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.
[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.