Tony Janning on Legend of Neil and Why He Likes Assholes [Interview]

The Legend of Neil series is now over, but Tony Janning’s journey is just beginning. He plays the main reluctant hero, Neil, who entered the world of Zelda by masturbating and choking himself out with a Nintendo controller. Now in Hyrule, he has to save Princess Zelda from the evil Gannon while encountering perverted monsters and a horny fairy. It’s up to us, Nerd Reactor, to ask the hard hitting questions that can prevent the world from facing certain doom.

Nerd Reactor: Now that Legend of Neil is over, do you have anything planned, or are you taking a short vacation?

Tony Janning: We do have some stuff planned. Sandeep and I wrote, he directed and I starred in an upcoming web series entitled Suite 7 which is set to come out early December I think. Also, I just got back in town from NYC, working on The Temp Life and playing a guest spot. So, that was kind of a short vacation. But, yes, there are some things we’re trying to get off the ground that both Sandeep and I are working on together and separately.

NR: Watching the series from Season 1 all the way to Season 3 made me realize how far you guys have gone from a humble beginning to an extravagant end. When picked you guys up, how cool was that?

TJ: It was awesome. When we first got the Atom deal back in the late summer of 2007, web shows were still in the very very early stages of being actual “shows”, so we felt like we were riding in on something that was changing the medium. That was exciting. Also, because we both knew that we would be able to expand on this world and write and shoot 5 more episodes. It was a thrill. We had no idea it would go where it has. That seems like a decade ago.

NR: That montage scene when you were training with Old Man, it makes me question why crotch shots are so funny.

TJ: Ha. Probably because man junk is so funny looking. If you watch the ‘Rocky III’ montage that we are parodying, there are a ton of crotch shots. I’m not even sure they realized they were doing it at the time. The extra “zoom ins” and that last crotch shot of Neil before the montage ends, was Sandeep and our editors Tony and Josh being goofy. The first time I saw it, I said, “Really? More shots of my junk?” But then I realized it was hilarious.

NR: When coming up with the dialogue, does it come natural to you guys, or do you guys draw inspiration from others?

TJ: As the show has grown and the main characters have become more developed it did get easier to write the dialogue. Because we knew what Old Man would say, or how Wizrobe would react to something Gannon said etc… We did draw inspiration from some of our favorite movies throughout the series, especially in the last episode, and those moments are very obvious but they also work with our story and characters. As much as this show is a parody, we’re very proud of the original characters that we’ve created. That became the heart of this show. These characters and their relationships.

NR: I was pretty surprised to see how raunchy this show was. Were you guys worried about the content, or were you able to say fuck it, we want to do what we want to do?

TJ: You know, the show isn’t as raunchy as people think it is. I think as the show has progressed it’s gotten a little less raunchy. Obviously the way Neil gets into the game is gross. And that was just a crazy idea that came about when Sandeep and I were trying to figure out how he got in to the game. Sandeep threw the idea of auto erotic asphyxiation out there, we both laughed, then I said maybe he used the controller, and we both laughed even more. So, it stuck. Would we have more fans without that opening? Maybe. But, that’s a choice we made and we’ve stuck with it and it’s ridiculous. There is plenty of other raunchy humor in the show. Although, I don’t think sex with a 7-inch tall Fairy is raunchy. I think it’s fascinating and hysterical.

NR: I know that you and Felicia never had any screen time together in real life, how does it feel to not be able to work with Felicia in the same scene?

TJ: Well, almost every scene she ever did on the green screen I was standing off camera giving her my lines. And the very first scene with Neil and the Fairy (episode 103), she was there with us in the woods giving me her lines off camera. And we’ve done improv shows together, but yeah, it’s a little weird. We’ve worked together, but not really in front of the camera at the same time. I love our scenes though. And I think it shows in all of them, that we were there and working off each other. I think I’ve had a character go further with her than anyone else probably ever will. That’s something I guess.

NR: You mentioned that Sandeep chose you to play as Neil because he was looking for an asshole. Do you take pride in your assholery?

TJ: Ha. I’ve always loved those gruff/asshole/reluctant hero characters in movies and shows. So, yes, there is a bit of pride in the fact that he thought of me when he originally came up with this idea. Neil is that quintessential fish out of water that doesn’t want to be the hero, but deep down he is. Much like Han Solo, Ash (Army of Darkness), Jack Burton (Big Trouble in Little China) etc.. The list goes on. So, yeah, even on a smaller scale, I love that I was able to play that kind of guy.

NR: In the series’ ending, Neil and his brother are transported into the Mushroom Kingdom. A lot of fans are wondering if you and Sandeep are going to do Super Grimsley Bros?

TJ: I can’t comment on that. We knew when we came up with that ending that people would be curious if it will ever happen. You never know. Never say never. The never ending story….something else with never.

NR: Now that you’ve finished an awesomely funny series, it’s time for the ladies to throw themselves at you. I mean, you did get to take away Princess Zelda’s virginity.

TJ: Haha. Well, considering Neil/Link was the only option Zelda had, and the only one that could save her (based on the game), all he had to do was show up. I guess if you want to save a hot princess, take the advice of your mentor, work hard, fight off and destroy the evil lord holding her captive. I mean, if you’re the only dude in that world that she will have sex with, it’d be hard to screw that up.

NR: Have you been recognized as Neil out on the regular streets?

TJ: Only at conventions or web meet-up events. But, that’s fine with me and it’s always flattering when someone recognizes you and likes your work.

NR: Let’s talk nerdy. So what’s the last nerdiest thing you did?

TJ: This interview? And I mean that in a good way.

If you haven’t checked out the series yet, visit the Legend of Neil site now and watch it!

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