Dialogue: John C. Reilly on 'Terri', Roman Polanski and Directing

Dialogue: John C. Reilly on 'Terri', Roman Polanski and Directing

Jun 26, 2011

Produced by the team behind Blue Valentine, Terri stars John C. Reilly as a high school vice-principal who reaches out to a merciless misfit teen trying to survive adolescence. Terri combines wry humor and compassion in an effort to speak to anyone who ever felt misunderstood in high school.

Reilly candidly spoke to us about his not so popular teenage days, working on Roman Polanski’s film Carnage and his curiosity to direct one day.

Movies.com: Mr. Fitzgerald is quite the mentor. Did you see a bit of yourself in this character?
John C. Reilly:
Not so much of myself but it reminded me of people that I was lucky enough to have as mentors when I was younger. I’ve realized that I’m getting to be the age that those people were when I first met them. I also liked the fact that at the beginning of the story he comes across as a very confident, authoritative voice, coming down on all these kids and you realize towards the end of the film that he’s really lost and grappling with his own personal life crisis.

Movies.com: Were you a popular kid in high school? Or were you like Terri?
I wasn’t overweight or picked on too much but I was somewhat of an outcast. I was into doing plays in a neighborhood where that wasn’t considered a normal thing, so yeah, I was a bit of a weirdo but I wasn’t miserable. I was happy to be a weirdo and I liked the other weirdos. Somehow I survived it all but I had tough older brothers who looked after me. I make a good success story for the neighborhood now so that all worked out.

Movies.com: Looking back at that point in your life, where everyone thought you were a weirdo for loving theater, could you imagine the enormous amount of success you would have?
I certainly never dreamed that I would…as a kid I never even dreamed I would be in one movie let alone however many I’ve done at this point. To be nominated for prizes …the thought was way out of my way of thinking. There are a lot of actors in the world, there’s a small number that actually get to work as actors and there is a tiny group of actors that are celebrated in the way that I have been. I feel incredibly lucky.

Movies.com: Your wife is a producer on this film. Is this your first time working together? And how do you mix business with pleasure without allowing annoyances to interfere?
It’s not the first time but it’s the most extensive work we’ve done together. Well, she’s got really good taste and we really care for each other. If anything, whenever you can work with someone that you already know it saves you a lot of awkward getting-to-know-you moments. Dealing with someone that you don’t know that you just met can be more difficult than working with someone you already know. Working with my wife made things so easy.

Movies.com: You have a few movies coming out. Tell us about Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie and Carnage.
Tim [Heidecker] and Eric [Wareheim] are the lead characters and me, Will [Ferrell] and Zack Galifianakis play little supporting roles. I love those guys, they are so funny. Will and I have kept a close relationship. There’s also We Need to Talk about Kevin with Tilda Swinton that premiered at Cannes. It did really well, people are loving it. I’m also working on Roman Polanski’s Carnage.

Movies.com: His name alone sounds intimidating. What’s it like to work with Polanski?
He’s amazing. I’ve been very lucky to work with some of the best directors in the world, living masters of film and he’s definitely one of them. Was it a challenge? Yes, a film with that good of a director, you really need to bring your A-game or you feel like you’re letting him down. He’s a very friendly guy and has a great sense of humor. He’s just amazing to watch work.

Movies.com: Jodie Foster is also in Carnage. We recently spoke to her about directing The Beaver. Would you consider directing?
I would consider directing. I think directing myself would be tough buy I’m definitely interested in directing. I might start off directing a play before I move to a film. If you act long enough you start thinking of some of the people you’ve worked with and begin to think, “Wow, maybe I can do that one day.”

Categories: Features, Indie, Interviews
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