Rob Schneider ('Hot Chick')
“Hot, Hot, Hot”
Following his departure from SNL, Rob Schneider (11/31/63) had a sizable supporting role in the Sylvester Stallone vehicle ’Judge Dredd’ (1995), but his subsequent film work was limited almost solely to forgettable comedies. In 1996, the comedian returned to television as one of the stars of the short-lived sitcom ‘Men Behaving Badly,’ but he continued to focus much of his energy on a film career.
After appearing in ’The Waterboy’ (1998) and ’Big Daddy’ (1999), two wildly successful comedies starring fellow-SNL alum Adam Sandler, Schneider starred as the titular hero of ’Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo,’ a fish tank cleaner who assumes the identity of a high-living gigolo. Panned by critics as immature and vulgar, ’Deuce Bigalow’ nevertheless did decent business in theaters and found a niche after it's subsequent release on home video, prompting Schneider to prepare a sophmore effort, ’The Animal.’ Co-starring ‘Survivor’ contestant turned thespian Colleen Haskell, Schneider's tale of a car accident victim imbued with superhuman powers after being pieced back together with animal organs kept the low-brow rolling while marking his territory among the ranks of the more successful transitions from SNL player to big screen star.
The Adam Sandler movie-affiliation hasn’t ended there as Schneider’s next movie was ’Little Nicky’ which has now been followed by both ’The Hot Chick’ and Sandler’s animated Christmas take, ”Eight Crazy Nights.”
Sitting down with Rob to chat about all things Schneider, the man who could easily introduce himself as ‘Robbbbb. The Robman. Rob-o-cop. First-degree Robbery with intent to Schneider,’ is unusually subdued at first, but quickly springs into comic mode soon after when told that he seems to be mastering this comedic thing ! ”Yeah, thank you. We’re starting to get it down. In this instance it’s a year of our lives. Tom (Brady – the director) will write it and then we’ll get together and re-write it and then our friends will re-write it and re-write it and try to get it as funny as they can ! This was a special one though., kinda like us falling in love and getting married right in the middle of the movie. There’s a lot of love in this movie. All those scenes are really sweet. It was fun to play. It’s was a special time for Tom and I. I don’t think we’ll ever be as sweet and tender ever again in our lives !” he laughs.
Obviously, you had to get in touch with your feminine side for this role !? ”Tom used to see me making fun of my old girlfriends and he thought that would be a funny movie because I would always make fun of them. I just didn’t think you could sustain that through a whole movie. So I said, okay we’ll do this but we have to make it more interesting. So we wanted to take the form but make it kind of inverted and make a weird love story. It was sweet. Instead of having some traditional love story where the guys being a jerk he’s now someone who wants to have different kinds of love …love of friends, love of family, and true love. It was funny to see the audience freaking out when you see me, as a guy, kissing Anna Faris and then being uncomfortable ! But I think that’s the moment we got them, you know. Then seeing the kiss with Billy and trying to convince the audience that I’m a girl at that point, wow ! He’s got to be a really nice guy to even consider kissing another guy because of how much he loves his girlfriend. It’s very weird, kind of !”
You really felt sorry for him at a lot of stages of the film ”Yeah, he gets tortured. He’s the guy that’s funny because after a while you learn that he’s a good guy. That’s how I make my living being tortured. People like to see me suffer because they know eventually I’m going to be okay !”
How much of all the antics and stunt work were you participating in ? ”Well, I try to do most of it myself except for something I could really get killed doing ! I threw myself down some smaller stairs. The close-ups of me going down. But I know I hit my head. There’s a rubber area and a metal area. Even though it’s rubber, it doesn’t bend that much. So it was like the sweet spot. You’d have to try to hit the sweet spot with your face. Then they’d move the camera and I’d do it again. We did it and then my head was dizzy. And then there was something wrong, the filter wasn’t in the lens so we had to do it again. It’s the only time I cried as myself in the movie. So we had to shoot it again the next day and I didn’t know if I could do it again because I felt like a professional football player. You get two concussions in the same week. It ended up being okay because I knew exactly where to hit and we got it. Actually it was a little bit better than I’d expected. But I was banged up. That’s the fun of it though. I want the audience to know it’s really me. If they really get a sense that’s a stunt guy they don’t care !
Tom Cruise’s guy is Greg Smurs. He’s a stunt coordinator and he’ll come up to me and say, ’It’s pretty safe Robbie, but you better get it right the first time!’ We did one stunt – the break in the fish tank (‘Deuce Bigalow’) - and the fall. We did it one time with seven cameras, that’s it. We had to get it right. He’s a really good guy, Greg Smur. There was a frame at the top of the fish tank and they used tempered glass which is windshield glass so it breaks up into little pieces not big-actor-killing-shards ! There was a frame on top and he talked to the explosive guy and asked where the thing was going to go ? ‘Well, I think it’s going to go straight down’ was the guys answer, and so they chained it up and as they did the explosion, the whole top frame - which was metal - was shooting right under me ! So we’re lucky that the chain grabbed it. He’s a smart guy. He gets his money’s worth. Whatever that guy gets paid let’s make sure he’s always here !”
What was your favorite scene from ‘The Hot Chick’ ? ”There was a lot. I love working with Dick Gregory in the bathroom scene. He said, ‘I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know what’s funny about it,’ but when we started rehearsing, he said, ‘Oh, I get it.’ Just so you know, my Dad used to have his comedy album. It was great to meet him in New York. It took me a long time to get him on the phone to agree to do it. It was fun working with a guy a classic comedian like that. He’s also just a great guy. So I enjoyed that scene. We shot together all day and he told great stories. People brought albums and books and he signed them all day; really entertaining the whole crew. I love working with Anna. I think the intimate scenes with Anna were among my favorites. She has such great energy. I think you’ll see her for many, many years. As long as she wants to. It was a good bubbling kind of energy between me and her. It was a good balance. Her and I talking about love and at the Prom. And honestly if you see the movie again, you’ll see anytime I’m with Billy (Matthew Lawrence) …. I can’t help it ! I’m very good about not laughing, during Saturday Night Live I never broke up one time, but any time I was with Matthew Lawrence I just felt slightly uncomfortable ! Especially if I had to kiss him or be around him ! That uncomfortableness I found really funny. His best move in the movie is his. When he’s deciding in tortured pain whether to let me kiss him. He believes that maybe there’s a chance that the girl’s love was alive inside this guys body and he’s suffering. I think you hear the audience screaming. That’s one of my favorite moves.”
Did you watch women more closely in research for this movie ? ”Well, what I wanted to be was respectful to women. I didn’t want to be mocking them. That’s one thing I didn’t want to do because that would defeat the purpose of what I was trying to do. Yeah, I would watch, but less was more. Find the spots and then go for it. More or less be more emotionally available. Maybe sometimes to be more fragile and vulnerable. Women have the ability to jump in their emotional and be completely believable. A woman can laugh and cry in five seconds and your not freaked out by it or disturbed by it. Where if a guy does that it’s like, can we get him out of here. Is he alright? I wanted to play with that in a respectful way but at the same time go for it. Like at the club where a guy says, ‘You and me outside, lets go’ and she replies, ‘Why, where we going ?’ A woman is not used to being called out for a fight and doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It’s a sort of discovery too which is how far you can push it at the same time being real. It was a real challenge because Tom and I said to each other, we have a really good movie here. This is really good, and not just funny. It has some other levels to it. If they buy me as a girl, then we’re gold. If they don’t, we got nothing. “
You and Adam Sandler seem to be joined at the hip comedically so I was wondering what his influence has been on you and what his working relationship and friendship has been like ”We started out similarly – I’m the West Coast Adam and he’s the East Coast Rob to me. He’s the youngest in the family – very similar very tight family – brother 2 years older. I’m on the west coast and the youngest in my family and so we kind of grew up comedically together with parents being extremely over supportive of what we wanted to do to a point where I think it affected us ! When I was fifteen I said, ‘There’s a comedy club Monday nights they’ll let anybody go up.’ My Dad said, ‘So ?’ and I said, ‘So I’d like to go Monday.‘ He said ‘Let’s go’ and that was it. He just took us. His Dad gave similar support. He got into stand up at a pretty young age. He’s was on Remote Control and I was on Letterman a couple years before he did late 80’s. He moved out to LA and we both got on Saturday Night Live together and so it’s like criss- crossing around. It’s just a real good short-hand when I’m on the set with him. He’ll say, ‘You know what I was thinking ?’ and I’ll be like, ‘Yeah.’ So we have to be careful showing up on each other’s sets, because the next thing you know you’re in wardrobe and then you’re going to be in the movie ! But I wrote this and I wanted Adam to play it and he played it completely different than I thought because the lead guy was more harder to play. So he was a generic stoner, a white ‘reggae’ guy with dread locks. Adam wanted to play it completely subtle,” he speaks softly. ”That way it jumps out a little more.”
Is the Winona jibe going to remain ?! ”Adam didn’t like it at first, but I put it in there. She can take it. She’s going to joke about it. She’s has a problem actually. I think it’s the high from stealing, maybe even getting caught. Because certainly she doesn’t need the money. Like Robert Downey Jr. I said why is he doing it himself ? Doesn’t he have any assistants to buy the drugs for him ? They must get something out of the chase! “
What about the ‘naughty Priest reference’ ! ”We shot that in February. It wasn’t like the scandal had started and we didn’t think we would be allowed to do that joke. Because even a year ago, I think people would have really been offended, but now you have to acknowledge that. It’s an area that you can have fun with. It’s a shame that the Catholic Church is in such denial about this that I think it’s requiring to be mocked and ridiculed and I think that’s why it’s such a big laugh.”
Any of your past films you shake your head at ?! ”Well, for the longest time I didn’t know you could say no when you were offered a movie ! I was just so happy to get anything after ten years of smalltime TV and such. I was happy anybody wanted me to do anything. There were films like ‘Beverly Hillbillies’ and ‘Judge Dread’ - which isn’t an awful movie, but certainly not my most fun to watch. Some of these I call my ’Porno’s without the sex !’ You just do it because you’re an actor and you try to make the best of it. And after a while if the movies’ aren’t hits, you stop. And then Adam Sandler was writing and making movies and he said you should just write, but it seemed like such an arduous task; to sit down and write a movie, but then I just did. I remember I was watching Tom Brady who said, ‘You know it would be great if you were playing a Gigolo - a Male Prostitute. And I saw ‘American Gigolo’ and said, ‘If I lived next door to Richad Gere ….. But just sitting down and writing it, well, most times it’s not just about jokes. You have to involve all people. I think as silly as it is, I think it’s overly sentimental in a good way. The idea is to get every experience you can out of the audience. I want to make them laugh and cry, then there’s beautiful music in the score. That score is just beautiful! The score was really smooth and innocent and kind of matches the mood.”
Any truth to the rumor that ‘Harv The Barbarian’ is your next project ? ”Harv The Barbarian was written by Jack Andy. This script is so funny, but the financing was so weird, that it just fell apart. We’ve been waiting for a year to get the money. It’s like Orson Welles says in his book, ‘I’ve fallen in love with a film that’s a very expensive canvas !’ And it is. To make a movie the right way costs a lot of money. This movie is awesome, but it costs 30 million to make it – to do it right.”
What’s the biggest difference between doing TV and movies ? ”The biggest difference between television and film, is that television is merely disappointing whereas filmmaking is truly heartbreaking. You spend a year of your life at a chance at finding an audience and hope the whole time you’re making this you’re not in denial. You can have a studio spend money to promote it and if it doesn’t happen it’s just heartbreaking. But TV is like popcorn. You never complain if you get bad popcorn, you just throw it away. But movies are like a meal. You go out to a bad restaurant and have a bad experience, you never go back to that restaurant ever again. You try to get a good meal !”
I was wondering if you have a butt and foot double in this film ?! ”I’m so glad somebody asked that question. I get on the stair master, I swear to God ! After a while the crew had become just used to me running around in panties and showing my ass the whole movie. I think that I started to realize that I was starting to scar some of the actresses. Actually, I worked out like crazy. Those clothes are so tight. There’s just not enough room in some of those girls clothes !”
Any behind-the-scenes secrets ?”Not really, well, only that I ‘d go home to my woman and she would end up finding some of the clothing I was wearing disturbing ! She’s come home and I’d have on this really weird pair of panties. She’s say, ’What’s this !?’ I’d tell her, ‘I don’t know. I brought them back from work, honey !’ ‘I don’t want those,’ she’d say. ‘Get those out of my house !’”
Finally, sum yourself up in three words ”Not very tall,’ he laughs.
Interviewed By Russell A. Trunk
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