Hot Diggity!

Page 1 of 1
July 27, 2007

Courtesy Entertainment Weekly Magazine

Click here for more info on CORVIS Network

Andy Samberg strides into L.A.'s Kings Road Cafe, the afternoon light frizzing his hair into a godlike meringue as he... ah, forget it. It's just silly to paint a meeting with the unassuming Saturday Night Live player as anything but a regular affair. He arrives 15 minutes early, enjoys the restaurant's hair-metal music as much as he savors his fancy omelet, and he looks and acts like any other 28- year-old - because that's exactly what he is. "I'm trying to take it really slow," Samberg says of his escalating career. "Especially because it's been happening really, really fast. I went from collecting unemployment to starring in a movie in a little over two years. It's insane."

No more ramen noodles ever. After only two seasons on SNL, the former Spin City writers' assistant has come up huge with a couple little ditties named "Lazy Sunday" and "D--- in a Box," arguably the defining videos of these viral times. This summer, he's attempting to cement his place in the offline zeitgeist by starring in Hot Rod, a long-gestating stuntman comedy (think Evel Knievel) originally conceived for Will Ferrell, now tweaked to suit Samberg's bizarre-yet- earnest style. "He has this kind of sweetness to him," says SNL creator Lorne Michaels. "You kind of like him, you know?" Michaels also produced Hot Rod, and dismisses the ghost of Ferrell. "It's totally their movie, in every way."

Who are "they"? Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, without whom no discussion of Samberg is complete. The trio met as 12-year-olds growing up in Berkeley, Calif., then reunited in NYC after college to found The Lonely Island, a filmmaking troupe with a cult website and an unsellable pilot called Awesometown. They finally landed at SNL in 2005 and began churning out those digital shorts. Now it's almost impossible to separate any one's accomplishments from the group. "Everyone who has gambled on keeping the three of us together so far, it's gone well," Samberg says. "We figured it couldn't hurt to see how long we could ride it."

In Hot Rod, Taccone plays Samberg's adoring stepbrother, and Schaffer makes his feature-directing debut. Both were instrumental in gearing the script to their friend's strengths. "We had to go page by page and Samberg it up," reports Schaffer. "Which is another way of saying, just dumb it down. And add a lot of sex with ladies." At least two parts of the above statement are patently untrue, but Samberg still fit the part. "I interact with girls by acting intentionally awkward; I like throwing my body around and acting like a moron. Rod was...not a stretch." And the film itself, which includes repeated references to spirit animals and a spot-on Footloose parody? "We wanted to make a crazy-ass movie," Samberg says. "I think we managed to make it pretty weird."

The question is whether that weirdness will be enough of a draw. Samberg's positive attitude is unflappable. "If anyone feels the way about Hot Rod that I felt about the comedies I liked growing up" - Billy Madison, for example - "I feel like it's a success," he says. "It will get bad reviews. Comedy is traditionally not reviewed that well. I was excited for [the well-received] Knocked Up. Any time people give it up for a comedy, it's a victory."

Let's say Hot Rod is victorious. Will this NYU film- school grad who's known his best friends since junior high lose his soul to Hollywood? Schaffer doesn't think it's "much of a risk," he says, then thinks for a moment and adds, "Maybe in 10 years when we're not talking, and he's got a huge mansion, and I live in a co-op apartment, I'll have something else to say." For now, Samberg says he mostly just works and enjoys the occasional beverage at SNL after-parties; he describes his personal life as "spare." His big post-Hot Rod plan is to find a new NYC pad with a decent shower. He remains close to Dad (a photographer) and Mom (a teacher), and someday hopes to cash it all in and have kids. So much for the theory that good comedy comes from bitterness and pain. "I'm a tearless clown," Samberg says. "If I were to get a tattoo, it would be the two masks, and they would both be smiling."

After the allotted interview time, Samberg's in no hurry to jet, and hangs around for an extra hour just for kicks. But once the restaurant starts playing Kenny G, he decides to hit the road, where a black Lincoln Town Car immediately materializes behind him. "That's my ride," he says, and it seems like he must be kidding. But no! Sunglasses in place, BlackBerry in hand, Andy Samberg is, indeed, about to step into an idling sedan and zip away. Finally, a movie-star moment! But it doesn't last. "I didn't ask him to pull up," Samberg protests, in a tone that suggests the car is horribly embarrassing. He apologizes with a smile and an awkward hug.

Click here to watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine on CORVIS Network

ArticlesYou May Also Like

MyWish List