Today: April 10, 2024

Deliver Us From Evil – Joel McHale Interview

Chilling it’s way onto DVD / Blu-ray on 5th January 2015 Deliver Us From Evil sees an all star cast including Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, Olivia Munn, Sean Harris and Community’s Joel McHale in this ghostly true story. FilmJuice caught up with Joel McHale to find out how it is going from his comedy background to all manner of horror in Deliver Us From Evil.

You’re co-star Eric Bana, he also comes from a background of improv, so is it interesting?
I don’t care about his background. (laughter) Yes, he is, that bastard is really talented. He’s one of those guys that is very, who can basically like, Luciano Pavarotti or Kathleen Battle who can sing every single octave. So he can be the most intimidating or deeply touching actor to watch but at the same time he has comedy chops like nobody’s business, and the only person that comes close I guess would be Matt Damon. But Eric’s impressions are really amazing. We had this one scene in our Police cruiser or in our SUV, where we improvised for about half an hour, forty-five minutes of just cop banter, and he improvised as Ralph Sarchie, in his full on Bronx accent. And it was something, really cool to be a part of and it was really something to watch. I didn’t really watch, I participated, and wow, that was really something. He threaded a needle that was very difficult. He showed great restraint as well, especially with his characters.

Has this shoot been interesting for you, because we know you as a funny guy, but this is a dramatic thriller and different from what we’ve seen you do…
Well, I think you said it in that it’s something different than you’ve seen. But I did 100 plays and I did guest stars where I played very different characters than what you see on The Soup or Community, but it is different, because my character is kind of nuts. He’s not necessarily in it to just stop crime. He enjoys fighting and he’s more than happy to kill people if he has permission to. So there’s that. So for me, I wasn’t like, this is so out of my comfort zone, I was more than thrilled. I was thrilled. So, this shoot has been very fun. It’s disorienting because we shoot mostly nights, and Eric, he’s in every single scene, so he is way more exhausted than I am. But it’s just been the time of my life. And Scott Derrickson, who is a very good friend of mine, the director and writer, all I dreamed of was doing a movie with him. So, it’s happening. And then you’ve got Olivia Munn and Edgar Ramirez in the show and it’s just ideal, I am just thrilled.

How did you get the part, how did you get the project?
Well, when Scott (director) wrote the role, he wrote it with me in mind to play it. And he wrote it as me, because I actually do have a knife collection in my house. I am not kidding and it’s a very large collection of illegal knives. Yep, I am a little weird. (laughter) So, ask anybody, and again, because it was not a typical casting, I had to read for it and thankfully, Scott was fighting for me and thankfully Jerry Bruckheimer and Clint Goldpepper and I guess Amy Pascal took pity on me and allowed me to be in the movie and I was just over the moon. I got to live in New York for a couple of months and play this great character, the opposite of Eric Bana, I felt like I had won some sort of prize, like I had won a lottery or something.

How about shooting in the Bronx?
It reminds me of Sienna (Italy). (laughter) Because, it’s a medieval city, it’s a walled city, it’s just like La Spezia (northern Italy region), except without the water. But the Bronx is a character in the movie, and the movie wouldn’t be the movie if we were shooting it somewhere else for the Bronx, and I think Scott was very deliberate and very smart about that, because Ralph Sarchie who it’s really based on, who is here right now, he is, he lives and breathes the Bronx. And we were setting up a scene where we find this horrific thing in a dumpster, and it’s a very heavy scene, and we are between two apartment buildings and someone just out of nowhere, a bottle just shatters right next to me and Eric, some threw it at us out the window and that’s called airmail, it’s called Bronx airmail, which happens to cops all the time, they get batteries thrown at them. I guess it’s better than it was, but yeah, someone threw a bottle. So I have had a ball and all of the people have been really cool, all the neighbors have been cool, everyone stays out and watches, it’s like, who are these two white guys running down the road? And the people are like, YOU are playing a Bronx cop? And I am like, the character has transferred to the Bronx just so he can fight more. So that’s why I am here with no accent. And in the relationship between me and Sarchie, I am wearing a Boston Red Sox hat, which I would be roasted for in the 46 Precinct, (laughter) which is exactly why I wore it, just to piss people off.

Did you spend time with Police agents to kind of get into the character?
I spent time with a friend of mine named Dave Hoffman, who I used to play college football with, who is one of the scariest people I know next to Ralph Sarchie. Dave could rip your arm off and beat you to death with it if he chose to. He trains secret service agents. So we did some stuff where he showed me different procedures and stuff, but having Ralph here is so valuable, and he’s the consultant, and so we would be working every time and Ralph has 100 stories, like we were in this apartment building last week and he was like, yeah, this was one of the bad ones. And they had just the regular entrance, where there was three inch thick bulletproof glass and I was like what the hell and he was like, well, people just take shots at security guards here. They shoot out their windows. And I’m like, is it better now, and he’s like yeah, it’s a lot better now, because we cleaned it up, we kicked everyone’s ass. So he’s been great.

Is your character based on a real character or is it an amalgamation of a bunch of people?
It’s based on the book. There’s no actual me, but he needed a partner and Ralph has had multiple partners, so there’s some things but the character was based on, according to Scott, my interactions with Scott, and how I am a smart ass to everybody. But it was no actual person.

Do you believe in demons and exorcisms?
I don’t believe in demons but I believe in exorcisms. Yeah, I think that stuff really scares me. You can show me a horrific murder scene, you can show me almost any video of something horrifically violent and I am like, yep. But if you tell me a horrific exorcism story, I will not sleep well. And I feel like I have a capacity to handle that sort of thing maybe more than average, but that stuff scares me.

Has there been a scene here that you shot, that kind of freaked you out?
Well I haven’t had to have those creepy conversations where you have in movies, my character is usually showing up, because it’s Sarchie who is tortured and I am always just kind of like, you okay? So he sees things that I don’t see, so I am always kind of checking on him, so actual filming, not yet, but, just reading the script, when I started reading the Mendoza/Sarchie conversations, that gives me the willies, bad.

Do you have many scenes with Edgar (Ramirez)?
No, I don’t have much dialogue with him, in one scene I make fun of him. I think we have three scenes where I am just kind of there, and I am like hey Reverend, so, I am kind of like, Sarchie, we need to go, so it’s always at the end, the beginning or something. Edgar is such a great actor, I can still tell people that I am in scenes with him, because technically, it’s true.

And what about Olivia (Munn), did you have any scenes with her?
One very brief scene at the end. Cause I am always on patrol and Sarchie is never with his wife on patrol. And there’s another actor on the show named Chris Coy who is just, wait till you see this guy, he’s amazing, his character, and then Sean Harris, I don’t know if you have seen any of his work, but the man is amazing. He can do things that a lot of actors can’t do and he’s playing Santino. He’s quite impressive, and really funny actually in real life.

Because you have known Scott for such a long time, what is it like to finally have him direct you?
He’s an asshole, doesn’t know what he’s doing. (laughter) It’s such a pleasant surprise, because I had been on one of his sets and seen him work and I was like wow Scott knows what he’s doing. I know you hear this all the time, but he does really know how to talk to actors, and he just knows the language and he’s very calm on set, he knows exactly what he wants, it’s so good when you have a director who knows what he wants. I have worked with, not name dropping, Steven Soderbergh, thank you, (laughter) and Soderbergh only does like one or two takes. If you get it, if you get what he wants, he just moves right on. And that’s exactly what Scott does. When he sees what he wants, then he’s got it. He’s not one of those guys that shoots forever and then hopes to find it in the editing room, he’s already edited it in his head and he’s got, for as heavy as the material is, he’s a real light and funny guy and that’s why I am good friends with him and so it’s been just great.

Are you excited to just finish up with this and then go right into another season of Community?
I think you are forgetting that I am doing the Adam Sandler movie, Blended right after this, thank you. I am having a ball here, so I will look back at this as kind of like a wonderful summer camp time, fun thing, so I know I will be kind of sad when it’s over, because it was such a good experience, so the sequel. But, yeah then I am home for less than a week and then I go to Georgia to shoot the Adam Sandler movie, thank you for casting me Adam Sandler, (laughter) and then I am home and I think I return home the day before I start shooting Community. I have a few days. So the principal shooting on Community is on the 20th and then we have the table read and all the fittings and all those meetings the week before, so I will go into that. But believe me, it’s not hard. I’m not saying it’s easy, that’s the wrong word, I love working, so I am thrilled. And it was great because my family was able to join me here, so it was kind of like a vacation and a summer in New York. It was really ideal, other than the weather, which melted my children, (laughter) so no, working on a movie is really as much fun and making a movie is such a privilege, and when people talk about how hard it is, it’s like, what are we really talking about here? Are you a ship breaker in Mumbai? I just read about them, which sounds like the worst thing ever, but they take derelict ships and they literally just have to cut them apart into pieces this big, and I am so blessed to be able to be in a movie at all.

Physically did you have to change your shape?
Yeah. I am now oval. (laughter) Sometimes I am a hexagon. Yes, cause my character is a droid, and I can just remove, (laughter) we borrowed a lot from Star Trek the Next Generation. (laughter) Brent Spiner is going to be pissed. Eric is in really good shape, I was in pretty good shape, but my character, since he’s an ex-Army Ranger, and likes to fight people, he should be in good shape. So yeah, I have been going to the gym a lot. And this woman, this very petite woman named Ally Gritz is kicking my ass all over the place. And I have been sore for about four weeks in a row, cause she just hits a new muscle group each day, and I am like, I didn’t even know I had those. So I actually haven’t changed weight, but I’ve definitely been lifting weights.

From a nerd perspective, so scary wise, is this on a scale from one to ten, what do you think that the fans can kind of expect to experience?
I don’t know, I think it depends on who you are, it’s not a boo movie, and it’s not going to be like Sinister, I mean there’s very violent cop procedurals, we are trying to solve a crime, and then there just happens to be this very crazy, with a demonic in it, I know there will be some very scary scenes, but it’s not going to be a horror movie. You will be scared. I know my wife will be not happy, she will be scared in the movie theater and not happy.

What are you own favorite horror movies?
Well, Session Nine was one of my favorites. It was great. Session Nine 2, not as good. No, they didn’t make one (laughter).

Deliver Us From Evil is available to buy from 5th January 2015, click HERE to order your copy.

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