Funnyman Nick Swardson, star of the upcoming R-rated comedy Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star, took some time to talk to me about his role as an unlikely porn star while in Austin last week. The Columbia Pictures comedy is set to hit theaters on September 9th, and co-stars Stephen Dorff and Christina Ricci.
Swardson plays the titular character in Bucky Larson, a comedy written by Adam Sandler, Allen Covert (who also has a small role in the film) and Swardson himself. Sandler also co-produced the film with Covert and Swardson under their Happy Madison Productions shingle.
Though he has played supporting characters in a slew of comedies and has also done stand-up plus TV (some might remember his recurring “gay waiter on skates” role in Reno 911), this is the first time Swardson takes the lead in a film.
We Got This Covered: Tell me how it feels to be playing the lead in a movie instead of a co-star?
Nick Swardson: Yeah, it’s pretty cool, it’s pretty awesome. It’s fun to be playing the lead but it’s such a weird character so it’s kind of surreal. Like I had this starring role but I looked like such a crazy person.
WGTC: Did you feel more responsibility? Was there more stress on set?
NS: Yeah, there was way more, way more, on every level because it was all on my shoulders. I produced it and I wrote it with Sandler. He couldn’t be on set everyday to produce it with us, so he was just there on and off and there was so much pressure…and the premise was also his idea so this was his baby, and we were in charge of babysitting his movie the whole time. So yeah…I quit smoking for seven years but I started smoking on this film because I was just so nervous.
WGTC: So Sandler wasn’t very hands-on?
NS: No he was, but it was just the day-to-day stuff. He was shooting another movie at the same time so it was hard for him to be there all the time. But he was very hands-on, he was so hands-on with the script, more than I’ve ever seen him with anything outside of doing his own movie; but he really drove the story.
WGTC: How do you like doing comedy in film versus stand-up?
NS: I mean, I like it. I’ve done stand-up for so long. I really like doing movies and creating other characters and you know going outside of what I normally do. It’s more challenging. I mean…stand-up, I’ve done stand-up for so long. I’ve done it for 17 years, so it’s just not as different for me…it’s still challenging to come up with new material and stuff but it’s not like getting into a new character and doing something completely out of left field.
WGTC: What about the comedy genre? Are you going to stay there or do you want to move to another movie genre?
NS: I’m open to anything. I mean, 30 Minutes or Less was kind of an action comedy…but I would be open for something else. I mean a horror movie might be hard, it just might be hard to scream all day at work and cry…get blood thrown into your face. But I don’t know, I’m open to whatever.
WGTC: How did you prepare for this role? Did you go to grocery bagging school?
NS: I bagged groceries in high school, so I had that down. And I’m from the Midwest and that’s where Bucky’s from so I knew the accent really well. I grew up with the accent so I got to pull that back in and use that. So it wasn’t too hard to get into the character.
And we wanted to make this guy the totally opposite of sexy, the opposite of a porno, which made it so much funnier when he became the biggest porn star in the world. So we just kept adding stuff on, like ok, he’s got a small dick, ok let’s give him bucked teeth. And we used the accent just because it’s so unassuming. it’s just a really…there haven’t been a lot of characters with that accent, it’s just so innocent, it’s so harmless. You know New York or Boston accents, it’s not like ‘oh this guy is so sweet’…we wanted him to sound innocent.
WGTC: And you co-wrote this with Sandler? What was the inception of the idea?
Yeah I co-wrote it with Adam and Allen Covert. Adam was obsessed with this premise of a kid who watches a porno and realizes his parents are the stars of it. And instead of freaking out the kid is like OMG this is my calling.
So that premise, he (Sandler) just couldn’t get it out of his head where he was like, for years, ‘that idea is so funny!’. And it is, it’s a great premise. So one day he’s like ‘you know what? You be the guy and let’s do it, let’s develop this and figure it out’. So we worked on the script for nine months and kind of locked it all down.
WGTC: How long did it take you to film it and how did you choose your co-stars?
NS: It took us about two months. Yeah, we were able to get these great actors, they really responded to the story…I mean Stephen Dorff, Christina Ricci, Don Johnson…and we were old friends with Kevin Nealon…I mean we just sent it out; we picked all these people, and Sandler is old friends with Dorff, and I kind of knew Ricci…but they really responded to the movie, and they just wanted to do a comedy. A lot of people don’t realize, they’re always confused when they see dramatic actors do broad comedies. But they want to have fun at work, they don’t want to do serious stuff all the time.
WGTC: So what’s on the horizon?
NS: I’ve got season 2 of my show Pretend Time, which premieres October 5th, and then I’m developing a couple more scripts. I have two more movies me and Sandler and Covert have been developing, so there’s more stuff to come.
WGTC: Would you ever like to get behind the camera and do some directing?
NS: No, the hours are too psychotic. I couldn’t do that… they have to wake up at like four in the morning…yeah too much pressure.
That concludes our interview with Nick Swardson. We’d like to thank him for his time. Check back for our interviews with Allen Covert and Stephen Dorff tomorrow.
Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star comes out in theaters September 9th.