Eric Andre on the challenges of filming Bad Trip: 'I almost got Rel killed on his first day'
Eric Andre and Lil Rel Howery team up to prank all sorts of unsuspecting people in the Netflix comedy film Bad Trip, but it could have wound up as their last adventure in misadventures.
"It's incredibly stressful," Andre says of filming in a dynamic, anything-goes environment. "I almost got Rel killed on his first day. So that's the level of stress — almost-being-murdered level of stress. Yeah, it's terrifying." (Bear in mind that this is a guy who is no stranger to stranger danger, having done all of this on Adult Swim's The Eric Andre Show.)
As the pair told EW in the latest edition of Around the Table, things got especially hairy when they busted into a barbershop as part of a scene in their now-streaming road-trip prank movie (whose cast also includes Tiffany Haddish and Michaela Conlin). The bit featured Andre and Howery being joined together in a finger trap by their penises (don't worry, they were prosthetic) and stumbling into a shop where a not-at-all-pleased barber tried to go a little Sweeney Todd on them. We'll let Howery tell you exactly what happened:
"We ended up going to the wrong barbershop where the security wasn't there," he shares. "There wasn't even no cameras there. And when I tell you when we walked in, this man's eyes, I don't know what he was talking about before we got there. I don't know why he was so angry about this. But seeing our penises attached in this finger trap was his worst nightmare, where he's like, 'Yo, if I ever see this, I'm going to murder somebody.' But he had to say that before in his head, because I don't know anybody that would have gotten that mad before. Man, this dude, he looks like he's looking for a gun. I'm like, 'Is he looking for a gun?... He picked up a knife that he was using to shave somebody and chased us out the barbershop. I break loose from the thing, I fell on the ground. I'm scared. Luckily we had a great security guy. He jumped in literally at the last second."
Turns out, the knife-wielding man from the barbershop thought the prank was hilarious once he learned what the pair were doing, but Howery decided that day 1 on the job was already one too many. "I just got up and just left," he continues. "I ain't tell nobody. I ain't wait for cut. I don't even know if I got in the van.... I was like, 'I almost got murdered.' I tell them, 'Hey man, I love y'all. This is a prank movie, I may die.' And then I called Tiffany, 'Tiffany, Eric got me doing this movie. I almost died today. I told him that this could happen!'"
Oddly enough, Howery's complaining call to Haddish resulted in her being cast in the movie. A few minutes after that conversation, Haddish called Andre. "She's like 'You almost got Rel killed?' I was like, 'Yeah, don't tell anybody.' She's like, 'Yo! I want to be in your movie! I live for that s---!' I was like, 'Sold!' And it was kismet, because the woman that was supposed to play her character had just dropped out. So there was an available spot in casting. And it was like right at the same time. So it was just like, you know, casting from heaven."
And, yes, Howery returned to work after a good night's sleep. "The next day, Rel was like, 'Guys, I have kids. You can not get me killed.' He was like, 'I'll do this f----ing' stupid movie, but please don't get me murdered.' I'm like, 'That's a fair ask.'"
While these narrative prank movies use unsuspecting bystanders as comedy fodder, the folks behind Bad Trip stress that they're not approaching these pranks from a mean-spirited, condescending, and/or cynical place. "We made it a point that the people that we're pranking in the movie are the movie stars," says Andre. "They have the funniest lines. We had to keep my character and Rel's character sympathetic. So we couldn't be, like, terrorizing people, and I think we pulled off this magic trick in the movie where we showed the humanity in people and we showed the good-samaritan nature. And people were really there to help out and nobody comes off looking foolish... We're never punching down. We're never making anybody look like the fool. I'm the fool, if anything, you know? So me and Tiffany and Rel and Michaela, we can play the fool, but we were never doing it to trick people or make them look stupid. Actually, it's the opposite effect. We're making these everyday people movie stars in this cool fun way. "
The movie takes Andre and Howery on a road trip from Florida to New York — so Andre's character can confess his true feelings to Conlin's — and the real-life journey through the South that the stars and director Kitao Sakurai embarked on taught them a little about America.
"You do genuinely see that people are caring, no matter where you are or what's going on," says Sakurai. "People actually are invested in the humanity and welfare of other people — if you are face-to-face with another person. It's easy to have this screen of polarization over us, but when you're actually in the same space with somebody else, you have a genuine human connection and... Bad Trip kind of traffics in those connections for real. I was very surprised by that, actually. Going into a scene like the honky-tonk bar, where we were expecting people to have a contentious issue with Rel and Eric, because of race or whatever have you, we didn't really find that. People were actually quite welcoming and supportive and very nice. So that was a series of pleasant surprises."
There are many more surprises awaiting you in our roundtable interview with Sakurai, Andre, and Howery — including talk of a zoo-based stunt with an overly amorous gorilla (or someone in a gorilla suit) — so check out the video and take an entertaining Trip with this trio.
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