Where there’s a Will Arnett, there’s a way to get laughs. The macho-mouthed Canadian, best known for his delightfully absurd turn as under-employed illusionist Gob Bluth on Arrested Development, is now attacking the big screen with more than a half-dozen projects in the works; he’ll be chillin’ like a villain in the rink comedy Blades of Glory, opening March 30. Let’s see if he can skate his way through this extended program of Stupid Questions.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: After one has donned silver lamé pants and a dance belt, can one ever go back to the way one was?
WILL ARNETT: In a sad turn of events, I never took the costumes off. It’s made it difficult on all subsequent productions; they’ve had to work it into story lines. A lot of people think I’m a hustler, so I’ve made friends at local parks at night. I don’t think that’s weird. You hear stories about dudes in parks and think, ”That’s creepy.” I just think, ”That guy likes nature.”
The acronym for Blades of Glory is BOG, which spells Gob in reverse. Coincidence or crazy-awesome way to steer your career?
Coincidence, unless you believe in the Hollywood Conspiracy, which is that it’s all one big show/movie that’s just been divided into little sections.
Never heard that one.
It’s a theory I’ve been working on for the better part of half an hour and we’re running with it. And when I say we, I mean me, my dog, and my neighbor’s dog. And by better part, I mean eight minutes. But for me, that’s a half hour.
Who was the last person who skated on thin ice with you? And I don’t mean that as a metaphor, seeing that you are from Canada.
It’s all very blurry. I remember there was a boating accident and somebody let the girl drown and didn’t save her. And then I invited that dude to my concert and I sang this song for him, it went something like, [singing] ”I remember, I remember, don’t worry / How could I ever forget / It’s the first time, the last time we ever met” — oh s—, you know what? That’s a Phil Collins song.
How little did wearing tight clothes to a dance-off with Jack in one episode of Will & Grace prepare you to wear tight clothes in Blades?
I worked in tights on Will & Grace for a very short period of time and thought, ”This is a breeze.” So when Blades came around and they said, ”We want you to play a skater wearing tight clothes,” I said yes before they finished the sentence. What I didn’t realize was that I was going to be skating in this stuff for months in 20-below-zero temperatures. I found myself standing in tights at the top of a hill overlooking a river in Montreal and I said, ”Damn you, instinct! You led me astray again!” My gut has never been right, lemme just say that much. I backed Betamax.
You let Will Ferrell be in two of your movies, Blades and the upcoming basketball comedy Semi-Pro. Why?
People are throwing out a lot of big words like samaritan, humanitarian, and it’s not really my place to comment on that. But I see this kid, he’s talented, he’s tall as all get-out, and I just figure, ”It’s high time that somebody gives him a shot.”
How psyched are you when they list the cast alphabetically?
For the most part, I’m really happy. I’ve turned down some projects with Alan Alda and Alan Arkin — I wasn’t feeling either of those projects. But I’d be happy to work with Catherine Zeta Jones in a two-hander where we’re both rogue cops. You know who else I’m considering working with? Renée Zellweger. I’d pop into a project with her in a minute.
You were a magician on Arrested Development. Seriously, where did my car keys go?
[Sinister laugh] Seriously, I don’t know. I just made them disappear. No, they’re behind that bush. Somewhere.
For your role as Gob, you were nominated for an Emmy, but lost to Jeremy Piven. Which joke in your never-given acceptance speech do you want to take back?
”This is mine. Get your own f—ing Emmy!” I wish I hadn’t never said that. Ohhh, man. If only there was a way to not have to undo it.
Eighteen months ago, when asked in an interview how things were about to change for you, you said, ”I’m 12 months away from being an a–hole.” I know I’m a little late in asking, but what’s the progress report?
You tell me, f—ing d—. But really quickly, because I’m busy as s—.
You’re married to SNL star Amy Poehler. How come you guys don’t have a celebrity hybrid name, like, I dunno… Wamy?
See it doesn’t really work, does it? Aill. All the other folks have stuff that sounds really fabulous. Brangelina sounds like a breakfast drink that’s high in fiber and really gets you going. Ours just sounds like you have to call in sick.
I’ve noticed that you do voiceover work for Lamisil. Bore me with important information about toenail fungus for 30 seconds.
Well, the real question remains: Do you have thick, discolored, or flaky nails, and if you do, what we’re saying is that this is a pill that works through the bloodstream to attack the infection at its source and underneath the nail —
Okay, stop! Just tell me: What is it about Will Arnett that screams toe rot?
I sound like a doctor in small doses. Most of the time, I sound like a jackass, but if you cut me together the right way, I can sound relatively intelligent. I mean, you should see the outtakes from Arrested Development. It’s gobbledygook. It’s idiot without the savant. I might as well be speaking Mandarin, you can’t understand a word I’m saying. Unless you speak Mandarin, I guess.
Your father was CEO of Molson Breweries. Ten-kegger at your house tonight?
Make it 20. And it’s on me. And by me, I mean my dad.
In the indie Wristcutters: A Love Story, you portray the Messiah. Any complex about playing this higher power?
They called and said, ”We want you to play the Messiah,” and I said, ”Of course you do.” They said, ”You don’t even know what it’s for,” and I said, ”I don’t need to know. I’m the Messiah. I assume everything you’re about to say.”
Not to overstep boundaries, but would you blow my parents’ minds and crash their Passover seder?
Look, I don’t want to throw off thousands of years of diligent study and worship by showing up at your folks’ seder…. But for a very light appearance fee, I will do it.
What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to know about yourself but were too scared to ask?
”Am I really this kind-hearted? And is it true that I’m protected by angels? And if I am, show yourself.” [Pause] Oh, s—, I gotta go. A couple angels just appeared.