By Fred Topel | Images property of Paramount Pictures.
Hot Rod Poster
The digital shorts on Saturday Night Live have made a splash, but his first feature film is not just a 90 minute version of Lazy Sunday. Hot Rod is an action comedy with a lame stuntman (Andy Samberg) botching elaborate stunts and getting hilariously injured.
Schaffer Talks Hot Rod
"That was the one thing that made me nervous," said Schaffer. "Everything else in it was kind of comedy based so I was sure I know how to do that. Then I’d read some stunt and I’d go, 'I don’t know even where to begin on that.'"
Luckily, stuntman extraordinaire Nick Powell and Schaffer spoke the same language. "I knew how I wanted it to look in my head so I could describe the shot I was going to do. I could describe how I wanted the crash to feel, how I wanted it to feel home-made and you just caught it and not cut to the close-up of the crash in a way that like some comedies would do. Then a few days later he would kind of have it all set up, mocked up with the real people with wires and a gravel parking lot and he’d call me out there and I’d go out and he’d be, 'All right are you ready? Are you watching?' I’d be like 'yeah.' And he’d be like, 'Go ahead.' All of a sudden some dude would just swing in or explode or just go right in and do it and he’d turn to me and I’d go, 'That will work.'”
You'd better laugh because those guys really sacrificed for our amusement. "There were some where I’d tell him and you could see his face kind of drop. If it was just somebody making a jump, then that’s pretty safe because someone who makes a jump remains safe. But somebody who’s supposed to go full speed into something, it’s harder to fake that, unless we were doing CG which I didn’t really want any of in the movie. I had to compromise a few times for people’s safety but in general there’s very little CG. I was surprised how much the guy really had to do it. They just had to be willing to hurt themselves."
The cast includes SNL regulars Jorma Taccone and Bill Hader, as well as veterans Ian McShane and Sissy Spacek. "I talked to [McShane] on the phone and I think he knew, like Brian Dennehy in Tommy Boy, I don’t think they get asked to be in comedies. My experience on the show is like whether it’s Christopher Walken or Alec Baldwin or lots of people who are essentially known as serious actors, when they get to do comedy they’re very happy. They have all those years, DeNiro being one of the great examples, of being cast one way then suddenly they’re funny and it’s disarming."
Hot Rod opens to theaters this Friday, August 3rd.