Brian Posehn on his new film Uncle Nick, Deadpool, and doing it all

brianposehn

By Joshua Kaye

There are very few people who have had a career that can match up with that of Brian Posehn. He has been in television and films for almost 20 years now, while also being a large member of the stand-up comedy scene as well. I don’t mean that as a pun either, with him being 6’7″ and all. Posehn is one of the funniest men in the industry today who you probably haven’t heard of – or you have, but don’t quite recognize the name. Most recently, Posehn starred in the movie Uncle Nick, focusing on the drunken Christmas antics of Nick as he tries to hook up with his step-niece. Obviously, nothing goes as planned and things take a turn for the worst. We had the chance to sit down with Posehn and talk about Uncle Nick, some stuff behind the scenes, as well as his long career working in the business.

Nerd Reactor: What’s going to make Uncle Nick the next iconic Christmas movie that families will be able to enjoy together?

Brian Posehn: What’s gonna make that? People actually see it, I guess. [Laughs] I don’t know. I feel like it is a movie that would stand up to repeat viewings, I think it’s just gonna be finding its audience and the right people, you know. Finding it and clicking with it and then letting their friends know about it. But it does seem like the kind of movie…I like to watch anti-Christmas movies around Christmas. My favorite holiday films are Die Hard 1 & 2 and Gremlins so you know I think it would fit in if you’re binge watching those movies.

NR: Definitely. It’s a bit raunchier than the others, but, well it’s a Christmas movie!

BP: Right, you know I’ve heard it compared to Bad Santa as far as the anti-Christmas thing and that’s good company man, that’s a great movie. The more people the say that, the better, you know?

NR: So how did you get attached to the role of Uncle Nick?

BP: Well, you a comic book fan too?

NR: I am!

BP: Cool. So, my buddy Gerry Duggan, who I wrote Deadpool with, and I wrote The Last Christmas with, he’s one of my closest friends. He knew the director and writer from that old show, Attack of the Show, on G4. And they all worked on that together and he knew that…Gerry had mentioned it to me that these guys were writing something for me. It was written with me always in mind and Gerry gave it to me and I kinda sat on it for a while. Just because…I don’t know, that’s kind of the guy I am. I kind of was like, “Well how good could it be if it’s for me? Boo hoo.” There was a little bit of that involved and self-sabotage and whatever. So then it took Gerry going, “Dude, I told you to read this thing. It’s really good. These guys are my friends, they wrote it for you. They really wanna make it, their financing is coming together. So don’t be an asshole and read it.” And so I finally did and called him almost immediately and said, “Tell those guys I really dig it.”

NR: I feel like there must be something special to knowing that there’s a part being written with you specifically in mind.

BP: Yeah man! It’s the thing as an actor that you’re kind of hoping will happen. But like I said, when it actually happened it took my friend almost punching me in the face to actually read it.

NR: Thinking about that, knowing that they wrote the character with you in mind and looking at Uncle Nick, he’s a bit of a slob, alcoholic, all this fun stuff. Does that make you think, “Is this what people are going to start writing for me?”

BP: I didn’t take it like that. To me, I took it cause I have played that are maybe unlikeable at the surface but this guy had more levels to that than I normally get to, with the exception of The Sarah Silverman Program. That guy was basically myself except for he was married to a man instead of a tiny blonde lady, like I am. There’s things about my own personality that came out on that show that’s kind of unlikeable. I can be a dick at times. I think they knew. I didn’t take it bad at all, I think they knew that I could carry this stuff where I could say mean shit to my brother and I was kind of a curmudgeon. And the older I get, I mean, I was curmudgeon when I was 20, so I just get worse.

I didn’t take it as an offense at all, I took it that these guys kind of get me. At the end, without spoiling, my character is somewhat redeemed. I love that part about it. You may think I’m a douche as the movie unfolds, especially if you know the main story without giving too much away. You know the main story, the main hook is I go to Christmas to try and bang my step-niece. You know, a 20 year old girl that I’m gonna try to get drunk. And you know, on paper…well, not on paper, that’s kind of a douchey move. But I feel like as you know this guy’s backstory and all that unfolds, it makes him at least sympathetic. You know, like going back to Bad Santa and that kind of thing, in that movie that guy’s a total douche and then gets redeemed. I like those kind of movies. My favorite action films are kind of anti-hero films.

NR: Which kind of makes sense with you being a writer for Marvel with the Daredevil comics, he’s kind of an anti-hero type of character. Can you talk a bit about working with the director, Chris Kasick?

BP: Well, Chris was… first time, I think he did that big of a thing but he just gets actor. You’ve heard people say that before, it’s kind of a cliche thing for an actor to say. But he really worked with me, we talked about it really early on about what I was gonna do to make this the best thing. And I, on my own, hired an acting coach that he wound up using that acting coach to work with other people in the movie which I thought was really cool. Man, there’s no ego, you know. I wound up being a producer on the film but I wound up helping cast the thing too so he was so welcoming to that and he actually wanted me to get my friends parts like Paget and Scott Adsit and Missi Pyle. Yeah man, it was a great experience. I would work with Chris in a second.

NR: It seems like he definitely has a future and I really enjoyed Uncle Nick and I want to see more of what he has.

BP: Yeah, man, and the writer Mike Demski was really involved too. I think Demski’s a guy to watch too since a lot of that movie was on the page. We did a little bit of improvising, mostly in scenes where it’s Missi and myself, and then a couple of lines I riffed but the rest of it…that was all there. That was all Mike and Chris.

NR: I was going to ask about the improv thing and I was curious since you have a pretty extensive background as a writer. Did you provide any sort of input to the character or any of his scenes? Or was it completely Chris and Mike?

BP: It was mostly them with the exception of dialogue. I didn’t talk to them about any of the story or anything. I really helped with just lines and that kind of thing, when I walk into the house and the line where I say, “It looks like a Pottery Barn fucked a restoration hardware” that was my improv. And kind of like I said, the Missi stuff and a lot of the Scott Adsit stuff. Other than that, the script was ready to go, ready to film. It didn’t need development when I signed on.

NR: With the movie, as you mentioned you have Paget Brewster, you have Missi Pyle and Scott Adsit, can you talk about what it’s like working with such a great supporting cast?

BP: Well, they’re all my friends. Those three people were, I didn’t really know Jacob or Beau. And then Melia, strangely enough, was a babysitter for my wife and I for a little bit so I knew her through there. So that adds a creepy level to that, for sure. Once Missi got on set I was so comfortable, I just knew it would be funny, you know. There’s a bunch of stuff that didn’t even get used because she and I wouldn’t stop talking.

NR: I’d love to see that.

BP: There’s a lot of stuff, especially when we were making fun of our brother which she and I would go and go and go until Chris would tell us to stop. She definitely has more of an improv background than I do. With me, it’s just been…I come from more of a stand-up background but doing Funny People and my part in Five Year Engagement, when you work with Apatow you’re allowed to improvise so I’ve done that quite a bit. And even on the Sarah show, we’d do thing as written and then we’d get to mess around a little. You’d do a couple of takes exactly on script so I do have some history in doing that. And it’s just fun to do.

NR: And it’s even more fun when you get to do it with friends.

BP: Absolutely, yeah. But then having Paget there for the serious moments too, that was great. She is an old, old friend and was so supportive of me when I had to cry and when I had to do some stuff that I’m not comfortable with. It was great to have friends in the room you know.

NR: The both of you towards the end of the movie really just knocked it out of the park.

BP: Thank you, thank you.

NR: Did you have a sort of ‘Uncle Nick’ in your family that you kind of used for inspiration for your character?

BP: Uhm, no I had an Uncle Gary who was an entrepreneur… weed dealer, back when that was a thing. I had a character, he was a guy who if he showed up at Christmas he would kind of take the focus. Kind of how Uncle Nick does but in a different way. He was the black sheep of our family, my mom’s brother. He wound up actually in a total Midnight Express-way, he spent one year in Turkish prison and we didn’t know if we were ever going to see him again and then one year he showed up one Christmas with a crazy Charles Manson beard and long hair, and this was the ‘70s. So I did have a little bit of ‘that guy’ to draw on but totally different. He wasn’t a drunken spectacle but he was still kind of the guy that didn’t really fit into the family.

NR: He was interesting, to say the least. He made things a bit more exciting. The film just has a bunch of great scenes…some are uncomfortable, some are raunchy, was there any scene in particular that you enjoyed filming the most?

BP: I had a blast during the White Elephant scene. I’d never really done that. I had a blast a lot, I had fun doing the moment where I tell my terrible backstory about what happened to my ex-girlfriend. They were all stand out moments for me. But I think White Elephant…that was where I got to be kind of funny and sad in the same scene and kind of go from being a loud dick to kind of this defeated schlub at the end of it, who’s kind of a cry baby. I kind of showed some pretty unlikeable characteristics. For a guy who jokes around he can’t really take the joke ultimately when he’s brothers like, in his face. I kind of shut down and get angry. That was a lot of fun to shoot.

NR: It really seemed realistic because I’m sure in a game like that, well people aren’t gonna be happy if they have everything and then all of a sudden they just lose it all.

BP: You can then see that anger might be the way to go there.

NR: Looking at your career, you’ve kind of done a little bit of everything. You’ve acted in television, films, done some voice acting, you’ve written, you’ve done stand-up. Is there anything in particular that you enjoy doing the most?

BP: Yeah, I mean…working with my friends really would be the short answer. My favorite jobs so far are Sarah Silverman, touring with The Comedians of Comedy with Patton Oswalt and Zach Galifianakis and those guys and Maria, and then Mr. Show and then W/Bob and David. To get to go back and do W/Bob and David 20 years later with my buddies is definitely one of the highlights of my career. And Mr. Show until then was my favorite writing job I’ve ever had. That’s the short answer, working with friends. But, you know, I love doing stand-up, I love writing, I love writing comics, I love writing sketches. I think sketch may be what I’m best at, sketch and stand-up. But I like to think that my acting chops are getting better with my old age too.

NR: Just one more to wrap this up. Do you have anything else coming up in the future? You have Uncle Nick coming out, you have W/Bob and David, do you have anything else?

BP: Yeah, I have my next stand-up special. We just finished an edit on. I produced it with Bobcat Goldthwait, and we shot it in San Diego during Comic Con. It was a great crowd and I’m super proud of it. It’s my favorite special or record that I’ve done. It’s called Criminally Posehn and it’s out in the Spring. I think it’s going to Amazon first and then it’ll be everywhere after that.

NR: I’ll definitely have to check that out.

BP: Yeah and then I just did another issue for Deadpool called Massacre that’s coming up. It’s just a one-off, Gerry Duggan is handling the book by himself. But I did a special issue that I really loved. It’s all Spanish speaking, which I don’t but I wrote it in English and somebody translated it for us. That’s coming out. I did a metal comedy record with Brendon Small and Scott Ian. I just like to stay busy so I’ve always got multiple things in the pipe.

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