Fantastic Fest Interview: Ride with â€˜Broncosâ€™ Star Jemaine Clement
Posted by Adam Sweeney (firstname.lastname@example.org) on November 3, 2009
Press junkets can tend to be a drag. Having said that, we were particularly excited to get to interview Jemaine Clement, most notable for his hit band/television show â€œFlight of the Conchords.â€ Clement was in Austin for the premiere of Gentlemen Broncos at Fantastic Fest, where he steals the show as Dr. Ronald Chevalier, a critically acclaimed science fiction author that has run out of fresh ideas.
Chris Tilly from IGN UK and I teamed up during a chat outside to talk with Clement about the film, the pressure that comes with working on â€œFlight of the Conchordsâ€ and the recent news that FOTC will be featured on a Rock Band game in the future. Along the way, we ran into a scheming crow while the humble and always clever Clement let us into the world of Dr. Chevalier.
Chris Tilly: What was it like seeing the film last night?
I didnâ€™t see but about the last twenty minutes. We all went and had a dinner reunion because we all live in different places
[As Jemaine speaks, a crow approaches the table.]
Look at this ominous crow just spying. Heâ€™s probably from The Omen. He does have a beautiful color though. Heâ€™s sort of blue. I donâ€™t know why heâ€™s so angry.
Adam Sweeney: Heâ€™s probably going to steal all of the good parts of this interview. [Laughter]
Yeah, heâ€™ll take it to a witch. [Laughs]
AS: How did you prepare for this role?
I spent a lot of time looking at pictures of authors because the words are already there in the script. Youâ€™ve got how they talk, how they walk and what they were. Jared and Jerusha [Hess] are so specific about the characters. All I could decide was my hairstyle and my voice, just a little bit.
CT: As a Brit, I was hearing a little bit of James Mason and Michael York.
Michael York was a big influence. I am pretty sure Jared wanted Michael York to play the part. When you read it, it describes Michael York. Heâ€™s a guy in his 60s with silver hair in the script. So I didnâ€™t really envision myself playing it when I read the script.
CT: Is it hard to do the voice?
Yeah, I could hardly do it last night at the screening. I was like, â€˜how does it go?â€™ You have to imagine a plum is in your throat.
CT: Were you looking for something different than your â€œConchordsâ€ character?
I guess so.
CT: What was it about this script that particularly drew your attention?
Well, do you read scripts?
Then youâ€™ve probably read scripts of movies that are made. Thereâ€™s another level of scripts that arenâ€™t being made and theyâ€™re quite bad. But I donâ€™t think I read them well. Sometimes I think theyâ€™re going to be terrible, and theyâ€™re excellent. This one was just really different in their detail for the characters. I know this style of filmmaking isnâ€™t for everyone. Itâ€™s in a different universe. The characters arenâ€™t quite real. I really liked that. So many films are just boring real life versions. This takes real life and adds to it. But some people say, â€˜Thatâ€™s not real. It wouldnâ€™t happen.â€ But thatâ€™s what makes me like this script.
AS: They tend to highlight the eccentricities of people.
Right but theyâ€™re real. Like the guy who makes the films in the movie. Jared has a friend who does that stuff. He makes these films with terrible lasers. He does hundreds of these things. A lot of real life is in there. Some people think itâ€™s too much. I think itâ€™s perfect.
AS: Youâ€™ve written before. Do you have any plans on writing a screenplay in the future?
Yeah. I am working on one right now. At the time, I could really relate to Chevalier because we were right in the middle of Conchords and writing for the next season. I was like, â€˜I have to come up with twenty more songs and ten ideas!â€™
CT: Was it nice playing such a bastard?
Yeah, it was fun. I try to make him sympathetic. I wanted him to just be a guy who tries to make people inspired. But it was really fun picking on the kids in the class.
CT: That look you gave the girl was great.
You mean the troll girl? [Laughs]
CT: Yeah. You could feel the tragic side of him. Could you do a spin-off of Chevalier?
I donâ€™t know. [Speaking in the Dr. Chevalier voice] It would be very interesting. [And back to normal] But Iâ€™d like to see a Bronco and Brutus one. Those guys would be great to team up.
CT: Well, we know Sam Rockwell can handle two characters.
Right, Moon. I havenâ€™t seen that yet. I am so interested in it that I couldnâ€™t help but read things about it. They were hidden things.
AS: How have you dealt with the success of â€œFlight of the Conchordsâ€ given that the joke isâ€“
That weâ€™re not successful?
AS: Right, but then you have a party at The Highball for this film and youâ€™re doing a reading at Book People.
Isnâ€™t Book People a really small store? [Laughter] I wouldnâ€™t take that as a huge success to be in a small store, right?
AS: Well, I am sure it will be packed, right? [Laughter]
I was actually quite nervous doing the reading last night. I havenâ€™t done anything like that since school plays.
AS: If it goes bad you can start reading from The Crucible.
[Laughs] Only certain people watch the show, but I mean, I can walk around this place and nobody will recognize me. Itâ€™s only a small subsection of the TV watching populace.
CT: Whatâ€™s the status of the â€œConchords?â€
We donâ€™t know yet. We may do a short season or a sort of special. Like a Christmas special sort of thing. Maybe nothing.
CT: A friend of mine was interviewing Rhys Darby the other day in London and he was talking about the possibility of a movie.
Heâ€™s uncontrollable. [Laughter] We created a monster. But weâ€™ve been thinking about a movie. But it goes in stages. Iâ€™ve been doing this for five years and there are times where I say, â€˜I am never going to do this again. Iâ€™m not going to sing another silly song!â€™ Then time passes and we say, â€˜ya wanna do another? Hmm, maybeâ€¦â€™ It goes on, I do it and enjoy it, hate it. Never going to do it again. Do it again. I think of Larry David and how each season of â€˜Curb Your Enthusiasmâ€™ you have to take it one at a time because a hundred episodes is daunting. Right now I am in â€˜Iâ€™m not going to do it againâ€™ mode.
CT: I think of all the directions you could take into a film.
By all means, email them to me. [Laughter]
AS: Would you consider a dramatic role?
I love comedy but itâ€™s more as a fan of comedy. Thatâ€™s how I got into it, watching it. But I like taking on challenges. I wish I had come up with a more interesting word than challenges. [Laughter] But when youâ€™re scared of something, you have a reason to do it.
AS: It motivates you.
Yeah. You take steps to get over it. But yeah, I would do that. I havenâ€™t been actively looking for a dramatic part though.
CT: I had a question about Rock Band. You guys are going to be on Rock Band in the future, right? Do you know what songs are going to be on there?
Weâ€™re open to suggestions. Iâ€™d love to see what the results are. I hope they donâ€™t choose obscure ones. But I would love to get the payout for the â€œStairway to Heavenâ€ royalties.
AS: We will talk to Jimmy Page about giving you that part.
He has enough money already.
AS: Well, thanks for the interview.
Be sure to check out our interview with Dr. Ronald Chevalier himself.
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