We’re approaching back-to-school season, and no one is more prepared than Drunk History host Derek Waters.
With the Comedy Central show’s third season set to premiere Tuesday, Waters revealed to EW some of the big lesson plans in store this year — including reenactments starring Will Ferrell as author Roald Dahl, Octavia Spencer as Harriet Tubman, Josh Hartnett as Clark Gable, Jason Momoa as the pirate Jean Lafitte, and more.
“We’re exploring new worlds, with lots of new faces,” Waters tells us. “And there are more themed episodes this season that aren’t just tied to cities.”
The topics, Waters continues, will run the gamut. “We’re doing a whole episode about spies. We’ve all learned a lot about Harriet Tubman, but no one really knows how much she was a spy. And Roald Dahl, the children’s book writer, was a spy for the British. So Will Ferrell will play Roald Dahl, and Octavia Spencer will play Harriet Tubman. It’s pretty surreal.
“And the third spy is an amazing woman named Virginia Hall, who was a spy and only had one leg,” Waters adds. “Alia Shawkat is one of my favorites that we’ve used — she plays Virginia Hall.”
Fans of The Wire and Show Me a Hero will also have something to look forward to this season. “We’re going to do one where, I’m still working on a title, but it’s basically going to cover journalism, which I talked to David Simon for,” says Waters. “That why I was just in Baltimore, because I was lucky enough to find out that David Simon liked our show and wanted to do something. And I was like, well, would you want to drink some alcohol and eat Maryland crab and talk about life as a journalist? And he said yes — so that’ll be the interstitials of that episode, which I’m obviously very excited about.”
Elsewhere in the season is an episode covering Las Vegas that Waters calls “a big episode. That’s got the Bugsy Seigel story in it — Sam Rockwell plays Bugsy. And Dennis Quaid plays Lucky Luciano.”
“The other cities are Cleveland — not to brag! [Laughs] And we’ll be doing Los Angeles, Oklahoma — that’s one of my favorites.”
The show also paid a visit to the Big Easy, which Waters says it was the drunkest city he went to — though he couldn’t partake himself. “Unfortunately, I had to get my appendix taken out while we were shooting in New Orleans. So I did not get drunk while I was getting my appendix taken out. But that’s where I saw the most drunk people on this trip.” That episode will chronicle Louis Armstrong’s background, “where bananas came from,” and the pirate Jean Lafitte, who’ll be played by Jason Momoa.
Another casting Waters is particularly proud of is Josh Hartnett as Clark Gable, which will be in the Miami episode: “He was my first choice. He and Jason Momoa, both have this quality: They actually have movie-star faces. There are very few movie stars now that have that movie star quality, and both of them have that.”
Waters adds that it was during the Miami episode where he met his match — in the form of Dan Harmon, who appears as a narrator. “I mean, with Dan Harmon, I’ve never been more drunk, and never will be that drunk again. That was a learning experience. I’m not going to beat Dan Harmon. Usually I try to get to their level or a little below — and with Dan, that was the drunkest I’ve ever been.”
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