Alexander Woo Writing; Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Films To Produce Dark Comedy About American Comedian/Impersonator
EXCLUSIVE: When comedians are hired for a film, it’s generally so they can do the familiar and funny thing they’re known for, so it’s refreshing to see Bill Hader play against type in Greg Mottola‘s sci-fi road-trip film, “Paul,” as what essentially is the psychopath villain, perhaps not unlike Robert Patrick as the T-1000 in “Terminator 2” — his character is a man on a mission that won’t be stopped.
While “Paul” hits theaters on March 18 and debuts at SXSW this weekend, The Playlist’s Christopher Bell sat down with the convivial funnyman actor yesterday, and as a fan of our site, the actor unloaded an armada of information on us on new projects he’s working on.
First up Hader and director Akiva Schaffer are working with Shawn Levy‘s 21 Laps production company on a film called, “Henchmen.” Originally conceived and written by comedy writers Russell Sharman, Owen Egerton, and Chris Mass, who appeared on the 2008 Blacklist with the script “Bobbie Sue,” Hader and Schaffer are now reworking the script with an eye to star and direct, respectively.
Hader Also Working On ‘Henchmen’ With SNL’s Akiva Schaffer
“[21 Laps] came to us with this script that Akiva and I are now reworking,” Hader told us, adding that they’re currently on the search for an actor to play his partner. “The film is about two guys who don’t realize it, but they’re two henchman for like the badguy in a ‘Bourne‘ movie and then they slowly figure who that they’re working for the wrong guys, but like doing it in the actual style of a ‘Bourne’ movie.
It dawned on Schaffer and Hader that the Paul Greengrass films share some similarities with a lot of contemporary TV comedies and this realization spurned them on creatively. “The aesthetics of a ‘Bourne’ movie, the shaky and handheld camera, that documentary feeling is how they shoot comedy these days, like ‘The Office‘ and ‘Delocated,’ and so we realized we could keep that same style. That would be a different feel for that so’s something we’re working on.”
Hader also revealed another new project he’s working on set up at Ben Stiller‘s Red Hour Films, a dark comedy, based on the life of American comedian and impersonator Vaughn Meader — the titular character of the film that Hader will play — who became famous for spoofing JFK and then his saw his career crumble after his assassination. It’s also being directed by a man who knows from dark films with comedic elements: Rob Siegel who penned Darren Aronofksy‘s “The Wrestler” and wrote and directed “Big Fan” starring Patton Oswalt. Alexander Woo, who is currently the co-Executive producer on HBO’s “True Blood,” penned the script.
“It’s about this guy who did these JFK impressions back in the ’60s and he had this comedy album called The First Family and it was the biggest selling comedy record, still to this day I think it’s one of the biggest selling comedy records,” Hader said. “He does this insane, amazing JFK impression and then JFK gets assassinated and his whole career goes away. So Rob Siegel is working on that now.”
So is the second half of the film as dark as it sounds? Yup, and it’s just how Hader likes it.
“Yeah, I would like to do… dark,” Hader laughed, adding that the gritty dramedy would have contemporary overtones as well. “It would be pretty sweet. It’s a real interesting piece and in a weird way it feeds into now, just like people becoming super famous overnight, reality stars and stuff. This guy became crazy famous, the president was talking about this guy and then it all went away. It’s really interesting.”
“Paul” hits theaters March 18, more from this interview very, very soon. Updated: When this story first ran we had Rob Siegel as the writer of “Vaughn Meader,” as Hader’s quotes obviously caused confusion on our part. The story above is now amended with the correct, writer and director information.