On Saturday night, I took the E train from my (tiny) apartment in Queens down to Chelsea’s Cedar Lake Dance Studio to watch a Q&A session with John C. Reilly. (It was part of this past weekend’s New Yorker Festival, held at various locations throughout the city.) I was enticed by the prospect of seeing Reilly, one of my all-time favorite curly-headed character actors, discuss his career of more than 40 films as well as the chance to see him perform some of the original music from his upcoming spoof of musical biopics, Walk Hard (pictured, with Jenna Fischer). Although I miss his work with director P.T. Anderson — playing such hapless characters as Jim Kurring (Magnolia) and Reed Rothchild (Boogie Nights) — I’m trying to warm up to his newfound status as a card-carrying member of the Will Ferrell/Judd Apatow/Paul Rudd/Jake Kasdan/Adam McKay gang.
Sporting a grey V-neck over a white Oxford, Reilly was engaging, waxing philosophical about his maturation from 1989’s Casualties of War to last year’s Talledega Nights and offering insightful anecdotes of how several of his roles came to pass. (The most entertaining being the story of how he and Anderson would drive around L.A. filming faux episodes of COPS, which would later inspire Magnolia‘s police officer Kurring.)
Then came some never-before-seen clips of Walk Hard (including the funniest double-entendre-laced song in film history). Reilly did some singing himself, playing guitar along with New York musician Mike Viola, who helped co-write most of the 33 original songs played in the film. I’d heard Reilly’s vocal prowess in Chicago, but I was utterly awe-struck by his awesome pickin’ and singin’. He rolled through nearly flawless renditions of “Dear Mr. President” and the movie’s title track before Judd Apatow (unexpectedly) showed up with wife Leslie Mann and yelled out a request for the inherently-wrong-yet-oh-so-funny “Midget Man.”
So, PopWatchers, what are some of your favorite memories of Reilly’s career thus far? And what do you make of Walk Hard?