots of lovely dresses, which is a plus.
WF: I do miss shaving my legs and chest all the time. Oh man... I now know what it's like to wear a G-string, and to wear high heels, and it is tough, I tell you. I've got a lot credit for the stuff they have to wear. So now whenever I'm out with a woman and she's wearing high heels, and I used to go "Awh, come on!” but now I go "Oh, I know exactly what you mean."
EI: "I don't sympathize, I empathize."
WF: Yeah, exactly.
EI: I understand yourself and 30 Rock co-star Jason Sudekis are big fans of karaoke. What is your go to song?
WF: Right off the bat I would say ‘I Can't Fight This Feeling' by REO Speedwagon. We used to do a lot of Bon Jovi songs because we started singing together on this thing called Jon Bovi on SNL, which was a Bon Jovi opposite band, where we just sang the opposite lyrics to Bon Jovi songs. We would do "Heart Of The Matter” by Don Henley, we would do ‘Always And Forever' by Luther Vandross. (begins to sing a perfect rendition of the chorus to ‘Always And Forever')
EI: You're not picking any easy songs for yourselves.
WF: We loved to sing the song from Once, ‘Falling Slowly'. That's the most beautiful song!
EI: It is beautiful, and I'm enjoying picturing you and Jason singing it.
WF: There would be a couple of times that just the two of us would go alone together and get one of those private rooms and sing for hours and just find new songs. It was so much fun. And that was one of the wonderful things about that show, was getting to know him and become friends with him.
EI: After all the comedy, you switched it up with the drama Run & Jump, and next up we're going to see you in another drama, Nebraska, which is Alexander Payne's new movie. What was the big draw in for you?
WF: What's NOT a draw in for that movie, you know? You're working with one of the best directors in the world and this legendary actor [co-star Bruce Dern], and the script is beautiful. Just everything about it, I would be crazy not to be a part of that movie, and I would never have guessed that I had a shot to play that part. So I'm just so thankful to have gotten that opportunity, it was just such an amazing experience.
EI: You're returning to comedy straight after Nebraska, one is the untitled Elmore Leonard movie with Tim Robbins and Jennifer Aniston, and then you've Trouble Dolls. Can you tell us a little bit about both of those?
WF: The Elmore one is kind of a mixture of crime, drama, comedy... Have you ever read any of Elmore Leonard's stuff?
EI: Oh yeah, Get Shorty and Out Of Sight.
WF: Yeah, so it's in that same vein as those, that same general tone. He's just such a great writer, in that there's comedy throughout but there's legitimate crime and mystery, and a little bit of everything. The book was called The Switch, and the director Daniel Schechter also did the adaptation of the book, and he's great. It was a wonderful experience, it was great. And then Trouble Dolls, somebody I had met while doing the Elmore Leonard movie was doing Trouble Dolls. Really low budget movie with Jennifer Prediger and Jess Weixler, they wrote it, are directing it, and are starring in it, and I just did a day on it, but it's a pretty fun and very interesting and weird. I don't even know how to describe it, it's just a delightful little movie that they're doing for very little money and it was just so fun. I did my work on the very last day that they were shooting in New York, and it was such a fun group to be around, because when there's that little money, everyone just bands together and it was really nice group to work with.