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Ken Marino On Birthing an Ass Demon in 'Bad Milo!' and Why Vinnie Van Lowe Isn't Happy About the 'Veronica Mars' Movie

Photo of Ben Travers By Ben Travers | Indiewire September 5, 2013 at 9:30AM

Ken Marino is one of those actors that you may not know you know until you see his face. By now, though, his name should suffice. Marino has popped up in a number of popular television shows like "Veronica Mars," "Dawson's Creek," and "Children's Hospital," as well as writing and co-starring in "Role Models" and "Wanderlust." Many remember him fondly as the sexually forlorn Victor Kulak from "Wet Hot American Summer" or the desperate-to-please lead caterer Ron Donald on "Party Down." More recently, he’s earned acclaim as Mark Orlando on the web series turned Emmy-nominated E! program, "Burning Love."
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Ken Marino comes face to face with his ass...demon in "Bad Milo!"
Magnet Releasing Ken Marino comes face to face with his ass...demon in "Bad Milo!"

Ken Marino is one of those actors that you may not know you know until you see his face. By now, though, his name should suffice. Marino has popped up in a number of popular television shows like "Veronica Mars," "Dawson's Creek," and "Children's Hospital," as well as writing and co-starring in "Role Models" and "Wanderlust." Many remember him fondly as the sexually forlorn Victor Kulak from "Wet Hot American Summer" or the desperate-to-please lead caterer Ron Donald on "Party Down." More recently, he’s earned acclaim as Mark Orlando on the web series turned Emmy-nominated E! program, "Burning Love."

In addition to the animated series "Axe Cop" and the upcoming "Veronica Mars" movie, Marino stars in what will certainly be another memorable role for everyone who sees it. "Bad Milo!" begins as a movie about Duncan (Marino), a man with severe stomach problems related to stress. His boss (Patrick Warburton) is forcing him to fire people. His wife (Gillian Jacobs) wants to have a baby. His mother married a much younger man who won't stop talking about their sex life. All of this stress manifests itself into a demon that crawls out of Duncan's ass to wreak bloody vengeance on his creator's oppressors. An ass demon, if you will.

Indiewire sat down with Marino at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills to discuss the movie's use of metaphors and meta humor, the actor's close circle of famous friends, and why Vinnie Van Lowe doesn’t like the idea of a "Veronica Mars" movie. "Bad Milo!" is currently available to watch on VOD and opens in select theaters October 4th.

So. "Bad Milo!" When you're first reading the script, how do you get past the words "ass demon" and still think this is the movie for you?

Well, to me that made it a page-turner. What happens next with the ass demon? When does the ass demon go back up his ass? Oh, page 23! OK, now when does the ass demon come out again? I think when every actor is taking the bus into Hollywood, their big dream is to finally get the ass demon movie that will make them a big star. And here we are, at the Ritz Carlton, discussing the ass demon movie. [laughs]

The movie had a ton of physical comedy for you -- running, sweating, near constant and extremely painful stomach cramps. Did you do anything special to get comfortable with all of it?

No, I just kind of played each scene how I thought it would go. It was exhausting. I remember going home every night and, when seeing my wife, being like, "I'm exhausted." [She'd say] "You're acting. What're you exhausted for?" And I'm like, "It was a really hard day." And she's like, "Acting? It was a hard day acting?" I don't know if she ever really did that, but it was very exhausting physically.

Did you do anything mentally to prepare for Milo's first birthing scene? It's like your "I'll have what she's having" scene in "When Harry Met Sally," except you're a man giving birth instead of a woman having an orgasm.

Ken Marino giving birth in "Bad Milo!"
Ken Marino giving birth in "Bad Milo!"

[laughs] I didn't think of it like that. I'm excited to watch that tonight. I saw it at SXSW, but I'm excited to see it again because I don't remember that scene now. I remember doing it, and I remember we did a lot of takes. I'll tell you what I didn't do. I didn't properly warm up vocally, and so by the end, I blew my voice out. I strained it -- [moans loudly] -- doing that. Do that for like three hours, three-and-a-half hours and then do it again for the second half of the day. So then I remember calling in and saying, [whispers] "So what do we have for the next two days because I don't have a voice?" That's what I remember about that. It was draining. That particular day was awful. I remember waking up the next day, and you know when you run or -- not even running -- when you do something that you're not using muscles that you normally use? You help someone move out of a house, and -- not even the next day -- but two days later it really kicks in. "Why can't I stand up?" That was that scene. I bleed for my work.

The movie also has a good deal of meta humor, which seems like a trendy thing now. Do you see this type of humor as generational, a passing fad, or something that's slowly developed over time to reach this point?

I think meta humor has been around for a long time. I'm not aware that it's a fad now, but I've been involved with a group, "The State," and I feel like we certainly embraced meta humor when we started out. I feel like maybe you're seeing more of it now. It was around way before we were doing shit. You know, the Marx brothers do meta humor all time.

Do you think it's needed more now because we've seen so many cliches used again and again?

Perhaps. You have to kind of address the elephant in the room, which is that we've seen this formula. We've seen this joke before. We've seen this, so how do you do the same joke in a fresh way? How do you approach a certain topic in a fresh way? Being a little meta with it is a nice angle. But again, I don't see it as a wave of comedy right now. Though I guess I need to think about it for a bit.

I wanted to ask you about "Children's Hospital."

That's a meta show.

Absolutely. You're wrapping up your fifth season now. Do you have any plans to get back into the director's chair or write a few episodes like you have in the past?

We'll probably do another season, at least. I hope. It's up to Rob [Corddry] and Dave [Wain] and [Jonathan] Stern really, but I think the plan is to do another season. I don't know when. If we do another season, I'll probably direct some of them. If I'm not writing something else at the time -- that's the only reason I didn't write anything this season. I was dealing with "Burning Love" and stuff like that. So I didn't have time to dive into some "Children's Hospital" scripts. I love that show, and Rob is one of the funniest people out there. Rob and David. I hope we get to do some more seasons. I think the cast is amazing. I feel very lucky to get to do stupid things with them.

"Children's Hospital"
Adult Swim "Children's Hospital"

You also appeared in Lake Bell's directorial debut, "In a World...," who's another member of the "Children's Hospital" cast. Rob Corddry is also in there. It's just one example of many, many projects that feature similar players in various roles.  Could you talk a little about how the process works among this group of people you consistently work with?

I don't know what was going on in her head exactly, but I can say from my perspective, how I approach stuff -- and how I want to continue to approach things -- is to create things, and ask friends who you enjoy spending time with, who are also talented people, who you respect and make you laugh and move you in a certain way. You ask them to work on a project with you because then you know if nothing else you're going to have a nice time doing it. If you're working with people you care about, usually that comes through on screen. I think one of the things that works about "Party Down" or "Children's Hospital" or "Burning Love" or some of the other things I've been working on recently is that you see that everyone is having a good time together, and I think that that becomes infectious in a way. When David and [Michael] Showalter asked me to do "Wet Hot American Summer" however many years ago, one of the things we always talked about when we were shooting it was, "Who knows what the fuck's going to happen with this movie, if anyone will ever see it. But who gives a shit? We're having such a nice time." I made so many friends on that project. Paul [Rudd], A.D. Miles, Chris Meloni, and Janeane [Garofalo] and just a ton of people that I became friends with. It would be silly not to call on those friends if you have someone in mind and ask, "Would you do this project with me?" It just seems like the right way to work.

You know, "Wanderlust" is another example of that. We did "Wanderlust" and we were like, "Yeah, so, who do we want to work with? We're lucky enough to be friends with a lot of really talented working comedians and actors in this town. Who do you want to work with? Well, our friends. OK, great. So, let's get the people who are right for these parts, and let's all get together and make something that is hopefully special."

When you look at your IMDB page, it seems like you’re having a good time, but you can also see that strategy working.  

Thanks. I mean, I've worked on shit that is not that formula and sometimes it's a miserable situation, and sometimes it's great. Sometimes it's terrific, but at this point in my life I prefer not to take that gamble and work with people that I don’t know or go into a situation that everyone's like, "Um, it's not a good situation." I don’t want to deal with that shit. What's nice is, I work on something like "Milo" where I worked with Mark [Duplass] on something that Adam Scott did ("The First A.D.") and so now I get to know Mark and I'm like, "Mark's a great guy." Then he calls me and he's like, "Are you interested in this thing?" And I'm like, "Fuck. Yeah, I'll work on anything you're doing. Not just because you're a great guy, but also I love the work that you do." Now I'm excited about this and then I meet Jacob [Vaughan], Gillian [Jacobs], Peter [Stormare], and I knew Stephen Root from "Children's Hospital." Toby [Huss] I knew from MTV days, and all of a sudden there's another family of people who for the next thing I do I can ask, "Hey Peter," or "Stephen, you want to do this?" Or, "Mark I have this project." It keeps growing. The hope is to continue to work with good people, and you want that to keep growing. You want to build more friendships.

Veronica Mars

You shot a YouTube video to announce your involvement with the "Veronica Mars" movie.

I didn't.

You didn't?

Vinnie Van Lowe did.

Ah, of course. So, does Vinnie want to be more connected to his fans? Do you think he feels more connected because the movie was funded through Kickstarter?

I know this because I talk to him from time to time: Vinnie is not happy that there's a "Veronica Mars" movie and not a Vinnie Van Lowe movie. But he'll be in the "Veronica Mars" movie because he hopes to meet the Kickstarter guy who can help him out.

How about the "Party Down" movie? Any insider info on that?

All I can say at this point is everybody behind the camera, all the creators and all the actors would love to do it again because it was a magical experience.

"Bad Milo!" is available On Demand now and hits theaters October 4.

This article is related to: Ken Marino, Party Down, Bad Milo, Burning Love, Veronica Mars, Interviews , In A World, Comedy, Interviews, VOD