From Amy Schumer to Bill Hader to Lebron James to John Cena, there are no shortage of breakout performances in Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck. But the most surprising and affecting turn might come from costar Colin Quinn. The prolific stand-up and writer plays Gordon, Schumer’s onscreen dad, a cantankerous, mean-spirited New York Mets fan struggling with complications from multiple sclerosis.
“Everyone is saying the same thing: ‘Hey, you’re pretty good in this movie,'” Quinn told EW. “I didn’t know I was considered bad before that.”
Quinn has acted before — notably on episodes of Girls but also in the Grown Ups movies — but he has not played a real-life character as he does in Trainwreck. Gordon is based on Schumer’s real father, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she was 12.
“It’s a lot of pressure,” Quinn said of playing the role. “Here’s her life story — this hilarious, brilliant girl — and I’m playing this important part. It was nothing to take f—king lightly.”
Quinn said that while Schumer left him alone when it came to the portrayal, two visits with her father (who’s also named Gordon) were key to his preparation for the part.
“I got the fact that the guy was a wild guy back in the day. Like a real, full-of-life kind of guy. Now, he couldn’t really move,” Quinn said of meeting his real-life counterpart. “He got MS in his early 40s. So it was dealing with a guy who had this life and then suddenly, he’s still there but he can’t get out there. That’s where it starts.”
Quinn met Schumer a decade ago, and said he’s a fan of both her stand-up act and how she takes no prisoners when it comes to making jokes. It’s an ethos that the actress managed to translate into the script for Trainwreck and also her Comedy Central show, Inside Amy Schumer.
“That’s why her movie’s funny. Because everyone in it is a flawed f—king person,” Quinn said. “Her show is funny because she’s making fun of life and humanity. But she’s not making fun of humanity to say, ‘This is not the way to live.’ She’s just like, ‘This is the way we are.'”
Quinn doesn’t have any other movies lined up at the moment, but fans can catch him on stage in Colin Quinn The New York Story, a new one-man show that Quinn wrote (it’s based on his book The Coloring Book). Jerry Seinfeld is the show’s director. So what did Seinfeld think of Quinn’s Trainwreck work?
“He loved it. He tweeted about it: ‘Colin Quinn great,'” Quinn said. “The highest compliment you can give someone these days is if they tweet about it. ‘I drove all night to tell you how great it was.’ ‘Did you tweet about it?’ ‘No.’ ‘Oh, forget it.'”