John C. Reilly is starring in the new film, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, where he plays a 200 year old vampire.
Cinematical: So, you’ve been in a bunch of movies. You were saying you’ve done over 50 movies and not many comedies, and lately you’ve done several.
John C. Reilly: Well, that is what they want to make you know. For some reason it has gotten very popular with studios.
But you have been really good at it. Do you think it is your improv background or do you just take to it naturally?
I guess so. I often played funny parts in serious movies, you know, like kind of comic relief in different things. I don’t know. To me, acting is acting. When the circumstances are ridiculous, then you are in comedy. But in terms of what I do as an actor, it is pretty similar from movie to movie.
Is that your biggest transformative role that you have … I mean clothing wise, wardrobe wise that you have been in?
Gangs of New York was a similar level of artifice, I guess. Yeah, I am one of those people who is not very patient in the makeup chair. I have been offered movies like Planet of the Apes and stuff like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and I turned them down.
To be the Grinch?
No, not to be the Grinch. It was one of the Whoville people. But I thought like I would never be able to do it. I could never come in at four in the morning … even on this movie and Marvel. I said to Mike, “I don’t know how you do it, getting here at 3:30 or four in the morning and just sitting for hours and hours and hours.” I would go crazy, literally. There are just too many ants in my pants for that.
What drew you to the role? It is pretty different from what we have seen you play normally.
What drew me to the role was the fact that it was a real person, that he wasn’t some supernatural mystical being that can turn into a vampire bat. The powers weren’t so extreme that it was just another thing altogether, that this guy was a person who was alive in the 1800’s who was essentially about my age. If you account the slow aging, he is forty something years old.
And he was 20 when he has turned to a vampire.
Yeah. So I am like a 40-year-old who has been alive for 250 years or whatever. So that was interesting. And like I said in the earlier roundtable, what that would do to your world view. You must have had really thrilling runs there. And then other times when it was just very dark. You almost wish you were dead.
What roles have you not played yet? Is there anything you are still yearning to do? Dramatic? An action role?
I would love to do a western. I would love to play an explorer. That is always something that has really captured my imagination since I was a kid, like James Cook or Magellan or Earnest Shackleton. I have been on kind of an adventure reading jag. There is a great book called The Lost City of Z that is about Colonel Percy Fawcett, and he is looking for El Dorado in the rainforest, the Amazon. Shackleton’s adventures down in the South Pole. I have been reading a lot of stuff like that.
Do you plan to go back to drama anytime?
Well the Duplass Brothers movie is pretty dramatic. There are definitely some serious drama scenes in there. It is like there is funny stuff, but it is more situationally funny. It is not like Step Brothers or whatever. I didn’t make a conscious choice just to do comedy, just like I didn’t make a conscious choice to do any other kind of movie before that. It is just what comes your way, what opportunities you are offered, and what the studios think is a profitable kind of movie to make.
So I am open to whatever. I just like surprising people. I never want to get to a place where people see that I am in a movie and they go see the movie and they expect a certain performance one way or the other. That is just inherently boring to me. I think it is best when people come and they are like, “What is this going to be about?” Like you have no idea and you are surprised by the story. I am not really the kind of actor who plays himself over and over again.
Do you still do stage work? Do you have time for that?
Yeah. I am trying to put something together right now for the spring in New York. It is a tough time for theater right now because of the economy.
Do you write at all?
Yeah. I have a lot of ideas that I have written for stories. I was very involved in the writing of Step Brothers just because Adam and Will drew me into that. If I ever really get sick of acting, I think that is the next thing I would do is write some things and try to direct some things. It just sort of comes with the job. After you have been making movies so long you just start to see like, “Oh, that is how you do this, and this would be a better way to do this or that.” You start to pick up on the job training.