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Janeane Garofalo gets a pay raise for ''Mystery Men''

She got big bucks and better lines while playing the Bowler

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Janeane Garofalo
Melinda Sue Gordon

Joining the comedic who’s-who of ”Mystery Men” was a career high for Janeane Garofalo. For the first time, Garofalo, who claims she usually gets paid close to scale (about $2,100 a week) for playing sarcastic supporting characters, was offered big bucks. ”Since I am not a commodity that brings people into a theater, I always get a really utilitarian salary — so the money was an amazing enticement,” says the 34-year-old actress, who won’t divulge the amount she received. But as tantalizing as the cash was, Garofalo made sure the megabudget movie (which reportedly cost Universal $70 million) had more than green to offer: ”When I heard Geoffrey Rush and Bill Macy were in it, I figured, why not?”

Garofalo spent four months filming the role of the Bowler, the only female in a motley crew of third-rate superheroes (including Macy as the Shoveler, Paul Reubens as the flatulent Spleen, and Ben Stiller as the rage-filled Mr. Furious) who try to save A-list avenger Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear) from the clutches of the disco-obsessed villain Casanova Frankenstein (Rush). She says that working with first-time director Kinka Usher (best known for such commercials as the Taco Bell Chihuahua and the Got Milk? campaign) had its advantages.

”We got away with murder,” says Garofalo. ”Since it was his first feature, I don’t think Kinka knew that a director can say, ‘It’s my way or the highway,’ especially when he’s not directing (big stars like) Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, or Madonna.” When it came to rewriting dialogue, Garofalo usually got her way, changing the one-liners she abhored (e.g. ”I’ll be back”) into more elaborate sentences. ”I would just whine ‘Nooooo. This is dumb,’ and he’d say, ‘OK, whatever.’ But I did lose the battle on saying ‘Let’s do some carnage.’ I was forced to say that.” Move over, Arnold…