For artists and creative types, despite all the year’s dark elements, there was reason for hope in 2017. Comedian Paul Scheer noted that although it was a tough year for many different reasons, there was plenty of amazing work to celebrate coming out of entertainment. He believes this historical moment will, at the very least, “breed good art.”
“Would I have preferred none of this to happen? Sure. But we’re in it, we’re dealing with it, and I feel there’s a passion coming out,” said Scheer, who noted that he is checking into this from the perspective of a straight, white male in this world. “This year, more than most, I’ve been so creatively excited by what I’ve seen — whether it’s Taika doing ‘Thor’ or the March on Washington.”
In a wide-ranging conversation at the end of the year with IndieWire’s Turn It On podcast, Scheer shared some of his favorite pop culture from 2017, including “The Handmaid’s Tale” and the fight scene in the movie “Atomic Blonde.” (Scheer later told us that he thought of dozens of more examples later, after the podcast recording ended). Listen below!
Scheer also discussed his own wild year, which included appearing in Hulu’s time-jumping comedy series “Future Man” and playing a morning show producer on “Veep.” He’s also working on Amazon’s TV version of “Galaxy Quest,” and can currently be seen playing Raphael Smadja, Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room” director of photography, in James Franco’s loving take on the cult film, “The Disaster Artist.”
In his nonexistent spare time, Paul is also a podcast mogul, as he continues to host “How Did This Get Made?” with his wife June Diane Raphael and pal Jason Mantsoukas — both of whom also ended up on the movie. As a matter of fact, “How Did This Get Made’s” episode on “The Room” helped inspire the writers of “The Disaster Artist” while they were writing the movie, even though Franco wasn’t even aware of the podcast.
Scheer has gotten to know mysterious filmmaker Wiseau well, and yet still knows little about him. And he’s fine with that: “If we knew the answers it would not be that interesting,” he said. “There’s something really cool about this guy, in this era where everything is out in the open holds on to his privacy.”
Scheer noted that Wiseau flashed a fake ID when they did an interview with Howard Stern at Sirius XM, and that he booked his own flights rather than let distributor A24 find out his birthday.
“That is the beauty of Tommy,” Scheer said. “It’s more interesting for us to debate for 20 minutes whether he’s a vampire.”
Scheer also agreed to appear in Wiseau and Greg Sestero’s new film, “Best F(r)iends,” and he got to fulfill his dream of appearing in a scene with Wiseau.
“It’s a one-scene part, it was four hours in Pasadena, and to do a scene opposite Tommy in a morgue, I was in!” he said. “I found out I was billed not only being Part 1 but in Part 2 so this one 10-page script is now a two-part movie.”
Other dreams fulfilled this year for Scheer included workshopping a “Spaceballs 2” script with Mel Brooks, who is currently writing the sequel; and working with Chance the Rapper in his secret new film “Slice.”
“Chance is playing something the most un-Chance like you could imagine,” Scheer said. “It’s very fantasy based… it has a ‘Beetlejuice’ vibe to it. It’s a heightened world [and] Chance is a Han Solo-esque character, a person done wrong and comes back to exact some revenge.”
Meanwhile, Scheer remains a tremendous “Star Wars” fan — he was behind the “After Darth” parody talk show until Disney put a stop to it — and raves about “The Last Jedi.”
“These choices seem so huge and refreshing,” he said. “I left the theater on Cloud 9. I think this franchise got very staid. You knew what to expect
This subverted all of that. I went home to go on Twitter and to see the response. I felt like I had seen a different movie… you have to break it to tell better stories.”
IndieWire’s “TURN IT ON with Michael Schneider” is a weekly dive into what’s new and what’s now on TV — no matter what you’re watching or where you’re watching it. With an enormous amount of choices overwhelming even the most sophisticated viewer, “TURN IT ON” is a must-listen for TV fans looking to make sense of what to watch and where to watch it.