Now McBride takes on his first real starring role in a big budgeted feature film (he was a supporting player in Tropic Thunder, Pineapple Express, and Drillbit Taylor) playing opposite Ferrell in the big screen adaptation of the classic 1970s TV series Land of the Lost. On the set of the Universal Pictures action comedy, McBride talked about taking on a lead role in one of Universal’s big 2009 releases.
Danny McBride InterviewCan you talk about your character in the film?
"Yeah, Will in the film, you know in the TV show he was obviously younger. He was a teenager and he was related to Holly and Marshall, which he's not in this. Our paths cross when Marshall and Holly are investigating these mysterious tachyon hits. They find me out in the desert. I own a gas station and a weird sh-tty amusement park that has one ride. Yeah, we all get swept away into the Land of the Lost together."
You already knew Will Ferrell before working with him on this so do you two have a shorthand?
"It's weird. Will, in scenes, he only likes people to communicate with him through sign language, so I've had to really learn a lot of that in this."
How does the action in Land of the Lost compare to Tropic Thunder?
"It's a whole different deal, I guess. This has been a lot of looking at tennis balls and running away from dinosaurs. There were no dinosaurs in Tropic Thunder so that's different. The Tropic stuff, because we were in the jungle and it's 120 degrees and everyone's sweaty and it smells like pig sh-t, it was really easy to get into the zone of running for your life. Where here you've got to use the old mind bone a little bit more to figure out how you would react to a T-Rex running over the top of you."
Is it easy or hard to be funny in that circumstance?
"You know, Will just takes everything up a notch that you just try to fall in line. The mood on the set has been so light for something that's been going on for so long. Yeah, everyone just always seems to be in a good mood, so it hasn't been too hard to stay in a jovial mood I guess."
Is there room for improv when you're hitting specific marks?
"Well, that was one of the things that initially attracted me to this was Brad's take on it was he wanted to make a big movie with such a large scope with large special effects and still try to keep the looseness of what Ferrell comedies usually are like. So that seemed interesting to me, to mess around with the improv and kind of keep that comedy and see how that plays when you have Rhythm and Hues, Academy Award-winners making T-Rexes and weird lizards running all around you."
How do you work together?
"It's cool because it just forces you to like not be as lazy. Like, if you did something that was really good in one take, if you want it to be in there… multiple cameras are hardly ever rolling unless it's some sort of action or stunt. So it's not like in the scenes we're covering everyone for every riff. It just makes you have to work at it more. Brad [Silberling] will tell you, 'I think this scene is just going to be this shot.' So if you came up with something great in the second take, you have to figure out a way to make it work with what's happening in the fourth take so that it'll be there, hopefully, in the movie."
And working with Anna Friel?
"Well, I've said before, it's really incredible. She's the first real live British person I've ever met. They don't just live in history books like I thought, so that's cool. It's kind of neat to have your eyes opened like that. It's really cool. It's real, just like the dinosaurs are.
No, she's been awesome. I think Anna's background is like she comes from a really strong dramatic background, so it's cool to see her walk into something like this and how she just is easily able to just fall right into the deal. She's really funny. When I read the script, a lot revolves around that character because the world of the science and the theories kind of comes from, she balances Will out in a way, and you really needed someone that was going to be able to sell this like tachyon meters and these weird theories about Land of the Lost to make it seem like it's real. I don't know. It's weird. The British accent just legitimizes so many things you would not believe."
Is this the kind of movie you have a lot of friends calling you to see if they can come visit?
"I’ve had a bunch of friends, yeah, especially like friends who are like huge Sid and Marty Krofft fans. They instantly just gravitate towards them. Guys who are big fans of Bo Welch and they want to come in and see his trees that he’s made for the movie and stuff. I went to film school so these guys have very specific interests in the movie, yeah."
Was it surreal to be working with Sid and Marty Krofft?
"Oh yeah, it’s been incredible. Those guys have been amazing. It’s cool to just come to work and just f--king make fun of Marty Krofft to his face and just joke around with him. He throws it back you. It’s like this is so surreal, hanging out with these guys. They’re incredible."
Were you a fan of the show?
"Yeah, yeah, I watched actually a lot of Sid & Marty Krofft stuff when I was a kid. My parents were really into it so that was just something that they kind of opened the door to me. It was weird though because I had watched a lot when I was a kid. Then when I started to grow older, I kind of had just forgotten about Land of the Lost. Then I think I saw a picture of a Sleestak somewhere and it like unlocked all those ancient fears. Like, 'Oh God, I remember being horrified of these things.' So it was definitely a pretty trippy day the first day the Sleestaks worked, just walking onto a set. There’s like 30 of them just coming out and their little pinchers, walking all slow."
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Land of the Lost hits theaters on June 5, 2009.