It's always a giant risk when an actor, typically known for one specific style of comedy, makes a leap into a genre-bending film. "Flight of the Conchords'" Jemaine Clement was well aware of that when he said yes to the charming indie "People Places Things," opening this Friday.
In the film Clement plays Will, an earnest cartoonist who teaches at SVA and is a doting dad to two adorable girls. At the start of the film, Will's life crumbles when he walks in on his partner and the mother of his children having an affair at a kiddie birthday party. The majority of the comedic romance focuses on one year later, to show us how to fail upwards while adjusting to the mystery of life's greatest curveballs.
amNewYork sat down with Clement to talk about taking a risk in his comedy and the future of "Flight of the Conchords."
This is very different from your other work. Was there any insecurity going into it?
I've never had a lead role in a film so I was worried about the pressure of that. Also, I was thinking how much work it would be, learning all the lines, but because I'm pretty much in every scene I didn't have much time to worry about what I was doing, I just had to do it.
Did you grow up a huge fan of comic books? Did you read any series?
I used to read "2000 AD," a British sci-fi [comic]. I used to get Donald Duck from the gas station, and I used to treat them because they were half the size of a normal comic book. In university I'd read a lot of Daniel Clowes, especially "Eightball."
There's such a specific rhythm of comedy in the film, especially when you're finding the humor in something that's uncomfortable. Would you say that's what you brought to the film?
Yeah, I really enjoyed the script and how it was based in real-life rather than these extreme things happening, though I like that comedy too and I've mostly gone for those kind of things. This was kind of unusual for me. I hadn't really spoken in my natural voice many times. In Flight of the Conchords, I use my voice, but it's not really me, but because it was one of the only times I used my natural voice I knew I had to make sure that I wasn't playing that character.
Fans were very passionate about the HBO series "Flight of the Conchords." Is there a tour in the works?
Yeah, [Bret McKenzie and I] were planning to tour right about now, but then we both got busy, but we're still hoping to announce a tour. We've also started to talk about other ideas, not a series, but maybe a film idea.
You have a new show in the works at HBO with Judd Apatow. Is there a spot for Bret?
It was kind of an idea that I wanted to do for years. The show is going to be a different comedy idea. Each episode is going to be different. One might be set in 1984 and another might be set in 1984 B.C., it's different characters, and I'll be acting in it. If Bret wants to be in it, he can be in it. I've been meaning to ask Bret to do something in it but we're in pretty early.