Interview date: 02/20/2009
Run date: 02/27/2009
Don’t let the title or box office numbers fool you: “Sex Drive” is one of the funniest movies we’ve seen in years, and possibly the raunchiest sex comedy of all time. And if that weren’t enough, the unrated, “cream-filled” cut of the movie is delightfully over the top, filled with take after take of the actors riffing one-liners and more gratuitous nudity than your typical porno flick. (They even hired porn stars for the gratuitous nude shots.) Bullz-Eye chatted with “Sex Drive” star Josh Zuckerman about why the movie failed to find an audience, having fun with the idea of a truly unrated movie, and the strange world of David Caruso.
Bullz-Eye: Let me begin by saying that I think “Sex Drive” is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in a while.
Josh Zuckerman: Well, thank you! That’s nice to hear. You started off with a good thing.
BE: Are you used to interviews not starting off with a good thing?
JZ: No, it’s just that it’s such a flattering comment. Most people just start off with a question.
BE: Well, here’s a question for you: how the hell did it only make $8 million?
JZ: You know, uh, (laughs) I’m not about to point fingers, I am not at the place to do that. I mean, do you want a real answer, or was that a rhetorical question?
BE: Your choice.
JZ: My choice? Let’s see if I can be diplomatic about this… You know, I think that everyone had high expectations for it, mostly because people enjoyed it so much and they still do. I think that a lot of people were thrown off by…I don’t want to point fingers, but I think a lot of people were thrown off by a) the title, b) the poster, and c) the trailer. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who said, “I didn’t really have an interest to see it, but I’ve seen it, and it was really, really damn hilarious.” So of course it’s a wonderful feeling to hear that and say, “Listen, we made a good product.” It’s unfortunate that it didn’t do as well in the theatrical release, but I think that are people are hopefully going to pick up and take a viewing in the DVD release.
BE: I think this is going to be huge on video, actually.
JZ: Cool. Yeah, on VHS. Are they still making those? I’m kidding.
BE: I’m showing my age there, aren’t I?
JZ: No, no, that’s all right.
BE: I almost never watch the unrated cuts of comedies because they tend to be bloated and unfunny, but I have to say, the unrated cut of “Sex Drive” is bar none the best unrated cut for a comedy that I’ve ever seen.
JZ: That is so awesome. Thank you. I am supposed to see a screening of the unrated [cut] tonight; I have not seen it, which is kind of unfortunate because I’m supposed to be talking to you about it, so I’m kind of a blind information source here. But I’ve heard about everything and I’ve heard from people how much they have enjoyed the unrated DVD. And there’s 20 minutes of extra footage, and there’s a lot of gratuitous, probably random acts of nudity. And I think they took license with that unrated [cut] and made fun of the idea of an unrated DVD, and I think it sounds like to the benefit of the DVD.
BE: I think for fans of the movie, it’s a nice little ‘thank you.’ Did you know when you were shooting the movie that they were going to do this?
JZ: The unrated [cut]?
JZ: Not exactly. I mean, we had an idea that on the DVD, you’re going to have scenes that were cut out. There were certain scenes where we had tried [it] one way and we had said, “Well, let’s try it both ways,” and then we would try it another way and say “Well, let’s use one for final [theatrical release] and the other for DVD. So I anticipate that there will be those types of scenes, and I think they have even incorporated some outtakes into the actual DVD. I had actually seen some of the cuts of the behind-the-scenes stuff, which I have to say was really, really funny. But there was a reshoot, and I was involved in the reshoot, and there were some porn actors hired for this reshoot, and of course, you know about that. They were spliced into the film in various places, I think. So I did know a little bit after we had wrapped up filming.
BE: When you read the script, was there a scene that made you think, “There’s no way they’re going to let us do this”?
JZ: Um, (chuckles) no. I don’t know that when I read the script there was a scene… I think sometimes, when we were on set and would be trying something, we would say, “There is no way this is going to fly,” just because it was pushing the envelope. But when I read it, I expected exactly what as on the page, and got a little bit more than that.
BE: I picture movie studio executives trying to peg you as a young Ben Stiller. Have you been offered any of those “Along Came Polly”-type roles where the main character is humiliated for 90 minutes?
JZ: You know, (pause) not entirely, actually. I’ve been fortunate enough that I know people see you in one thing, and if they like you in it, then they want to peg hole you in that. But fortunately enough, the few people who did like me in “Sex Drive” have been talking to me about projects that are a little bit different. I mean, the same kind of age range but the character is different, and I’m very grateful for that. I hope that I’m allowed to play around and even take stuff in completely different arenas.
BE: For your sake, I hope that’s exactly what happens. I listened to some of the audio commentary, and the director said you had a hard time with the finger-sucking scene on account of being a germophobe. Is that true?
JZ: (Laughs) Wow, you are really thorough here. You know, it’s actually a funny story. Jessica Just, who played the finger sucker is…it is true, I’m a bit of a germaphobe, but I had no problem with her sucking on my fingers. I think it was the reverse, where for payback, she and Sean [Anders, director of “Sex Drive”] ganged up against me and said I had to suck on her fingers because she had sucked on my fingers. But I did make a big deal about that, because I wanted to make sure that they were very hygienic fingers that I was about to be sucking on. I think that that might even be in some kind of outtake or some behind-the-scenes footage, because I think they videotaped me sucking her fingers, which were very clean. At least I hope so.
BE: I want to play a game with you. I’m going to list some of the shows and movies you’ve done, and I wanted to know if you had any interesting or amusing anecdotes about the experience. Are you ready?
BE: “House, M.D.”
JZ: “House.” The first thing that comes up is Hugh Laurie eating sushi. I don’t know if it’s a funny story, but just that. And I never heard his British accent the entire time I worked with him.
BE: “Boston Legal.”
JZ: William Shatner is a very curious fellow, and he was constantly asking me questions and advising me to do things. At one point he said, “Go upside down,” because I think I was feeling… I don’t know what he was trying to teach me, but he had me do a handstand, and he held my feet up to get more blood into my head. But he’s constantly questioning. At one point, I think it was a Friday, and he said, “So what are you doing this weekend?” I said I’m just going to go out with some friends. “With a girl?” And I said well, there might be a girl and he said, “Well, where did you meet her?” I said well, I haven’t, really…I met her a few times and- “Do you like her?” And it was constantly just prying into something that you thought was going to be a very brief, casual, innocuous conversation.
BE: “CSI: Miami.”
JZ: Caruso. [David] Caruso would always give me encouraging remarks. I would do a take, and he would go, “Touchdown!” He would always say something really strange. I would do another take, and he’d go, “That a boy!” And then I would do another take, and he’d go “You got it, you got it right there.” There’s Caruso.
BE: Did you do the show before or after that YouTube clip of David Caruso’s one-liners made the rounds?
JZ: You know, I think I did it after, which is pretty damn (laughs)…yeah, the (impersonates Roger Daltrey scream) “Wowwwww!”
BE: All right, last one. “Austin Powers in Goldmember”
JZ: What most people don’t know is that during the scene where the cupcake is thrown at my head, the cupcake actually stuck to my head. [Director] Jay Roach had said, “Don’t worry about it, just turn away and we’ll cut [the scene], and it’s not going to stick.” But I think at one point, I can’t remember who it was, somebody threw the cupcake at young Dr. Evil –at me –and it stuck in the middle of the take to my head. All I heard around me were stifled laughs from the crew. They were just snorting because nobody expected it to stick, but it just literally stuck straight on my head.
BE: That’s awesome. Well, I will keep you on schedule. I appreciate you taking the time to talk with us.
BE: Who knows, we’ll keep our fingers crossed and hopefully “Sex Drive” will blow up on DVD.JZ: Yeah, either way, thanks, man. It’s nice to hear that people are enjoying it.