Q: Did co-star Terence Stamp share his views on life with you?
A: “We did talk about a gluten-free diet. He gave me a loaf of his bread, it was quite good actually, really good. We talked about Brigitte Bardot, he gave me some of the inside scoop on some of that – not too bad!
“He has lived the life, he has tasted the fruit of the vine. But he’s a great guy, he’s an amazing actor and I’ve always wanted to work with him, I’ve been fascinated with him so we would always speak through our people like ‘I love you,’ and ‘I love you too, let’s do something’.
“It went on for years and then finally this part came up and I just thought he was perfect for it.
“He’s committed, but he’s also got a really nutty inside quality to him, he’s got madness in his eyes. It’s all that time with Fellini. It drove him over the edge.”
Q: Have you done anything in your life you regret saying yes to?
A: “You know I don’t really regret anything I say yes to, honestly. I kind of say yes to what is and what’s coming because I have a firm belief that what’s coming is going to top what’s been here already. It’s gonna be good.”
Q: Was the bungee jump you do in the film for real?
A: Yeah, and actually I’m a lot happier in that picture [points to the poster of the film] than I was in the actual jump. That’s probably superimposed.
“There were several things in this movie that just beforehand you’re making a reckoning. Every time you show up on the set it’s like ‘okay, could die today. What do I say to Jesus, and how will I explain those nights in Amsterdam?’.
“I broke three ribs just doing the fall in the bar scene so I was in great shape going into the really rough stuff. They put everything to the end of the movie because I had three broken ribs to work with, because halfway through the pratfall I changed my plan.
“I’ve done pratfalls my whole life, I know how to do them, but suddenly I decided it would be a good idea to get all four limbs up into the frame at the same time. I came down really hard. All I really cared about was ‘did it look cool?’.”
Q: You’ve left physical comedy behind you in recent years – what brought you back to the genre?
A: “That’s an illusion that I left them behind, I just do whatever I’m attracted to. It’s like the woman who stands out in the crowd, who for some reason you notice, that’s the one you’re supposed to dance with at that time in your life.
“That’s just what it is with scripts, they find you when you’re emotionally in the right place to do them. Eternal Sunshine [of the Spotless Mind], I was broken-hearted and Michel Gondry came to me and said ‘you are beautiful like this’. I said, ‘But we’re not shooting for another year,’ he said, ‘Don’t get well’.
“This movie, I wanted to put something good out into the world and make people feel good. I was drawn to that because I feel like it’s time for a shift in the paradigm out there, from cynicism to faith and belief in a good future. So I wanted to put that out into the world and this attracted me in that way.”
Q: You started out as a stand-up on the Canadian comedy circuit – any thoughts about returning to performing live again?
A: “You know, anything’s possible. I don’t know where the muse is going to take me, I think of a lot of things that I might want to say to an audience, and that absolutely could happen at some point. One of the things I thought about is doing a self-help seminar, in my own way.
“So you know, those things occur to me all the time. And also to do plays and things like that. I don’t ever want to stick myself in one category. I do really love making movies, but the thing about live performances, you don’t have to wait around. Literally we’re still waiting to see what the reaction is to the film, we made it a year and a half ago so it’s a slower process. But it is enjoyable.”
Q: Who are your comic inspirations these days?
A: “There’s a lot of great comic actors right now. Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller, all of these guys are doing amazing. Judd Apatow, everything he’s doing is phenomenal.
“We go way back, we’ve written for years together, so eventually I’m sure we’ll find something that we want to do that he’ll direct. But I love all of his work. Seth Rogen, there’s a lot of guys out there that are really fun to watch.
“[Judd] used to open for me on the road. He was my opening act, and he was always one of my biggest supporters as well.”
Q: Whose idea was it to cast Flight of the Conchords’ Rhys Darby as Norman, and how was it working with him?
A: “It was Peyton Reed’s [the director] idea, Rhys, and he’s just absolutely brilliant. He’s got that Peter Sellers madness inside him and it just worked out so perfectly because my character is broken and doesn’t want to be involved with anybody, and doesn’t want to seen by anybody.
“And this character, played by Rhys Darby, is so full of love and so wants to be my friend that it becomes incredibly painful for me. The worst thing in the world when you feel broken is to have somebody coming at you with open faced love. Rhys was just genius at it, it was great. Very childlike.
“It was interesting, because I am playing the straight man to him at the beginning. And then when the ‘yes’ philosophy takes over you see Carl grow into someone that can actually hang with this guy, then it’s that same energy going back and forth that created the tape scene, things like that, because we became like children playing together. It was great.”