In new comedy The House, Jason Mantzoukas plays a broke gambling addict who persuades Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler’s suburban couple to help him set up an underground casino. Directed and cowritten by Andrew Jay Cohen, the film also boasts a host of other funny folks, including Nick Kroll, Rob Huebel, Andrea Savage, Lennon Parham, and Michaela Watkins.
“What was nice about this movie was, everybody knew each other already,” says Mantzoukas, whose credits include the TV show Brooklyn Nine-Nine and co-hosting the movie podcast How Did This Get Made? “A lot of times, it takes you a couple of days to figure out how everybody works. But, from day one of this movie, it was a very comfortable ensemble.”
One cast member not primarily known for his comedy background is Jeremy Renner, who plays a mobster in the movie. But what the Avengers star might have lacked in mirth-giving experience, he more than made up for with his willingness to be set on fire.
“He was great, man,” says Mantzoukas. “He was the only person who was not from a comedy background and who nobody, frankly, really knew, prior. And he showed up and was f—ing hilarious. He was totally game. The guy gets lit on fire in the movie and was like, ‘Yeah, I got this.’ I’m like, ‘Hang on everybody, this is dangerous, this is very real, they’re pouring flammable liquid on Hawkeye over there, I am concerned. Everybody is going to be so upset if we melt Jeremy Renner’s face for a dumb joke in a comedy movie.’ But he was a f—ing pro. He totally got, and was game for, all of the nonsense that we put him through, and all of the stupid things that we said to him, which was — especially when we were improvising — frankly quite a lot of stupid stuff. So, it was great.”
The House is out in theaters this Friday.