Interview: Bryan Callen– comedian, actor, zombie killer

By | June 16, 2011 at 12:49 pm | No comments | Features | Tags: , , , ,

If you’re like me, you first caught glances of comedian Bryan Callen during his years on the long-running (but not long enough!), totally under-appreciated sketch show MadTV. But over the last few years, the man has established himself as an in-demand, nationally headlining comedian and recognizable flick actor– thanks, in no small way, to his appearances in both Hangover movies. We first knew him as “Eddie,” the slimy wedding chapel operator in the first; and just weeks ago when it opened, we saw Callen as “Samir”– still slimy, but this time the manager of a strip club in Bangkok.

I recently got to chat with the Los Angeles-based comic about his good times in Bangkok, his upcoming MTV show, the proper way to shave your nutsack and much more. Check it out!

Your role in The Hangover Part II was pretty similar to your role in the first Hangover.
Yeah, when Todd Phillips calls you and wants you to be in his movie and it’s The Hangover II, you just do it. I don’t care if I’m playing a wave or a tree. I would do it, because I’m a whore. It’s the Hangover II for godsakes.

I never read the script, it was all under wraps. All I can say is that I found myself in Bangkok at the Four Seasons in a suite. All I knew about my character before the shooting is I had to play a guy who owns a strip club and could get you anything you want. I got to work with Paul Giamatti which was fun. He’s a great guy.

But, I wore a wig and a vest. I look better as a swarthy Middle Eastern strip club owner with curly hair than I do as an Irish Italian with crappy hair.

C’mon, Bryan. You’re a handsome guy
That’s what I like to hear.

How long were you in Bangkok?
I think I was there a total of 12 days. But with that kind of movie, you’re shooting three days and hanging out nine. It was good times. Basically what happens when you do a movie like this is, you get to hang out in a suite in a hotel and eat great food and I get paid. I mean, it’s ridiculous. If I were into underage sex, I would’ve really had a good time in Bangkok.

Maybe you can go back some other time and experiment a little bit.
When I become a 65-year-old German guy with barnacles on my face, that’s when I’ll do that. That’s a lot of what you see— sex tourists there. It’s very strange.

How do you know they’re sex tourists?
Because they have that deviant look and oh, by the way, they’re walking around with some 18 year old who wouldn’t normally look at them twice. I was making a joke one day when I was there—they look like the number 10, because she’s really skinny and he’s really fat and just walking down the street and she’s tick, tick, ticking behind him in heels and they’re not having any conversation because he’s German and she speaks Thai. But they are speaking the language of love— actually, they’re speaking the language of money.

We went to the strip club and I noticed all the girls had numbers on them and I asked what that was. And they said is you basically just call out a number, pay a bar fine – which is basically 18 bucks – and for 60 bucks they’ll go back to your hotel. And I was like that girl will come back to my hotel room for 60 dollars? I can close this place down with $4,000 for chrissakes. I had to have a talk with myself. ‘Don’t do it, Bryan! Don’t do it!’

But there’s no way you can be a deviant and be an actor. I was at the strip club and I got recognized. This guy came up to me and said, ‘are you the guy from the Hangover?’ So there goes that. So I was just looking. I was playing a strip club owner so it was only for research.

You’re starring in an MTV show called Death Valley, which premieres late summer. What’s the show about?
It’s so much fun. It’s just a blast. It’s shot like Cops. We shoot zombies and werewolves and vampires in the valley of Los Angeles. I am the captain of the Undead Task Force. It’s our job to rid the valley of all monsters of all kinds. And its funny and crazy and we just have a blast. We shot 12 episodes and hopefully they’ll give it the kind of advertising it deserves.

I’ve been in this business long enough to know that you just do your job and go home. If it’s a hit, great. Chances are in this business it won’t be. So you just move on to the next part of the process. I look at everything I do now as, ‘have fun while you’re doing it.’ Because it’s a privilege to be working and I’ve been lucky to be working more than a lot of comics— probably because I always emphasized acting over comedy. It’s one of those things where every time I get a job, I’m so surprised— like really? You guys want me? Oh, ok. Nice. I’ll do it.

That’s a healthy outlook.
Well, you have to have it. You got to have that perspective. Otherwise you’ll go crazy. It comes from going though years when you don’t have any work. You wake up and you’re like, ‘hey man I’m in my 30s and I’m jobless.’ But then I did The Hangover and one thing leads to another and then you’re working all the time. It’s pretty cool. It also helps that I’m fucking good looking. (laughs)

That does help.
Like you said, I’m ridiculously handsome. Did you use the word ‘ridiculous’ or did I just put that word in your mouth?

I didn’t use that word, but I wouldn’t deny that I said it if you said I said it.
That’s what I’m talking about. I like your attitude and I like the way you conduct an interview.

Tell me about the one-hour special you just shot. Where did you film it?
I filmed it in Orange County. Hopefully it’ll air on Comedy Central or Showtime. We don’t know yet. I was onstage for an hour and a half. I had a blast. I used Jeremy Piven for a whole segment. He comes on stage and takes a lint brush and de-lints me. I told everyone that he’s my assistant. I have an A-level celebrity as an assistant.

And then I’m in a movie called Warrior for Lions Gate. I have a pretty good part in that. And hopefully this fall, I’ll get to the next level, man. Whatever that is.

Exactly. What is the next level?
When you stop becoming ‘that guy.’ Like, ‘I think I went to high school with that guy… to ‘hey, I think that’s Bryan Callen.’ That’s a big jump. I don’t know if I’ll ever reach it but it’s always been a goal. If you get to that point, that’s the difference between hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions. It’s a lot of work.

I’ve been seeing you in those Gillette commercials on television, too.
Yes sir. When you do a campaign like that, it’s such a great thing because it just pays your whole year. The ProGlide that I’m actually hawking, I’m telling you it is the best razor on the market. No question about it.

Do you use it just for your face? Because you keep your hair really short on your head as well.
I do keep it short. I don’t shave my legs though, but the night is still young.

Have you used it on your head?
No, I don’t keep it that close. I just use the number five clipper, know what I mean?

I’m not implying you’ve shaved your balls with this razor, but do you think you’d recommend it for that purpose?
That’s a very dicey prospect, to actually take a razor down there. I believe you should use scissors and do it manually. However, if you were being bold enough to take a razor to your nutsack, then the only razor to use is the ProGlide. C’mon, man— it’s got five blades!

I’m going to pick up a ProGlide on your recommendation.
I’m telling you, you will not be disappointed. And I want to see a picture of how smooth your nutsack is when you’re done with it.

I’d be happy to send that to you.
Good man.

What were you doing before we started talking today?
I was playing the drums. I’m learning the drums. When I’m 90, if I live that long, it’s one of the things I’m going to wish I had done. One is to learn Spanish and the other is learning the drums. So now I’m doing both. I’m not a good drummer yet. But some day.

You can’t do everything, ya know. You’re already a comedian, an actor and a handsome man. Why do you have to add to all that?
You know what I really want to be? It’s going to sound weird. I love Miami. I want to be Cuban. I want to wear silk suits and fedoras and I want a thin mustache and I want to be a professional Salsa dancer. And I want to be a revolutionary. Not a communist revolutionary because communists are idiots. But more like a regular revolutionary for freedom.

I basically spend my time wishing I was someone else. That’s what I do. I want to be a rock ‘n’ roll star. I want to be a Navy Seal. I want to be all those things. I can’t make up my mind who I really want to be. I want to be a great artist, a great warrior, porn star… I don’t know… something cool.

You can see Bryan in The Hangover Part II (in theaters now), on stand-up comedy stages across the country and on Death Valley on MTV, starting later this summer. For more info check out bryancallen.com.

About the Author

Dylan P. Gadino

Dylan is the founder and editor in chief of Laughspin. He launched Punchline Magazine in 2005 (which became Laughspin in the summer of 2011) with childhood friend Bill Bergmann. Dylan lives in northern New Jersey with his wife and two sons. He hopes the Shire is real.