Chances are, if you're reading this article, then you know who Andy Samberg is, or at least recognize him. One of the hottest young talents in the current crop of Saturday Night Live cast members, Andy is best known to many for his starring role alongside Chris Parnell in the "Lazy Sunday" video, a digital short that aired on SNL and then became an overnight internet sensation and one of the first viral videos, which was followed the next year with the now Emmy-nominated Justin Timberlake duet, "Dick in a Box". However, before SNL, Andy was part of The Lonely Island comedy troupe, whose other two members Jorma Taccone and Akiva Shaffer also work at the NBC saturday night staple as writers. Now Andy, like so many SNL'ers before him, is making the jump to the big screen in the upcoming comedy Hot Rod, co-starring Taccone and directed by Shaffer, and as such was making the publicity rounds in support of it.
ShowbizMonkeys.com was lucky enough to be granted time to talk to him when he hit Toronto, and since our webmaster Paul Little was such a fan of the Lonely Island man, I let him tag along virtually as I was scared I'd be fired if I didn't. This of course added more logistical troubles, trying to get the three parties in different cities on the phone at the same time without a sophisticated conference call system, and the constant worry that if I pressed the wrong button, I'd lose Andy and be stuck with an interview with Paul -- who is funny in his own right, but is not starring in the movie and probably wouldn't have much to say about it. It all worked out in the end and here's how it went down...
Publicist: Mark, I've got Andy, hang on!
Mark McLeod: Excellent. Okay.
Andy Samberg: Hello?
Mark: Hey Andy, it's Mark from ShowbizMonkeys.com. I've also got Paul Little, our webmaster from the site -- here's here too.
Andy: Hello Paul.
Mark: Hey Paul, are you there?
Paul Little: Hello.
Mark: It worked. *all laughs* Paul is actually in a third city and not here with me in person.
Mark: I made the conference call work.
Andy: Excellent, I love it.
Mark: I wanted to start off by asking how your Lonely Island comedy troupe came into existence.
Andy: Myself, Akiva, and Jorma all grew up together in Berkley, California, and you know we were friends pretty much from junior high and high school. Then we all went off to college and sort of reconvened after college and sort of realized we all wanted to try and do comedy, basically. So we decided to move to L.A. together and (get) an apartment together where we started to shoot stuff.
Mark: Were you shooting this stuff for any purpose, or just sort of shooting it in hopes it would lead to something?
Andy: Well we thought that we'd have some stuff to put together a reel and show it to agents to get interest. Simultaneously with that, we put together a website, TheLoneyIsland.com, and put the stuff up there for the same purpose.
Mark: So you have the website, and the internet has obviously been good to you guys with your own website, Channel101, and of course the whole viral video hit "Lazy Sunday", which was a massive smash and made you one of the one of the go to guys in terms of comedy. The "it" people, so to speak.
Andy: The "it" folk. *laughs*
Mark: Of course, with that, Paramount is sort of going that way with the marketing on Hot Rod, with a number of websites and of course you chatting with us today. Can you talk a bit about the internet presence for Hot Rod?
Andy: There's the main Hot Rod site, a MySpace page, and then StuntmanForever. StuntmanForever is basically a site we (The Lonely Island) oversee ourselves. It's sort of our baby. The MySpace page, we gave the studio the foundation for it, and now they are obviously using it a lot more. And the main site, we told them to do whatever they please. They've been great and gotten really awesome creative people and made our stuff come to life. Jorma put together those cool little videos for StuntmanForever.com, which I really like, and that's pretty much what's going on with that.
Paul: It's Paul here now. I'm just curious about making videos for the internet and posting them yourselves, and then doing the same thing but knowing they're going to have to air on network television.
Andy: Ha ha. The hope is that we don't change it too much. A lot of the time, the difference will be (that) there will be a lot of bleeps. But as far as I'm concerned, that's a good sign that they are letting us do stuff anyway.
Paul: So content wise, it's the same.
Andy: I feel it's been pretty consistent with what we used to do. Content wise, it can't be quite as nutty, obviously. It's got to be something that 30 years worth of SNL fans can get behind. So in that regard, it gets maybe a little less random and and a little less crazy, but I don't know, I think we've been pretty pleased with how much we still like the stuff we've been doing there with the digital shorts. We come out and do something like "Roy Rules" or that thing where I'm making out with the dog (and) it feels pretty much people are accepting of us doing weirder stuff, which is awesome.
Mark: Now Hot Rod of course is your first major motion picture and is being produced by your day boss Lorne Micheals. How did you become involved with the project, and did it come around before or after you sort of hit it big?
Andy: Well the script itself was around before. It's written by this lady Pam Brady, who wrote Team America and the South Park movie, which are like awesomely fantastic. It was originally developed for Will Ferrell, but it never panned out, so Lorne had it with Paramount and when I first got SNL, I took a meeting with Paramount and they suggested I read it. I did and loved it. They weren't pulling the trigger, but they knew that I liked it, and then Lazy Sunday happened and they were like, "would the three of you guys want to take this on?" and we did.
Paul: Getting into that, it's kind of rare that people get to work together with their friends, not just in Hollywood...
Andy: ...on any project in any business.
Paul: Right. You've worked on SNL and now on Hot Rod with Akiva and Jorm. How did that work out?
Andy: I think pretty much every step of the way, maybe with the exception of Akiva directing some music videos and the stand-up that I did on my own, we've been doing everything together for right now it's going on 7 years, and I think that in each new situation we came in it would be the three of us, and for the most part it would go well. And the word kept moving one step forward, ahead of us, that if you get the three of us then you get the best out of us. We were lucky enough that people gave us the chance to prove that each time.
Mark: In addition to The Lonely Island boys, you've got a great cast with Ian McShane from Deadwood, Bill Hader from SNL, who seems to be everywhere this summer, and Mrs. Borat, Isla Fisher.
Andy: *laughing* Mrs. Borat, yeah.
Mark: What was your experience working with this great bunch of people, and is Isla as hot in person as she is in the movies?
Andy: *still laughing* Oh yeah, Isla is adorable. She's gorgeous, she's super cool and cute and fun. A super fire cracker-y lady.
Mark: Hopefully Borat won't come and nude wrestle me now.
Andy: *laughing* You can sort of be excited about that, though. That movie is pretty good.
*all three laughing*
Andy: It was fantastic, we lucked out with a lot of people and when it came time to sit down and talk about casting, we ended up getting so many of our first choices. McShane, we were massive Deadwood fans, and he's the biggest TV badass ever. We feel like he super kicks ass in the movie too, so it all worked out, and we got Hader who's amazing and this new guy Danny McBride who's about to be in 50 million things, and Jorm's great. We got Will Arnett to do a small part, Chris Parnell is in it and he's great. When we took a step back after we were done casting, we were like, "yeah we did awesome!" We got a lot of people we really like.
Mark: Now you shot the film up here in Vancouver, where I am. What was your experience like shooting the film in Vancouver?
Andy: It was fantastic. I know you wouldn't expect me to say anything else, but...
Mark: You can slag it if you want, doesn't matter to me.
Andy: But we really liked Vancouver. We're from the Bay Area, so it was sort of a move north. It felt very home to us except people were even nicer. It's beautiful and there's a cool scene there in terms of stuff like music and art. We saw some concerts and had great times in the city. It was really cool.
Paul: Now you may have noticed that I seem to be asking more questions about older stuff.
Andy: *cracking up*
Mark: He's a super fan, maybe I should have warned you about that off the top. I should just disconnect him from the call before this gets scary, but then I'm worried I'd lose you as well.
Andy: No way. No way.
Paul: There's a word that's become a part of my vocabulary and several of my friends' vocabularies over the last few years, so I want to tie that into a question. What is Hot Rod's biggest "kablamo" moment?
Andy: Touche! Well there's some actual explosions. That could be the most literal translation of kablamo. There's a few smacks and punches that are pretty brutal, that if you flashed a "KABLAMO!" on the screen it would feel very original Batman.
Mark: Like the one in the trailer where Ian McShane smacks you.
Andy: With the stick. Yeah that, by the way, didn't go well every take.
Mark: Best of luck with the movie, man. Thanks for your time.
Andy: Thanks guys!
And at that moment, Andy was whisked away by the studio to his next interview and to appear on MuchOnDemand.
Listen to the entire audio interview in the player below. CLICK HERE to read an interview with Chester Tam, longtime "4th member" of The Lonely Island who has a recurring part in Hot Rod himself.
Hot Rod, released by Paramount Pictures, is in theatres August 3rd.
Mark McLeod has always loved film. In addition to his roles with ShowbizMonkeys.com, Mark also works on many film promotion projects in Vancouver, BC, through his company, Mark McLeod PR.