Most audiences envy the life of a movie star. The glamor, the prestige, the gift baskets, the royalty checks. It’s a good gig if you can get it. But it’s also a colossal pain once in a while, like when you’re stranded in a hotel room all day, while journalists file in and out, asking you the same damned questions over and over again. The trade off may be worth it, but it’s safe to say that press junkets probably aren’t high on the list of a typical celebrity’s favorite things.
So coming in at the very end of a press day can be a curious thing. The actors are sometimes exhausted, but also very often eager to talk about just about anything else besides the movie they’re here to promote. It was on one of these occasions that I found Bill Hader, the star of the big summer comedies Inside Out and Trainwreck, stretching his legs after a very, very long day of being grilled about his anxieties.
Bill Hader plays the living embodiment of fear in Pixar’s latest film, about what goes on inside a young girl’s mind when she moves to a new and unfamiliar town. We talked a little bit about Inside Out, a little bit about the upcoming animated film The Good Dinosaur, a little bit about the films he wishes he could introduce on Turner Classic Movies, and a lot about Trainwreck. But since we talked about major spoiler scenes for Trainwreck, that part of CraveOnline’s interview with Bill Hader will be put on hold until closer to the Amy Schumer/Judd Apatow comedy’s release.
Inside Out is now playing in theaters.
CraveOnline: Long day?
Bill Hader: Yeah, really long.
I’m so sorry.
Oh, that’s all right. Yeah, no, I’ll be all right.
This is the part I don’t envy you.
Yeah. People say, “That must be fun.” And I’m like, I just answer the same questions all day. But it is fun.
I must say I do like being the last interview of the day, because I get to ask what the most common questions were.
Oh yeah. “What do you fear?” “What do you fear” was big one. “How did you react when you read the script and saw that you wanted to play Fear?” [Thinks.] Yeah, those were the two big ones.
What do you fear?
Oh, son of a bitch…
I’m not going to do it. It’s lame. But it is an interesting project though, because you get to play composite parts of the same person, and I’m wondering how that affects your performance. Are you looking at how the other emotions are playing, or are you trying to purely play anxiety?
Just play your person, yeah. I didn’t know how the other people were playing their stuff. I didn’t hear it. They would never play us, like, “Well, here’s what Amy [Poehler] did in the scene.” They would never do anything like that. Yeah, it was just different. But I think what helped me was that they said he’s like a middle management guy. You know? He’s like a guy who wants to be a leader but just doesn’t have the wherewithal to do it, so he’s just a bunch of anxiety and he’s freaked out all the time.
That seems apropos. It makes the costume make a lot of sense, I think.
When they said that I remember Pete Docter drew a little bow tie on him. “You know, he’s like this.” I’m like, “Yeah. I got it.”
Do you have any input on that kind of thing, or is it all decided without you?
Those guys are geniuses. What am I going to say! [Laughs.]
You’ve worked with them before, on Monsters University…
Well, this [Inside Out] was the movie that I worked with them on, and then Monsters U came like, “Oh, Hader’s around. Do you want to do this little slug character in Monsters U?” and I’m like, “Okay, yeah, sure.”
But then you’ve got Good Dinosaur. You must have a good relationship with them.
Good Dinosaur I don’t know if I’m [in it]. I recorded that like two years ago, so I don’t know. I’m sure that they’ve rewritten a bunch of it so I don’t know if I’m still in it.
Really? That’s an odd thing. I know you’ve been in a lot of animation. Have you been completely written out of stuff before?
Yeah. I’ve done full movies and been replaced.
I can’t tell! [Laughs.] I’m not going to tell you.
It’s all secretive…?
I just don’t want to tell because then it becomes a thing.
It becomes a bit of trivia.
Yeah, and then the person replaced me goes, “Oh, I didn’t know I replaced you” and stuff.
It gets super awkward.
You do stuff on Turner Classic Movies. What’s a movie you’ve always wanted to show on TCM that you haven’t yet?
Oh man. The Merry Widow, Ernst Lubitsch movie. I’ve always wanted to show that and I’ve never been able to. They play it sometimes but I’ve never been able to show [it]. I think that movie is so unbelievably funny. That would be one that I would like to show. And another one I would like to show is Kes.
I’ve never seen Kes.
You have to watch it with subtitles. It’s heavy, heavy, heavy Yorkshire accents. But it’s a Ken Loach movie and it is unbelievable. It’s unbelievable. Tonally it shouldn’t work because it goes really wacky comedy to incredibly brutal scenes. But it does and it’s gorgeous and all the performances are phenomenal.
Kes has the one moment in a movie… it’s in a classroom with this kid where he describes training a kestrel to the class, that is one of the true – and this is going to sound super pretentious but it’s just true – one of the truly transcendent moments in a movie, where you’re just not watching actors, you’re not watching anything. It just penetrates to this other place and it’s incredibly moving. I showed it to my wife because the Criterion Blu-ray came out. I go, “We just got the Criterion Blu-ray of Kes, we have to watch this.” That moment came up and she was just, like, floored. It ended and she went, “Oh my God.” She exhaled afterward. She went, “How the hell did that guy do that?”
Yeah. Ken Loach.
I’ll have to check that out.
It’s good stuff.