In an effort to avoid burying the lead, you should know that Clark Duke is talking about writing and (hopefully) directing a reboot of Marvel’s Daredevil. (But he has no plans to star as the acrobatic and blind crime-fighter.) But more on that in a minute…
If you’ve spent any amount of time around FSR’s Cole Abaius then odds are you’ve experienced the following situation. He usually waits until your third or fourth meeting when he approaches you from behind, places one hand on your shoulder and the other conspicuously out of view, and then leans in and says in his best husky whisper “I want to reach deep inside you and work you like an angry Scottish Muppet.”
The nationality changes each time, but the sentiment remains the same. I tell you this story not so that you’ll fear Abaius the next time you see him, but instead I tell you this as an introduction to my interview with Clark Duke. Because regardless of Abaius’ many faults there’s one undeniable and relevant fact about the man… he’s one of the best interviewers I’ve ever seen. From his masterful ad-libbing, to his ability to quickly connect apparently disparate thoughts and ideas, to his overall general knowledge, he is absolutely brilliant when it comes to keeping an interview alive, energetic, and on target. I, on the other hand, am not. And walking into an unscheduled interview with Duke, an interview for which I therefore had no notes prepared, an interview ostensibly about a film in which he barely has fifteen minutes of screen-time… I have to be honest and say that right about then I would have gladly welcomed a guiding hand from Abaius.
I walk in to the room and Duke has his head buried in a Blackberry. We sit and as he finishes replying to emails he leans back and lets out a long sigh…
Good morning, thanks for taking time to talk with me. How’s it going?
I’m on week 6 of my press tour between this and Hot Tub [Time Machine], and I’m just burnt out.
Understood. This side of the business often seems more tiring than the actual film-making. So, let’s talk about Kick-Ass… when you take on a supporting role like this do you give much thought to the character or do you look at the title and just say ‘Yes.’
I was a big fan of the comic too so I knew going in what it was going to be and this script is such a fun read that it was never a chore to go over it. And sometimes it’s kind of nice to go in and work 3 weeks, there’s no burden, it’s just fun for me. I just fly and hang out in London for a couple weeks and then go home. This was a treat for me. Mark Millar and [Matthew] Vaughn have both said that god-willing there’s a sequel that I’ll get a costume.
Does that mean Marty would actually be out there fighting crime, or would he just be sitting at home on the couch wearing a costume?
I don’t know, maybe I’ll commit crime. I’ll leave that up to Jane [Goldman] and Mark and Matt to decide.
Ah, an interesting twist. So character-wise you don’t have much interaction with Hit-Girl, but having seen the movie what’s your take on the controversy surrounding her? Some people are already up in arms over the things Chloe Moretz says and does in the movie.
I don’t really think it’s my place to say anything about it, but I think people should keep in mind that it’s a character. People seem to sometimes have a difficulty drawing that line between the character and the person. Chloe is incredibly talented, and when you see the film she’s the main thing you take away. It’s like [Natalie] Portman in The Professional or a young Jodie Foster. She could not be more talented.
Okay, sticking with Marty, was there any work to do for the role aside from memorize the lines? Since the character’s goal is to provide some laughs as the best friend do you make an effort to stick to the script or do they let you play around a bit?
There’s a lot of ad-libbing. I tend to be conversational and loose with dialogue in general, not out of disrespect for the source material but because that’s the way I work. I said in one of the Hot Tub interviews that the hardest part was I had to gain 40 lbs for the role and they printed and they just ran it and it was the funniest shit I’d ever seen, but I was also offended because it looks like I put on 40lbs.
So they printed something that wasn’t true eh? Well in an attempt to start my own exclusive rumor, is there any truth to reports of you and Michael Cera being in a feud that’s preventing the two of you from ever working together again? Similar to the whole John Cusack/Jeremy Piven thing…
[smiles quizzically and tilts his head] No, we’re talking about doing a psuedo sequel to Clarke and Michael in 2011.
Oh nice, will it be an online series again?
No, probably not online. I feel like we put a pretty high water mark online. I don’t know how we would top that.
So a feature possibly?
We’ll see. It’s tentatively called Duke and Cera. We were actually just talking about it. Did you really hear we were feuding?
No, I was just hoping to start the rumor.
Oh, that’s awesome. No, not feuding. But I can’t really stop you from starting rumors.
Sounds like a confirmation to me…
No, no, that’s the opposite.
Okay, fair enough. Have you had the chance to see the movie with an audience yet?
I’ve seen it three times now, and it really holds up, and everytime I’ve seen it it’s gotten a really good response from the audience. It’s gotta be the funniest superhero movie to come out too. The movie’s really funny, and it plays with the tension too. It’s very playful with the tropes and conventions of superhero films. Matthew’s the real deal, he’s a big movie action director, and I give him all the credit for that.
What else do you have coming up in the near future?
I have a movie with Eddie Murphy called A Thousand Words that comes out in the fall. Hot Tub Time Machine is still in theaters now. [Pause] Other than that for the summer I’m doing a lot of writing, trying to get a tan. [At this point Duke gets up to adjust the thermostat, alerting me to the fact that I wasn’t simply feeling like I was on a hotseat.] It was so cold in here all day that I ripped this off to mess with it, but this room was 8 degrees and now it’s boiling.
Is the writing all for Duke and Cera?
There’s a ton of writing stuff. A feature idea I’m working on, a book I optioned that Steve Pink and I are adapting, 2–3 tv treatments in various stages of development. It’s one of the most hectic periods I’ve ever had, but it’s really fun to get back to that side of it because I haven’t really done it since Clarke and Michael.
So when you’re at a convention like WonderCon do you get the chance to walk the show floor at all or are you stuck up in these rooms?
I hope so. I go to ComicCon every year, but it’s in a work capacity. I’m a legitimate fan of comics, and I have been since I was 5.
Are there any comics you’d interested in adapting yourself?
[Pause] Yeah, I wish they’d let me write and direct a reboot of Daredevil. I think there’s definitely a way to do Daredevil correctly that nobody’s figured out for some reason.
What would you do differently?
It’s not really worth talking about.
Oh come on, we’re at a comic convention and you’re starring in a comic-book movie…
First of all just tonally. I would completely… he’s a pulp hero, I think you address it, you have to have respect for the reality of it to some extent. And also I think you play with, the most interesting thing about him is he’s a lawyer who’s committing crime every night, he’s a catholic that dresses up like the devil, there’s all this thematic stuff that’s so fun to play with, that’s so awesome, I think [Ed] Brubaker’s run is my generations’ defining… I think they’re honestly better than the Frank Miller run. And somebody should make that into a film.
And that somebody is Clark Duke.
Like Fox is gonna let me… start that rumor, maybe they’ll call me. I could write the hell out of that Daredevil movie though.
Have you written non-comedy before?
The book I optioned that me and Pink are writing is kind of a crime caper. It has some darkly funny moments, but… I call it kind of like a hillbilly Goodfellas, tonally. Hopefully you’ll be hearing about it this summer. Start the rumor I’m directing Daredevil though. That’s really exciting to me. That’s really fucking exiting to me.
Who would you cast?
Man… Edward Norton would have been perfect but he just played the Hulk. God this is tough… how about Jeremy Renner? What about Peter Sarsgaard?
Ah, but then you’d have Daredevil showing his penis halfway through the movie.
[Laughs] Yeah, I don’t know about pulling his cock out.
[On that last point our allotted time is up] Well my mother always taught me to go out on cock, so thank you very much for talking with me. Good luck with Kick-Ass and the rest of your summer plans.
Duke says thanks and then quickly returns to his Blackberry to continue lobbying Fox to hire him to write the script for Daredevil…