Plex What were your influences when you were writing the film?
DM Everything from Bill Murray to Rodney Dangerfield to Ghostbusters. That last one was a film where we were trying to match here. There's comedy, it's crazy but the laughs are rooted in some sort of reality. Whatever the reality of this world the key is to play it as straight as you can. I prefer comedies that play like that. I caught Krull the other day. Is that the sort of film you were after?
DM We watched Krull, Excalibur and Beastmaster, countless times. They were always on. I would come home at night, eat and not even watch it – it was like always there, seeping into the subconscious. I was particularly into the blade – they don't really make swords like that any more.
Do you remember Hawk the Slayer?
DM Totally, I loved that film – it doesn't hold up well, does it, but it's still amazing. And there was Sword and the Sorcerer, that was another one that we watched a lot. We wanted a weapon as bas-ass as the one in that. Remember? It has a sword with three blades that separate and shoot off as a weapon. How do you reload something like that?
You'd have to ask your victim politely if you could retrieve it... not very practical.
DM Not very practical at all!
Are you predicting more adventures with this?
DM It depends on what the following becomes with this movie. We had a lot of fun making it. The atmosphere was light and fun and we'd love to align the family again. We'll see. We'd love to make a space sci-fi...
It's the kind of film that would work great after you've been to the pub, had a few beers...
DM Absolutely, that's how we designed it. It's a movie you could throw on time and time again when you've got a buzz on, and come in and come out of. That'd be cool if we could fulfil that for pot heads.
How much material didn't make it into the movie?
DM Lots. There's a whole sequence when Justin Theroux's character drinks a potion to get dragon sperm, that's when his eyes are all fucked up during the Fuckening. We cut that for time, and there was a second death that he had that we cut out, too. His character comes back and he lays an egg out of his asshole and a retarded dragon is born who burns his face off and he dies. I kill the dragon...
Why on earth did you cut that...?
DM The movie ended too many times...
Like Lord of the Rings...
DM Exactly – we hadn't earned it after three hours or however long it was like they did. So that's all for the DVD.
How much of the dialogue was improvised?
DM There was a plan and we followed that. But there was no rehearsal, everything was cross camera coverage and we edited around it. The cast is amazing. Did you get on well with Franco?
DM I worked with him before on Pineapple Express, obviously. He's a good dude, he makes me laugh, he doesn't take himself too seriously, he doesn't care about looking too sharp all the time. That's exciting to work with.
He's such a ridiculously talented guy but kudos to you because you found one thing that he absolutely, definitely cannot do. He cannot sing.
DM Oh yes, we broke him. He can't sing for shit.
What did you think about the negative reaction he got after the Oscars?
DM That whole thing – it was unfair. He would have been like I would have been like if I would have done it. I thought he was really funny.
You're getting into the mainstream now. Are people recognising you?
DM I get a lot of people from Eastbound and Down, and now it's gotten bigger I can't get drunk in bars because I get pictures taken... [laughs] Eastbound is the thing that changed everything and I guess it'll get worse with this. Speaking of Eastbound – how's your baseball?
DM Terrible. I can't throw a baseball for shit... We should've made him a country singer, I could have faked that. I can lip synch better than I can throw a fastball!
Birmingham's own Ras Hardiker plays Prince Thaddeus' much abused sidekick, Courtney. When we got him off what appears to be a cherished subject – WWE wrestling – he was full of enthusiasm for the film and the fun he had making it.
Plex So how was it?
Ras This is the first time I've seen the finished film, this evening.
Wow. You must be over the moon.
Ras I am. It was one of the greatest jobs I've ever done, it was so much fun. I could go nuts on improv and work with these guys and just enjoy it. Some many creative minds that kind of wanted me in the mix – it was very surreal. I've just been an idiot all my life and now I'm getting paid for it. It became a pissing contest on set, who could make people laugh the hardest and the most. Everyone was just incredible.
You've worked with Justin Theroux before.
Ras Yeah, we just did a job with Steve Coogan on an HBO pilot called Documental. Justin and I played a German crew and Steve was the subject. It was great. And it was great having that opportunity again in a different scenario.
You're in a lot of the film.
Ras I know. It's amazing. I've done a lot of niche British comedy but to do this and to be accepted and to be put into the edit – it's really nice. The majority of me thinks I don't deserve this, I'm just a 26 year old dickhead from Birmingham.
So how did you get the job?
Ras I auditioned for it nearly two years ago to the day in London and met Danny and David and a couple of producers and just went nuts with it. Just the audition was a dream come true but after it, you know, I thought it had probably gone badly....
You didn't feel like you'd got the job?
Ras There are two ways to look at it. You can come out like Johnny Big Bollocks, not big-headed but you think it went well, but then you never get the job. But other times, say you accidentally vomited on the director, it's a total disaster but then you end up getting the job – so you really never know. But this was one of those cases where the rapport was instant and I thought to myself that it went well... It was a quick process.
What was it like working with David?
Ras He's such a visionary. Look, he's my friend but I'm not joking when I say this: he is an absolute genius when it comes to improv. Technically as well, he knows where he is going to cut, he knows camera angles...I was in awe of how quickly he got onto it. Pineapple Express was his big hit beforehand and I found out quickly that he's such an amazing creative genius – you can't learn the stuff he knows. You either have it or you don't. He just gets it. It's not like acting – anyone can act.
Oh no, I disagree...
Ras It's true! Come and be a zombie on this thing I'm doing at the moment.
Tell me more...
Ras It's called Cockneys v Zombies. First time director, Honor Blackman's in it – it's great, it's fun. I'm playing the cockney who's killing the zombies. [Adopts hard-nut cockney accent]. ‘Ave it, you slaaag!
You're only supposed to blow the bloody heads off....
Ras Exactly. My brother and I are trying to save our granddad's care home from financial distresss. I'm playing a hardnut as opposed to Courtney, who's a pussy. Sounds awesome!
RR It is. Totally. I can't wait for people to see it.
Back onto Your Highness: I loved your ‘triangle face' – do you think it could be the new ‘Blue Steel?'
Ras I'd love it if there was. I've always done it since I was a kid. We improv'd it and it seemed to go down well.
And what was it like to bring Natalie Portman down to your level?
Ras Amazing. To see her saying ‘it's burning in my beaver...' Hilarious. But that's the thing about her, there is a side of her personality that is just like that. There was a lot of laughing that day. She's one of the lads as well – very very funny, very nice, no bullshit. She has this side of her that is so askew to what people think. People like her and Franco, they can say pussy and talk dirty and then go and do really serious, harrowing roles – that's why people like them deserve to do well, get nominated and win.
There's a joke about every ten seconds in Your Highness.
Ras Absolutely. And there's the foul language. That's half the fun of it, taking this really foul stuff and putting it in a medieval context. But that's what these guys do so well. This is going to be a comedy cult – these guys have a niche market and a dedicated, wide audience. People know Pineapple Express and this is going to go into the same angle. It doesn't pretend to be anything it's not – it can't be compared to anything else.
Are you enjoying seeing you face on buses?
Ras The advertising is everywhere, it's amazing. I'm really proud of Your Highness and I can't wait for people to see it. Let people watch it and then see what you think. Watch it and make up your mind..
An Audience with McBride
Lost in the Multiplex was invited to a Blogger's Round Table to celebrate the release of Your Highness, the new comedy featuring the comic talents of Danny McBride, Justin Theroux and Ras Hardiker and featuring a faintly ridiculous array of talent: James Franco, Natalie Portman, Charles Dance, Damien Lewis, Toby Jones.
Danny and Ras regaled representatives of the blogosphere with tales of derring do and derring don't over a bevy of delicious Badger beers supplied by Dorset brewery Hall and Woodhouse. Plex went home late and not looking forward to the hangover he knew he was going to suffer the morning after.
Plex – the Scarlet Pimpernel of movie reviewing. He’s worked in the industry since the turn of the century, has a black book of contacts worth killing for, and isn’t afraid to give duff films both barrels. Harrison Ford called him ‘that little shit’ and he once trod on Johnny Depp’s foot. That’s just how he rolls.
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