In the new comedy-horror film Bad Milo! Gillian Jacobs plays the wife of a stressed-out white collar drone (Ken Marino) who discovers he has a demon living in his butt. Yes, you read that right — she spells her first name with a “g.” (Ha! But, seriously, that is who she plays in the film.)
So, what was the point in the Bad Milo! shoot when the Community star most thought, “I bet Dame Judi Dench has never had to do this”? “Throwing dildos at an ass-demon puppet,” laughs Jacobs. “And we shot in a basement of a church, which just added a whole other level of wrong.”
Directed and cowritten by first-time filmmaker Jacob Vaughan, Bad MIlo! is released today in select cinemas and is also available to view via iTunes and VOD. In addition to Jacobs and Marino, the movie stars Patrick Warburton, Steve Zissis, Mary Kay Place, Stephen Root, Kumail Nanjiani, and Big Lebowski nihilist Peter Stormare.
Below, Jacobs talks more about Bad MIlo! while gamely ignoring the egregious amount of times your writer uses the phrase “butt-demon” in the course of our conversation
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How exactly was this butt-demon film pitched to you? And please tell me that the pitch involved the phrase “butt-demon.”
GILLIAN JACOBS: They were upfront about the content of the film and I’m weird enough and have a strange enough sense of humor that it really appealed to me. I read the script and I found it touching, strangely. And I just thought the puppet was so adorable I couldn’t resist.
Who was the better actor, Ken Marino or the butt-demon puppet?
[Laughs] Well, the puppet obviously. You’re always looking to have a unique experience as an actor and definitely being punched by a puppet ranks as a singular experience in my career. I didn’t get to work with it as much as Ken did, but it was really fun. It’s not too often that you get to do something that’s practical effects. There was no green screen involved, I didn’t have to imagine anything, and the puppeteers were so great to work with and really brought the character to life.
It does have the kind of eyes you could lose yourself in.
It’s adorable — and it has that great animatronic face that’s reacting to what you’re doing and giving you a facial expression. Jacob Vaughan and the puppeteers, they were sort of making Milo noises as well, so it really had a life.
You must have had a lot of trust in Jacob. I mean, no one wants to be in a bad butt-demon movie.
I know, right? Well, he was so clear in what he wanted to do and the story seemed oddly personal to him — other than the, you know, demon part — that I felt like it was going to be rooted in real human truth about dealing with fear, and anxiety, and having a physical manifestation, and overcoming that, and trying to grow up, in a way. Plus, I he already showed excellent taste in hiring Ken, who I think is wonderful. So when you see that someone is hiring actors that you like — and I think the supporting cast in this movie is excellent—you go, “Oh, okay, well we have a shared sensibility.”
What was it like working with Ken Marino?
Well, I was a huge fan of Wet Hot American Summer and strangely enough I participated in a live reading of the script that Ken and Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd and a bunch of the other actors were in. I read Elizabeth Banks’ part, because she couldn’t be there. So I had the really weird experience of sort of being in one of my favorite movies. I was already geeking out on that experience and then I got to do an actual movie with Ken and he’s the best. I’m so proud of him for Burning Love and everything he’s been doing lately. I feel he’s on fire and it couldn’t happen to a better person.
You play things pretty straight in the film — or at least as straight as it possible to play things in a butt-demon movie.
Yeah. We started to shoot it and I could see what a great straight-man performance Ken was giving and it just encouraged me all the more that we were going to strike the right tone for the film. And then other people, like Kumail, and Mary Kay, and Stephen Root, and Peter Stormare, they get to have a little more fun. But I think it was really essential that at the heart of this movie Ken and I gave as grounded as possible performances.
Peter Stormare has played his fair share of weirdos. What’s he like in real life?
He’s one of the most free performers I’ve ever worked with, which is always inspiring. You think, “Oh, I’m down for everything” and then you’re like, “Oh, I’m not, he is,” He will take it to the limit every time. You truly don’t know what he’s going to do moment to moment.
How does stress manifest itself with you, if not with a butt-demon?
I developed an eye-twitch over the last couple of years.
I’m not an expert, but that doesn’t seem the best thing for an actress.
No, I know. It migrated to the top of my foot oddly, for a while. That was easier to conceal. I get stomach pains as well and I get these lovely dark circles under my eyes that are so fun to try to cover for camera.
You’re beginning to make me wish I hadn’t asked.
Hey, I’m nothing but honest!
You can check out the trailer for Bad Milo! below.