Written by Sheila Roberts Wednesday, 13 April 2011 21:47
McBride plays Thadeous, who has spent his life in the shadow of his older brother, Fabious (Franco), as the crown prince embarked upon epic journeys to inspire the people of Mourne. But when Fabious’ fiancée, Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) gets kidnapped by the evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux) in order to fulfill an ancient prophecy, their father (Charles Dance) gives his deadbeat, hard-drinking son an ultimatum: Man up and help rescue her or get cut off. And so, begrudingly (and half-assedly) Thadeous embarks upon his first quest, accompanied by his loyal manservant, Courtney (Rasmus Hardiker), and joins Fabious to trek across the perilous outlands in search of his brother’s one true love.
Our LA correspondant Sheila Roberts sat down with Danny McBride and James Franco to talk about their new comedy.:
Which scene was the hardest for cracking up and that you almost didn’t get through?
DANNY MCBRIDE You know, surprisingly the scene that I couldn’t get through was this scene I had to do with Natalie [Portman, who plays Isabel] where we’re sitting at this table in this tavern and I have to confront her about stealing this compass. The way David Gordon Green directs, he’s literally right out of frame of the camera and he stands there and he makes you say the most ridiculous things and you can’t really hesitate. You have to just keep going through with it. In the scene, he’s just like, “Call her a bully and a whore.” So I started just doing it without thinking about it and as soon as I looked at Natalie and the word “whore” came out, it just felt horrible and I couldn’t get through it. I had to just keep doing it over and over. That weirdly was the hardest thing for me to get through.
JAMES FRANCO I think we had a hard time with the wise wizard too because we were acting with a puppet and we were short on time that day, so it was actually causing problems.
In your historical research, did you find that the mullet was a common hairstyle in medieval times?
MCBRIDE Well, historical accuracies were very important to us in this film. We really wanted to make this an educational film and show kids that people back in the Middle Ages, when there were two moons, acted just like people do now. We really kind of were modeling that haircut off Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon. That was what we were kind of going for with that haircut.
Was there a lot of improv?
MCBRIDE There was a ton. I’ve worked with David a few times before and even the way we worked on Pineapple [Express] or even the stuff we’ve done on Eastbound [and Down], we always tend to do one or two takes that are what’s on the page. Then from there, David just gets in there and we just start pushing it. It’s not always even just to find jokes. We’ll just improv just so that everyone in the scene is on their toes and you find that reaction that maybe you wouldn’t have gotten when the actor knows exactly what’s coming next, so improv’ing I think is essential to what we do and there’s a ton of it in here, right James?
FRANCO Yeah. And like Danny’s saying, when you have a movie where you improvise during every scene, it’s not just about finding funny lines. Like Danny was saying, it does something to the actors because you’re more aware. You don’t know what’s coming next so you don’t get lulled into a way of doing the scene the same way one time after another. So you’re much more aware and it does something to the behavior. It makes it more immediate and makes it more alive and then David won’t have you just improvise different lines. He’ll have you say it in very weird ways, like say it like a robot or say it like you’re taking a big dump.
MCBRIDE That was a direction he gave to Charles Dance at one point. It was very funny to see his reaction.
When you’re dealing with raunchy humor, was there anything you were surprised you got away with?
MCBRIDE Well, the fact that we made this movie was very surprising to us in the first place. David and I the whole time never really were convinced that someone would make this movie. To us, it was just this wild idea, this crazy movie that we wished
FRANCO Ever. If you think about it, it’s the first time ever.
How challenging was it to pitch this script?
MCBRIDE You know, the first day we came in and pitched it, we pitched it as “This is Krull meets Barry Lyndon” and the executives were like, “Never pitch this movie like that ever again.” But to us, that is what it was. We wanted to take it, approach it as a serious drama but at the same time have that fun that we had with a movie like Krull. That was always the concept. That was what was interesting about taking on this project is can you make a legitimate fantasy/adventure movie like this and still find a way to find comedy in it without making it a spoof. I think that’s what interested me and Green from the beginning was this’ll be something interesting to try.
James, how do you feel about the public perception of your prolific work?
MCBRIDE Well, it’s hard. It’s out of my hands really. I really went to school for myself. Sometimes I forget that it’s actually not a public act. I’m there just to learn and better myself. That part of my life is not a performance but in some ways it kind of has become material for public discussion to the point where The New York Times is interviewing my teachers. But I don’t mind. I’m proud of everything I’m doing. So I don't know, it’s just that part of my life is a performance and I perform as a job and part of it’s kind of not, but what can you do? I can’t control the attention.
You’re directing films, acting in 3 or more a year and we keep hearing your name attached to things.
FRANCO Well, there’s also this phenomenon where people do like to announce movies that they think I’m doing that I’m not. I mean, somebody just doesn’t have the time to do all the movies that people claim that I’m going to do or I have acquired the rights to a lot of books that I love and I think it helps the writers to sell their books if they announce my attachment. But it doesn’t mean that I’m going to make the movies in the next year or two or three.
Can you talk about Natalie Portman and how she fit into the group?
MCBRIDE Well, David had been in talks with Natalie about another project and once we started to get some movement on Your Highness, it looked like that was what was going to be next. In his conversations with Natalie, she brought up this project and was saying that she was dying to do a comedy and really wanted a chance to work with us and we were thrilled by that because having actors like James and Natalie, to us that’s what separates this movie. It’s not a movie that’s just filled with your typical comedians. It’s cast with a lot of prestigious actors and that to us is what made this movie unique and fun. I honestly was really embarrassed to hand Natalie the script for the first time. I was like, “Should I just go through and take out all this dirty stuff? I’m nervous to show her this.” David’s like, “No, we’ve got to let her know what she’s in for.” She was a total champ. The stuff that I thought would make her blush, that’s the stuff that she thought was funny and totally embraced it. On the set, she never shied away from that stuff. She could definitely hang with the boys. She wasn’t intimidated by any of the foul stuff going on.
FRANCO No, she wasn’t. She embraced it.Play Your Highness Red Band Trailer
Your Highness is on general release in UK and USA cinemas