Bill Hader has been pretty successful in spinning his Saturday Night Live exposure into a film career so far. Chances are, if a comedy was released in the last three years, Bill Hader was probably in it for at least a couple minutes. But usually all he does is show up in a small role, do some of his clueless, uptight, Bill Hader shtick, and then move on to the next one. Now that he’s paid some dues, it looks like the funnyman is finally looking to move in a more serious direction. He’s got a couple movies in the works that not only put him in bigger roles, but also look to allow him to expand his acting experience in different directions.
Hader and Hot Rod director Akiva Schaffer are working together on a film called Henchman, which Hader described to The Playlist by saying, “The film is about two guys who don’t realize it, but they’re two henchman for like the badguy in a Bourne movie and then they slowly figure who that they’re working for the wrong guys, but like doing it in the actual style of a Bourne movie.” Sounds like more of a blending of the action and comedy genres than it does a straight gag fest to me. At first glance, using the Bourne trilogy as inspiration for a comedy might seem strange, but Hader explains, “The aesthetics of a ‘Bourne’ movie, the shaky and handheld camera, that documentary feeling is how they shoot comedy these days, like The Office and Delocated, and so we realized we could keep that same style. That would be a different feel for that so it’s something we’re working on.”
Look at that, shaky cam bringing people together, who would have thought? Casting is ongoing to decide who might play Hader’s partner.
And in addition to Schaffer, Hader also has a film in the works with Rob Siegel. Siegel was not only the writer of Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler, but he also wrote and directed the underseen Patton Oswald film Big Fan, which was a dark look at an obsessive and disturbed sports talk radio listener. This new project will be a biopic about a man named Vaughn Meader, who was an impressionist that had a brief bout with fame in the 60s, and then watched his entire career vanish into thin air.
Hader says, “It’s about this guy who did these JFK impressions back in the ‘60s and he had this comedy album called “The First Family” and it was the biggest selling comedy record, still to this day I think it’s one of the biggest selling comedy records. He does this insane, amazing JFK impression and then JFK gets assassinated and his whole career goes away. “ The second half of the film, post assassination, supposedly goes to some pretty dark places. It will be interesting to see what kind of a dramatic actor Hader can be when given the chance. Maybe he could be next in line at playing the sad clown roles once Bill Murray finally gives up acting. Or maybe we’ll all get horrible flashbacks to Mike Meyer trying to play drug epic in that horrible movie about Studio 54. Either sounds entertaining to me.