Jason Sudeikis: 20(ish) Questions

Your new movie, Horrible Bosses, is about three friends who conspire to kill their employers. Can you recommend a better way to deal with an oppressive boss that maybe doesn’t involve murder?

Honestly, no. That’s probably the best way to go. No, no, I’m kidding, that’s a terrible idea. I would always recommend quitting your job before murdering anyone. Or voice your frustrations and see if some adjustments can be made. Murdering your boss should be step four at the earliest. Unless your boss is bin Laden and you’re in al-Qaeda and you’re like, “To hell with this guy. He’s been inactive for like ten years.” Then yeah, I think you should kill him. Be a hero.

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What about you personally? Are you capable of killing another human being?

Probably not. I find myself having flashes of anger at perfect strangers, like if I’m at a concert and somebody is talking too loudly right in front of me. And I’ve worked with a couple of producers that I wouldn’t mind pushing down a flight of stairs, or maybe taking a swing at them, old school Bill Murray style. I get pissed like anybody does. But murder? No, I couldn’t go that far. I’m going to answer these questions honestly, just for fear of having to read them in print. So if I ever do accidentally nudge someone off a bridge, even as a complete accident, they won’t be able to pull up this interview in court. I don’t want a lawyer saying, “Look, he said right here in this interview that he’d commit murder. He literally said he’d push someone over, and this time he went too far and pushed somebody over a bridge.”

Colin Farrell, who plays your horrible boss in Horrible Bosses, has a ridiculous comb-over in the movie. Did you make a similar physical transformation for your role?

JASON SUDEIKIS: I have a tan, which was weird for me. That was the extent of my character work. It takes place in LA and people are a lot healthier out there. So I just chalked it up to he’s a guy who maybe goes hiking every now and then with a lady friend. I would never choose to take a hike, but I might if I was coaxed by a woman who I had feelings for, if she said to me, “Hey, do you want to take a hike?” And I’d be like, “Is that a joke or do you really want to take a hike?” And she’s like, “No, no, I really want to go hiking in the hills.” I’d be like, “Okay, I’ll go with you.” And I would do that. And then the sun would hit my face. You know how sun works, right? Probably the hardest part of doing this movie was matching it up when I came back to do reshoots, because I’d been living in New York in the middle of winter. My complexion was like typing paper. They had to put a ton of makeup on me to give the impression of healthy skin. There’s a specific brand of makeup they used, which I think is literally called “Healthy Glow.”

You’ve also got a small part in the upcoming sketch-comedy film Movie 43, where you play Batman. How does your Batman compare with other actors who’ve played the role, like George Clooney and Michael Keaton?

My Batman was a little bit less handsome than Clooney’s, a little bit louder than Michael Keaton’s, and probably the closest to Val Kilmer’s Batman as anybody’s seen in years. My face does not play well in that mask. I’m not built for it the way all those other fellas were. But it was a ridiculous amount of fun to do. Our scene is about Batman cock-blocking Robin, who’s played by Justin Long, at a speed-dating thing. It’s the closest to me screwing around after a pitcher of beer on an empty stomach as anything I’ve ever done in a movie. After we were done, Justin and I walked through Chinatown dressed in our outfits. And because it’s New York, we were barely noticed. Every once in a while, a tourist might stop and look at us like, “Huh, that’s unusual.” But for the most part, nobody even looked in our direction. Just a couple of guys in leotards and masks, walking together through Chinatown.

In the Farrelly Brothers’ comedy Hall Pass, you had a memorable scene where you masturbated in a car while listening to Air Supply. How do you think it compares with the classics of comedy masturbation, like Fast Times at Ridgemont High and There’s Something About Mary?

One key difference was that I was really doing it. That wasn’t a part of the script, it was just something I was doing during a break in shooting. They were doing a lighting set-up and they caught me. We’re actually in litigation for that whole scene. No, in all honesty, only time will tell if it becomes a classic like Something About Mary. When we re-do this interview in the future, like twenty-five years down the line, and at that point print will be entirely dead and it’ll only be 17 questions, I feel like I’ll have a better perspective. But here’s a little movie magic fun fact for you. I did all of my research for that scene by going on Chatroulette, You know, that website where guys masturbate for strangers? My moves in Hall Pass are an amalgamation of, I don’t know, maybe 20,000 different dudes. That site is masturbation at its best. I took the facial expressions from SexHog22, I took the hand motions from GrizzlyBearDong. I just spent one afternoon clicking through Chatroulette and I got tons of great stuff. Those guys really know what they’re doing.

Hall Pass also introduced us to the phrase “sperm bank,” a mental inventory of fantasy images. What’s in your spank bank?

My mom got my dad a Playboy subscription as a wedding gift, way back in 1969. So I grew up in a house where Playboy was readily available. I have a strong face and name recognition with Playmates between the late 80s and early 90s. And probably a lot of those images are still floating around up there in my head. If you showed me a hundred faces of pretty naked ladies from the late 80s to early 90s, I could point out which twelve of them were actual Playmates. I could at least name nine of them. I could pick Wendy Hamilton, Miss December 1991, out of a lineup. But then again, I could also do this for Big 8 basketball players from the same time frame, so it’s not completely directed at masturbating.

You grew a mustache for several movies, including the Bounty Hunter and Going the Distance. What have you learned about yourself because of your ‘stache experiences?

I’ve learned that a mustache makes anybody who’s trying to be serious seem less serious. And probably most importantly, I learned that I can grow one. I guess that’s a big deal. It did seem to inspire envy in a lot of people. Nothing malicious, it’d just get reactions like, “God, your mustache is so thick. I can’t grow a mustache like that. How long did it take you?” I’d tell them three weeks and they’d be like, “Wow, that’s amazing.” It makes you part of a pretty exclusive club. I think the only ones out there who can really relate are the people who know how to fly airplanes. Once you understand that power, you know what it’s like to be able to grow a full mustache in a few weeks. But I’m not really adventurous with my facial hair. Nothing like what Will Forte does with it.

You’ve said in the past that Will Forte isn’t afraid of growing a neck beard — which is a beard with just the hair below your chin. Does it get more adventurous than that?

He’s just a hairy and experimental guy. He’s very creative in how he uses the things his body produces. Like, he’ll save his toenails and give them to a buddy as a wedding gift. When I was first hired by Saturday Night Live, Forte was in the middle of an epic pube war with some of the other writers and actors on the show. That’s where you scatter your pubic hair on somebody else’s belongings. I don’t know if it was real pubes, but I remember something that looked like pubes was all over somebody’s computer keyboard. Is “pube war” a real thing? I guess it is now. Will the Oxford English Dictionary get a copy of this interview?

You’ve played Floyd, one of Liz Lemon’s many boyfriends on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock. Explain why you make better boyfriend material than Jon Hamm or Matt Damon.

God, I can’t. I would make the exact opposite argument, that I don’t in any way make a better boyfriend. I mean, come on, we all just want her and Jack (Donaghy, played by Alec Baldwin) to get together, right? When I first got the job at 30 Rock, it wasn’t a huge show yet. It was just friends working with friends. I knew Tina (Fey) from Saturday Night Live, and she’s been very generous to me. It was just a fun thing to do, and it was before the show started winning all those awards. When it started to get successful, I said, “It’s a good thing I got the part when I did. If they were casting the show now, they’d probably get Matt Damon to play her boyfriend.” And lo and behold, not long after that, Matt Damon comes on the show and plays her boyfriend. So, if this acting thing doesn’t work out, I guess I’ll always have a career as a casting director to fall back on.

You got married to Justin Timberlake on the animated sitcom The Cleveland Show. How’s that relationship working out?

Between the characters or me and Justin? Well I’ll be honest, with Justin and I, he’s been an absent lover. He’s busy being the best at everything. If it’s not singing and dancing, it’s golfing and being in a shit-ton of movies. I can’t wait to vote for him for president when he turns 35. But on a personal level, it’s not working out between us. I never see the guy. We’re never in the same town. I’ll see him in another month, and hopefully we can have a heart-to-heart. It’s something we’ve got to air out before it’s picked up by the media. I don’t want people to pick us apart. It can be tough having a relationship in the spotlight.

That’s something you have some experience with. You’ve been romantically linked with actresses like Jennifer Aniston, January Jones, and Scarlett Johansson. Would it just be easier to ask which Hollywood actresses you haven’t slept with?

I think I missed my opportunity with Betty White. She got too big too soon on the second go-around. There was a whole chunk of time between Golden Girls and that Snickers commercial that I could’ve made something happen. Now I can’t get near her. And also Megyn Kelly, the Fox newscaster. I have not slept with Megyn Kelly, despite the fact that we share the exact same politics and I know it would go great. That last sentence should all be italicized. [laughs]

Is it more difficult to date because of the prying eyes of the tabloids?

No I don’t think so. I think it has less to do with me than the ladies. Tabloids in general are more about the ladies than the fellas. There are exceptions, like Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, but of the nine or so people that are usually on the covers of those magazines, seven of them are women. I haven’t seen a picture of me standing next to someone who doesn’t have an IMDB page. And yet I’m equally as capable of dating someone you can’t find on Google images. It doesn’t matter to me if someone is in movies or TV or not. Nice people are nice people. Pretty people are pretty people.

While you were dating January Jones last summer, you went on George Lopez’ talk show and joked that you’d seen Jones naked, which she later denied, adding “nor will he after those comments.” In hindsight, do you have any regrets?

The bummer of that whole situation is she made a joke right back at me and nobody got it. Nobody gave her credit for what I thought was a pretty good zinger. I was like, “Come on, now. Let the gal have some fun.” But the joking between us and the ramifications of it were only between her and I. And nothing weird happened between us because of it. I’m certainly not going to change the way I am or stop being myself because some people misinterpret it. It would probably be harder if I was Dr. Oz and I made dumb jokes all the time. Then my legitimacy would be shot. But I’m a fucking actor. I’m not running for office. I’m not in charge of people’s money. I’m a boy who went out with a girl and somebody asked me about it and I made a joke like I would make to anybody, except there were cameras pointed at us, and that’s it.

You come from a large Lithuanian family. Although you only have two sisters, you have twenty-five cousins. Have the Sudeikis clan just not heard about condoms?

That’s actually on the Wendt side, my mother’s side. They just love to hump, I guess. I don’t know the exact number now, but I think some of the cousins are having kids. One of them has four kids, which is crazy to me. On the Sudeikis side, it may be down to just my father at this point. I guess I’m the last one who can carry on the Sudeikis name. But I don’t know if I’ve got anything left in the tank. I wasted so much of it in the early 90s on those Playboys, My tank might be empty. Do you guys provide a doctor so I can answer this honestly?

Your uncle is George Wendt, who famously played Norm on the 1980s sitcom Cheers. Has he given you any career advice?

He’s always been very encouraging, but there was no Tuesdays With Morrie kind of relationship between him and I. He didn’t take me to the park to explain comic timing. “Watch these dogs play, kid. See how playful they are. That’s what you need to bring to your work.” There was nothing like that. He was just a good example that being an actor was a viable option. Here’s a guy from the Midwest, in my family, who took the road less traveled and it worked out for him. The advice he gave me, and I say this jokingly, is “Get on one of the best sitcoms of all time and then ride it out.”

Early on, you briefly considered a career in the experimental theater company the Blue Man Group. What appealed to you about wearing blue makeup?

It wasn’t really the makeup, it was the quietness of their comedy. I liked the idea of being silent and anonymous. And I also felt that it was probably the closest I’d ever come to playing music for an audience, even though they mostly play pipes and weird instruments. I just fell in love with everything about the show. I was also dealing with a good amount of anger and frustration about sketch comedy at that point. I was performing at The Second City in Las Vegas, and as with anything you love to do, you end up disliking it after a little while. It’s like any other type of relationship. I just got obsessed with the Blue Man Group, and I was super annoying about it. Not just talking about it but, honest to god, I was fucking drumming all the time. I can’t imagine something being more annoying for the people around me. Everywhere I went, it was a constant [mimics drumming] dut-dut-dut-dut-dut. What an asshole!

You’re a big University of Kansas basketball fan. Are you just a spectator, or can you play some hoops?

I played in high school and then at community college for a year and a half. Knowing what I know now about myself, it was a form of acting. I was always showboating. I threw a lot of behind-the-back passes and no-look passes, like Magic Johnson or Pete Maravich. Those are the guys I really enjoyed watching, who had such flashy ways of playing. I could be serious about it, like when I played point guard in high school, because it’s more of a leadership position. But on some teams, like my AAU summer team, I was the goofy white kid on a team full of black guys. I was very much like Jim Carrey on In Living Colour.

There’ve been a few basketball players who’ve hosted Saturday Night Live since you’ve been on the show, like Charles Barkley and LeBron James. Are you more starstruck by the athletes than the Hollywood actors?

Not really. You just have a different conversation. When I knew Barkley was gonna host, I ordered the DVDs of these videos I used to pour over as a kid, called NBA Superstars, which were basically music videos with basketball highlights. There’d be a montage of Magic Johnson to Janet Jackson’s “Control,” or Larry Bird’s greatest plays set to “Small Town.” And they had one for Barkley set to “The Warrior.” Remember that song? [sings] “Shootin’ at the walls of heartache, bang, bang, I am the warrior.” It’s him doing these awesome, amazingly athletic things. So he shows up to do SNL, and I show him the videos, and he’s talking through it all, almost like an audio commentary on a DVD. He goes right back to the moment of each play, telling me about it. It was insane. That’s what’s really amazing about this job, it allows for an intimacy with people you usually only get to enjoy from afar.

As a small town boy from Overland Park, Kansas, was it a culture shock when you moved to New York City?

It could’ve been worse. I got to live in Chicago and Amsterdam and Las Vegas before I got out here. I was fortunate enough to have enough big and weird cities in my rearview mirror. And it’s not like I grew up on a farm. It was a suburb of Kansas City. But New York is definitely an adjustment. It helps to have a built-in social group before you arrive. And a job, obviously. This place is expensive as shit. When I first got here, I was living in this place in Midtown above a Burger King. One day I left the house for work and walked outside and directly into a Puerto Rican Day parade. 46th street in New York is called Little Brazil, so between Fifth and Sixth Avenues on Puerto Rican Day is just nuts. It’s like the World Cup and Mardi Gras times a thousand. It was easily as jammed as Times Square on New Year’s Eve. It was shoulder-to-shoulder people, and I kept bumping into all of their awesome butts. It took me a good thirty minutes to walk the five minutes to 30 Rock.

You’ve worked at Saturday Night Live for the last eight years, so you’re very familiar with the building. Is 30 Rockefeller Center filled with secret chutes and hidden doors?

Oh yeah, there’s stuff everywhere. There’s a place on the eighth floor, a chute made entirely out of brick, almost like an elevator shaft that doesn’t have an elevator. You can look straight up and see the sky. People used to go out there and smoke all the time. Now alarms go off, it’s mayhem. But some of the bricks are autographed by former cast members; it’s really cool. On Jimmy (Fallon)’s floor, the 6th floor, there’s a closet filled with pipes that Jim Henson and Frank Oz decorated like Muppets back in the 60s, when they were bored and waiting to go on the Tonight Show. Also, there’s a sign that says “Watch Your Head” over far stage left of the studio, and somebody wrote at the bottom “Farley,” because I guess he always used to hit his head running off stage for a quick change. There are little secrets everywhere if you know where to look for them.

The post-show parties at Saturday Night Live are notorious for being outrageous and drug-fueled affairs. In 2011, are they still as wild as they were back in John Belushi and Bill Murray’s day?

It’s not that juvenile anymore. These days, it goes much deeper. It’s more about white color crime. There’s definitely some money laundering going on at those parties, and some identity theft. It comes from a very, very different place now. It’s all about the Benjamin’s. But we do know how to party. There’s a lot of dancing, a lot of people doing the “Macarena” and “Mambo #5,” people drinking Zimas and screwing around. It’s the best party in town.

On SNL, you’ve kissed Jon Hamm and put Zac Efron’s foot in your mouth. What was a more pleasant experience?

Well, they’re both equally as hairy. At this point, it’s up to them to decide. I don’t want to choose favorites. But I will say that Efron’s foot was a delight. All those Disney kids have real clean feet. I’m not a dummy. I’m only going to put a real clean foot in my mouth. And I’ll tell you what, it tasted a lot like Ben Kingsley’s foot.

One of your most popular characters on SNL is the backup dancer in the “What Up With That?” skit. Where’d you learn those amazing dance moves?

Probably from watching the Mickey Mouse Club with my sisters, and then House Party and a lot of Bell Biv Devoe and Boyz II Men videos. I picked up a lot of great moves at a relatively young Caucasian age. But you’ll never see any anger behind my dancing. It’s not like Ren McCormack in Footloose. My dancing always came from a very happy place, not from a broken teenage boy place. That’s where my poetry comes from. I’m flattered that people like that character so much. It kind of harkens back to my desire to be silent and anonymous. He’s just this guy in the background, nobody knows his name, nobody knows his story, and yet you can’t take your eyes off him.

 You do a hilarious impression of Vice President Joe Biden. Have you ever gotten a reaction from the real Biden?

I’ve never met him, but I did get to watch a video of him watching me do him, which was kinda surreal. He was laughing, so I guess he liked it. My father got to meet him when he was campaigning back in 2008. In fact, he introduced himself as “the father of the guy who plays you on SNL.” He actually had a pretty funny joke. He said to Biden, “I have to tell you, sir. You do the best impression of my son I’ve ever seen.”

You’re 6′ 1″. Isn’t that a little tall for a movie actor? Do you have to constantly lean down for kissing scenes?

Yes, you’re entirely right, I’m doomed. Thank you, it’s about time somebody pointed it out. My floundering career has nothing to do with my lack of talent, or being a five in the looks department. It’s the height that’s going to get me, you’re absolutely correct. I don’t know why people keep hiring me. I’m like, “Guys, I’m really way too tall to be doing this.” I bring it up all the time, but nobody’s listening. Maybe it helps that I tell people I’m five foot thirteen. And all of my kissing scenes thus far have been in the horizontal position. I’ve slipped under the radar.

(This story originally appeared, in a slightly different form, in the July 2011 issue of Playboy magazine.)