Icon: John C. Reilly
Hollywood’s favorite second banana makes the leap to leading man in this month’s rock’n’roll bio-spoof Walk Hard.
Your Walk the Line parody is about to hit theaters. Are you worried that Johnny Cash’s ghost is going to kick your ass?
I’m a huge Johnny Cash fan. Considering all the ridiculous chapters of his life, he had to have a sense of humor, right? This movie was done with a lot of love. We worked for months beforehand and recorded all the original songs. If we were just trying to take the piss out of Johnny Cash, it would’ve been a lot easier.
Is this like Spinal Tap 2008?
It’s a rock’n’roll fantasy, but it isn’t one long joke. You’re expected to believe Dewey Cox is a real person. We tried to make funny songs instead of deliberately bad songs. Spin¨al Tap toured, and now there’s talk about me doing a real tour for Walk Hard. Every actor wants to be a fucking rock star.
Settle this once and for all: Do rock stars get more women than actors?
Having been on both sides of the equation, that’s a definitive yes.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten from a musician?
I met Charlie Louvin of the Louvin Brothers recently at an in-store record signing. I got his autograph, and then he said to my son, who is very small, “Do you have a girlfriend?” My son shook his head. He said, “Are you married?” He shook his head again. So Charlie goes, “Remember, getting married is like taking a bath. It’s not so hot once you get used to it.”
did you give jack white, who plays elvis, any acting tips?
Jack’s Elvis is a young, hopped-up Elvis, so the only thing I tried to help Jack do was stand still. It’s easier to stay in focus that way.
have you ever dealT with an actor who showed up on set drunk or high?
Once, but it was actually good for the scene. It was a night shoot, and he had enjoyed a liquid lunch that day. I was supposed to be terrified of the guy—and I was.
WE ASKED YOUR COSTAR PAUL RUDD ABOUT YOU, AND HE SAID, “JOHN SINGS, HE DANCES, HE’S An ILLUSIONIST, AND HE TRAINS FALCONS.” Please tell us you really train falcons.
Paul Rudd is obsessed with falconing.
Are you saying Paul Rudd is A liar?
Paul Rudd is a mischievous imp.
are you at least a master illusionist?
I dabble in the illusion arts. I’m friends with Ricky Jay, the best card manipulator in the world, but he’s never revealed a secret to me. On Boogie Nights I taught myself a card trick in the trailer to show Ricky, and he said, “You just learned it?” I said, “Yeah.” And he goes, “I usually practice a trick for at least a year in private before I show it to anyone.” He was serious.
How did your penchant for musical theater go over in the working-class Irish-Catholic CHICAGO neighborhood where you grew up?
Some people thought that it was a less-than-masculine thing to be doing. So if somebody had a problem with me, my older brothers protected me. The Reillys had a badass reputation in the neighborhood.
What was it like being the fifth of six kids?
A benign Lord of the Flies.
Was your family shocked when you moved to L.A. to try acting professionally?
Everyone thought I’d eventually get a real job. My dad wanted me to go into business, but it dawned on me I could do everything I wanted if I was an actor. I could ride horses, learn to fly a plane, travel the world…
Play a porn star…
mark wahlberg revealed A PRODIGIOUS PROSTHETIC DONG in boogie nights. DID YOU AT LEAST STUFF?
No—there’s no shame in my game. And if you talk to Mark, I think he would vociferously deny it was a prosthetic.
DID YOU MEET MANY real PORN STARS while you were doing YOUR “RESEARCH”?
We walk onto one porn set, and this guy is giving this girl the business. The guy’s handling his joint, and they’re sweaty, with makeup dripping everywhere. It’s a gruesome scene. Then the guy recognizes me, says, “John C. Reilly! I’m such a huge fan!” and goes to shake my hand. I’m like, “Oh, God,” and he’s like, “Don’t worry! I was using the other hand!” But he wasn’t.
YOU’VE BEEN IN TALLADEGA NIGHTS AND DAYS OF THUNDER. how are you BEHIND THE WHEEL?
One time I was driving a rental car in L.A., spaced out, and slammed into the back of a van. I totaled the rental—it literally could not be driven. A tow truck hauled me back to the rental car place, and within 20 minutes I was driving out in another one of their cars. It was like, “Here’s your car—I destroyed it! Can I have another one?” And they were like, “Yessir!”
which character is more like you: BOOGIE’S Reed Rothchild or TALLADEGA’S Cal NAughton Jr.?
Reed Rothchild, though both those guys have a couple of screws missing. I definitely have a God-given naiveté, but I’m not as dumb as the characters I play. Although it’s easy for me to go to that place. Maybe I have an inner dumb guy trying to get out.