Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine in "Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil." (Magnet Releasing)Link
Katrina Bowden in a scene from "Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil." (Magnet Releasing)Link
Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk in "Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil." (Magnet Releasing)Link
Tyler Labine wields a chainsaw in "Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil." (Magnet Releasing)Link
Alan Tudyk in a scene from "Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil." (Magnet Releasing)Link
Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk in "Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil." (Magnet Releasing)Link
Alan Tudyk and Katrina Bowden in a scene from "Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil." (Magnet Releasing)Link
Eli Craig, director of "Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil." (Magnet Releasing)Link
“Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil,” a gory comedy that spoofs the images of hillbillies in flicks like “Deliverance,” has been turning heads at comic conventions and won the audience award at Austin, Texas’ South by Southwest film festival. The movie, from first-time director Eli Craig, follows two Southern good old boys headed to the sticks to fix up a rundown “vacation house” and go fishing. They cross paths with a group of clueless college kids who mistake them for demented hill people. The film stars “30 Rock’s” Katrina Bowden, “Firefly’s” Alan Tudyk as Tucker and Tyler Labine, who recently played James Franco’s lab assistant in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” as the film’s hero, Dale. Hero Complex writer Noelene Clark chatted with Labine about the film, which hits theaters in limited release Friday.
NC: What drew you to this part and this script?
TL: I thought it was really funny, and it was a totally fresh idea. And I guess the other thing is that I had always wanted to play a hillbilly with a heart of gold. I don’t think I knew that until I read it, but I was like, “Yeah! I want to stick up for these misrepresented hillbillies, this little niche pocket of people.” And I also loved the idea that Dale was sort of a big sort of dumb animal, and he was wounded; his feelings were really hurt by how anybody could ever really think that he was evil. I just thought it was a fun slant on comedy.
NC: Had you seen “Deliverance”?
TL: Oh yeah. Lots of times. I’m a big fan. I remember thinking, “OK, I gotta watch these movies to brush up on my murderous hillbilly look.” And then I was like, “Wait a minute, I don’t have to do that. I need to be a good ol’ boy. I’m not out there to kill anybody.” So I remember Alan and I were watching “The Hills Have Eyes” and “The Hills Have Eyes II” and “Wrong Turn” and stuff. I was like, “This is not the research we need to be doing. In fact, we shouldn’t be watching this, because Tucker and Dale are oblivious to that. It couldn’t be further from their reality. That’s what the college kids should be doing, watching the horror movies.” We decided to not let Tucker and Dale actually fall into any of the arch clichés, just left them really innocent and baffled by the whole thing.
NC: I was surprised how relatable the characters were. I’m from Texas, and I know guys just like that.
TL: Alan’s from Texas, too. He says he grew up with dudes like that. He has friends that are like Tucker and Dale. I just followed his lead with the accent, and we just kind of went for it.
NC: Was the drawl difficult to pick up?
TL: In the beginning it was hard. I mean this in the nicest possible way: It’s a very lazy way to talk. The words all just sort of fall out of your mouth. It’s an easier way to talk. I had a hard time getting it to sound hopefully a little bit authentic in the beginning, but then once I got it, I couldn’t drop it. I’d call my wife after work, and be like, “Heeey babe, what’s gowin’ ohn?” And she’d be like, “What are you doing? You’re not in Texas. Drop it.” And I’d say, “Oh yeah. I’m sawrr– Sorry. I’m sorry.”
NC: What sets “Tucker & Dale” apart from other movies like it?
TL: I think by now everybody knows that the hook of the movie is that it’s a genre-bender. I love that it’s really funny, at times riotously funny, but it’s still got gross-out gore moments. But those moments are some of the most laugh-out-loud moments in the movie. And I don’t remember the last time I was ever wholeheartedly encouraged to laugh out loud at a guy getting dismembered or jumping into a woodchipper. Eli really came up with a brilliant mix of comedy and horror that’s kind of satisfying fanboys everywhere.
NC: By the way, you were really great in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” It seems like you deal with a lot of fake blood in your line of work.
TL: I really do. Yeah. I’m usually covered in it. And I have this new movie called “Lumpy” coming out where I die a pretty gruesome death in that, too.
NC: Why do you think that is?
TL: I don’t know. Maybe those characters are uber-dramatic that are dealing with all this blood. Obviously the character isn’t dying of boredom. There’s something exciting going on if you’re covered in blood or surrounded by fake blood…. My new movie “Cottage Country” is full of deaths and murders, and it’s all bloody, and chopping up people and ditching their bodies in the lake. I don’t know. That’s a good question. I’ve been asked why I show my ass on screen so much, but never why I’ve dealt with so much blood. I’m going to have to delve into the psychology of that. I’m going to have to explore Tyler.
NC: Did you do your own stunts for “Tucker & Dale”?
TL: Oh yeah. There wasn’t a big budget for stuntmen. Especially Alan. He was jumping over bushes and diving in the muck and hanging upside down. I just had to go in the lake and do a fight scene. But yeah, we did everything. There were stuntmen there, but they looked nothing like Alan and I, so at one point, Eli was like, “I can’t use these stuntmen.”
NC: Did you get hurt? It looks like it would have been rough to shoot.
TL: Yeah, we got a little hurt. There were some sticks in the eye and cuts and scrapes and bruises, but after a while, you don’t even notice because you’re so covered in fake bruises and blood anyway, and mosquito carcasses, that love that sweet, fake blood. Also, it’s fun by the end, when you finish something like that, you look at all your war wounds, and it’s like, “Yeah. I earned that, man. This is going to be good.”
NC: There’s a surprisingly successful romantic comedy plot in the midst of all that gore.
TL: That was a fun element, too. I didn’t trust that anybody was going to want to watch me kiss Katrina Bowden. I was really concerned about that. I was like, “Are you sure you want me to play the romantic lead? We can still finish this up really sweetly.” But he was like, “Trust me, trust me. It will be good.” I hadn’t really played that very much either — the romantic leading man, or whatever. It was crazy, the first time I saw it at Sundance, I was ready to hear people retching in the aisles, you know? And people were cheering. People got really excited. Because the average Joe — maybe less-than-average Joe — gets the girl, and we sort of sold it. I don’t know why it worked, but it did.
NC: What was it like working with Alan and Katrina?
TL: Really fantastic. Alan and I hit it off right away. Katrina is such a sweet, lovely lady. She’s definitely more than meets the eye. She’s very smart, well-read and sweet, and she’s a little bit shy, actually. A really talented young lady. Alan and I, I don’t know. Two peas in a pod. We met each other, and it was like love at first sight. A real genuine bromance brewed up. We had good menergy. That’s mine. You can use that. Trying to get “menergy” out there. And just the fact that he’s such an amazing actor. He’s truly one of the most versatile actors. I’ve never seen him put in a bad performance, let alone even a performance that was close to being similar to the last one. He’s always reinventing what he can do on camera…. I wanted to be like, “I’m gonna show this guy that I can act!” But he’s just so unassuming and so easy…. It’s so nice to just work with someone who’s so present and real. I would work with him again in a heartbeat. He’s the best.
NC: You’ve acted in such a wide range of genres. You were in “The X-Files,” “Boston Legal” and recently “A Good Old Fashioned Orgy.” What’s your favorite kind of genre to work in?
TL: I don’t have one, honestly. As of late, because I’ve been getting a little more attention, I guess, I’ve been able to ask myself that question: “What do I really want to do?” And be a little bit choosier. Honestly, I think I’m finding that if there’s a script that has an element to it that I haven’t played before — because I sort of got known for being, like, the buffoonish sidekick, and I’m starting to get to move past that and be a little more versatile — those are the things that really grab me…. Like a character I’ve never played before. That’s becoming the draw for me…. ‘Cause if I’m just doing the same thing, then what am I doing it for? It’s just a paycheck at that point. I love acting. I love the craft.
NC: What’s next for you?
TL: I have a movie called “Lumpy” coming out with Justin Long and myself that’s being submitted to Sundance. And I have another movie called “Rapturepalooza” coming out with Craig Robinson and Anna Kendrick, Rob Huebel, Rob Corddry, Thomas Lennon, John Francis Daley, Paul Scheer, everybody, all these crazy people…. And I’m off to shoot this movie “Cottage Country.” And I’m producing and starring in a new TV show called “Guidance” that me and Allan Loeb and Ryan Reynolds sold to Fox this year. It’s a half-hour single-camera [comedy] that’s going to be on Fox next fall, hopefully. There’s a lot going on.
– Noelene Clark
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