Interview Date: 03/13/2010
Run Date: 03/24/2010
Clark Duke has done three movies, each more awesomely titled than the last. After getting his first lead role in 2008’s underrated “Sex Drive,” Duke delivers a one-two movie title punch that may never be topped in “Hot Tub Time Machine” and “Kick-Ass.” Bullz-Eye got 10 minutes alone with Duke (after the actors submitted to hours of roundtable interviews) to discuss “Hot Tub” and “Sex Drive,” but wound up spending more time talking about ‘80s music, and how Kurt Cobain ruined it for everyone. Having flown in early that morning from Austin, after attending the South by Southwest premiere of “Kick-Ass,” Duke is clearly exhausted, but gamely soldiers on for a couple more interviews.
Bullz-Eye: How was Austin?
Clark Duke: Really, fun, actually. I’d never been to South by Southwest, so that was cool to open the festival. It was pretty awesome. I wish I could have stayed longer. Maybe I’ll go back. Nah, I can’t go back.
BE: Between “Hot Tub Time Machine” and “Kick-Ass,” you’ve cornered the market on awesome movie titles. Has it changed your approach to which movies you pick going forward?
CD: (chuckles) I never thought I would top “Sex Drive” for pure visceral stupidity in a title, but I’ve done it twice now. I don’t know, it’s not on purpose. I don’t know how it keeps happening. I can’t imagine the title of the next [movie].
BE: You don’t have anything lined up?
CD: Not to shoot at the moment, no. It actually feels kinda nice. It’s the first time in a couple years that I haven’t been shooting something. Full panic hasn’t set in yet. Right now, I’m enjoying it.
BE: And you’ve got the “Greek” day job.
CD: Yep, we have 10 more of those to shoot in May.
BE: You don’t particularly strike me as an ‘80s kind of guy. Not just because of your age, but I don’t get the sense that the decade means much to you.
CD: Musically, it does.
BE: What was it about the movie that appealed to you?
CD: As far as film comedies go, I actually am a big ‘80s fan. I mean, Cusack with all his stuff with Savage Steve Holland, and John Hughes movies, and almost any movie with John Candy in it. The first “SNL” cast, with Belushi and Aykroyd and all those guys, and working with Chevy [Chase], you know, “Vacation,” “Fletch,” the movies with Goldie Hawn, “Foul Play.” So in terms of comedy influence, the ‘80s actually were very important to me. It’s probably a tacky thing to reference instead of, like, the ‘70s American cinema, but as an actor, I probably got a lot more from [‘80s comedies] than the auteurs of the ‘70s. And music-wise, I’m a big fan of ‘80s college rock, like the Replacements, the Pixies, Sonic Youth, Mission of Burma…
Clark’s publicist: Mission of Burma, nice.
CD: Thank you. Echo and the Bunnymen… (looks back at publicist) You gave me an amazing book, “Our Band Could Be Your Life.” That’s awesome, that is one of my favorite books. That book turned me on to a lot of that stuff. You know, R.E.M. and some of the bigger bands, but I’d never listened to Black Flag before. The Replacements, though…I couldn’t believe I had never heard the Replacements before, because they’re so awesome.
BE: As of when?
CD: A couple years ago. Whenever you (looks at publicist) gave me that book.
BE: I have to say I’m surprised too, especially when a movie from the mid-‘90s was named after one of their songs
CD: Which one?
BE: “Can’t Hardly Wait.”
CD: (Laughs) Oh, yeah! I’ve never seen “Can’t Hardly Wait.” Is it based literally on the song?
BE: I think they just stole the title, like “Pretty in Pink.”
CD: Don’t we have a Replacements song in “Hot Tub”?
BE: I don’t remember hearing one. [Note: If there was one, it was “I Will Dare,” which is on the “Hot Tub” soundtrack.]
CD: There were a bunch of Replacements posters in the ski lodge. The soundtrack for “Hot Tub” is pretty good. We got some New Order on there.
BE: They were playing it in the bar last night before we saw the movie.
CD: I think “Bizarre Love Triangle” might be one of my favorite songs ever. You can put any video footage over that song, and it would look awesome. I’m also, if I’m honest, like hair metal, and that style of rock a lot more than the ‘90s stuff that came after it. I hate grunge.
BE: Are you talking early ‘90s or late ‘90s?
CD: Well, late ‘90s, there’s no one to even reference, except the White Stripes or maybe the first Strokes album. Or was that early 2000s?
BE: That was 2001. No, late ‘90s, I’m thinking Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park…
CD: Aw, geez, that’s what I’m saying, none of it is even memorable. But I don’t like grunge, I don’t like what replaced the fun ’80s hair metal.
BE: When Nirvana broke, there’s this joke about all the A&R guys calling their bands and saying, “Come on home, guys. It’s over.”
CD: Yeah, I don’t know, it did kind of ruin music.
BE: You sound like Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler.”
CD: I know, but I don’t like all the bands [Nirvana’s] influenced. I feel like every shitty band now was influenced by them. Puddle of Mudd, Nickelback, and all this bullshit that I hate now is derivative of them.
BE: If they had gotten to make a few more records, maybe they would have changed things in a different way. But we’ll never know.
CD: Maybe. And I’m not badmouthing Nirvana, necessarily. Just that whole… I think Pearl Jam are violently boring.
BE: My editor swears by them, and I just don’t get it.
CD: It’s like the Grateful Dead fans. It’s this subculture that I just don’t understand. There’s one Dead album, American Beauty, that’s a good album. But other than that, I don’t get it.
BE: (Looks at recorder) And now we have four minutes left.
BE: I would love to talk music with you all night long, but we need to talk about “Sex Drive,” because that’s the funniest movie I’ve seen in ten years.
CD: Thank you! We thought it was funny!
BE: It was funny. I interviewed Josh [Zuckerman] when it came out on DVD. My plan is to get you, Josh and Amanda [Crew] on the record about that movie.
CD: I saw Amanda recently, for the first time in a long time.
BE: So what the hell went wrong?
CD: Nothing went wrong, other than…this was, I think, Summit’s first movie that they had produced and distributed. It was a small movie with an unknown cast, and we had a rough release weekend. It came out in October around a couple other…I can’t remember specifically what it was, but it was just an awkward situation. There was not a ton of money spent marketing it; it was certainly night and day compared to something like this, “Hot Tub” or “Kick-Ass.” The amount of manpower and money behind [this movie] is pretty wild.
BE: Josh said, “Well, I don’t want to point the finger, but…” and then ran off a laundry list of things he thought went wrong. The title, the poster, the trailer…
CD: I’ll put a lot of it on the poster, with the doughnut. I think that was a little misleading, because that doesn’t play that important a role in the film, and it doesn’t explain…yeah, maybe the title turned people off. I always thought the title was funny. I think the poster and the trailer could have been stronger, I’ll agree with that. But the thing is that everybody that sees the movie likes it, for the most part. Since it came out on cable, I’ve had a ton of people come up to me. So I don’t know. The thing is, no one remembers two years, five years, ten years down the road, what a movie made at the box office. Like, [“Hot Tub Time Machine” director Steve] Pink was telling me that “Grosse Pointe Blank” was a huge flop in the theaters. I don’t remember that!
BE: He’s right, it was.
CD: It’s one of my favorite movies, though. So “Sex Drive” has been vindicated by time.
BE: One of our writers wanted me to ask what the possibilities were for a DVD release of “Clark and Michael.”
CD: I don’t know. CBS owns it. I haven’t heard anything. I don’t know why they wouldn’t. I don’t get it. Feel free to lobby them. I really don’t get it, especially since the career Mike’s gone on to have, and I’m working films. I don’t know why they wouldn’t just give it a shot. Or at least make it downloadable to purchase in some kind of high-quality format. I find it hard to watch anything (makes a two-inch square with his fingers) this big, because when we shot them and cut them, I never watched it like that. But that’s all people have ever seen. I haven’t heard anything. (Turns to publicist) You heard anything about a DVD?
Publicist: We had tried to make that happen a while ago, but we didn’t have the right machinery.
CD: I’ll bang on CBS all day long. I think that as a corporation or network, they didn’t have any understanding what the show was. I hope there is [a DVD release]. I think it’s a shame not to. Because we would totally participate, in terms of extra features and stuff like that.
BE: Instead, they’ll be putting out “Petticoat Junction,” or something like that, and they’re all going to sit in landfills in six months. (The publicists think this is hilarious.)
CD: I will not knock the man that made those shows, though, like “Beverly Hillbillies” and “Petticoat Junction,” and “Green Acres.”
BE: I’m not knocking the shows themselves, but who needs to own them?
CD: Ah, maybe not “Petticoat,” but I’d own the Hillbillies. I think the first two seasons of “Beverly Hillbillies” are in public domain, or something. You see them in grocery stores as those bootleg DVDs. You know those $1 DVDs? They must have forgotten to renew the copyright at some point.At this point I turned off my recorder, and asked Clark to confirm another writer’s claim that he was tweeting during their interview. Clark assures me that he was not tweeting but in fact trading private messages with Rob Corddry about one of the writers, who apparently resembled another actor.