We got up close and (too) personal with the actor, who costars with Zach Galifianakis in the election satire ''The Campaign,'' out Aug. 10

By Josh Rottenberg
August 10, 2012 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Zach Galifianakis is one of the fastest-rising comedy stars around. I assume that, as competitors in the field of comedy, your bitter rivalry extends beyond this movie. So what are you better at than him?
Well, first of all, I’m a better Greek-American than Zach. He really could care less about his heritage. I, on the other hand, am fiercely proud of my Greek-American heritage. I go to Greek restaurants and break plates. I’ve memorized My Big Fat Greek Wedding from beginning to end.

Zach shaved his prodigious beard for this movie. What were the most interesting things that fell out of it during the process?
Ironically, a couple of coupons to Chick-fil-A and a refrigerator magnet for a place called ”The Little Shrimp,” which is a gay bar.

What did you guys do with all of the hair?
There was so much hair that we made a piñata in the shape of a beard and stuffed it with beard hair — and we still had leftover hair.

If you were actually running for Congress, what could opposition research discover about you that would torpedo your campaign?
That I came up with the phrase ”You go, girl!” and the [catchphrase] ”Winning!” for Charlie Sheen.

Tom Hanks is widely considered the mayor of Hollywood. If you were running to unseat him, what sort of attack ad would you run about him?
First of all, that Tom Hanks is not his real name. His real name — and this is not a joke — is Chip Pharttman, pronounced ”Fartman.” I’m not trying to be crass — this is a fact.

The Olympics are capturing everyone’s attention right now. Would you ever consider doing a comedy involving sports — for example, figure skating or soccer or basketball or NASCAR racing?
No, that’s dumb. Those are all terrible ideas for movies.

Many films about politics have been nominated for Academy Awards: All the King’s Men, Primary Colors, Bulworth. Let’s start your Oscar campaign now. Why do you deserve a Best Actor nomination for this movie?
Here’s the thing — I’m so funny in this movie that, at a certain point, you stop laughing. You stop laughing and start thinking to yourself, ”Am I watching one of the greatest performances of all time? No, I’m not.” But still, I should be nominated for an Oscar just so one can see me sitting next to Helen Mirren while I smoke a pipe.

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