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Ethan Suplee Discusses "My Name is Earl" and "The Fountain"


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Inside Randy’s Head…: Suplee plays Jason Lee’s mentally slow cousin, Randy, in “My Name is Earl.” Finding the right way to attack the character is an ongoing process according to Suplee. “He might be getting more innocent, but I don't think he’s getting dumber. From the pilot to now, there are certain things in the pilot that I would say I wouldn’t play the same or wouldn’t be applicable now. But I thought the other day that as Earl kind of moved more towards his karmic goodness, Randy, any mean-spiritedness he had was washing away with that. So he is becoming, I think, more innocent.”

“My Name is Earl” is more than just a comedy; the series also tries to teach important lessons. “I think it’s one of those things where if you get ‘em to tune in because it’s funny or for whatever reason, as long as there is that message there, it’s impinging on them on some level, so that’s good. And whether they’re analytically watching the show because it’s got a message about living a better life or because it’s funny or because the characters are silly or you can relate to them...”

Ethan Suplee’s Dream Projects: “I would love to do the Fatty Arbuckle story. I heard a strange rumor that everybody that’s been attached to it has died. Chris Farley, John Candy at one point, and Belushi. So that’s one of those things like I’d love to do it, would be a whole new different realm for me but at the same time, if it’s cursed I want to stay away from it. Then there’s ‘Confederacy of Dunces’ but that’s always got somebody new attached to it, like Will Ferrell. I heard John Cusack wanted to do it at one point…so I don't know. They seem to be two projects that have been around for a long time.”

On the Job Training: A veteran of more than 20 feature films, Suplee still picks up a lot from other actors. Asked who in particular he’s learned from, Suplee said, “Strangely, I think Dax Shepard who I think his first movie I was in. It was probably my 20th film but his improv skills and his ability to just continue on in a scene that isn’t written or wasn’t written but as though it’s perfectly scripted dialogue that’s hysterical, are unlike anybody’s I’ve ever worked with before. So working with him was an immense pleasure. I really also got a lot out of working with Brendan Gleeson. He’s a fantastic actor. Denzel Washington was cool but there’s a little bit of a generation gap there. We didn’t really hang out too much.”

Up Next - “The Fountain:” Suplee has a supporting role in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Fountain,” featuring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. “Hugh Jackman is a scientist,” said Suplee, “and I am his lab technician/assistant.” Suplee describes working with filmmaker Aronofsky as “amazing. One of the greatest experiences of my life.” He has an equal amount of praise for Jackman. “Really nice guy. Very, very professional and very nice.”

Suplee hasn’t yet seen the film which was delayed from a 2005 release to October 2006. “I went to a looping session and there was no picture to match dialogue to. I got to hear it.” Suplee admits that without a picture to match the dialogue to, it was very difficult to do the job. “We had to finally do it again twice, but the first time there was no picture because it’s very top secret. They stopped it right after my line. I was like, ‘Play the whole scene.’ ‘No! It’s going to stop here.’”

Getting any info on “The Fountain” from anyone involved is like pulling teeth, but Suplee did reveal it wasn’t a big effect which ruined the sound in that particular instance. “No, it wasn’t even that. It was the squeaking of a door or something. Some of it was adding dialogue where the shot was on my back but I didn’t say anything and here’s something you can say. There was no reason really that I couldn’t see it. I think it was just that it wasn’t done yet.”

Suplee also said, “I’m just in the one section. It’s not a very big part but god, was it fun.”

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