Interview date: 10/21/2008
Run date: 11/21/2008
Whether you know him from “Kids in the Hall,” “NewsRadio,” one of his many films or one of his countless TV guest appearances, it’s probable that you’ll immediately recognize the face of Dave Foley from something or other. In addition to his occasional reunion tours with the Kids, Foley has continued to pop up on this show and that, and his latest gig is on, of all places, “Stargate: Atlantis.” Bullz-Eye had the opportunity to talk to Foley about going sci-fi, asked about his favorite “NewsRadio” episode, found out what it was like to work with Uwe Boll on “Postal,” and got the scoop on the possibility of another Kids in the Hall production.
Bullz-Eye: Hey Dave, how’s it going?
Dave Foley: I’m good, Will. How are you doing?
BE: I’m doing very well. It’s a pleasure to talk to you. We were actually supposed to talk eons ago, when “Can’t Sleep with Dave Foley” first premiered.
DF: Oh, really?
DF: Well, I’m sorry we didn’t get to.
BE: I still promote that show to anyone who’ll listen, however.
DF: Oh thank you.
BE: Great show, and a ton of great music on there, too.
DF: Oh, thank you. Yeah, I wish I had done more of those.
BE: So, anyway, you’re going to be on “Stargate: Atlantis .” How did that come to pass? You’re not really a sci-fi guy, per se, as far as your past roles go.
DF: No, not in terms of my work, but I’m a big sci-fi fan. I love, love, love science fiction. So they just called and asked me if I would play a part, and I got on a plane.
BE: Had you been a fan of “Stargate: Atlantis,” specifically?
DF: I’ve watched the show, but I didn’t watch it all the time. But I have watched the show. I have probably seen, like, 10 episodes.
BE: Okay, so tell me a little bit about your character, Malcolm Tunney.
DF: Malcolm Tunney…well, he’s sort of a scientist, who’s also a bit of a showman and a bit of an egotist, who sort of has a tendency to sort of borrow ideas. And he inadvertently borrows ideas and almost destroys the Earth. But I don’t want to give away too much.
BE: I understand. How much green screen work was involved for you with the episode?
DF: None. There was no green screen for us. Just a lot of ducking at some things that weren’t there, but we didn’t do any green screen, because the episode takes place on Earth in the current day. Which was a little disappointing. It would have been fun. I never even got to see the Atlantis.
BE: But you did get to wear a tux.
DF: I wore a tux, which I always enjoy. I like wearing a tux.
BE: You cut a very Bond-ian figure.
DF: Why, thank you, thank you. So you have seen the episode?
DF: See, I haven’t seen it yet.
BE: Well, I don’t have a final cut, but I’ve got an approximation of it, anyway.
DF: Without all of the effects, you mean?
BE: Right, exactly.
DF: So you’ve seen us pretending to duck.
BE: (Laughs) So you did enjoy the experience of working on the show then?
DF: I did; it was great. I mean it was a great bunch of people and it was fun to get to go to Vancouver. It was great to be working with Bill Nye, he was cool, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, I’m a big admirer of his. (Pauses) I’m sort of a science geek.
BE: Was there anyone in the cast that you had worked with previously on any other project?
DF: No, no, I had never met anyone on the show or worked with any of them before, so it was a lot of fun.
BE: Now you do do a lot of guest appearances on various shows. Do you find it easy or difficult to walk into a show in that manner?
DF: Usually, it’s pretty easy. I think I’m fortunate to do a guest role when you’re I guess known by the people on the show; they make you feel very at home. I think if I was an actor…I think it would be different when you’re just like an actor walking on to the set for a part, then I would feel insecure; like an outsider. But they made me feel very much at home.
BE: And you’re on the new season of “Robson Arms.”
DF: Yeah, I guess the final season of “Robson Arms.”
BE: Is that coincidence?
DF: I don’t know. It’s probably my fault.
BE: (Laughing) Just don’t sign anything to that effect. So do you participate in Canadian projects on a regular basis, or are you still predominantly a Hollywood guy?
DF: Well I mostly live in L.A., but I like to go work in Canada whenever I can. You know, it’s always nice to just get up there; whether it’s Toronto or Vancouver, it’s just nice to be in Canada for a little bit…although most of the time it’s going up to do Hollywood shows shot in Canada.
BE: So I don’t know if you’ve heard, but they just released “NewsRadio: The Complete Series” on DVD. Like, as one big package.
DF: Oh, you mean like a box set?
BE: Yeah. Unfortunately, it’s in Sony’s fabulously cheap new packaging, which is basically all the DVDs on one spindle with cardboard wrapped around them.
DF: Oh, really?
DF: Well, that just sounds terrible.
BE: It’s inexpensive, though…as well it should be. Did you enjoy revisiting the show to do the special features on the original DVD releases?
DF: Oh, yeah, it was a great show. Well, anytime any of us from “NewsRadio” get together, we usually have a lot of fun. You know, we’re all pretty tight. And a lot of the episodes that we did commentary on, I had never watched. You know, I didn’t usually watch the show after we would…I wouldn’t usually sit down and watch the show when it was on TV. A lot of them, I hadn’t seen.
BE: Do you have a particular favorite episode within the series?
DF: I have a real soft spot for the Titanic episode. You know, I mean, I think it was a lot of fun to do, and it was also the last episode with Phil (Hartman), so I’ve got a real fondness for that episode.
BE: Does it feel a little spooky watching it, though?
DF: It does a little, you know. It’s one of those weird things where I’ll forget he’s dead while I’m watching it. Which is kind of nice.
BE: The ensemble seemed to really mesh spectacularly from the get-go. Did it feel that way when you first set foot on the stage?
DF: From the first table read. We all meshed immediately. It was like we all had been friends for 10 years, right from the first day of rehearsals.
BE: What are your thoughts on the last season of the show? I mean, do you think there are still some classic episodes within those?
DF: I think there was some good stuff from the last season. I don’t think it’s as good as the earlier years. You know, I think some of the story lines got a little bit far afield, I guess. We did some good stuff, but it definitely was different from the other years.
BE: I wanted to ask you about working on “Postal” with Uwe Boll. What was that experience like? Because he’s definitely quite a character.
DF: He is. I mean, I didn’t know anything about him when they first sent me the script. Then I read the script, and I liked the script, and then I went online and started reading about all these people that hated him. So I said out loud, “Well, if that many people hate him, then it would be kind of fun to work with him.” And he’s one of the sweetest guys you could ever meet, really, and he’s kind of a German intellectual, you know. The movies are kind of artifacts, but the real art is his relationship with the press and, you know, gaming nerds. Like, his real art is this dialogue with these people that hate him.
BE: You’ve done, as I was saying a minute ago, plenty of one-off appearances in various TV shows. Do you have any particular favorites among the bunch that really stand out as highlights?
DF: Oh, gosh, it’s hard to say; I had fun with all of them. Well, I really enjoyed doing “The New Adventures of Old Christine” because I got to make out with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, so that was fun.
BE: Did you enjoy working on “Scrubs?”
DF: Oh, yeah, that was really fun. They also shot that show, like, right in my backyard. My commute to work on that show was literally a three minute walk.
BE: We have a mutual acquaintance, by the way: I’m friends with Seth Gordon from The Mockers.
DF: (Surprised) Oh, yeah?
BE: Yeah. He once told me about it, and I can’t remember if it was International Pop Overthrow or if it was Poptopia, but…
DF: Poptopia, yeah.
BE: And you hung out with him and some of the guys from The Merrymakers, I believe.
DF: Yeah, I had everyone up to my house in the hills, back in the day. Yeah, we hung out quite a bit. Those guys are great. Are you still in touch with Seth?
BE: Absolutely. He lives only a few miles away from me.
DF: Oh, well, please say “hi” to him for me.
BE: Absolutely. You know, they’re rather big in Spain nowadays.
DF: They are?
BE: Yeah, seriously, they are.
DF: Well, they’re a great pop band.
BE: You’re a power pop aficionado, I guess?
DF: Well, I love…yeah, I’m a big music fan, of all genres. But I definitely used to really enjoy going out to the Poptopia festival.
BE: Who are you listening to these days?
DF: These days? Let me think who I’ve listened to lately. Well, there’s a band from Canada that’s putting out their first CD coming up called Hollerado, I actually did a video with them, and they are fantastic; I did a video with them parodying the guy that runs American Apparel. And who else do I listen to? The National, I really like; I think those guys are great. I love Franz Ferdinand.
BE: Speaking of music, when you were doing the “Can't Sleep with Dave Foley,” you had both Jon Brion and Jason Falkner on the show.
BE: How did you come to pick the guests for the show? Was it just a matter of literally checking in with friends to see if they would be up for doing it?
DF: Yes, I’ve been friends with Jason…actually I met Jason during Poptopia, too, years ago. I’ve been friends with Jason for a long time, and also I had met Jon Brion through Aimee Mann years ago, and we’ve been friends for 10 years. Yeah, so it was pretty much just calling up friends and saying, “Would you mind doing this for me?” We shot all the music in one day. And I had been friends with Rilo Kiley…I met them when they did their first gig together at Spaceland. I was blown away by them, so I hung around and talked to them after the show, and we got to be friends. Yeah, basically everyone performed in one night in my backyard. I had all the lighting and it was kind of great; it was great. And, also, Jon Brion and Jason Falkner used to be in a really great band together called The Grays, but they hadn’t really talked to each other in years, so actually them hanging out in my backyard was, like, the first time they had really been in the same place and talked to each other in a long, long time.
BE: Wow, that’s very cool. So with Kids in the Hall, do you still enjoy doing the occasional reunion show?
DF: Oh, yeah. Yeah, we just did this last tour, and it was a lot of fun. The thing I liked most for the last tour was that we wrote all…well, it was almost all brand new material. So we actually wrote for the tour, and it was going out and doing new sketches in front of an audience with the Kids, so it was great. And I should say that we’re still planning on doing some more stuff together in the future.
BE: Do you think another movie would ever be in the cards? I know you were kinda iffy on the original film.
DF: Yeah, well, I think we would like to do another movie; unfortunately, the first one lost so much money that it’s hard. We’re talking right now about doing a mini-series back home in Canada. We might do an eight-part mini-series that sort of…we went with one sort of a story line, you know, a continuing narrative, and it follows us well. We’re going to do that, and hopefully we’ll sell that down in the States as well.
BE: How much poker did you end up learning during “Celebrity Poker Showdown?”
DF: Remarkably little, considering how many hours of poker I watched, and considering how hard Phil tried to teach me. I’m remarkably dense. I pride myself on how little I learned.
BE: Of the little you learned, which of the Phils did you learn the most from?
DF: Phil Gordon, of course, because I did the bulk of the shows with Phil. Phil Hellmuth was just there for the last six episodes. So it was definitely Phil Gordon. And, also, Phil Gordon is much taller than Phil Hellmuth. Phil Hellmuth is just a squat little six-foot-five, you know, where Phil Gordon is a proper height of six-nine.
BE: Some day very soon, I think my daughter will be very impressed that I talked to the man who voiced Flik in “A Bug’s Life.”
DF: Yeah, my daughter is impressed.
BE: (Laughs) Is that sarcasm or not?
DF: No she tells everyone. When we go to Disneyland and we go to the Bugs Land over at California Adventure, she gets a kick out of that. She explains that her dad is Flik.
BE: Do you enjoy doing voiceover work?
DF: Yeah, it’s harder than I thought it would be when I went in to do it. It’s a weird kind of situation, where you’re standing alone in a room; you know, acting with no other actors around. Everything has to be in your imagination; you really have to depend pretty heavily on the director to make sure you’re not making an ass of yourself. Especially with “A Bug’s Life.” John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton, you know, they would always be sitting there in the room with me and they would do the other character voices. And they were brilliant at keeping the whole movie in their heads; you know, it’s just an amazing task.
BE: Do you look forward to the possibility of doing more dramatic work in the future? I know you’ve done bits and pieces here and there.
DF: Yeah, it would be fun to do more. I mean, I did “In Plain Sight” with Mary McCormack, and that was a lot of fun. And doing “Stargate” was nice. They both had lighthearted elements to them, but it would be fun to do something that’s not comedic at all.
BE: I know years ago you did “From the Earth to the Moon.”
DF: Yeah I loved that show. That was the coolest gig ever. Not only was it a great show, but I got to hang out with a man who was on the moon every day. Dave Scott was our technical advisor, and he was the commander of Apollo 15. So we got to hang out and just pump him with questions. And being on the moon…that’s a pretty cool thing and, you know, only 12 people did it. So that was amazing.
BE: When you were on “Thank God You’re Here,” were any of the contestants just a complete car wreck? I mean, you don’t necessarily have to name names, though feel free to do so if you like.
DF: Yeah, one was, and I won’t name names, but one person had a horrible experience. And we actually had another set standing by, and another scenario, so we offered that up and did a second chance.
BE: Was that any better?
DF: Only somewhat. I wish that show had gone longer. For me, it was especially a great gig, because we would do two shows in a night, and I only had to show up a couple of hours before the show, because all it ever said on the prompter was, “Dave adlibs.” So I didn’t have to learn anything, and I’d get to watch other people be funny, so it was a great gig.
BE: Last question: what’s the favorite project that you worked on that didn’t get the love that you thought it deserved?
DF: Probably a movie I did called “The Wrong Guy.”
BE: You know, I have that on VHS.
DF: Yeah? Yeah, that’s one of my favorite things, and it was shelved by Disney at the time because of internal politics at Disney. They shut down Hollywood Pictures in the middle of our production, and then reopened it with a new executive. So the new executive didn’t want to deal with any of the stuff the old executive was in charge of, so it got kind of buried for five years. No one saw it for five years.
BE: There’s a bit of trivia about that on IMDb that says that you were originally scheduled to direct it.
DF: No, I don’t think I ever planned on directing it.
BE: What? The internet has perpetuated a lie?
DF: (Laughs) Yeah, I mean, I co-wrote it and co-produced it with my writing partners, Dave Higgins and Jay Kogen. The three of us wrote it and produced it. I got to star in it, which is nice. And then I was thrilled to be able to hire one of my comic heroes, David Steinberg, to direct it. I grew up watching him on “The Tonight Show” and on his own TV series. Especially being Canadian. David’s quite a legend in Canada.
BE: Oh, definitely. So were you the one who got Barenaked Ladies to appear in that film?
DF: Yes, and they were great. They were on tour, and they wrote that song for it; they are great guys.
BE: Excellent. Well, it’s been a pleasure talking to you Dave. I’m glad I finally actually got to speak with you.DF: Yeah, nice talking to you!